MX Sports Pro Racing
MOUNT MORRIS, Pa. — The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, made its first trip to the east coast June 16 for the fourth round of the season.
The Red Bull High Point National from High Point Raceway has become a Father’s Day tradition, and fittingly a pair of riders following the racing lineage of their fathers triumphed at the famed facility.
While it wasn’t easy, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac withstood his stiffest challenge to date in the 450 Class to capture his fourth straight victory.
In the 250 Class, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha’s Aaron Plessinger earned an unlikely 1-1 sweep for his second win of the season, which allowed him to regain control of the point lead.
Tomac won the overall at all four rounds thus far in 2018.
With his 6-0 record and commanding point lead entering the race, Tomac emerged with his first Motosport.com Holeshot of the season in the opening
450 Class moto, ahead of Team Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Marvin Musquin and Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing’s Justin Barcia. A first-turn crash took several other top competitors out of contention early, including Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen and RMATV/MC-WPS-KTM’s Blake Baggett, the fastest qualifier. Both riders got back into action and completed the opening lap in 31st and 33rd, respectively.
Out front, Tomac sprinted out to an early lead while Barcia applied pressure on Musquin for second. The Yamaha and KTM-mounted riders almost made contact on several occasions, but Barcia ultimately prevailed when Musquin went off track. That battle allowed Tomac to establish a multi-second lead, but it was short lived. Musquin regrouped and successfully repassed Barcia for second. He kept Tomac in his sights with slightly quicker lap times and continued to chip away at Tomac’s lead. It wasn’t long before Musquin closed to within a few bikes lengths and began to look for ways around Tomac. As they worked through lapped traffic, Musquin took advantage of faster lines to get alongside Tomac and make a pass around the outside with 6 1/2 minutes left in the moto.
Once out front, Musquin continued to pull away from Tomac and brought the defending champion’s moto winning streak to an end. Musquin took his first checkered flag of the season 5.4 seconds ahead of Tomac, while Barcia finished a distant third. Autotrader/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing’s Justin Hill finished fourth in his first ever 450 Class moto, while Baggett battled all the way back to finish fifth. Roczen finished just a couple spots behind that in seventh.
When the gate dropped on the second moto, Roczen put his Honda out front with his first holeshot, narrowly beating out Tomac and Musquin. Musquin was able to slip under Tomac for second, but as he went to pressure Roczen the Honda rider bobbled, slowing the momentum of both riders and allowing Tomac to move past on the outside. Roczen countered Tomac’s pass attempt and maintained his hold of the lead, while Musquin was forced to settle into third.
A short time later, Roczen made another costly error, carrying too much speed into an off-camber corner and running off track. This allowed Tomac to slip by and assume control of the lead, while Roczen got back on track in second. That presented an opportunity for Musquin to apply pressure on Roczen, and after a couple laps of following the German, the Frenchman made his move to take over the position.
Tomac picked up the pace in defense of Musquin’s prowess on the highly technical track. Despite his best efforts, Tomac still lost time to the Frenchman and as the moto wore on, the two rivals continued to inch closer and closer to one another. As they navigated through lappers the distance between Tomac and Musquin stabilized, but with just over a minute remaining Musquin picked up the pace and closed in on Tomac’s rear fender.
Tomac defended by protecting the inside line in virtually every corner, and he also used lapped riders to his advantage, getting by with ease while Musquin occasionally got held up. On the final lap both riders let it hang out. Musquin got alongside Tomac on two different occasions, but since the KTM rider didn’t have the preferred line, Tomac maintained the advantage and held off the Frenchman through to the finish.
Tomac took the win by 1.7 seconds over Musquin, while Roczen followed more than a minute behind in third.
By virtue of his second moto win, Tomac (2-1) earned the tiebreaker on Musquin (2-1) in the overall classification, securing his fourth straight victory this season and the 13th of his career. Barcia finished third overall (3-5).Tomac remains 28 points ahead of Musquin in the 450 Class standings, while Barcia is third, 57 points out of the lead.
In the 250 Class, Plessinger enjoyed a dominant first moto and earned his class-leading third win of the season, 7.6 seconds ahead of Jeremy Martin. Justin Cooper followed in third, with Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Austin Forkner in fourth and Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM’s Jordon Smith in fifth.
The second moto got underway with Cooper out front again, sweeping both holeshots. Martin slotted into second, with Forkner in third, while Plessinger started inside the top five.
Just past the halfway point, Martin lost power on his Honda and was forced to stand in the middle of the track holding the bike up. Plessinger and everyone behind him rode past.
Plessinger led the final portion of the race while Forkner was forced to battle with Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha’s Dylan Ferrandis, who was making his season debut, for second. Plessinger took a surprising win, and capped off a 1-1 sweep, by crossing the line 2.1 seconds ahead of Forkner.
It was the fourth career win for Plessinger.