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This year's High Point will mark Round 4 of the 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing.
NEWS

Peaking at High Point

Jun 172018

The first east coast trip of the 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship provided yet another dominant afternoon for Monster Energy, as both Eli Tomac and Aaron Plessinger stood atop the podium for the second time this season. The High Point National provided the hottest conditions of the season to date, but that did not deter the two championship favorites from emerging triumphant despite some of their stiffest competition of the season. Fittingly enough, the Father’s Day weekend spectacle gave an opportunity for both second-generation racers to honor their dads with a checkered flag.

While Tomac was as fast as ever, his path to victory was much more difficult, and it came at the expense of his undefeated moto record. The layout at High Point was littered with elevation changes and an array off-camber corners, and also was hands down the roughest track the riders have seen this summer. As a result, Tomas was caught a little off his game and had to dig deep aboard his Monster Energy Kawasaki in an effort to keep his overall win streak intact, going bar-to-bar with bitter rival Marvin Musquin in both motos. In the end, he withstood the challenge and continued the dominant start to his title defense.

“[Today] was good. I was able to get out front early so I didn’t have to deal with a lot of roost. This track always has a tendency to get rough, so it was good to make things easier on myself [by getting good starts],” explained Tomac. “The first moto was tough. I wasn’t as good as Marv [Musquin] in that one. I was fighting myself and wasn’t flowing. I regrouped and got closer [in Moto 2], but Marv was still all over us. We were just able to hold him off.”

After a bit of an off outing at the previous round, Plessinger came out swinging at High Point and was back in the form that carried him into the points lead earlier in the season. He coasted to an easy opening moto win on his Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha, but had to do some work in the final moto in order to put himself in a position to win. A little bit of good fortune from the racing gods played into Plessinger’s favor as he chased Jeremy Martin for the win in Moto 2, and the rising star went on to capture his second 1-1 sweep of the season, regaining control of the points lead along with it.

“We had a really good day at Glen Helen, but then my bike didn’t really work well in Colorado. We did some testing during the off week and I think it showed today,” said Plessinger. “We got some good starts and I was able to ride my own race. In the second moto I worked my way to the front and then something happened to Jeremy’s [Martin] bike, so we ended up with 1-1 finishes.”

450 Class Moto 1

 

With the fastest lap of timed practice and a perfect 6-0 record in motos entering High Point, Tomac was the heavy favorite when the gate dropped to kick off Moto 1. Coincidentally enough, Tomac got his best start of the season and ripped his first holeshot of the year to seize control of the early lead. Behind him fellow Monster Energy rider Justin Barcia attacked Musquin for second, igniting a closely contested battle for the spot that saw some defensive riding from the Frenchman and aggressive retaliation from Barcia. Eventually Barcia got the upper hand aboard his Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing machine when Musquin briefly went off track.

 

This dogfight for second allowed Tomac to open a big lead after just a couple laps, and it looked as though we’d see yet another lonely outing for the champ, and a move to 7-0 on the season. To his credit, Musquin didn’t let his battle with Barcia rattle him. He regrouped and fought back on Barcia for second, successfully reclaiming the position. He then found some hot lines on the track that allowed him to lay down the fastest laps on the track and erase a multi-second deficit to Tomac.

 

Lapped traffic did not help matters for Tomac, as they ultimately slowed him down at crucial areas of the track. On top of that, it was apparent his Kawasaki was not as dialed in as we’ve been accustomed to seeing this season. Musquin eventually got to Tomac’s rear fender and after a brief battle the Frenchman took over the top spot. Despite his best efforts, Tomac knew he didn’t have the pace to challenge Musquin and reluctantly settled into second. His perfect record was finally broken, but the overall was still well within reach. He and the Monster Energy Kawasaki squad made the necessary adjustments entering Moto 2, ready to go to battle and keep the overall win streak going.

 

450 Class Moto 2

 

Tomac narrowly missed out on yet another holeshot to start the final moto, giving way to both Ken Roczen and Musquin, but an early bobble by Roczen allowed the champ to make a challenge for the lead and slot into second. He didn’t waste any time in applying heavy pressure on Roczen, which forced a mistake from the German and allowed Tomac to steal the lead.

 

Much like the first moto, Tomac picked up the pace to get a gap on the field, almost in expectation that Musquin would eventually challenge him again. As expected, Musquin got around Roczen and set his sights on Tomac, but this time the gap stabilized as Tomac’s enhanced pace provided a better defense to Musquin, who was only able to gain a tenth or so a lap.

 

When the leaders hit lapped traffic it once again changed the dynamic on the track and allowed Musquin to close in late in the moto. Tomac was much more effective in working through the lappers in the closing laps, using them as a pick on Musquin several times. This added valuable bike lengths to his lead and prevented the Frenchman from making any sort of serious run.

 

On the final lap both riders went all out. Tomac smartly protected the inside line throughout the track, and he even gave Musquin a taste of his own medicine with some big defensive moves. The KTM rider was able to really push the limits and get alongside Tomac a couple times, but they were desperate attempts to make something happen. Tomac controlled the preferred line and fended off the attack to take his seventh moto win of the season and clinch the overall via tiebreaker.

 

With his fourth win of the season Tomac has already equaled his career high for wins in a single season, which he set last year en route to the title. However, there appears to be no end in sight to his continued dominance of the division. Tomac is more confident and riding better than ever before, and although the early aspirations of a perfect season have come to an end, he’s still more than capable of taking the overall each and every week.

 

Barcia enjoyed an underrated outing of his own and put the Yamaha on the overall podium for the second time this season, overcoming a small tip over along the way.

 

Tomac’s lead in the championship standings remains at 28 points over Musquin, while Barcia has an even stronger grasp on third.

 

450 Class Results

1 Eli Tomac, Monster Energy Kawasaki (2-1)

2. Marvin Musquin, KTM (1-2)

3. Justin Barcia, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing (3-5)

4. Ken Roczen, Honda (7-3)

5. Justin Hill, Suzuki (4-6)

12. Alex Ray, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing (11-15)

 

450 Class Standings

1. Eli Tomac, Monster Energy Kawasaki – 197

2. Marvin Musquin, KTM – 169

3. Justin Barcia, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing – 140

4. Ken Roczen, Honda – 131

5. Blake Baggett, KTM – 130

15. Alex Ray, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing – 36

250 Class Moto 1

 

The Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha squad got stronger at High Point with the anticipated return of Dylan Ferrandis to complement to stellar starts both Plessinger and rookie Justin Cooper have had. Cooper led the way in timed practice for the trio in third, with Plessinger and Ferrandis not far behind.

 

When the gate dropped for Moto 1 it wasn’t a surprise to see Cooper put the #62 into the lead by grabbing the holeshot, with Plessinger right behind in second. Plessinger knew he had to seize the moment and surged by his teammate into the lead. He laid down several quick laps to establish a gap that he would ultimately manage. Meanwhile, Cooper was forced to deal with point leader Jeremy Martin in a battle for second. These two put on a captivating show for the fans, constantly going back and forth. While Martin appeared to be the quicker rider, Cooper refused to relinquish his hold of the position and successfully fended off every single challenge Martin had.

 

After a lengthy fight Martin was able to get the upper hand on the rookie and make the pass for second, but Cooper continued to fight and keep the heat on his more experienced counterpart.

 

Plessinger was in a class of his own and took an easy moto win, leading every lap. Martin followed in second while Cooper rode to an impressive third. In his first moto of the season Ferrandis overcame a 15th place start to battle his way to eighth. The Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki squad enjoyed a solid start as well as Austin Forkner finished just off the podium in fourth, with Joey Savatgy just a couple spots behind in sixth. Rookie Garrett Marchbanks experienced misfortune while running in the top 10 and finished 27th. He did not line up for the second moto.

 

250 Class Moto 2

 

Cooper continued to be the best starter in the division for Moto 2, sweeping the holeshots for the day, but Martin took advantage of an aggressive move to steal the lead. That then put Cooper into a battle with Forkner, while Plessinger lurked right behind them in fourth.

 

The battle for second became one of the most captivating parts of the moto as Forkner and Cooper, two young riders that appear destined to be stars, traded the spot several times. Ultimately, their continued battle allowed Plessinger to take advantage of his veteran experience and find away around both riders. He passed both riders in a single lap to vault from fourth to second and set his sights on Martin, who was more than 10 seconds out front. Behind him, Forkner and Cooper continued their relentless battle and soon enough Ferrandis joined in the fray as well.

 

Out front, Martin mysteriously lost power on his Honda and was left stranded in the middle of the track. Plessinger rode by and assumed control of the lead. As shocked as he was to be in the position, Plessinger never looked back and led the final half of the moto. Behind him, the battle for second waged on between Forkner, Cooper and Ferrandis. The Frenchman was able to get by his teammate for third and engaged in a spirited battle with Forkner for second in the closing laps. The Kawasaki rider kept Ferrandis at bay, but admittedly wasn’t aware it was a different Star Yamaha than the one he’d been dueling it out with earlier in the moto. He was solely focused on the runner-up finish, and that determination proved to be successful.

 

Plessinger capped off an unexpected 1-1 sweep, with Forkner not far behind in second. Ferrandis completed a Monster Energy sweep of the top three in third, while Cooper gave Monster the top four spots in fourth. Savatgy experienced misfortune while running in the top 10 and was forced to record a DNF.

 

In the end, Monster Energy stole the show in the overall classification as well by sweeping the top four spots. Plessinger led the way with his second win the season, while Forkner earned his first podium result of the year in second. Cooper earned his second straight third-place finish, while Ferrandis’ enjoyed a successful return in fourth.

 

Plessinger has now earned multiple wins in a season for the first time in his career and is back atop the championship standings with a 20-point lead over Martin. Cooper and Forkner both moved into the top five in points as well.

 

250 Class Results

1. Aaron Plessinger, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha (1-1)

2. Austin Forkner, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki (4-2)

3. Justin Cooper, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha (3-4)

4. Dylan Ferrandis, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha (8-3)

5. RJ Hampshire, Honda (7-7)

13. Joey Savatgy, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki (6-34)

38. Garrett Marchbanks, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki (27- DNS)

 

250 Class Standings

1. Aaron Plessinger, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha – 171

2. Jeremy Martin, Honda – 151

3. Alex Martin, KTM – 141

4. Justin Cooper, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha – 136

5. Austin Forkner, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki – 115

11. Joey Savatgy, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki – 83

12. Garrett Marchbanks, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki – 72

17. Dylan Ferrandis, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha – 33

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