PHOTOS | Octopi Media
After a one-week break, the 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship picked up with the fourth round of the season, the 2018 High Point Motocross. One of the longest-running stops on the schedule, the Pennsylvania track challenged riders with trench-like ruts and steep inclines. The events that took place over the course of the four motos not only had an impact on the day’s results, but the series standings as well.
250 MOTO ONE
The Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha Factory Racing teammates of Justin Cooper and Aaron Plessinger led the pack through the first turn, with the holeshot going to the rookie but the early lead to Plessinger. The two Yamaha riders stayed close in the opening lap and Cooper closed in, but Plessinger managed to push the pace and put a gap over the rest of the riders that was never closed.
Despite the runaway win for Plessinger, there was plenty to watch in a little further back in the field between Cooper and Jeremy Martin. The incoming championship leader reeled in the rookie in the opening laps, but once behind him, had difficulties making a pass attempt for second place. Every time Martin looked like he had found a place to make the move, Cooper closed the line and controlled the pace. The battle between the two lasted through the middle of the moto, with both riders holding their own in the duel, but Martin managed to make his move in the final ten minutes of the race.
250 MOTO TWO
Just like in Moto One, Justin Cooper claimed the holeshot and early lead over the field. Things looked solid for the rookie in the opening laps until a mistake over on of the downhill jumps sent him off of the track and allowed Jeremy Martin to take over the lead. Martin clicked off quick and consistent laps alone up front while others in the field duked it out for a place in the running order, and this all allowed Martin to speed off unchallenged. Riders exchanged the top positions in the running order through the early and middle portion of the moto, with Aaron Plessinger, Austin Forkner, and Dylan Ferrandis all in the mix for podium spots.
Midway through the race Jeremy Martin's GEICO Honda came to an unexpected stop near the apex of the first turn, an incident that changed the course of the moto. Despite his on-track diagnostic look at the motorcycle, he could not find the cause of the problem and was forced to push it back to the work area (this was the team's third DNF of the day, as both Cameron McAdoo and Chase Sexton both experienced race-ending issues). With Martin out of the picture, Plessinger took over the lead and did his best to break away from Forkner, Cooper, and Ferrandis.
Forkner spent much of his moto in a battle for positions with Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha Factory Racing riders, first with Plessinger, then Cooper, and finally Ferrandis. The Forkner-Ferrandis fight for second place in the final laps was one of the highlights of the moto, as the two traded passes, swapped lines, and made contact in a bid for second place that lasted until the final turn. The two were bar to bar when approached the checkered flag until a small slip-up by Ferrandis allowed Forkner to cross the line by just a few feet. Plessinger, meanwhile, managed to win the moto, sweep the day, and retake the top spot of the championship.
450 MOTO ONE
Eli Tomac took the holeshot aboard his Monster Energy Kawasaki, a move that helped the incoming championship leader avoid the carnage that took place in the first turn. Team Honda HRC's Ken Roczen and another rider made contact at the apex of the corner and Roczen's run-in resulted in multiple riders, including Blake Baggett, Phil Nicoletti, going down. Although they were able to remount their machines and rejoin the race, all had lost considerable ground to the front-runners.
Back up front, Tomac wasted no time building a lead over Red Bull KTM's Marvin Musquin and Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing's Justin Barcia, as the two diced it up for second place and allowed Tomac pull ahead. Musquin and Barcia left each other very little room as they sped up and down the High Point hills, because Musquin blocked Barcia's lines in one section and Barcia did the same one lane later. This particular exchange nearly resulted in contact between the two and forced Musquin to check up and concede second place to Barcia.
Five laps into the race Musquin found a flow on the challenging track and closed on Barcia, who had made a series of mistakes in the rutted corners and lost some pace. With Barcia's issues, Musquin managed to make the pass for second place and carried the momentum through the rest of the moto with unique line choices that allowed him to avoid the ruts and holes. The smooth lines and quick laps were key for Musquin and with his pace he managed to close on leader Tomac in the final half of the race. With the two riders together on the track, the benefits of their respective line choices were evident. Tomac's attempts to hammer through the rough chop cost him speed while Musquin flowed around the outsides and pulled even for the top spot. The lone pass for the race lead came in the final few minutes of the moto when Musquin powered down a tricky descent and overtook Tomac for the position. Once in front, Musquin immediately pulled away and claimed the moto win, the first race of the year that was not won by Tomac.
Further back in the field Baggett and Roczen did their best to recover from the first turn crash. Baggett fared the best of the two on his Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/WPS/KTM with a series of fast laps that allowed him to reach fifth place, while Roczen raced through the pack without a visor on his helmet and reached seventh.
450 MOTO TWO
After getting claimed in a first-turn crash during Moto One, Ken Roczen rocketed to the front of the pack in Moto Two and claimed the holeshot. The Team Honda HRC rider made one small miscue in the downhill rollers a few turns later, which allowed Eli Tomac to close in and momentarily take the lead, but Roczen recovered and retook the spot just moments later. The top spot changed hands again on the second lap when a mistake sent Roczen off the track and let Tomac take control. Once in front, Tomac ticked off a set of quick laps and established a gap over the field.
Near the halfway point of the moto Marvin Musquin found a flow and reeled in Roczen for second place. The Red Bull KTM rider and Moto One winner strung together a series of quick laps through the middle of the moto and again reeled in Tomac for the top spot, which set the stage for a thrilling battle which lasted until the last turn. Tomac and Musquin motored their way around the challenging track at a pace no one else in the field could copy and just like in Moto One, their strengths and weaknesses were apparent when side-by-side. Musquin made attempts to pass Tomac multiple times in the final laps, but each time it seemed like a move was inevitable, Tomac countered and controlled the lines. The very last lap was the best of the entire moto, as the two were at full-speed and risked mistakes in nearly every section, of few of which were made by Musquin. Despite his slip-ups, Musquin managed to stay on Tomac as they reached the final lanes of track and many anticipated a rematch of the Foxborough Supercross, but the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider maintained just enough of a gap to keep even the most desperate pass attempt from being made and clinched the win. With 2-1 scores on the day, the overall victory went to Tomac and he lost no points to Musquin in the championship chase.