Steve Matthes: ‘Tomac’s ride will stay with this writer for a while…’
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac put on a quite a show this past weekend in Salt Lake City. He did that two weeks ago in Seattle as well in coming from the back and an ‘endo’ over the bars to a second but in Seattle, it was explainable because he was actually tripling jumps that others were not. I’m no Gary Bailey but when you jump further than anyone else, that’s usually a good way to go faster around a race track.
No, with Tomac getting a terrible start and on a basic track his outlook looked far bleaker than it did in Seattle. The Kawasaki rider couldn’t do anything that others couldn’t so how was he going to get to the front? Afterwards Tomac admitted that after he saw Ryan Dungey sprinting away, he was calculating how he was going to limit the damage.
“He (Dungey) was in first and I was like, man, he’s going to make a big break. I was able to get there up to the front a little bit quicker than I expected,” said Tomac. “I was really good in the whoops and the sweeper turn beforehand and that was huge for us, making big chunks of time.”
But then Tomac got to work and in a ride that will stay with this writer for a while, he started pulling off some amazing passes. The whoop entrance speed was on another level as he wheelied past the first square edged one and got on a plain then got on the gas. The exit speed was something that caught a bunch of riders by surprise as he braked hard and made some contact with more than a few of them. Tomac’s lean angle was road-racing-esque as he seemed to be able to find traction where others couldn’t.
An amazing ride all the way to the front and he’s your new undisputed 450SX points leader. Who would have thought that when the series was halfway done and Dungey had a 27-point lead after his win in Atlanta? After the first three races we were all writing and talking about what in the heck was wrong with Tomac. He was fading, he wasn’t moving forward and it looked like the new timed main event format was working the opposite of what we all thought it would.
What a run he’s been on and Salt Lake City was perhaps the finest yet.
The AMA/FIM met with the team managers this past weekend in Salt Lake City and announced some new rules in the 250SX class to take effect immediately. The old rule was 135 points scored in a eight race series (or 125 in a seven race series) three times and you were out. Also if you won a title in the 250SX class after you’ve been in the class for three years, you were out. That was the old rules. The new ones are it’s not FOUR years instead of three with scoring the minimum points and no matter what, if you win a title, you get one year to defend it
I mean, why not just suddenly change the rules near the end of a series? One of the reasoning the powers that be made was that this season there were riders like Justin Hill (win the title and he’d be out), Martin Davalos, Joey Savatgy (they were both going to meet the minimum point rule) had contracts coming up and their situations needed to be addressed. But why take a look around at some riders on very powerful teams that are looking like they’re going to be out and THEN change the rule? It smacks of high level political maneuvering by the teams that have a self-interest in keeping riders down.
If you’re going to make a rule change of this magnitude, make it in in the off-season where the perception isn’t that you’re pandering to certain teams. It’s as if the AMA/FIM took a look around three-quarters through the season and realized that the state the sport was that the regional support class needed to keep some stars in it so let’s just change what we need to in order to keep people happy.
Maybe next year we’ll see another change IF someone important looks like they might point out. In my opinion the 250SX class has ventured so far from what it’s supposed to be and was intended to be that right now it’s a bit like being half-pregnant. Rules are adjusted but they’re never curing the problem one way or another. Make it like the 250MX class and you can never point out or make it so that the lifers, the riders that don’t accomplish anything (because remember, if you succeed in there, it’s often the worst thing you can do- ask Malcolm Stewart) and make tons of money get out of there. Right now, the class is doing no one a service and with these new rules, the beat goes on.
Photos by Cudby/Shepherd