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Monster athletes compete in the 2018 Hangtown Motocross Classic race in Rancho Cordova, CA
NEWS

Tomac Opens Outdoor Season On Top

May 202018

There was simply no stopping reigning 450 Class Champion Eli Tomac at Hangtown. The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship kicked off its 2018 season last Saturday with the 50th running of the legendary Hangtown Motocross Classic, and when the dust settled Tomac and his No. 1 Monster Energy Kawasaki had left the field in his wake.

It was exactly the kind of start Tomac needed to begin his title defense, but by no means was it easy. The Colorado native was undoubtedly the fastest rider in the 450 Class all day long, but he was unable to grab a good start in either moto, which ultimately forced him to ride aggressively in a relentless pursuit of the lead. He even had to overcome a mistake of his own, but in the end there as nothing that was going to stop Tomac from finding his way into the lead, where he belonged.

To no one’s surprise, the biggest road block to Tomac’s path to victoy was none other than bitter rival Marvin Musquin, but the Kawasaki rider laid waste to the Frenchman and finished the day with his second straight 1-1 sweep at Hangtown. There was even some sweet justice in Tomac’s pair of passes on Musquin for the race lead and eventual win, which surely crushed the confidence of his fiercest challenger.

“It’s awesome (to start with a win), but it wasn’t an easy day at all. The second (moto) start was not good at all, but luckily I was able to get to the front quick. I had a little tip over too, but overall I felt really good on my motorcycle. It’s easy to have days like today when you’re that comfortable on the bike.”

450 Class Moto 1

 

As the 40-rider field stormed out the gate for the first time in 2018 it was Honda rider Christian Craig who secured the first holeshot of the year with recently crowned supercross champion Jason Anderson right behind aboard his Husqvarna. Anderson soon worked his way into the lead, but all eyes were on Tomac, who started deep inside the top 10 but fought his way up to fifth by the end of the opening lap.

 

It took Tomac all of one lap to break into the top three, where he and Musquin surged past Anderson and into the top two positions. Musquin was successful in keeping the hard-charging Kawasaki at bay for a few laps, but Tomac’s consistent pressure forced a mistake out of Musquin, who went off the side of the track.

 

That opened the door for Tomac to cruise past and into the lead, which felt like it was inevitable. Musquin desperately tried to cling onto Tomac’s rear fender, but there simply wasn’t enough energy to do so. It wasn’t long before Tomac extended his lead to multiple seconds and eventually into the double digits. He took the Moto 1 win by a margin of 13.7 seconds over Musquin, while Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing’s Justin Barcia parlayed a solid start into a third-place finish after he easily made his way around Anderson.

 

450 Class Moto 2

 

As the field exited the first turn to begin Moto 2 it was Suzuki rider Phil Nicoletti who narrowly edged out Anderson for the holeshot. That advantage was short lived as Barcia capitalized on a stellar start to storm past both Anderson and Nicoletti and seize early control of the moto. Monster Energy was back out front. Behind the battle for the lead both Musquin and Tomac had their work cut out for them, with Tomac emerging outside the top 10, but eventually clawing his way into 10th by the end of the opening lap.

 

As Barcia and Anderson continued their battle for the top spot, Tomac had already found his way to Musquin by Lap 2. From there, the duo began to march their way past riders on a surge that would eventually carry them into the lead pack. Anderson was able to wrestle away control of the lead from Barcia, who then fell into the clutches of Musquin. The KTM rider had managed to evade Tomac by making quicker passes on the front-runners, but Tomac wasn’t deterred and broke into podium position by passing Barcia on Lap 6. However, as he looked to apply pressure on Musquin for second Tomac tipped over and gave the spot back to Barcia.

 

Tomac quickly remounted and restarted his charge to the front, getting back around Barcia on Lap 7. On the same lap Musquin passed Anderson for the lead. Tomac made quick work of Anderson to jump into second, and then set his sights on the Frenchman. The KTM used defensive lines for about half a lap, but it was only a matter of time before the Kawasaki was back on point. Tomac railed the outside of a corner to get alongside Musquin, and then proceeded to take advantage of his inside positioning for the next turn to run Musquin high and wide on Lap 8. That was all she wrote.

 

Tomac proceeded to set a pace that was upwards of six seconds quicker over the next handful of laps to establish a gap that he would be impossible to overcome. He took it easy on the stretch run and crossed the finish line 6.3 seconds ahead of Musquin. Barcia was strong again as well, and posted another third-place finish.

 

Tomac’s 1-1 sweep wasn’t a surprise, but his path to victory left a lasting impression. He was simply on another level and looked unbeatable. It was the 10th win of his 450 Class career. Musquin’s pair of runner-up finishes minimized the damage in the points, while Barcia provided a memorable debut with the Factory Yamaha squad (3-3) to put Musquin in a Monster Energy sandwich on the podium.

 

450 Class Results

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

2. Marvin Musquin, KTM (2-2)

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

4. Jason Anderson, Husqvarna (4-6)

5. Blake Baggett, KTM (7-4)

 

450 Class Standings

1. Eli Tomac, Monster Energy Kawasaki – 50

2. Marvin Musquin, KTM – 44

3. Justin Barcia, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing – 40

4. Jason Anderson, Husqvarna – 33

5. Blake Baggett, KTM – 32

250 Class Moto 1

 

The Monster Energy Supercross season proved to be a tough one for Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki and Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha, as both teams were hit with a slew of injuries that took several top stars out of action. Hangtown would go on without Adam Cianciarulo, Martin Davalos, Dylan Ferrandis, Colt Nichols, and Mitchell Oldenburg, but both Monster Energy squads still rolled out stout lineups to start the Pro Motocross season. Veteran Joey Savatgy, rising star Austin Forkner, and rookie Garrett Marchbanks would carry the torch for Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki, while championship hopeful Aaron Plessinger and talented rookie Justin Cooper led the way for Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha.

 

When the gate dropped on Moto 1, it was Forkner and Cooper who immediately made their presence felt. Forkner nabbed the holeshot, but Cooper was able to push his Yamaha into the lead. The two young guns went on to occupy the top two spots for several laps, but they soon received a serious challenge from Zach Osborne, the defending champion, and Jeremy Martin, a former two-time champion.

 

Forkner dropped from second to fourth, but he got back into podium position following a tip over by Martin. Out front, Cooper was giving it his all in defense of Osborne’s attack, but relinquished control of the lead on Lap 4. Once in the lead, Osborne never looked back, but a slew of Monster Energy riders remained in the mix for the podium as both Plessinger and Savatgy were also battling alongside their teammates and Martin.

 

Veteran experience won out at the end of the moto as Osborne was followed by Martin across the line. Plessinger made a late charge to steal third from Forkner, while Cooper dropped to fifth in a breakout ride. Savatgy was seventh, with Marchbanks 12th.

 

250 Class Moto 2

 

The Moto 2 start saw Plessinger push his Yamaha into the front, only to narrowly miss out on the holeshot to Martin. Nevertheless, Plessinger settled into the position and prepared to do battle with Osborne and Alex Martin. The rest of the Monster Energy unit was forced to do work on the heels of tough starts, with Cooper seventh, Marchbanks ninth, Savatgy 13th, and Forkner 14th.

 

Plessinger lost some valuable ground in the early stages of the moto, falling as far back as fifth, but he remained persistent and saved his energy for the end. Marchbanks was the most impressive Monster Energy rider in the field and took advantage of his top-10 start to make some passes and climb up to Plessinger’s rear fender in sixth. Cooper stayed solidly in the top 10 as well, while Savatgy was giving it his all to get into the hunt. Unfortunately for Forkner, his day came to an early end after he suffered a big hit to his chest and was unable to continue. Thankfully he checked out clear of any serious injury.

 

In the waning stages of the moto Plessinger mounted a late run that carried him into fourth, on the heels of Alex Martin, while Marchbanks did battle with Chase Sexton for fifth. Out front, Osborne capped off a 1-1 sweep for the overall win, while Jeremy Martin followed with 2-2 results.

 

Plessinger settled for fourth in the second moto, but his 3-4 scores were enough to land him on the overall podium in third for the second consecutive year at Hangtown. Cooper enjoyed an impressive fifth-place finish, with Savatgy seventh, Marchbanks 10th, and Forkner 12th.

 

250 Class Results

1. Zach Osborne, Husqvarna (1-1)

2. Jeremy Martin, Honda (2-2)

3. Aaron Plessinger, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha (3-4)

4. Alex Martin, KTM (7-3)

5. Justin Cooper, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha (5-9)

7. Joey Savatgy, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki (6-10)

10. Garrett Marchbanks, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki (12-6)

12. Austin Forkner, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki (4-39)

 

250 Class Standings

1. Zach Osborne, Husqvarna – 50

2. Jeremy Martin, Honda – 44

3. Aaron Plessinger, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha – 38

4. Alex Martin, KTM – 34

5. Justin Cooper, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha – 28

7. Joey Savatgy, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki – 26

10. Garrett Marchbanks, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki – 24

12. Austin Forkner, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki – 18

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