PHOTOS | SWANBERG
The seventh round of the 2017 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, the 2017 Southwick MX, might go down as one of the most important days of the summer. Some riders with stellar results through the first half of the summer were sent to the sidelines with injuries (Canard, Anderson, Tickle), while others did their best to maximize their point totals. Bikes and bodies were put through the wringer on the sandy circuit in Massachusetts, and those that survived were rewarded well for their efforts.
450 Moto One
Blake Baggett bested the field through the tight first turn on his Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/WPS/KTM and avoided carnage that claimed many at the start of the moto. The championship contender came into the weekend still nursing the thumb injury he received in a second moto crash a week prior at RedBud, but did his best to keep it from causing issues on the rough track. As Baggett led the field, title rival Eli Tomac worked his way up the running order after a mediocre start put him deep in the top-ten on the first lap. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider charged around the perimeter of the course on his KX450F and clocked laps roughly two seconds faster than leader Baggett. Eventually, the two squared off for the top spot six minutes into the moto, with Tomac taking control after a stunning pass. Tomac went untouched from this moment on as his laps times were between three to seven seconds quicker than others in the field. By the time the checkered flag flew, Tomac was over fifteen seconds.
Marvin Musquin was one of the many riders involved in opening lap incidents, yet it did little to deter the Red Bull KTM rider. As the laps clicked off, Musquin moved through the pack and into the top ten. His ride was far from flawless, though, as he repeatedly looked down and motioned to the left side of his 450 SX-F while going by the mechanic area. Whatever the issue was did not matter much, as he managed to finish the moto in fourth place.
The AutoTrader.com/Monster Energy/Toyota/JGRMX/Suzuki bikes ridden by Weston Peick and Justin Barcia experienced mechanical issues at very inopportune times during the first moto. Peick's engine seemed to lock up as he dueled with Team Honda HRC's Cole Seely for fifth place in the middle of the moto, while Barcia's bike shut off with half a lap left in the race, just as he ran in fourth place. The DNF scores had a massive impact on the rider's overall scores later in the day.
Fredrik Noren was the top finishing independent rider of the first moto, as the TiLube-backed Honda rider stayed in the top-ten for the full duration of the race despite using a borrowed engine from a fellow privateer.
Total Race Time | 16 Laps, 35:25.137 minutes
Margin of Victory | 15.930 seconds
Fastest Lap Time | Eli Tomac – 2:07.714 minutes
Laps Led | Eli Tomac – 14, Blake Baggett – 2
450 Moto Two
Marvin Musquin managed to find his way to the front of the pack in the second 450 moto of the day and by doing so was able to open a gap over the rest of the competition at a key moment. The Red Bull KTM rider maintained roughly a three-second advantage on the field through the opening laps, while others had to fend off a fight from Eli Tomac. Another mediocre start put the first moto winner deep in the pack early on, but he again used lines that were different than the rest of the racers and was up to third place very quickly. For a few laps second place runner Blake Baggett managed to match the pace of Tomac and the two title rivals waged war for second place, until Tomac outlasted the injured Baggett on the brutal track. After this, Tomac turned his attention to Musquin who also managed to match Tomac's lap times when needed. Tomac eventually took over the top spot with a long jump and swift outside line through one lane, a move the Musquin was unable to counter. Although he was in second place, Musquin was far ahead of the other riders in the pack and seemed set to cruise to the finish until a simple mistake sent the Red Bull KTM rider off course on a very fast jump. The crash impacted Musquin's bike and body, and although uninjured, it forced him to the sidelines for the rest of the moto.
Dean Wilson put in a solid ride on the Rockstar Energy Racing Husqvarna through the second moto, as managed to avoid any major mistakes in his run to a third place finish. Wilson's score was greatly influenced by Cooper Webb's misfortune in the last half of the race, because the Monster Energy/Yamalube/Chaparral/Yamaha Financial Services/Yamaha rider went from third to sixth with a small crash. The two riders scored the same amount of points on the day, but Wilson's second moto finish served as the tie-breaker and gave him the first overall podium finish of his 450 career.
Total Race Time | 16 Laps, 36:17.455 minutes
Margin of Victory | 21.221 seconds
Fastest Lap Time | Eli Tomac – 2:12.203 minutes
Laps Led | Eli Tomac – 10, Marvin Musquin – 6
250 Moto One
Alex Martin aced the start of the moto on his Troy Lee Designs/GoPro/Red Bull/KTM and held the lead over Aaron Plessinger and RJ Hampshire in the opening laps. This trio was lucky to avoid the numerous run-ins other riders in the field experienced in the first minutes of the moto, and they went to battle for the key spot in the running order. Hampshire made a series of quick moves on his GEICO Honda, as he passed by Plessinger and Martin to take the led in the first two laps. His time at the top came to a sudden end when he pushed the front-end of the bike into a soft berm and went down, which handed control of the race back to Martin. Plessinger then went after the title contender with outside lines on the track until a simple mistake sent the Yamalube/Star Racing/Yamaha rider into ground shoulder-first. He was able to get off of the track on his own, but was clearly having some sort of pain in his neck or shoulder. He later sat out the second moto of the day.
Although two riders failed to take the lead from Alex Martin, his time at the top came under attack again midway through the race. Dylan Ferrandis flew into view on his Yamalube/Star Racing/Yamaha with faster lap times than Martin and then snatched the lead with a daring run by the mechanic area. Like the others before him, Ferrandis fell down while leading and gave the spot back to Martin in the final ten minutes of the race. The simple spill did not stop Ferrandis, as he jumped back into the fray and got back by Martin in the final laps of the race. After this pass, Ferrandis stayed on two wheels until the finish line and claimed the second moto win of his career in the US.
While other riders dueled in the front, Zach Osborne quietly climbed into key positions on his Rockstar Energy Racing Husqvarna. When Martin seemed to slow after the fight with Ferrandis, Osborne used it as an opportunity to up his own pace and pass Martin for second place.
Jeremy Martin started off deep in the top-ten and spent the full duration of the race in fight with someone in the running order. By the end of the moto, the GEICO Honda rider was in fourth place and finished just a few seconds off the back of his older brother.
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki riders experienced tough situations in the first moto. Adam Cianciarulo went down two separate times in the opening lap and worked his way back to fifteenth by the finish line. Teammates Justin Hill and Austin Forkner were both forced into the work area with damaged bikes and neither were able to finish the race.
Total Race Time | 16 Laps, 36:14.675 minutes
Margin of Victory | 7.956 seconds
Fastest Lap Time | RJ Hampshire – 2:12.210 minutes
Laps Led | Alex Martin – 8, Dylan Ferrandis – 7, RJ Hampshire – 1
250 Moto Two
The final moto of the day was practically perfect for Zach Osborne. The Rockstar Energy Racing Husqvarna rider flew through the first turn at the front of the field and never relinquished the lead over the course of the grueling moto. Dylan Ferrandis did his best to strip the moto away from Osborne, as the Yamalube/Star Racing/Yamaha rider was feet away from the leader in the early laps and ran a nearly identical pace, but was never able to make a true pass attempt for the spot. The resulting moto win was key for Osborne, as he nabbed the overall victory for the 250 class and padded his point lead in the championship a little more.
Rain fell midway through the moto and when paired with the brutal sand, it was the last thing that riders in the middle of the pack wanted. Many ran out of tearoffs before the finish of the race and opted to ditch their goggles instead of losing positions due to a stop in the mechanic area. Alex Martin's charge on Dylan Ferrandis for second place was likely impacted by just such a thing, as Martin seemed to ease away from Ferrandis to save his eyes. The Troy Lee Designs/GoPro/Red Bull/KTM rider came under fire late in the race from RJ Hampshire, but managed to hold onto third place in the moto and a third place overall finish. Hampshire
After having issues in moto one, Austin Forkner, Justin Hill, and Aaron Plessinger scratched for the second moto of the day.
Total Race Time | 15 Laps, 35:03.525 minutes
Margin of Victory | 8.694 second
Fastest Lap Time | Zach Osborne – 2:16.880 minutes
Laps Led | Zach Osborne – 15