PHOTOS | Octopi Media
The 2018 Muddy Creek Motocross will go down as one of the most unusual events in the last few years. Riders were eager to make the most of the fifth round of the 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship and in some ways, that determination had a negative impact on the day’s results. Those that managed to find the balance of speed and risk were rewarded with solid finishes and an improved rank in the series standings. Those that weren’t, unfortunately, lost plenty to their competitors.
250 MOTO ONE
Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha Factory Racing's Aaron Plessinger yarded the field at the start to take the holeshot but within a few moments, the incoming championship leader was on the ground after a mistake in a turn. With Plessinger outside the top-ten the Martin brothers took over at the front of the pack, with the early lead going to Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM rider Alex over GEICO Honda rider Jeremy. Together the two sped off while RJ Hampshire, Justin Cooper, Shane McElrath, and the rest found their places in the running order. The battle between brothers was short-lived, as Jeremy made a pass for the top spot after Alex made a pair of mistake over some of the large jumps. Alex's issues continued with a very hard crash that twisted the front-end of his motorcycle and allowed Justin Cooper to take over second place (Martin remounted and finished twelfth). The rookie racer pursued the two-time class champion for the rest of the race, but was never able to develop a true battle. With this, Jeremy Martin went on to win the moto by just over five seconds.
Shane McElrath made a number of moves in the opening laps, which included an intense battle with GEICO Honda's RJ Hampshire, and McElrath crossed the finish line in third place at the end of the moto. GEICO Honda's Chase Sexton had a rather uneventful moto and finished the race in eighth, while Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha Factory Racing riders Aaron Plessinger, Colt Nichols, and Dylan Ferranids all overcame the issues they encountered in the opening laps to finish ninth, tenth, and eleventh respectively. Although these finishes sound unremarkable on their own, they had a massive impact on the day's overall results.
250 MOTO TWO
Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM teammates Sean Cantrell and Alex Martin were even as they exited the first turn, but the holeshot credit and early lead went to Martin. As one Martin motored on at the front of the pack, the other saw his race come to a sudden end. During the opening lap Jeremy Martin collided with Justin Cooper on the landing of a sizeable jump and the run-in spat both riders off of their bikes, with Martin getting the brunt of the damage. The GEICO Honda rider was immediately tended to by the on-site Alpinestars Mobile Medical staff and was taken to a nearby hospital, where scans showed a burst fracture to his L1 vertebra. Cooper, meanwhile, was able to remount his motorcycle and went on to finish the moto in twenty-eighth.
Back at the front, Alex controlled the race over Dylan Ferrandis and Shane McElrath. Despite their very close formation, there were no passes between the trio until the final laps and for a time it looked like Martin would take the overall with 12-1 moto finishes. This all changed in the final laps when Martin crashed just after getting the two laps to go signal from officials and lost spots to Ferrandis and McElrath. Ferrandis stayed out of trouble in the final loops around the track and claimed his first moto win since arriving in the United States, while McElrath cruised to a second place score that confirmed his overall victory. Martin would finish the race in third place, but when paired with his twelfth from earlier in the day, he was regulated to fourth overall. GEICO Honda's Chase Sexton managed to snag the final podium spot with the wild combination of 8-4 scores.
Aaron Plessinger had an "off day" for a championship contender, as he went 9-5 for fifth overall. But when Martin's Moto One win and Moto Two crashes were taken into consideration, as well as the up and down scores of the rest field, Plessinger lost minimal points to those in the series and retained the red plate for another round.
450 MOTO ONE
Ken Roczen and Eli Tomac squared off for the top spot the moment the gate hit the dirt. The holeshot and early lead went to Team Honda HRC rider Roczen while Tomac stayed in tow aboard his Monster Energy Kawasaki. Their battle raged on through the opening third of the moto, as Roczen held the advantage and controlled the pace of the race. Roughly ten minutes in, Tomac found a fast line that allowed him to move by Roczen for the top spot. Justin Barcia watched this battle from third place and after Tomac went into the lead, the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing followed with a pass of his own on Roczen.
Marvin Musquin's moto started off roughly as the Red Bull KTM rider was caught up in a crash on the opening lap and was around twentieth the first time over the scoring loop. Undeterred by the issue, Musquin spent the full length of the race putting on a charge that ended with him finishing fifth place.
Blake Baggett, Weston Peick, Phil Nicoletti, Justin Hill, and Benny Bloss all sparred against each other during the thirty-minute sprint. Baggett and Peick fared the best of the group as they pushed up to fourth and sixth, respectively, while Nicoletti and Bloss both had small slip-ups that took them out of a chance for a top-five finish.
450 MOTO TWO
Ken Roczen nabbed his second holeshot of the day, but unlike before, Marvin Musquin was in the mix early while Eli Tomac dealt with a poor start and was outside of the top twenty in the early laps. With both the moto and overall win on the line it was clear that Roczen, Musquin, and Justin Barcia all pushed in hopes of being the one to snap Tomac's streak of success. Barcia made a pass on Roczen to take the lead on the first lap, while Musquin did the same soon after.
The opening stint of the race was when all of the action for the top spot took place because Barcia and Musquin then started a duel of their own for the top spot. Musquin's line choices and ability to stay low over jumps had been a massive help throughout the day and it paid off the most when he made a move on Barcia to take the lead. Once up front, Musquin motored on and built a small gap over the field.
Tomac spent the entire moto working to get back in the mix and that occurred in the final moments of the race. After a number of passes, the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider reached third place and had Barcia in sight for second place through the closing laps. But with the knowledge that his 1-3 scores were more than enough to clinch the overall, Tomac decided not to force the issue with Barcia and risk a run-in. With this, Tomac extended his streak of overall wins to five and added more points to his championship lead.