Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac has won two races in 2016: The Daytona Supercross and the Southwick MX National. Both are either predominantly, or completely, sand. Although Spring Creek MX in Millville, Minnesota, has a long section of sand whoops, the rest of the track is definitively not sand. And points leader Ken Roczen, from RCH Suzuki, made it look easy in the non-sand of Millville at round eight of the 2016 Lucas Oil/AMA Pro Motocross Championships.
Roczen started the day out by setting the fastest qualifying time, and it was a doozy: Nearly two full seconds faster than Tomac’s time, and Tomac was over a second faster than everybody else.
AutoTrader.com/Monster Energy/JGR Yamaha’s Justin Barcia snatched the holeshot in moto one, and as the field headed down the track’s second long straightaway, Barcia protected his inside line, which blocked Roczen from moving to the lead while Tomac went around the outside of them both and took over out front.
Barcia continued protecting his lines throughout the entire opening lap, and by the end of lap one, Tomac led by four seconds, while Roczen found his way into second just before the completion of the opening circuit.
But with nearly being two seconds per lap faster, it didn’t take Roczen long to catch Tomac, and once he did, Tomac seemed to move over for the points leader. At that point, Roczen took off. Tomac hung on for second, despite occasional pressure from Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin in third. Barcia finished fourth, just in front of Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Christophe Pourcel in fifth.
Honda’s Trey Canard returned to action in Millville, and he pulled off a sixth place in the opening moto, while another big name to make his return, Red Bull KTM’s Dean Wilson, duked it out for 11th place, four spots in front of Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart, who reportedly suffered some major hand blisters in his first race back in well over a month. Roczen’s teammate Broc Tickle, who landed on the podium a couple of times in recent races, was knocked out of the first moto when Barcia’s teammate Weston Peick cross-rutted on a jump face and fell in front of Tickle while Tickle was in the air. They both DNF’d and didn’t return for moto two.
In the second moto, Musquin grabbed the holeshot while Roczen tangled off the gate with Canard and came around turn one mid-pack. Not to be denied, Roczen went to work, passing Tomac through the sand whoops, and then even more riders throughout the opening lap. He rounded lap one in fourth. Tomac was ninth.
By the end of lap two, Roczen had caught Musquin out front and made his move for the lead as the pair started lap three. Roczen won the second moto by nearly 30 seconds over Musquin, who held off Tomac late in the race until Tomac fell. Tomac still finished third in front of Pourcel, Barcia, Canard in sixth again, and the rest of the field.
Roczen took the overall win with a 1-1 score over Musquin, who scored his first second-overall of his 450cc MX career, and then Tomac. In the championship, Tomac lost significant ground, dropping from 48 points behind Roczen to 55 behind as the series heads to its last four races.
Round nine of the series is coming up this Saturday, July 23rd, in Washougal, Washington.
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By STEVE COX