The fourth round of the 2017 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, hosted the 41st annual Red Bull High Point National at the beautifully landscaped High Point Raceway, which served as the first east coast stop of the season.
Following a breakthrough first career win at the previous round, RMATV/MC-WPS-KTM rider Blake Baggett kept the momentum rolling as he captured a second straight 450 Class victory, taking control of the championship points lead along with it. In the 250 Class, two-time champion and GEICO Honda rider Jeremy Martin emerged with his first win of the season.
The opening 450 Class moto witnessed Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Josh Grant emerge with the Motosport.com Holeshot, narrowly edging out Team Honda HRC’s Christian Craig and Australian import Dean Ferris aboard his CDR Yamaha. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac quickly found himself passing for third, however, he made a costly mistake that sent him to the ground and was forced to restart in dead last. At the completion of the opening lap it was Grant, Craig, Ferris, RCH/Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing’s Justin Bogle, and Baggett rounding out the top five. Entering points leader Marvin Musquin was buried in the field aboard his Team Red Bull KTM Factory Racing machine and was credited with 13th position.
While Grant set a fast pace at the front of the field, Ferris went to work on Craig and took control of the runner-up position. Baggett used every inch of the track searching for lines and overtook Bogle for fourth on Lap 1. Baggett, who earned the nickname “El Cupacabra” after a heroic ride during the 2011 High Point National, continued his march to the front as he closed in on Craig and made the pass stick for third on Lap 2. Ferris shocked the crowd as he began to chase down early race leader Grant, latching onto his rear fender and stalking his every move. Ferris would eventually pull alongside the Kawasaki rider through the deep forming ruts and take over the race lead with an aggressive pass on Lap 4.
Baggett had his sights set on the race lead and instantly began applying the pressure to Grant on Lap 4, following Ferris’ closely. Once into second, Baggett dropped the hammer and started to lower his lap times as he started reducing the gap to Ferris. On Lap 5, Ferris lost traction exiting a corner that resulted in a bobble, ultimately allowing Baggett to use his momentum and make the pass for the lead. Once into the lead, the KTM rider quickly used his creative lines and blistering pace to open a comfortable gap that he continued to build on with each passing lap.
As the chequered flag waved, it was Baggett who used a dominant performance to claim his second moto win of the season, more than 22-seconds clear of his nearest competitor. Ferris rode incredible to take the runner-up position in his first ever Pro Motocross moto, while early race leader Grant held on for his fourth moto podium of the season. Tomac recovered from his first lap mishap to finish 12th, while Musquin, who apparently entered the race with a nagging injury, battled through to finish 16th.
RCH/Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing’s Broc Tickle launched off of the starting gate to take the Motosport.com Holeshot in Moto 2, edging out Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Jason Anderson, Tomac, Baggett, and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Dean Wilson. In the opening stages of the race, Baggett made a mistake that cost him several positions, while both Anderson and Tomac moved their way around Tickle and into first and second, respectively, at the completion of the opening lap. Tomac was determined to rebound from a difficult first moto and was on a mission as he charged his way to the front.
Anderson and Tomac set a torrid pace that allowed them to open a small gap over the field early on, leaving the battle for third to unfold between a handful of riders. Tomac was hot on the heels of Anderson and capitalised on the leader, who made a mistake by missing his line in a turn, to overtake the top position on Lap 3. Once into the lead, Tomac demonstrated why he came into the season as the championship favourite and turned some of the quickest laps of the race to break away from the pack of riders behind him. First moto winner Baggett started to find his flow and began picking riders off one-by-one, and broke into the top five on Lap 4.
Just one lap later Baggett continued his charge forward and moved into podium position with a pass on early race leader Anderson. There was no slowing down Baggett as his blistering pace quickly put him onto the rear wheel of Tickle, who had passed Anderson for second, as they dueled for the runner-up spot. On Lap 6, Baggett made the pass stick to secure the position and put his head down in hopes of mounting a charge on Tomac.
Despite Baggett matching his lap times for several laps, Tomac went unchallenged throughout the remainder of the race to secure his third moto win of the season. He crossed the line 20.1 seconds ahead of Baggett, with Anderson following in third after a late pass on Tickle.
The 1-2 effort for Baggett was enough to clinch his second consecutive victory, which also made him the first double winner of the season in the 450 Class. Anderson finished second (5-3) and Tickle completed the overall podium in third (4-4), his first top-three result of the season.
“The new layout was really good, it was a little muddy this morning, but the track shaped up great for racing,” said Bagget. “I got off to decent starts today and I was able to kind of run away with the first moto win and cruise it in for second in Moto 2. I was going to make a charge for Eli [Tomac], but I was coming up on lappers quick and it’s hard to judge where they are going to go. It wasn’t worth hanging it out and taking the chance of crashing and handing the championship over, so I tried to be smart with my decisions out there.”
Baggett’s victory moved him from third place in the 450 Class standings and into the championship lead for the first time in his career. He holds an eight-point advantage over Musquin, who finished 11th overall after a stronger second moto (16-6). Tomac sits third, 11 points out of the lead and just three points out of second. Baggett will carry the red number plate as the points leader for the first time next weekend, marking the first time a bike with the No. 4 will sit atop the standings since Ricky Carmichael back in 2007.
The first 250 Class moto saw Jeremy Martin lead the 40-rider field and grab the Motosport.com Holeshot with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Zach Osborne and Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Aaron Plessinger in tow. Plessinger powered his way around the points leader, Osborne, in the opening corners to move into second. At the completion of the opening lap, it was Jeremy Martin, Plessinger, Osborne, GEICO Honda’s RJ Hampshire and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Joey Savatgy rounding out the top five.
With Martin asserted himself out front, Plessinger and Osborne battled bar-to-bar as they engaged in an all out war for the second spot. Osborne began to hit his stride and heat up as he charged down the steep hills in search of a passing spot, eventually blitzing his way by for a successful pass on Lap 5. While Martin pushed hard and meticulously navigated the technical track to establish a small advantage over the competition, it was Osborne who put his head down and started nipping away at the deficit. By Lap 7, Osborne had Martin in his sights and started to apply pressure.
The duo encountered heavy lapped traffic near the halfway point in the race, gaining an advantage in one section of the track and then being held up in other sections as the race for the win tightened up. Osborne pulled alongside Martin to show a wheel on several occasions, however, small bobbles and Martin’s championship experience kept the Honda out front. On Lap 9, Osborne continued his relentless charge and launched past Martin through the rollers to gain control of the race lead. Osborne immediately distanced himself from Martin, who soon began to fall under attack from a hard-charging Plessinger.
Osborne took his third moto win of the season 7.8 seconds ahead of Martin, with Plessinger rounding out the podium. Alex Martin, who entered the race runner-up in points, fell victim to a first turn pileup and rode brilliantly from the back of the field to finish seventh.
As the field roared into the first turn to start Moto 2 it was Alex Martin who emerged with the Motosport.com Holeshot over his brother Jeremy, Plessinger, Hampshire, and Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Dylan Ferrandis. A quick move by Plessinger allowed him to slide past Jeremy Martin for second, while first moto winner Osborne circulated the opening lap in ninth. Just a few laps later Jeremy Martin retaliated and got his revenge as he made the move on Plessinger to retake control of second, followed by Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Austin Forkner, who also made his way by for third.
Alex Martin looked comfortable out front as he clicked off consistent laps and managed to maintain a steady distance to his brother in second. On Lap 6, Ferrandis found himself searching for a way around Forker for the final podium position, with the Frenchman successfully making the move. Near the halfway mark of the 30-minute-plus-two-lap moto, Jeremy Martin slowly started chipping away at his brother’s lead and was using every inch of the track in search of the quickest lines. Jeremy eventually made the move to overtake Alex and became the new race leader on Lap 8.
Osborne refused to settle as he made quick moves to put himself near the front of the field, and he made a push that allowed him to move past Ferrandis for third on Lap 10. He continued his aggressive charge and began hounding Alex Martin with five minutes remaining in the moto. Osborne struck on Lap 13 to move into the second spot, followed by Plessinger one lap later with a late race charge to bump Alex Martin off of the podium.
Martin held onto an 8.4 second lead and crossed the chequered flag for his second moto win of the season. Osborne’s come-from-behind ride, in which he was forced to remove his goggles and inadvertently his visor after being hit by a rock, was good enough for second, while Plessinger’s strong comeback rounded out the podium in third.
Jeremy Martin (2-1) and Osborne (1-2) finished the afternoon with identical moto scores, but Martin’s clutch performance in the second moto was enough to give him the tiebreaker for the win. Plessinger (3-3) netted two consistent moto finishes to finish third overall.
The win was Martin’s first of the season and ended a seven-race gap between victories. It was also his first win with GEICO Honda, which put a rider atop the podium for the first time since the final round of the 2013 season with Eli Tomac. He became the third different winner in the 250 Class through the first four rounds of the season.
“It’s been one heck of a rough season for me with supercross and the beginning of outdoors,” said Jeremy Martin. “I’m just trying to enjoy the win, these are hard to come by these days with how well these guys are riding and I hope that the team and I can enjoy it tonight. I could see my brother Alex [Martin] in the second moto and knew that it was time to make a move, we’re on the same flight and I’m going home with the bragging rights this week.”
Osborne maintained his hold of the red plate and now enjoys an 18-point lead over Jeremy Martin in the championship points. Alex Martin’s fifth place overall finish on the day puts him third in the standings, just eight points behind his brother Jeremy in second.
“A rock hit me on my goggles on the last lap and caused sweat to go in my face, which made it difficult to see,” said Osborne. “I knew that I needed to pass quick because I couldn’t see and my goggles needed to come off. When I got my goggles off my visor was flapping in my face and I saw Alex [Martin] on the outside of me and blocked him. If he would have gotten around me it could have been bad.”
The 2017 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship will return to action next Saturday, June 24, for the fifth round of the season at Muddy Creek Raceway in Blountville, Tennessee. First motos of the Tennessee National can be seen live on MAVTV at 10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET, while the second motos will air live on NBCSN, live at 12:00 p.m. PT / 3:00 p.m. ET.
2017 Red Bull High Point National Results
450 Class Overall Results (Moto Finish)
Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., KTM (1-2) Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., Husqvarna (5-3) Broc Tickle, Holly, Mich., Suzuki (4-4) Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki (12-1) Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., Yamaha (6-5) Josh Grant, Riverside, Calif., Kawasaki (3-11) Dean Ferris, Kyogle, Australia, Yamaha (2-14) Dean Wilson, Glasgow, Scotland, Husqvarna (9-7) Justin Bogle, Cushing, Okla., Suzuki (7-9) Cole Seely, Newbury Park, Calif., Honda (10-8)
450 Class Championship Standings
Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., KTM – 155 Marvin Musquin, La Reole, France, KTM – 147 Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki – 144 Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., Husqvarna – 129 Broc Tickle, Holly, Mich., Suzuki – 115 Justin Bogle, Cushing, Okla., Suzuki – 112 Dean Wilson, Glasgow, Scotland, Husqvarna – 110 Josh Grant, Riverside, Calif., Kawasaki – 106 Cole Seely, Newbury Park, Calif., Honda – 105 Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., Yamaha – 88
250 Class Overall Results (Moto Finish)
Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Honda (2-1) Zach Osborne, Abingdon, Va., Husqvarna (1-2) Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, Yamaha (3-3) Dylan Ferrandis, Avignon, France, Yamaha (4-4) Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., KTM (7-5) Austin Forkner, Richards, Mo., Kawasaki (6-6) Joey Savatgy, Thomasville, Ga., Kawasaki (8-7) RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Honda, (9-8) Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, Fla., Kawasaki (5-13) Mitchell Harrison, Brighton, Mich., Yamaha (10-9)
250 Class Championship Standings
Zach Osborne, Abingdon, Va., Husqvarna – 166 Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Honda – 148 Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., KTM – 140 Joey Savatgy, Thomasville, Ga., Kawasaki – 120 Austin Forkner, Richards, Mo., Kawasaki – 119 Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, Yamaha – 118 Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, Fla., Kawasaki – 109 Dylan Ferrandis, Avignon, France, Yamaha – 100 Colt Nichols, Muskogee, Okla., Yamaha – 98 Mitchell Harrison, Brighton, Mich., Yamaha – 89