Three more weekends, the last three rounds.
The 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship series resumes on Saturday at the Unadilla National in New Berlin, NY and without further interruption as riders return after the final off-weekend of the year.
Eli Tomac. Well, after a disastrous outing at RedBud that included a mechanical failure and some crashes that resulted in him losing the points lead he held all year, Tomac stormed right back sweeping the last two rounds with epic riding giving him a 15 point lead and no doubt a much larger mental cushion.
Tomac has bested Ken Roczen and Marvin Musquin both contenders and race winners who just can't find enough left in their personal tank to hold off the charging Tomac who seems to move around both riders with relative ease, sometimes near the end of the race, the ultimate gut-punch. If silver linings exist in Motocross, Tomac found his at RedBud.
Eli Tomac looks unbeatable right now
Tomac has won 13 of 18 Motos this year along with five sweeps and by all accounts appears headed for back-to-back Championships. His RedBud experience, however, prevents him from simply protecting his lead from here on out as he likely would start employing that strategy now if not for that 35 point swing a few weeks ago. Because if Musquin wins out he claims the title. And, depending on whether behind-the-scenes drama exists between Musquin and his home country of France and their motives for leaving him off the Motocross of Nations team (this year RedBud hosts where Musquin won a few weeks ago) he just might have filled up his emotional and psychological fuel tank.
Marvin Musquin sits just 15 points out of first but somehow it feels a much larger spread
Musquin, if you recall, won six straight Motos last year ending with a sweep at Unadilla to close in on Tomac's lead forcing him to clinch in the final race of the year. A similar result on Saturday puts lots of pressure on Tomac to finish without buckling (or perhaps unbuckling) under the pressure. Tomac had a forgetful day last year at Unadilla finishing ninth overall with his best career result, a third overall, coming in 2016 (behind Roczen and Musquin) and 2014. He did sweep here in 2013 when riding in the 250 class.
All bets on Tomac for the 2018 title however Roczen has put forth a Championship caliber season. Now tied for third in points with Justin Barcia and based on the previous three rounds will likely take sole ownership of the spot after this weekend. Roczen has slowly returned to his former self after the arm injury that sidelined his Supercross season. That's TWO career-threatening injuries just more than a year apart and Roczen has not finishing off the podium since Southwick. Roczen entered the season not fully healed from the injury incurred in February but he has not missed one race.
Ken Roczen has six straight Top 3 Motos including a win
Barcia meanwhile, after a string of podiums, has fallen off pace of late with just one Top 3 in the last six Motos. Finishing fourth on the season after holding on to third through eight rounds might sting a bit, despite so far, finishing in the Top 5 in 17 of 18 Motos. Barcia last raced Unadilla in 2016 where he finished fifth overall losing on the tie-breaker to Benny Bloss.
Finally, five-time GNCC Champion Kailub Russell joins the fray for the last three rounds while on the usual extended summer break from that off-road series where he currently leads in points. Can Russell ride upfront and fight for a podium costing someone points or does he settle mid-pack working on his form for a likely selection and return to the annual International Six Days Enduro held in Chile this year which features a Motocross component?
Aaron Plessinger can settle for Top 5s from here on out and win the 250 class Championship
The 250 class meanwhile feels more or less wrapped up as Aaron Plessinger holds a 59 point lead over Alex Martin, who has finished in the Top 5 in just three Motos of the last six. Compare that to Plessinger who has finished in the Top 3 in all six of those Motos including four wins. Martin's window to catch Plessinger began closing at Washougal when Plessinger took the overall on a medicore (4-3) day while Martin finished eighth overall. Martin last raced Unadilla in 2016 and finished seventh overall. Plessinger took seventh overall last year and second overall in 2016.
Elsewhere, Joey Savatgy finally got a Moto win last time out as well as his first podium of the year as he tries to salvage a season where many considered him a contender. He grabbed a Moto win last year at Unadilla along with second overall so he carries momentum and history into Saturday as he works his way up the standings where he currently sits in ninth for points. A few more wins can help leap frog his way to fifth (just 24 points away) where his teammate Austin Forkner sits and boasts this unfortunate race line for the last four rounds: 1-20-35-2-2-18-2-39.
Shane McElrath is working his way into the Top 3
Forkner has tangled with Martin, got punted by Plessinger and most recently knocked himself silly at Washougal after a really rough get-off. Meanwhile, Shane McElrath continues to move up the standings thanks to his first career Moto win at Washougal for second overall (taking the tie breaker over Savatgy) and first career overall win a few rounds earlier at Tennessee. McElrath was in ninth place for points after four rounds and now sits just 16 points back of third-place Justin Cooper.
Our Podium Picks for Unadilla:
- Eli Tomac
- Marvin Musquin
- Ken Roczen
- Joey Savatgy
- Shane McElrath
- Aaron Plessinger
Check out the track map for Round 10:
Cloudy, possible rain expected and maybe a thunderstorm on Saturday with mild temperatures. MAVTV airs the first Motos live starting starting at 1 p.m. (EST) while NBC broadcasts Moto 2 for the 450 class live at 3 p.m. (EST.) NBCSN tape-delays Moto 2 for the 250 class with a 7:30 p.m. (EST) air time.
2018 Motocross Season Standings
- Eli Tomac (401)
- Marvin Musquin (386)
- Ken Roczen (330)
- Justin Barcia (330)
- Blake Baggett (301)
- Weston Peick (247)
- Benny Bloss (224)
- Phil Nicoletti (217)
- Justin Hill (132)
- Kyle Cunningham (130)
- Aaron Plessinger (371)
- Alex Martin (312)
- Justin Cooper (267)
- Shane McElrath (251)
- Austin Forkner (238)
- RJ Hampshire (230)
- Jordon Smith (225)
- Chase Sexton (222)
- Joey Savatgy (214)
- Dylan Ferrandis (204)