The reigning 450SX champion Eli Tomac was embroiled in one of the best battles of his career on Saturday night. The champ took the holeshot and early race lead before a mistake on lap three knocked him back to third place. Tomac was able to rebound strong however, to firmly re-insert himself straight back into the fight for the lead.
‘‘It was great, the pace tonight was hot the whole moto. I thought that if I want a chance at this thing I need to start upfront’ explained the Monster Energy Kawasaki man, ‘‘Unfortunately I made a mistake and clipped my front end on that last whoop. It was such a dorky thing to do. The rest of the moto I was paying attention to popping my front wheel over that last whoop.’’
Tomac is well aware of how deeply talented the class is this season, ‘‘You can see that the top three guys just go. You can lose eight to ten seconds on that first lap and the race can be over right there.’’
Despite just missing out on the race win Tomac was exuberant on the podium, and clearly pumped with how close the racing was, ‘‘Obviously the start there was cool.’ Said Tomac, ‘‘It was a hell of a race for both of us. We both made mistakes, and he schooled me in that sweeper over there. I wasn’t expecting that at all. I was sleeping on that one when he passed me. We both made our mistakes, but I gave it away on the outside. That was the race of my career. To battle that way was really exciting, so congrats to Ken.’’
Eli reiterated his excitement about the race in the press conference, ‘‘It was just good racing and craziness the whole time. It sucks getting second, but exciting racing the whole moto makes me want to come back for more.’’
Tomac may have claimed victory at round two in Houston, but so far this year he hasn’t quite seemed his old self. However, we saw a glimpse of the same Tomac that won the 2020 title this weekend in Indianapolis. Has the champ changed anything to get things clicking?
‘‘I was just riding better. I haven’t changed any set up since H2. I felt more like my old self today, even though I didn’t win on the night. I felt a bit off the first couple of rounds, but hopefully I’ve got the flow now.’’
Tomac’s riding style seems to have matured since winning the championship last year. It appears as though the Kawasaki ace is a lot happier being patient, letting the race – and the championship battle – come to him.
‘‘It’s what happens when you get older. I am still in it to fight for the title and for the wins. It’s fun in our class right now as its good racing. I’m kicking myself about the sweeper turn, but it’s just good racing and that’s what you live for. Right now, it’s a good vibe between the racers.’’
The champ will be back in action on Tuesday evening for what will hopefully be another red-hot night of racing in Indy.