Photos by Ryne Swanberg
After two opening weekends of single rider domination, the 250 title chase in the 2014 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship is beginning to see a growing number of racers making their own bids for the red place. An “off day” by Jeremy Martin could not have come at a worse time, as the Yamalube/Star Racing/Yamaha rider struggled with starts and rides through the field while his title rivals all raced for the overall win. This has brought the points margin to just a handful of markers between Martin and the field, which will make the next rounds of the series that much more exciting.
2014 Muddy Creek MX 250 Race Report
Cooper Webb | 2-1 | First Overall
Because Cooper Webb grew up in nearby North Carolina, the Muddy Creek round had a home track vibe for the Yamalube/Star Racing/Yamaha rider. Nearly every spectator that lined the fans cheered for the sophomore 250 racer and their excitement created a buzz unlike any stop so far this season. He would start the first moto in the top five and began climbing further up the order until he was locked on Christophe Pourcel’s rear wheel midway through the race. After an extended battle with Pourcel, one that allowed third place Blake Baggett to close in, Webb stole the lead away in the final 10 minutes of the moto and proceeded to control the field as best he could. Baggett would follow with a pass of his own on Pourcel and remained within striking distance of Webb in the final laps, with the help of lapped traffic. After going neck and neck through the final turn, Webb would drop back slightly and finish a close .080 seconds behind, to the dismay of the Southern crowd.
Webb wasted no time getting to the front of the field in the second moto and wrestled the lead away from Pourcel in the early moments. Even with the start and early pass, Webb could not shake the very fast pack of Baggett, Bogle, and Pourcel, staying only two seconds ahead of the competition. This tight running order made for tension filled final laps, but the action coalesced when Baggett crashed and collected both Bogle and Pourcel on the ground. With the pressure lifted, Webb was able to cruise to the first moto win and overall victory of his career. These finishes combined with the difficult day experienced by teammate Jeremy Martin allowed Webb to close within eight points of the leader in the championship standings.
Blake Baggett | 1-3 | Second Overall
Blake Baggett stated that he would be able to show how his fitness and skills stacked up compared to the competition in the latter moments of the summer’s warmest motos, and that is exactly what happened with the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider in Muddy Creek. A solid start had Baggett running in the top five in short order and he upped the pace as the race continued on, sliding by the competition and into second place behind Cooper Webb in the closing laps. Contrasting lines let the former 250 National champion reel the young racer in, but an opportunity for the pass came at the very last minute. When the two riders headed up the face of the finish line, Baggett found just enough speed to go around Webb and steal the win away in dramatic fashion.
Baggett pulled an impressive start in moto two and was in the thick of the action early in the race. He would start the first lap in fifth, but soon caught and passed Pourcel for second place then turned his attention to Webb. After the epic first moto, many expected Baggett to close in again during the waning laps but he would never make a true bid for the lead and suffered a crash in closing moments. His remount would cost him a position, but his third place ride scored him second overall on the day.
Justin Bogle | 4-2 | Third Overall
It took a little longer than some expected, but Justin Bogle has found a flow outdoors. The GEICO Honda rider started the first moto at the front of the field and ran with the leaders, and ran as high as second after a pass on Justin Hill, but could not hold off the attacks launched by Webb and Baggett. The two riders would go by Bogle in the pursuit of Pourcel, leaving the recently crowned 250 East Coast SX champion to ride the last moments of the moto alone in fourth place.
Like his competition, Bogle was up front from the drop of the gate and ran in the fast front pack that included Webb, Baggett, and Pourcel. He would tangle with Baggett and Pourcel in the late race crash, but would be the first of the three to remount his machine. This allowed him to cruise to a second place moto and bumped him to third overall on the day.
Christophe Pourcel | 3-4 | Fourth Overall
With narrow lanes, fast obstacles, and a mix of slick soils, Muddy Creek is considered one of the most GP-like courses and tends to favor riders with European experience. Maybe that was the case for Valli Motorsports Yamaha’s Christophe Pourcel, who nabbed the fastest times in both qualifying sessions and led the field for much of moto one following a near flawless start. Pourcel appeared calm and controlled during his time at the front, and the former World Champion expertly negotiated the track with his unique riding style. He withstood a long going attack by Cooper Webb, but his time at the front unraveled after his machine stalled while traversing a rutted corner. Although the bike re-fired immediately, it was enough time for Webb to close in and ultimately make a pass for the lead. Blake Baggett would soon follow as well, but Pourcel paced through the final laps to claim third place.
Pourcel’s starts were strong throughout the day, a testament to the power produced by the all-new Yamaha even on uphill starts. He would follow Webb in second place during the early laps, but would drop to fourth after passes by Baggett and Bogle. The last of the three to remount in the late-race pile up, he would finish eight seconds behind Baggett in fourth place at the finish line.
Marvin Musquin | 5-5| Fifth Overall
After winning last year’s overall, Marvin Musquin entered Muddy Creek with mnany in attendance expecting a similar performance. Although the Red Bull KTM rider came into the season with lingering injures, he has raced his way back into form and ran to a pair of consistent finishes in Tennessee. He started the first moto in the front of the pack, but a crash would drop him from third to fifteenth by the end of the opening lap. From there he mounted a hard-fought charge that lasted for the duration of the moto and carried him back to the top five.
The same riders made up the front pack in the second moto, albeit some in a slightly different running order. Musquin was again in the top-ten off of the start and would only pass GEICO Honda’s Zach Bell in the 17-lap race, but would be within milliseconds of Pourcel at the finish line following the Yamaha rider’s crash. A pair of fifth place finishes ranked him fifth overall.
1. Cooper Webb 2-1
2. Blake Baggett 1-3
3. Justin Bogle 4-2
4. Christophe Pourcel 3-4
5. Marvin Musquin 5-5
6. Cole Seely 6-8
7. Jeremy Martin 10-6
8. Jessy Nelson 10-6
9. Dean Wilson 14-7
10. Kyle Cuningham 8-13
11. Anthony Rodriguez 13-9
12. Joey Savatgy 15-11
13. Alex Martin 12-14
14. Jason Anderson 9-35
15. Justin Hill 11-40
16. Zach Bell 38-12
17. Dakota Alix 19-15
18. Mitchell Oldenburg 40-16
19. Matt Lemoine 16-34
20. Jacob Baumert 23-17
|2014 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship 250 Class (After 10 of 24 motos)|
1. Jeremy Martin 203pts (5 moto wins)
2. Cooper Webb 195pts (1 moto win)
3. Blake Baggett 186pts (4 moto wins)
4. Justin Bogle 166pts
5. Christophe Pourcel 166pts
6. Marvin Musquin 143pts
7. Jason Anderson 129pts
8. Jessy Nelson 116pts
9. Cole Seely 115pts
10. Justin Hill 103pts