Hangtown 450MX: Eli Tomac sweeps Round 1 of Pro Motocross

May 19, 2018

Eli Tomac showed that he's still the rider to beat in the 450 Class after sweeping the first round of the 2018 Lucas OIl Pro Motocross Championship, but Marvin Musquin kept the damage to a minimum thanks to a pair of runner-up moto finishes.

Read on for recaps and highlights from a full day of racing at Hangtown.

QUALIFYING

Once again, it was Eli Tomac and Marvin Musquin atop the leaderboard. The two title favorites set the top times in practice, with Tomac coming out ahead of his championship rival. Tomac was the fastest rider in both of the practice sessions, and his best lap (2:15.521) was more than a second and a half ahead of Musquin (2:17.243) and more than two seconds ahead of the rest of the field. Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing's Justin Barcia was third with a 2:17.986 lap time.

Today marks the return of Ken Roczen, who has been out due to injury since February. The Honda HRC rider has had very limited time on the bike in preparation for the season and is tempering his expectations at these early rounds. Roczen still managed to quaify ninth, but it remains to be seen how the two-time champion will hold up over the course over a full 30-minute moto.

450 Qualifying Results
1. Eli Tomac, 2:15.521
2. Marvin Musquin, 2:17.243
3. Justin Barcia, 2:17.986
4. Christian Craig, 2:18.133
5. Jason Anderson, 2:18.274
6. Blake Baggett, 2:18.603
7. Benny Bloss, 2:18.664
8. Weston Peick, 2:19.539
9. Ken Roczen, 2:19.701
10. Phil Nicoletti, 2:21.324
Full Results


Eli Tomac started the season off with a 1-1 sweep. (Photo: Matt Rice)

MOTO 1

The season got underway with a fairly familiar sight—Christian Craig beating everyone to the line for a holeshot. There was a lot of shuffling behind Craig, but at the end of the first lap, it was Jason Anderson, Marvin Musquin, Justin Barcia, Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen running second through sixth.

Less than four minutes into the moto, Craig relinquished the lead to Anderson. Meanwhile, defending champion Tomac was charging through the field after a relatively poor start. It wasn't long before he sliced through the field to get up to third behind Anderson and Craig. With Musquin making a charge of his own, there was some more shuffling that put Musquin into second, Tomac into third and Craig into fourth.

About eight minutes into the race, Musquin caught Anderson and made a pass for the lead, and then shortly after, Tomac was able to use the halfpipe to pass Anderson for second place. That set up the battle that many were looking forward to—Tomac vs. Musquin! Not only were Tomac and Musquin the top two title contenders last year (and the presumptive favorites again this year), they also had an incident during the supercross season that added a little bad blood to their rivalry.

While many probably speculated whether Tomac would use some sort of aggressive pass to take the lead from Musquin, it didn't come to that. Instead, it was an unforced error—going off the track—that cost Musquin the top spot. After Tomac cruised by, Musquin was unable to mount a challenge, and the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider ultimately took the checkered flag by more than 13 seconds. Fortunately for Musquin, the rest of the field was no threat to him, so he was able to cruise to a second-place finish.

Barcia was able to earn a spot alongside them on the podium after passing Anderson shortly before the halfway point of the race. The position looked to be in peril when Anderson stepped it up late in the race and caught back up to him, but Barcia fended off the supercross champ and secured third place. Anderson finished fourth.

The top five was rounded out by Weston Peick, who was able to pass Roczen with two laps to go. Roczen ended up in sixth place—a solid result considering the status of his recovery and his lowered expectations for this weekend—after holding off a hard-charging Blake Baggett on the final lap.

Craig, who lost several positions after a fall earlier in the race, took eighth. Phil Nicoletti and Benny Bloss finished out the top ten.

450 Moto 1 Results
1. Eli Tomac
2. Marvin Musquin
3. Justin Barcia
4. Jason Anderson
5. Weston Peick
6. Ken Roczen
7. Blake Baggett
8. Christian Craig
9. Phil Nicoletti
10. Benny Bloss
11. Bradley Taft
12. Kyle Chisholm
13. Dylan Merriam
14. Jake Masterpool
15. Cody Cooper
16. Ben LaMay
17. Brandan Leith
18. Brandon Scharer
19. Cade Autenrieth
20. Dare DeMartile
Full Results

MOTO 1 HIGHLIGHT: CRAIG TAKES HOLESHOT

 

MOTO 1 HIGHLIGHT: CRAIG GOES DOWN

 

MOTO 1 HIGHLIGHT: MUSQUIN VS. ANDERSON FOR THE LEAD

 

MOTO 1 HIGHLIGHT: MUSQUIN GOES OFF TRACK, TOMAC TAKES LEAD

 

MOTO 1 RACE RECAP

 

MOTO 2

When the gate dropped, it was Phil Nicoletti beating Anderson to the line for the holeshot, but Barcia got by both of them on the opening lap to take over the lead. Barcia led the field for several minutes until getting re-passed by Anderson.

As for Moto 1 winner Tomac, he was well outside the top ten as this race got underway, but then he did what he always does in that situation—make a ton of passes. On his march toward the front, he caught up with his rival Musquin but was unable to pass him. The two title contenders continued moving through the field, and in a short span of time, Musquin got around both Roczen and Barcia to move into second place. Tomac soon followed suit to move into third, but before he could make a run at Musquin, Tomac tipped over in a turn and gave that position back to Barcia.

While Tomac had to deal with passing Barcia a second time, a battle was brewing up front. With about 12 minutes to go on the countdown clock, Musquin caught and passed Anderson to take away the lead. Meanwhile Tomac went on an absolute tear while overtaking Barcia (again) and then Anderson to get into second place.

Clearly Tomac would not be denied. After catching his rival, the reigning champ scrubbed a jump and was able to cut inside of Musquin as they entered the halfpipe to secure the top spot. Tomac was then able to quickly stretch out his lead, while Musquin was forced to settle for second place once again.

Tomac's 1-1 and Musquin's 2-2 finishes matched their results from Hangtown one year ago. It also placed them first and second, respectively, overall for the day. Tomac will carry the points lead into Round 2, but Musquin will only be six points back.

The final spot on the overall podium was filled by Barcia (3-3), who passed Anderson to nab a third-place finish in Moto 2. Anderson (4-6) also ceded positions late in the race to Rocky Mountain ATV/MC-KTM-WPS teammates Baggett and Bloss but still edged out Baggett (7-4) for fourth overall.

Despite a good start in Moto 2, Roczen—who had been running in third at one point—dropped all the way back to 16th by the end of the race.

450 Moto 2 Results
1. Eli Tomac
2. Marvin Musquin
3. Justin Barcia
4. Blake Baggett
5. Benny Bloss
6. Jason Anderson
7. Weston Peick
8. Christian Craig
9. Phil Nicoletti
10. Bradley Taft
11. Kyle Chisholm
12. Cody Cooper
13. Kyle Cunningham
14. Jake Masterpool
15. Dylan Merriam
16. Ken Roczen
17. Toshiki Tomita
18. Ben LaMay
19. Dare DeMartile
20. Brandan Leith
Full Results

MOTO 2 HIGHLIGHT: NICOLETTI TAKES HOLESHOT

 

MOTO 2 HIGHLIGHT: MUSQUIN PASSES ROCZEN AND BARCIA TO TAKE 2ND

 

MOTO 2 HIGHLIGHT: TOMAC GOES DOWN

 

MOTO 2 HIGHLIGHT: MUSQUIN VS. ANDERSON FOR LEAD

 

MOTO 2 HIGHLIGHT: TOMAC VS. MUSQUIN FOR THE LEAD

 

MOTO 2 RACE RECAP

 

450 OVERALL RESULTS

1. Eli Tomac (1-1)
2. Marvin Musquin (2-2)
3. Justin Barcia (3-3)
4. Jason Anderson (4-6)
5. Blake Baggett (7-4)
6. Weston Peick (5-7)
7. Benny Bloss (10-5)
8. Christian Craig (8-8)
9. Phil Nicoletti (9-9)
10. Bradley Taft (11-10)

450 CLASS POINT STANDINGS

1. Eli Tomac, 50
2. Marvin Musquin, 44
3. Justin Barcia, 40
4. Jason Anderson, 33
5. Blake Baggett, 32
6. Weston Peick, 30
7. Benny Bloss, 27
8. Christian Craig, 26
9. Phil Nicoletti, 24
10. Bradley Taft, 21