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Motocross Halfway: What Have We Learned?


Chris Cooksey

The 450 class was believed to be The Eli Tomac Show.  After Hangtown everybody was ready to crown him and move on to Monster Cup.  With Ryan Dungey unexpectedly retiring after a heated Supercross battle with Tomac, most expected a Tomac runaway this summer (if you say you didn't, you’re lying).  But Marvin Musquin, Jason Anderson and Blake Baggett all had other ideas.  

Marvin showed everyone Eli was human during the first Moto in Glen Helen.  Eli had another front brake problem in the second Moto at Glen Helen.  Despite what Kawasaki says I believe it was the same issue as in Supercross.  Eli allowed these guys to gain confidence.  In Colorado Baggett did the unthinkable and ran down Eli for the win, and doubled down by making bold comments about how he “broke” Eli, even mentioning his famous father on the PulpMX show.  This didn't sit well with the competition, but Baggett backed his comment in High Point by going 1-2 for the overall.  The second Moto in High point Eli showed the rumors of his demise had been greatly exaggerated.   

Eli has since corrected his mistakes and regained his early season form.  A knee injury has all but eliminated Musquin from the championship but he seems to have recovered his speed at Red Bud.  Marvin showed the speed that garnered him the overall win at round 2 in Glen Helen.  Baggett has appeared to crumble under the “red plate” pressure.   This season is proving that anything can happen.  Jason Anderson is hanging around positioning himself perfectly and waiting to see if anything happens to Eli or Baggett.  

This season is anything but predictable and here are some of the ridiculous things to date:

  • RCH has a pit fire, and 45 minutes later Justin Bogle (who has never been on a 450 podium) dominates the first Moto in Colorado.
     
  • Eli has another front brake problem in Glen Helen.
     
  • Roger DeCoster runs to the tower mid race at High Point to tell the announcers Marvin Musquin has a knee injury and nothing is wrong with his KTM.
     
  • Yamaha’s reason for getting a factory race team back together (Cooper Webb) quits the second Moto at Glen Helen because of a poor handling machine.
     
  • Justin Barcia riding the JGR Factory Suzuki, the bike he asked for looks worse than he did on the Yamaha he didn't like.  Rumor has it that he has been openly lobbying for a spot on Factory KTM for 2018, but he better show something or he might be completely out of a job in 2018.  He looked good for 15 minutes at Red Bud…. for 15 minutes.  He needs to get on the podium before KTM will take him seriously.
     
  • Dean Ferris showed up in a one off performance at High Point and got 2nd in the first Moto.

This is more action than I can remember in any season and we are only halfway through.  Eli Tomac will have the Red Plate in Southwick next week, let's see if the “Red Plate” continues to curse whomever is running it. If Eli can go 1-1 at Southwick he could smash the confidence of the field, Baggett desperately needs to get some points back, but a thumb injury might be an issue.   Anderson needs to put it together for an overall and Marvin could play spoiler.  If this title comes down to Eli and one of the other three riders, will we see the team tactics play out like we did in Supercross?  Stay tuned!

In the 250 class Zach Osborne is proving his program and confidence are exactly what he needed to become a contender.  He has been consistent while Jeremy Martin has been fast but plagued with mistakes and a bike failure.  This has put him 45 points behind Osborne.  Many have pointed to Jeremy's switch from Yamaha to Honda as the reason he is struggling.  I wouldn't count him out, he looks strong and could easily go on a run of 1-1 performances.  Also Zach Osborne seems to be “ill” quite often.  He was extremely congested in Colorado and said he battled an ear infection before Red Bud.  This is the time of year that riders in the Baker Factory have historically been run down and at risk for illness.  45 points could vanish quickly if Zach has a couple 4-5 finishes while Jeremy goes 1-1.  Don't crown Zach yet!  Alex Martin is fast but I don't see him winning the title, he doesn't have that little extra that Jeremy and Zach seem to find when needed.  


The disappointing performance of the year goes to the entire Pro Circuit team.  From multiple bike failures and Justin Hill riding less than inspired, Mitch has to be losing his mind.  Going into the season all four of his riders could make a case for winning the title, but other than Savatgy’s win in Colorado they haven't had much success.  If Vegas gave odds on a Pro Circuit rider not being in the top 3 in the standings at the halfway point the odds would have been worse than Connor McGregor beating Floyd Mayweather.   Let's not forget 2017 has been a crazy year, so who knows how the season will end, but we can guarantee it won't go as expected!  Mitchell Harrison almost won the second Moto at Redbud…. What's next Nick Gaines winning Washougal?

All I am sure of at the halfway point is I am getting my money's worth out of my NBC Sports Gold App purchase.  I also love the riders showing their personalities at the press conferences and on the podium.  I used to skip the redundant sponsor mumbling, but now I am watching to see who will say what and how the other guys will react.  

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(aftermath of the Anderson on Baggett block pass at RedBud)

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(Osborne has been flying)

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(Tomac has regained control of the 450 class)

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Damn it Cooksey, we ain't crowning anyone till the end!! Indeed it has been a great year. Maybe someone should light a fire under Bogle' s a$$ before every race!@ haah

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Good article but I'm sure how you can say that Blake was crumbling under the pressure? The tip over was just one of those things. Definately not intentional by Jason and only one small mistake that took a huge chunk of time to recover from. Still, Blake made up a lot of points to keep him in the hunt. 

As for Eli, I think were seeing a new Eli. His maturity is working like magic. He's not taking unnecessary risks to make a statement. He's making a statement by winning as many motos as possible while doing so at a comfortable pace. if needed, he finds another gear to keep his competitors pushing at a pace that could easily end their season. 

Yes Chris, it's been a fanstasic year in both classes.

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4 hours ago, MotoXImage said:

Good article but I'm sure how you can say that Blake was crumbling under the pressure? The tip over was just one of those things. Definately not intentional by Jason and only one small mistake that took a huge chunk of time to recover from. Still, Blake made up a lot of points to keep him in the hunt. 

As for Eli, I think were seeing a new Eli. His maturity is working like magic. He's not taking unnecessary risks to make a statement. He's making a statement by winning as many motos as possible while doing so at a comfortable pace. if needed, he finds another gear to keep his competitors pushing at a pace that could easily end their season. 

Yes Chris, it's been a fanstasic year in both classes.

Thanks!  Full disclosure, my day job is with Fly/WPS and I really want Baggett to win for selfish reasons.  With that said, I am trying to call what I see and after Baggett  Holeshot he seemed out of sorts that first lap.  To me it looked like the pressure got to him.  I agree with JT$ on the pass Anderson made (http://racerxonline.com/2017/07/04/breakdown-subtle-shades-of-gray).  Although Baggett should have known better and given Anderson more room...

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For me, when Blake gets a holeshot or great start, it's rare that his first laps are his best and he usually falls back a few positions and tries to monitor the pace then go in for the kill in the last laps.  Like Dungey, Blake is a slow starter. I don't consider that crumbling because it's just the way he's wired but I can see how someone could view it that way. 

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