Ken Roczen and Joey Savatgy upended the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship series with sweeps last week at Hangtown and on Saturday put their early points leads on the line at Glen Helen.
Both riders surprised at the opening round, yet in hindsight didn't really surprise, as the two pretty much picked up right where they left off a few weeks back at the end of Supercross. Roczen dominated the 450 class field at Hangtown beating defending Champion Ryan Dungey by six seconds in Moto 1 and nearly 15 seconds in Moto 2. Savatgy's checkers in the 250 class were a little closer but he got his first two career wins nonetheless.
Roczen looked much like what lots of fans expected from Eli Tomac who swept Hangtown last year winning Moto 2 by 90 seconds. Tomac took third overall with two fourth-place finishes but his lap times this year were on par with last year's. It's just that everyone else caught up. Dungey has never won the overall at Hangtown, winning his only career Moto there and tying overall winner Chad Reed in points in 2011.
Expect a more even playing field, if you will, for Glen Helen, as Hangtown was unseasonably cool along with early morning showers that disoriented the track conditions a bit. In postrace comments Roczen said the track was different than year's past with a hard base and super choppy conditions. Forecast for Glen Helen is warm and sunny.
Ken Roczen rode harder, faster and higher than everyone else at Hangtown. Can he stay undefeated at Glen Helen?
That might just be what Tomac needs to exorcise any demons left over from last year's Round 3 crash that ended his season, not to mention quiet all the detractors who expected Tomination even after two shoulder surgeries.
Wait though, the conditions also favor Dungey who won Glen Helen two years ago (3-1) and in 2009 (2-1) while riding in the 250 class. A sweep by Dungey this time around gets him tied, at the least, with Roczen. Last year he took third overall rolling past the finish as Tomac emerged from the showers.
But the 2016 field is so stacked and with a good start by any one of a dozen at the gate could open the door to a new contender. Trey Canard finally got out ahead of the pack last week but crashes in both Motos kept him from claiming a podium spot, instead he settled on fifth overall. No injuries!
Ryan Dungey has a "winning" history with Glen Helen
Jason Anderson took fourth overall narrowly missing out on a trip to the box by one point. He finished third in Moto 2 but his sixth-place showing in Moto 1 dropped him behind Tomac.
Cole Seely grabbed the holeshot in Moto 1 but slid to fifth and Moto 2 proved a bit rough as he started third but dropped back to 10th. Justin Barcia wasn't able to find that midseason magic from last year but he took a respectable 7th place and rookie Marvin Musquin is finding life on the 450s a bit harder than last year's 250 battle with Jeremy Martin when the two left everyone else in their dust as they fought for the title.
Josh Grant took ninth overall with an (8-8) day last week but expect a much higher finish this weekend, like Top 5 or better. Remember, it was Grant who went (3-1) and finished second to MXGP Champion Romain Febvre in September at the final round of the 2015 Motocross World Championship. He sleep-rides Glen Helen so a stop on the box puts him right into Championship contention - for at least a week anyway.
Unlikely to line up Saturday is Blake Baggett who finished third in Moto 1 last week but broke his collarbone in Moto 2. He managed to finish 19th for 11th overall. He finished fourth in Motocross last year and was a dark horse favorite to compete for the 2016 title. Not now. He had surgery on Monday and plans to get behind the gate as quickly as possible. James Stewart is also an unknown after popping his shoulder out, then in after crashing in Moto 1.
Was it really a surprise Joey Savatgy won Hangtown? If he sweeps Glen Helen then the surprise meter starts moving
In the 250 class, Savatgy brings a Dungey-size lead into Round 2 thanks in part to everyone else having at least one bad Moto.
Alex Martin took second overall 15 points back from Savatgy. His second-place Moto 2 finish, which he came less than two seconds from winning, countered an eighth place Moto 1 finish. That gave him a one point edge over Cooper Webb who took third overall after a (4-5) day. Webb showed no ill effects, or perhaps he did based on those results, from a broken wrist. Which may or may not be healed. Who knows, maybe we'll find out when he contracts a ghostwriter to pen his book in 10 years.
Cooper Webb and Jeremy Martin in catch-up mode already
As expected Aaron Plessinger looked solid taking fourth thanks to a (9-3) day. He took the tiebreaker over the widely-expected, but didn't happen, winner Jeremy Martin, the brother of Alex. Martin, Jeremy that is, is the two-time defending Champion and without Musquin on his tail many expected this series to be finished by now. Well, at least by RedBud.
Last week we bet on Tomac returning to form and gave Anderson early season success with Dungey the final podium spot.
In the 250 class we expected none other than Jeremy Martin to win overwhelmingly, Aaron Plessinger finishing second and Round 1 luck by Austin Forkner who made his pro debut.
Who steps on the podium for Glen Helen? We'll make our guess, leave us yours:
- Eli Tomac
- Ken Roczen
- Josh Grant
- Jeremy Martin
- Joey Savatgy
- Aaron Plessinger
Gates drop for Round 2 of the 2016 Motocross season on Saturday at Glen Helen.
2016 Motocross Season Standings
450 Class Standings
- Ken Roczen (50)
- Ryan Dungey (44)
- Eli Tomac (36)
- Jason Anderson (35)
- Trey Canard (30)
- Cole Seely (27)
- Justin Barcia (26)
- Marvin Musquin (26)
- Josh Grant (26)
- Blake Baggett (22)
250 Class Standings
- Joey Savatgy (50)
- Alex Martin (35)
- Cooper Webb (34)
- Jeremy Martin (32)
- Aaron Plessinger (32)
- Jessy Nelson (29)
- Jordon Smith (27)
- Austin Forkner (22)
- Tristan Charboneau (22)
- Mitchell Oldenburg (21)