ATLANTA (Feb. 19) — Eli Tomac will take the final step in his professional evolution this Saturday at the Georgia Dome when he makes his debut in the top tier of motocross aboard a GEICO Honda CRF 450R. Tomac will join teammates Wil Hahn and Georgia native Zach Bell, who will be racing in the second 250SX East of the season.
“I’m fired up and excited to race this 450,” Tomac said. “I don’t think I could have picked a better place to make my debut because Atlanta is always a packed house and the fans are loud. I love that crazy feeling you get in that building.
“It’ll be fun racing against some different guys and this also will be the first time in my career that I’ll be running in the East in Supercross so I’m anxious to see how the tracks are set-up.”
Tomac will contest four 450SX races while the tour is in the East — Atlanta, St. Louis, Daytona, Fla., and Indianapolis — before returning to a 250 when the West series completes its final three races in Seattle, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. He currently ranks second in the 250SX West standings after winning four of the first six races. Tomac is the defending 250SX West champion.
“I love the new Honda 450,” Tomac said. “I rode it at the Monster Energy Cup and came away in third place overall so I hope I’ll be able to contest for some podium finishes in these four races. The 250 class is very fast and a lot of times we’re running the same lap times as the 450s so I expect to feel fairly comfortable right from the start. I really can’t wait to run 450s full time. I’m ready.”
Like Tomac, Hahn anticipates being in the mix for a top-three finish in Atlanta. He opened the 250SX East series last weekend in Dallas with an impressive third-place result and says a better start in Atlanta could be the key to moving up a spot or two.
“I got the opening round jitters out of my system and I really can’t wait to get back on my bike and race again,” Hahn said. “I need a better start and I need to stay on my program and ride smart. I feel very strongly that I can stay right there with (Dallas winner Dean) Wilson. I had some good laps in practice and in the heat race and just had a few little mistakes that set me back. I’m third in the points and definitely looking to move up.”
Rookie Bell is sure to be a crowd favorite in Atlanta as he spent his formative years riding the hills of Cairo, Ga. He had a highlight-reel pro debut in Dallas, leading the way in his heat race and running away from the chase pack before coming off a footpeg during a jump and crashing hard. He still made it into the main event via the Last Chance Qualifier but another spill left him with a DNF.
“I’m ready to have some fun,” Bell said. “I went for it last week and had some accidents. I’m sore and beat-up but I’ll push through it. If I can get up from that first crash and make it to the main event, riding this weekend shouldn’t be a problem.
“I need to stay healthy and ride a little safer. I’ve got a great group here and my mechanic and the rest of the guys on the GEICO team are behind me 100 percent. Plus, I’ll be racing in front of all my friends and family from Georgia. Hopefully I’ll give everyone something better to cheer about.”
This Saturday’s racing action will be shown live beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET on SPEED TV. The 450SX race will repeat at 11 p.m., Saturday.