Foothill Ranch, Calif. (May 20, 2018) - The opening round of the 2018 AMA Pro Motocross Championship kicked-off this Saturday for the 50th running of the Hangtown Motocross Classic. Monster Energy® Kawasaki rider and reigning 450MX Champion Eli Tomac raced his KX™450F through the competition to sweep both motos and capture the first 450MX class overall victory of the season.
After setting the fastest lap time in qualifying by nearly two-seconds, the No. 1 Kawasaki lined up for Moto 1 of the AMA Pro Motocross season. As the gate dropped and 40 of the fastest motocross racers in the world swept around the first turn, Tomac was seventh. He wasted no time passing his way into third by Lap 2 and began applying relentless pressure on the leaders. Within the next three laps, Tomac had made his way to the lead. Through the second half of the race Tomac was flawless to capture the first 450MX moto win of the season by a margin of 13 seconds over second place.
In 450MX Moto 2, Tomac started 17th but would drop the hammer early and by the end of the opening lap was inside the top 10. At the halfway point of the race, Tomac would tip over in a turn after making the pass for third place. He quickly remounted and began setting the fastest laps of the race, moving from fourth to first in just two laps. After taking over the lead on Lap 9, Tomac stretched his lead to more than six seconds and captured the Moto 2 victory, finishing 1-1 for the overall win. Tomac will maintain the red-plate, signifying the championship points leader, going into Round 2 of the AMA Pro Motocross Championship at Glen Helen Raceway.
"I had a blast today," said Tomac. "I felt loose and comfortable on the bike all day, which really made racing easy. I've always loved racing here and have had incredible success at this track. It was a really good day and I'm looking forward to Glen Helen."
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki riders Joey Savatgy, Austin Forkner and most recent Kawasaki Team Green™ graduate Garrett Marchbanks came into Round 1 prepped and ready to battle for wins. In Moto 1, Forkner grabbed the holeshot on his KX™250F, with Savatgy in fifth and Marchbanks in eighth. Throughout the entirety of the race, Forkner fought hard in a four-way battle for a podium position. Forkner charged until the final lap, where he stalled the engine in a corner and finished fourth place. Savatgy held on to finish sixth and the rookie Marchbanks raced to an impressive 12th place finish.
250MX Moto 2, saw Marchbanks with his second top 10 start, while Savatgy and Forkner ran 13th and 14th respectively. Marchbanks raced like a seasoned veteran in Moto 2, making passes early and riding consistent to finish sixth, for tenth overall (12-6). Savatgy went on to finish 10th in Moto 2, which was good enough for seventh overall (6-10), while Forkner was forced to retire from the second moto early and ended the day 12th overall (4-39).
"Today was really up and down for me," said Savatgy. "I couldn't quite find my marks which made me feel uncomfortable on the bike. Seventh overall isn't bad, but we can do much better. We'll go back home this week and work on a few things and hopefully come out swinging at Glen Helen."
"Today was good," said Marchbanks. "Our goal was to leave here top-10 and that's exactly what we accomplished, so I'm happy. I tried to not let my nerves get the best of me, and once I got out on the track I knew I belonged here. I can't thank Kawasaki enough for believing in me."
"Luck wasn't quite on our side today," said Forkner. "Had an amazing start in Moto 1 and ran with the leaders until the final lap and crashed, which really fired me up to rebound in Moto 2, but I ended up not being able to finish the second moto due to a pain in my chest. I'll rest up this week and see everyone at Round 2."