Reigning champion Eli Tomac of Cortez opened the Lucas Oil Motocross series on Saturday with an electrifying come-from-behind charge to seize victory over rival Marvin Musquin in Sacramento, California.
With a win in the first moto under his belt, Tomac entered the second with the first spot at the gate, Musquin, Justin Barcia and supercross series winner Jason Anderson were at his side.
He didn’t start well. Dropping into 10th place after the first lap, Tomac faced a long line of racers in front, but he began picking them off in early laps.
By the end of Lap 2, Tomac moved into seventh place behind Musquin but couldn’t pass him. The two rivals moved together through the field until Lap 6, when Musquin passed Ken Roczen and Barcia to move into second place behind Anderson. Tomac passed Barcia to move into third, but tipped over in a turn and dropped again to fourth.
Meanwhile, Musquin passed Anderson to take the lead in Lap 8. Tomac overtook Barcia again and then Anderson, to tuck into second place behind Musquin.
After catching Musquin, Tomac cut inside him as they entered the halfpipe to secure the top spot. He wouldn’t look back.
Tomac quickly stretched out his lead, from .928 second in Lap 9 to 8.67 seconds in Lap 14. Tomac eased off in the final, 15th lap, to win by 6.323 seconds.
Musquin started the 2018 motocross season where he ended it last year – second place to Tomac. Barcia, Blake Baggett and Benny Bloss rounded out the Top 5. Supercross champion Anderson finished sixth, 50.787 seconds behind Tomac.
Tomac’s 1-1 and Musquin’s 2-2 finishes matched the results from Hangtown a year ago. Tomac starts the season atop the standings, but Musquin is only six points back.
In the first moto on Saturday, Christian Craig broke from the gate in first, followed by Anderson, Musquin and Barcia. Tomac was in fifth, but charged into second place behind Musquin by Lap 4, and into first by the end of Lap 7 after Musquin briefly went off-track. Tomac led the final nine laps of 15 laps to beat Musquin by 13.703 seconds. Barcia finished third, 35.245 seconds back, and Anderson and Weston Peick rounded out the Top 5.
Tomac also was the fastest in qualifying rounds on Saturday, with a time of 2 minutes, 15.521 seconds, more than 1.5 seconds ahead of Musquin (2:17.243) and more than two seconds ahead of the rest of the field. Barcia, Craig and Anderson rounded out the Top 5 qualifiers.
Last year, Tomac won 9 out of 24 motos en route to his first premier class title in 2017. Earlier this year, he finished third in the Monster Energy AMA Supercross series in a comeback season in which an injury and crashes cost him a shot at the title. But despite the poor start, he won eight of the next 15 supercross races, giving him momentum as he entered the outdoors motocross season.
Rival Musquin finished second last year in the 450MX. The French rider topped the 450MX series with five holeshots and 120 laps led, and he tied Tomac for most overall wins, at four. Musquin finished second in the 450 supercross series behind Anderson and ahead of Tomac.
The 12-round motocross series – two motos at each venue – ends at Indiana’s Ironman Raceway in August. It includes stops at in California, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Washington, New York, Maryland and Indiana. The series next goes to Glen Helen National Speedway in San Bernardino, California, on May 26.
450MX Standings1. Eli Tomac of Cortez (Kawasaki): 50
2. Marvin Musquin (KTM): 44
3. Justin Barcia (Yamaha): 40
4. Jason Anderson (Husqvarna): 33
5. Blake Baggett (KTM): 32
6. Weston Peick (Suzuki): 30
7. Benny Bloss (KTM): 27
8. Christian Craig (Honda): 26
9. Phillip Nicoletti (Suzuki): 24
10. Bradley Taft (Husqvarna): 21