Although the 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship is nearing its end, there is still plenty to be decided in the remaining motos. That was very evident at the eleventh stop of the series, the 2018 Budds Creek Motocross. Riders came into the weekend knowing that there are only a few opportunities left to score valuable points for the championship, along with chances to impress teams for the future, and all were eager to make their mark. When the final checkered flag flew on the day’s races, one title was awarded to a well-deserving rider while two others made sure their fight will go until the very last lap at the series finale.
250 MOTO ONE
Aaron Plessinger escaped the tricky first turn at the front of the field with RJ Hampshire in tow. Together the two riders sped off from the rest of the pack in the opening laps, with full control of the moto going to Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha Factory Racing rider Plessinger. For a full thirty minutes, Plessinger put in near-flawless laps and crept away from the competition to win the moto by over six-seconds on Hampshire. While Plessinger pulled clear of the pack, his chief title rival Alex Martin battled with a number of riders and finished in tenth place. The difference in finishes were key to the title chase and with three motos still to be run in the series, Plessinger was able to clinch his first-ever career 250 MX National championship.
While much of the attention was focused on the title-deciding result, there was plenty to talk about elsewhere in the field. Hampshire was able to hold down second place on his GEICO Honda and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Austin Forkner climbed up to third place, while a number of young riders battled each other for top spots in the running order. Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM's Mitchell Falk ran up front in the early laps of his first-ever pro moto but a crash in the early laps dropped him outside the top-ten to eighteenth in the final results. Rockstar Energy Racing Husqvarna teammates Mitchell Harrison and Michael Mosiman dueled for spots in the top-ten through the middle portion of the moto, with Harrison eventually ending up fourth and Mosiman eighth. Dylan Ferrandis, Jordon Smith, and Chase Sexton filled out spots five through seven, but each rider's day was greatly decided by their rides in the second moto.
250 MOTO TWO
Aaron Plessinger and RJ Hampshire duplicated their starts in Moto Two, but
the hairpin first turn at Budds Creek claimed possible front-runners Dylan Ferrandis, Jordon Smith, Cameron McAdoo and others. For four laps Plessinger held the top spot over Hampshire yet it was clear that the newly crowned champion was not going to push the pace and dropped down the running order to eleventh place. The team later said that the emotion of the championship Hampshire benefitted the most from this turn of events, as he went on to win the moto and the day's overall, two career-firsts for the GEICO Honda rider. Chase Sexton pushed his way to the front of the pack with forceful passes on multiple riders and the second place finish helped him lock down second overall.
The battle between Austin Forkner and Mitchell Harrison was one of the highlights of the moto, as the two young riders bounced off of the countless braking bumps and even each other for multiple laps. The outcome of this was decided after the halfway point in the race when near contact between them forced Forkner off of the track and. Alex Martin rebounded from his issues in Moto One to finish fourth in Moto Two, a result that put him sixth overall on the day. Dylan Ferrandis crossed the finish line in last place due to the turn one crash but a hard charge for the full length of the race put him tenth at the checkered flag. Despite the drop from first to eleventh, Plessinger's final score on the day was still solid and the mixed finishes by others in the field allowed him to take third overall.
250 OVERALL RESULTS & CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
450 MOTO ONE
With less than twenty points between the top two riders in the 450 championship and four motos left to be run in the series, tensions were high when the gate dropped. Red Bull KTM's Marvin Musquin managed to cut underneath Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing's Justin Barcia through turn one to take the early lead, but a swift pass by Ken Roczen up the first hill on the track put the Team Honda HRC rider into the lead. From the opening lap until the closing moments, Roczen and Musquin were no more than a few seconds apart, with Roczen holding the advantage in the battle. The battle reached its peak in the final six minutes of the moto as Musquin got within a few bikes lengths of Roczen and looked poised to make a pass for the lead. Unfortunately for Musquin it seemed like a poor line choice disrupted his flow and allowed Roczen to move away without pressure to the moto win and Musquin second.
A so-so start put Eli Tomac fourteenth as the field exited the first turn, but by the end of the opening lap the Monster Energy Kawasaki had worked up to seventh place. Tomac encountered issues midway through the moto and his climb up the running order momentarily stalled out due to a multi-lap battle between himself and Barcia, but in the final minutes of the moto Tomac moved up to third place. With this pass, Tomac lost only two championship points to Musquin.
The rivalry between Jason Anderson and Blake Baggett continued in Moto One when the two collided at the exit of a tight turn, which left Baggett on the ground. Anderson would later go on to finish the moto in fourth while Baggett soon remounted and finished fifth.
450 MOTO TWO
Phil Nicoletti nabbed the holeshot aboard his Rockstar Energy Racing Husqvarna but was soon passed by Musquin, Justin Barcia, and Ken Roczen in the opening laps. All of the top riders ran a rapid pace in the opening third of the race as everyone used daring maneuvers and crafty lines in their attempts to move further up the running order. No one was more impressive at this than Roczen, who hopped over and around the countless braking bumps in his pursuit and pass of Musquin for the lead. Musquin stayed with Roczen for a number of laps but just like in Moto One, eventually slowed up and allowed the leader to get away.
Things became very interesting at the halfway point of the moto. After dicing with Blake Baggett and Barcia for a number of laps, a battle that dropped the trio from the front-runners, Tomac worked up to third place and upped his pace in an attempt to reel in Roczen and Musquin. Lap after lap the gap between Musquin and Tomac shrank and in the final ten minutes of the race, Tomac had the top two in sight. This was exactly what Tomac needed and what Roczen-Musquin did not, because within a matter of moments Tomac rocketed past both riders to take the lead and moto win. These late race passes greatly impacted the overall results, because Tomac jumped from a possible third place finish on the day to the overall win. Tomac's moto win and Musquin's third-place moto finish not only erased the points Musquin made up in Moto One, but also allowed Tomac to add three more points to his lead in the championship.
450 OVERALL RESULTS & CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS