Heading East

A third of the 2019 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship is in the books, eight more races to go and things are looking good for a nice battle down the stretch in both classes. There is a little less parity than we thought we would get though as we’re seeing some true division amongst the two classes.

This weekend the series hits the WW Ranch outside of Jacksonville, Florida for its inaugural national. Most would remember this facility for its emergence onto the big stage when they hosted a round of MXGP a couple of years ago.

This will be a true test for the racers as the track is sandy, it gets rough and it’s going to be hot and humid with a great chance of an afternoon Florida shower thrown in as well. The series has been blessed with average or below average temperatures to start (with a bit of rain thrown in) so it’ll be interesting to see what develops this coming weekend and if someone’s performance changes one way or another.

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With Tim Gajser taking the overall in Latvia with 6-1 scores it was also a strange day in High Point as well with Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac earning the win via his 3-2 scores. Tomac’s starts weren’t as great as they needed to be but he generally wore down the competition to slowly work his way to the front. With the victory, Tomac pulls into a tie with Honda’s Ken Roczen for the series lead. Tomac’s ‘OMG’ moments where he looks amazing haven’t been there as much to start this outdoor season but he’s still been very good.

Roczen absolutely put on a clinic in the second moto with a great ride to slice his way to the front and take the win. The first moto wasn’t as good for the #94 and he made mention that he went back to his base setting from Colorado on his CRF450R and clearly, it worked. Unlike Gajser, Kenny’s 6-1 finishes were only good enough for second. Roczen’s one of those riders I’ll be watching this weekend as the humidity of two motos may affect him. Yes, I know he lives and trains in Florida but practice and racing are two different things.

Oh hey look, a Blake Baggett sighting! The KTM rider hasn’t had the kind of start to the year necessary to contend with the big boys in 450MX due to crashes and lingering injuries but he showed at High Point that when he’s on, he can win. BB4 took the first moto rather easily. Second moto didn’t work out with a bad start and a crash but we were shown that when the stars and moon all align, Blake Baggett is as good as anyone.

Husqvarna’s Jason Anderson qualified fastest and then late in the second moto was in position for his first ever outdoor national overall with 2-2 scores before dropping a few spots late on. Still, a good day for Anderson as he ran the pace of just about anyone and yeah, the losing three spots isn’t ideal, but that can be fixed somewhat.

KTM’s Cooper Webb looked great until a superman-crash in moto one set him back a bit. Second moto he rebounded with a third and without the fall, probably would’ve been on the box. His teammate, Marvin Musquin, so very fast at this track for years, had a day he’d rather forget with crashes and bad starts.

Four for four for Adam Cianciarulo of the Pro Circuit Kawasaki squad with 2-1 finishes. With Star Yamaha’s Justin Cooper’s off day, AC stretched his lead to 26 points, or over one moto, on Cooper. Adam’s been a real surprise to start the year and showed that his crushing Vegas SX title loss is a distant memory. A winner of one career national coming into the year, AC’s got five now and rolling along going into his home state national.

Well it was just a matter of time to many in the paddock before Hunter Lawrence of the GECIO Honda team got a win. Not an overall yet but his first moto performance was very impressive and his third in moto two for second overall was an indicator, to me at least, that it’s not going to be too long before Lawrence is a podium threat every weekend. A slow start to the season with mechanicals and crashes mean that his title hopes are done but he’s gonna figure this stuff out real soon. Or maybe he already has?

If Dylan Ferrandis can’t get his starts sorted then he’s not going to be able to win many motos. The Frenchman’s speed is fine, his fitness is on par with the other riders but he can’t start with his competitors and that’s killing him right now.

A little bit of sunshine for the TLD KTM team at High Point as the team’s newest rider, fill-in Cameron McAdoo, ended up 7th overall and Aussie fill-in Wilson Todd was tenth. The teams star riders Jordon Smith and Shane McElrath were both out with injuries joining the other two team riders Sean Cantrell and Mitchell Falk. With Jorge Prado dominating MX2 on the small orange bike, lots of eyes on TLD KTM and wondering why they’re not able to duplicate the winning ways over here. For now at least, a bit of a reprieve for Tyler Keefe, the manager of the team.

By Steve Matthes @pulpmx

Photos by HRC and Monster Energy

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