A two-week break, an undefeated rider, a rider rising and a defending Champion out of contention offer a fresh palette to the 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship series as Round 4 resumes the season at High Point Raceway on Saturday in Mount Morris, PA.
Eli Tomac showed no signs of tiring two weeks ago as the 450 class points leader swept Thunder Valley to keep his season perfect. But he got some pressure for the first time as Ken Roczen led nearly half the race in both Motos before relinquishing the lead. Roczen, coming off a Supercross injury not fully healed, looks ahead of his own schedule in terms of racing speed and this weekend might prove the final turning point as High Point has served him well with a sweep two years ago, a win on a tie-breaker in 2015 over Ryan Dungey and second-place to a dominating James Stewart in 2015.
Eli Tomac rides into High Point with nary a blemish
Tomac, the defending Champion, gets another chance to edit his story as he had never won Thunder Valley prior to this year nor has he ever won High Point, his last podium five years ago when he placed third in the 250 class behind Marvin Musquin who split moto wins with none other than Roczen. Tomac cruised to a Moto 2 win last year but a crash in the first race kept him off the podium continuing a trend of inconsistencies. So far this year, Tomac is anything but inconsistent.
Musquin on the other hand finished fourth overall at Thunder Valley failing to reach the podium for the first time this year. He remains in second-place for points but sits 28 points back of Tomac which hardly proves insurmountable, as he showed last year, but Musquin needs podiums to not only keep pace with Tomac but fend off the rising Roczen who probably got the most out of the two-week break. Even more, Musquin needs to pick up the pace. Just one Moto so far has him less than 10 seconds behind Tomac at the finish but more than 30 seconds behind in half the Motos raced so far. Maybe he needs to find that B-side Moto mix of Sammy Hagar's "I Can't Drive 55" called "I Can't Ride 55."
Ken Roczen starting to shred the tracks
Meanwhile, High Point offers solid memories for Blake Baggett as he grabbed the Red Plate for the first time in his career last year after his first career win. Baggett jumped into the fray after some bad rides by Tomac then Musquin hurt his knee. This year, Baggett has posted a slow start but reached the podium with two third-place results last time out.
Justin Barcia had a good run last week until a Red Flag ended it
Elsewhere, Justin Barcia remains in third-place despite a letdown since finishing third in both Motos to open the season. He has two sixth-place Motos the last two rounds but to his credit a solid start to Moto 1 at Thunder Valley ended when a Red Flag called the race about 10 minutes in with Barcia leading and Tomac on his tail. A gut-punch, no doubt, to his psyche resulting in a fifth-place redo.
Not all bodes well for the 250 class, however, at least for Zach Osborne. The defending Champion trying to secure four titles in two years (Supercross and Motocross combined) found out why it has never been done before as his season ended in a pile up on the first turn in Moto 2. Osborne managed to pop his dislocated shoulder into place and get back into the race salvaging a point but all for naught as surgery on that shoulder controlled his future.
A win on Saturday puts Jeremy Martin in full control for the 250 class title
Outside of the injury, Osborne dropped from first-place to fourth facing an almost insurmountable climb back into the title fight as two-time Champion Jeremy Martin showed flashes of his back-to-back years with his first win of the season and now first Red Plate in three years. Martin has five Top 2 finishes so far this season and three podiums in the last four years at High Point including a tie-breaking win last year over Osborne.
Martin will see just how far brotherly love travels this weekend and beyond as sibling Alex Martin grabbed second overall for the second straight round finishing right behind Jeremy in both Motos at Thunder Valley. Alex has five straight Top 3s but needs some wins to catch his brother 13 points ahead.
Finally, Aaron Plessinger loses the Red Plate this weekend after a rather unspectacular outing at Thunder Valley on the heels of his sweep in Round 2. Plessinger took sixth overall and dropped eight points from the spot the lead. He raced well last year taking third overall, his only podium at High Point, and he'll need another if he's to keep pace with what appears to be a dialed in Jeremy Martin.
Osborne's departure certainly opens the door for Plessinger and Alex Martin but with Justin Cooper getting his first career Moto win last time out for third overall, Jordon Smith showing signs of life and Joey Savatgy who maybe, maybe not ready to throw all caution to the wind after a bike malfunction ended what should have been a turnaround weekend in Colorado little room exists and Jeremy Martin no longer has a defending Champion to worry about.
Our Podium Picks for High Point:
- Eli Tomac
- Ken Roczen
- Marvin Musquin
- Jeremy Martin
- Joey Savatgy
- Alex Martin
Check out the track map for Round 4:
Expect warm and humid temperatures as 450 class gates drop for Moto 1 just after 1 p.m. (EST) on Saturday at High Point Raceway in Mount Morris, PA. Moto 2 starts around 3 p.m. Make sure the batteries in your TV clicker work well because MAVTV provides live coverage of Moto 1 for both classes, NBC covers Moto 2 for the 450 class and NBCSN airs Moto 2 for the 250 class.
2018 Motocross Season Standings
- Eli Tomac (150)
- Marvin Musquin (122)
- Justin Barcia (104)
- Blake Baggett (100)
- Ken Roczen (97)
- Weston Peick (88)
- Phil Nicoletti (75)
- Jason Anderson (73)
- Benny Bloss (73)
- Dylan Merriam (49)
- Jeremy Martin (129)
- Aaron Plessinger (121)
- Alex Martin (116)
- Zach Osborne (105)
- Justin Cooper (98)
- Jordon Smith (77)
- Chase Sexton (76)
- Austin Forkner (75)
- Garrett Marchbanks (72)
- RJ Hampshire (72)