The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship made its annual visit to the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” on Saturday with the La Crescent Wine & Spirit Spring Creek National from Spring Creek MX Park in Minnesota’s Mississippi River Valley.
While hometown riders were focal points on the afternoon, it was a rookie who stole the show in the 450 Class as GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac dominated en route to his first career win, sweeping each of the day’s motos to become the fourth different winner in the division this season.
In the 250 Class, Millville native Jeremy Martin put his Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha atop the podium for the fourth time this season, extending his points lead with a triumphant effort at the track owned and operated by his parents.
After taking his second overall win of the season one week ago, Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey looked for more of the same at his hometown track by capturing the Motosport.com Holeshot Award in the first 450 Class moto.
Dungey was closely followed by his Red Bull KTM team-mate and main championship rival Ken Roczen, who soon put the pressure on Dungey and took over the top spot on the opening lap. The duo continued to race within mere bike lengths of one another before Roczen slowly started to pull away.
Tomac lurked in third behind the KTM duo and was on a mission to the front. Following a crash by Dungey on Lap Three, Tomac assumed control of second and set his sights on Roczen.
Tomac methodically closed down the gap to the German out front and before long it became a head-to-head showdown between the pair of 450 Class rookies, who also were championship rivals one year ago in the 250 Class.
The duo went bar-to-bar for multiple laps, trading positions and using every inch of the Millville track before Tomac made the pass stick on Lap 12.
Once in control of the moto, the Honda rider checked out and took his first chequered flag in the premier division by over 16 seconds. Roczen finished second, with Dungey third. Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Trey Canard followed in fourth, with Toyota/Yamaha/N-FAB/JGRMX’s Josh Grant rounding out the top five.
Tomac, who missed the first four rounds and eight motos of the season with an injury, carried the momentum into the second moto by securing the Motosport.com Holeshot Award ahead of Dungey while Roczen battled from a start deep inside the top 10. However, a malfunction with the starting gate was deemed to have resulted in a disadvantage for some riders and brought out the red flag to signify a restart.
As the gate dropped for the second time, Tomac once again emerged at the front, claiming the Motosport.com Holeshot Award again but losing the lead briefly to Toyota/Yamaha/N-FAB/JGRMX’s Justin Brayton. The Yamaha rider’s time out front was short lived, as Tomac reclaimed the position with Dungey soon following suit to take over second.
Behind this trio, Canard and Roczen were also making their respective charges to the front and both riders also made their way around Brayton to establish a four-rider breakaway out front.
Tomac and Dungey gradually extended their advantage over Roczen in third to make it a two-rider battle for the moto win. As Dungey looked to pressure Tomac for the lead, Roczen fell into the clutches of Canard and dropped off the podium into fourth.
Out front, Tomac fended off Dungey, who then fell late in the moto after making contact with a lapped rider. Tomac easily took his second career moto win to also earn his first career 1-1 sweep in the 450 Class and become the division’s 62nd different winner of all time.
“Today was a tough one the way the track was,” said Tomac, who has finished on the overall podium in each of his four career starts.
“Going into the second moto I knew I had to get out there and get a good start. We ended up getting the holeshot then the red flag came out and I thought to myself ‘is this really happening?’ Luckily enough I got another one. Brayton was right there, but after that I was just hitting my marks and I felt really comfortable.”
Dungey’s runner-up effort (3-2) was his 50th podium finish in 56 starts during an illustrious 450 Class career, moving him into fourth all time. Roczen finished third (2-4), but gave up two points to Dungey in the championship standings and failed to earn a moto podium for the first time this season.
Canard was fourth (4-3), with Grant fifth (5-5). Team Yoshimura’s James Stewart, who won earlier this season at High Point, did not start the final moto with team officials citing an apparent illness.
“I put in a solid run in the first half [of the second moto], but then bogged down a bit,” said Roczen. “We’ll go back, figure it out and come back better for the next race.”
Roczen’s lead over Dungey in the 450 Class standings now sits at 24 points. Canard sits third, 65 points behind. Tomac’s victory vaulted him into the top 10 in the 450 Class standings, currently sitting ninth.
In the 250 Class, Valli Motorsports Yamaha’s Christophe Pourcel took advantage of posting the fastest lap of practice by translating his first starting selection into the Motosport.com Holeshot Award over GEICO Honda’s Justin Bogle and Martin.
It didn’t take long for Martin to begin his pursuit of the lead, passing Bogle on the opening lap and instantly putting pressure on Pourcel for the lead. Martin took advantage of a slight bobble to slip past Pourcel and consistently opened up his advantage from there on out.
With the moto well within Martin’s control, the focus turned to the battles behind him as Pourcel was forced to deal with his hard-charging fellow Frenchman Marvin Musquin aboard his Red Bull KTM. Musquin had already engaged in a lengthy battle with Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Dean Wilson for third, but saved enough energy to make the late pass on Pourcel for second.
Martin took his first moto win at his hometown track over 10 seconds ahead of Musquin, while Pourcel held on for third. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett overcame an 18th-place start to finish fourth, with his team-mate Wilson following in fifth.
Pourcel put his Yamaha at the front of the field to start the final moto, once again securing the Motosport.com Holeshot Award, with Cycle Trader/Rock River Yamaha’s Alex Martin looking for hometown success of his own in second and Baggett in third, just ahead of Bogle.
Pourcel controlled the early stages of the moto while Baggett passed Martin for second and began his pursuit of the Frenchman out front. On Lap Three, Baggett made an easy pass on Pourcel for first. He quickly pulled away and appeared to have the moto in hand.
However, on Lap Four Baggett crashed out of the lead a fell outside the top 10, handing the battle for the lead to Bogle and Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Cooper Webb. This pair went fender-to-fender for multiple laps before Webb was able to make the pass stick and seize control of the moto.
Behind the leaders, Jeremy Martin overcame a sixth-place start to move into third and was able to make the pass on Bogle for second just a few laps later. Despite his best efforts, Martin couldn’t close the gap on his team-mate out front and Webb went on to earn his third career moto win by over three seconds.
Martin’s runner-up result was enough to secure his class-leading fourth overall victory of the season and a breakthrough win at his home track. Rockstar Energy Racing’s Jason Anderson rounded out the moto podium in third.
“I just made a few mistakes there off the start [in the second moto],” explained Martin. “Cooper [Webb] was behind me [initially] but I got stuck behind a rider and kept hearing him behind me. He got around me and rode really well. I tried to put on a charge for the hometown crowd and make things exciting, but I just came up short [of the moto sweep]. I’m having fun and I’m looking forward to next weekend.”
Following eventual DNF’s by both Baggett and Bogle in the final moto, Musquin moved into second overall on the afternoon (2-4) while Webb’s second moto win vaulted him into third overall (9-1). Pourcel finished fourth (3-6) with Wilson in fifth (5-5), while Baggett and Bogle’s misfortunes dropped them to 13th (4-33) and 15th (6-32) overall, respectively.
Martin jumped to a 43-point lead in the 250 Class standings over Webb, who moved into second. Baggett fell to third, 56 points behind Martin. The 2014 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship continues next weekend with the ninth round of the 2014 season and the Motosport.com Washougal National. Washougal MX Park in Washougal, Washington, will host the world’s best riders on Saturday, July 26. Action begins at 4 p.m. ET.