Tweaking the Triple

Second round of the Triple Crown this past weekend in Detroit and it, like many of the other four that have happened the past two years, was a great night of entertainment. Monster Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac got a much needed win with dominant rides in Mains one and two and a clutch ride in the third one. His 1-1-6 scores were enough to get the victory over the still-surprising Red Bull KTM’s Cooper Webb and a very popular third overall JGR Suzuki’s Chad Reed.

Tomac needed this badly after a baffling performance last week that his dad explained to me was the result of just not being comfortable on the motorcycle yet. Yeah he only picked up three points on Webb (still leading!) but it was a statement ride by pre-season favorite Tomac.

It’s interesting to see that Tomac – a rider that’s expressed dismay at the Triple Crown format – has seemed to excel at it. It’s a quick programme and doesn’t take very long before the checkers fly. Just 12 minute main events and they go by quickly. He’s not exactly a guy known for his starts but ET3 makes it work.

As a fan of the sport, I love the Triple Crown. The overall win bounced back and forth all through the third Main between Webb and Tomac, it was grand theatre at its best as Tomac tried to recover from a start where he was in the wrong gear when the gate dropped. All three 450SX races had great drama in them. Justin Brayton of the MCR Honda team led most of the way in the first one with Reed right there, making the 450SX into some sort of ‘quasi-vet national’ out there. Meanwhile Tomac was doing some serious work out and got Brayton with a lap to go. There was action everywhere you looked all night long.

Here’s the thing though, the teams and riders generally don’t like it. And as a former mechanic, I get it. It’s go-go-go for the teams and riders and to lengthen the format this year to make all the Mains the same length (a good thing in my opinion) doesn’t help. Mistakes can be made when you’re rushing through the night and so far, we haven’t seen anyone miss a race yet but some teams are worried about the distance from pits to the track and the lack of time between the Mains.

“I don’t love it. Just my personal opinion. You do that many laps – what are we doing, seventeen laps? Basically a Main Event from old-school days,” Reed told me after his podium. “The only thing I would like if we’re going to keep it a triple crown, I think they should be individual main events. I think we should pay the points.”

“They’re brutal,” he added. “The second and the last one, when you’re sitting there, the bike is literally burning your legs it’s that hot. Obviously the temperature never drops down.”

Lots more grumbling if you ask around. Maybe the answer lies in longer breaks but instead of watching dozers on the track, maybe a FMX show or another support class could keep the show rolling. Something to take the fans attention off the fact nothing is going out on the track but also giving everyone back in then paddock a breather. Of course this stretches out the program more, perhaps adds some TV time to it and that’s a compromise on more levels.

So it’s pretty much unanimous that the Triple Crown is a hit for the ones that aren’t putting on the show. What the promoters have to do is work with the teams to try and tweak things so that format stays here. Bottom line is that it’s an entertainment business we’re in and the Triple Crowns deliver a ton of that.

Let’s just figure it out and make it work.

Words by Steve Matthes @pulpmx

Photos by Monster Energy/KTM S.Cudby

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