Photography by Jeff Kardas
After a slip in the first moto that might have cost him the win, there was no mystery at all in the rugged second 250 moto at Lakewood. GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac made quick work of early leaders Jeremy Martin and Zack Osborne. The Colorado native got out front leaving nothing but a trail of dust for the rest of the field in the thin mountain air. Tomac beat teammate Zach Osborne by a massive margin of 20.148 seconds, his 2-1 giving him the overall victory and putting the first dent in the armor of series leader Ken Roczen.
Tomac not only earned his first win of 2013, but also narrowed the series lead. He got a major assist from Osborne, who made an aggressive pass on Roczen on the final lap to nail down second in moto 2. Roczen still managed a second overall with a 2-2, while Osborne rounded out the podium finishers with a 6-2.
The resounding victory for Tomac, combined with Osborne relegating Roczen to third, means the championship has tightened up considerably. Tomac trails Roczen now by just six points after the first two rounds of the 12-event series. Roczen’s Red Bull KTM teammate Marvin Musquin is a distant third in the standings.
Millville, Minnesota’s Jeremy Martin surprised the 20,000-plus Lakewood fans by blasting off the line and earning the holeshot in the second moto aboard his MyPlash/Metal Mulisha Yamaha. His lead was short-lived however as the GEICO Hondas of Osborne and Tomac slipped by. Tomac then moved by Osborne for the lead, bringing Roczen with him, but this time Roczen didn’t seem to have the rhythm he had in the first moto. Initially he pulled away from Osborne, but in the end lapped riders slowed him on the final lap and Osborne pounced, taking second on the white flag lap.
Up front it was all Tomac who checked out early, much to the delight of the Colorado fans. His fitness showed through in a big way during that second moto.
“It feels so good to finally show the home state fans that I can ride in front of them,” Tomac said with a broad grin. The past few years here haven’t been the greatest. This time we really got our bike setup dialed in, our suspension, our engine, everything was running great. In the second moto I got a second-place start, which was awesome for me. I can’t thank everyone enough.”
Tomac felt the lack of oxygen at the higher elevation of Lakewood and the quick moto turnaround made a difference. “This weekend we had a shorter intermission too so that was tough. We literally went back to the truck, got on gear, got a little snack and had to get going again. It’s tough when the intermission is that short.”
It was strange to see Roczen, who had been so dominant for the first three motos of the season, look so perplexed after his third in moto 2 at Lakewood.
“I’m definitely disappointed,” said a spent Roczen. “I got off to a decent start and I don’t know, I just didn’t have the flow like in the first one. I think I got a little tired, the bike had a lot of headshake, and the track was pretty rough. I couldn’t follow Eli. He was going really fast. On the last lap a lapper got in between us and Zack passed me. Overall it was still a decent day. I can’t complain. It’s all good. I’ll go home, rest up; get some decent training in and comeback strong in Tennessee.”
Even though he and Tomac have separated themselves from the field early in the season, Roczen feels the title fight is far from over. “There are a lot of other riders who are fast,” he said. “Of course he [Tomac] lives at an altitude that helps with training, but he was definitely fast today so hats off.”
Osborne was stoked to get on the box and happy with his last-lap pass on Roczen that made it possible.
“I was close the lap before in a different spot,” Osborne explained. “On the last lap we got into some lappers and he just picked one wrong line and I had the chance and I went for it. I’ve got to thank my team. This track today was unbelievably rough. To be back here in America and be on the podium in my second national back and to make a pass like that on Ken on the last lap is pretty good. I can’t ask for much more.”
Defending champ Blake Baggett had a hard-knock day, still battling a nagging wrist injury and suffering a crash. He went 9-5 for fifth overall.
“It was definitely a rough day in the office,” Baggett shrugged. “I didn’t come out with the best finishes. I made a lot of mistakes in the first one and went down and then went off the track a few times. I’ve just got to pick it up now and not let it slip away too far. We still have 20 motos to go. We’ll just have to go back and do some work. They sprinted really fast and everyone was going so fast, it just wasn’t my day today.”
Cooper Webb, who was brilliant with a third in the first moto, struggled to 17th in the second and dropped to ninth overall.
The series moves to a new venue next week, Muddy Creek in Tennessee, on Saturday.
Lakewood 250 class results
1 17 Eli Tomac Cortez, CO Honda CRF250R 2-1
2 94 Ken Roczen Murrieta, CA KTM 250 SX-F 1-3
3 338 Zach Osborne Honda CRF250R 6-2
4 25 Marvin Musquin Corona, CA KTM 250 SX-F 4-4
5 1 Blake Baggett Grand Terrace, CA Kawasaki KX 250F 9-5
6 77 Jeremy Martin Millville, MN Yamaha YZ 250F 8-6
7 40 Martin Davalos Cairo, GA Kawasaki KX 250F 7-10
8 21 Jason Anderson Edgewood, NM Suzuki RMZ 250 5-12
9 175 Cooper Webb Yamaha YZ 250F 3-17
10 34 Justin Bogle Cushing, OK Honda CRF250R 13-7
250 Point standings (after 2 of 12 rounds)
1 94 Ken Roczen Murrieta, CA 95
2 17 Eli Tomac Cortez, CO 89
3 25 Marvin Musquin Corona, CA 72
4 1 Blake Baggett Grand Terrace, CA 70
5 338 Zach Osborne 65
6 77 Jeremy Martin Millville, MN 50
7 21 Jason Anderson Edgewood, NM 49
8 175 Cooper Webb 43
9 38 Kyle Cunningham Aledo, TX 39
10 317 Justin Hill 39