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.