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Eli Tomac at the 2017 Grand Prix of USA

Tomac hits podium form at USGP swelter

Sep 042017

The Monster Energy USGP brought MXGP excitedly to American soil and to a new venue outside of Jacksonville, Florida where the final throes of an ultra-contested FIM World Championship came to life. The 2017 campaign will wrap in two weeks time with events at Assen, Holland and Villars sous Ecot in France following a stuffy and fast fixture at WW Motocross Park on the east coast of the USA and where Jeffrey Herlings triumphed for the fourth time in the seventeen rounds held to-date. Also on the box was Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac who turned around a difficult practice and qualification on Saturday to win the first race and classify as runner-up when it counted.

Grand Prix motocross left the confines of a semi-regular home in California and a curious experiment within the Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2016 to come east for the first time this century. The race was greeted with a quick, sandy and jumpy course that the riders relished to tackle and eventually yielded decent overtaking opportunities. An improved crowd attendance nevertheless took the chance to soak-in the pace and technique of the GP stars in humid and cloudy conditions.

Tomac appeared to be in trouble on Saturday. The 2017 AMA 450MX Champion could only manage twelfth place in qualification and looked off-song compared to the athlete that romped to a U.S. double in 2016. Some alterations with his KX450F for raceday had the desired effect and after a holeshot Eli checked-out for the first chequered flag. Flying KTM duo Herlings and champion-in-waiting Tony Cairoli were not hanging around in the second moto and #3 could rise no higher than third. His scorecard was good enough for the second plinth and - at last - an end to a long campaign for the American who can review 2017 as a success both outdoors and inside the supercross stadiums.

“Yesterday I didn't think I’d even be able to get up here on the podium but we were able to turn things around and I came a bit alive this morning in free practice. In moto one I had a good start, put in some good laps and had a lot of energy,” he recalled. “I felt really good, a little too good and it caught up to me [for the second moto] because these two [Herlings & Cairoli] were laying-down a heater pace. I lost touch and felt that the track got a bit gnarly; third was all I had in me but I’m satisfied with the weekend. I was a disaster up until this morning’s free practice!”

Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Clement Desalle rode to seventh position overall with Monster Energy Yamaha’s Jeremy Van Horebeek also in the top ten. A crash and knock to the head for Romain Febvre counted the Frenchman out of the first moto and he missed the second as a precaution. Yamaha’s Cooper Webb fractured his right thumb in a training spill and JGR Suzuki’s Justin Barcia managed fourteenth place.


The MX2 class was missing Kemea Yamaha’s Benoit Paturel after a training crash led to damaged ribs and liver for the Swiss GP winner; teammate Brent Van Doninck was ninth overall. Monster Energy Pro Circuit lost Floridian Adam Cianciarulo after the 250MX & SX ace injured his knee in Saturday practice. RJ Hampshire was dominant for a 1-1 while another American, Monster Energy DRT Kawasaki’s Darian Sanayei, battled adversity to post twelfth.

Urgency continued after the chequered flag had fallen with mechanics and teams cleaning and boxing bikes and equipment for a swift turnaround back to Europe. More sand lies in store with the Grand Prix of the Netherlands up next and taking place in the hallowed motorsport confines of the Assen circuit for the third year on the spin.