Off weekend here in the USA! The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships are seven rounds down with just five to go. Anaheim 1 seems like it was only a couple of months ago but, nope, it was indeed a while ago. Monster Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac is pulling away with the 450MX points chase and with RM ATV/MC’s Blake Baggett now nursing a torn thumb ligament that lead looks to widen.
Tomac’s figured some things out early in the motos and these next two tracks, Millville and Washougal, should suit him as much as the last few. Maybe it was the track prep at Lakewood and High Point to name two that were/are his kryptonite? There is no doubt that Muddy Creek, Red Bud and Southwick were not the same as those deeper, rutty tracks. Whatever it is, Tomac’s on a roll here.
Rockstar Husqvarna’s Zach Osborne has almost a two-moto lead in the 250MX title chase too. It is an amazing accomplishment by the #16, a veteran of the sport, that suddenly he got so… much… better. Yeah, I know he signed up with the Aldon Baker programme this year and that’s definitely a big part of why he’s so much better. His speed, his raw speed, early in races has also increased a bunch though.
That’s not a Baker camp attribute (at least not that much) in my mind. Also something else I find interesting is how a few years ago Osborne packed up and headed to Tomac’s place in Colorado to train with Eli and his father John for one summer. By all accounts it went well, but there was also no doubt that Osborne’s results tapered off that summer.
It seemed he got burnt out and he left Tomac’s early. So, what happened? Does Tomac train harder than Baker’s riders? Did Osborne himself get stronger? Whatever it is, Zacho has it figured out now. Great story with Osborne and his rise to the top. He’s got a 250SX title and is very close to a 250MX one as well.
Some other news and notes:
– It’s never too early to talk MXoN. With Baggett’s thumb injury, does this mean his spot on the USA MXoN team is at risk? After all, one would reasonably think that USA would send Tomac, Osborne (if he wins) and Baggett. This injury puts that into doubt one would think. Baggett’s riding through the pain and just went 2-2 at Southwick, so you would think it would just get better from here, but pretty much every rider I’ve known with his injury (and I do not have a medical degree nor was I with Blake at his doctors) has to get surgery done at some point to clip the ligament, make it shorter and reattach it to the thumb.
I’ve been on record that I think the USA manager, Roger DeCoster, would select Rockstar Husqvarna’s Jason Anderson over Blake to give Anderson, who rode amazing last year in one moto before getting landed on the finish line after winning, a chance at redemption. Anderson’s been riding very well this year, although a tick off Baggett, but to me that is how DeCoster thinks.
He’s a loyal guy. Baggett hasn’t ridden that well at the MXoN in the past and can the RM ATV/MC team afford the dollars it takes to go to this race? All those factors make me think (although I could be 100% wrong) that Anderson would get the call. Well, if this injury proves to hold Baggett back this summer then that choice is moot. Send #3, #21 and #16 to try to break this losing streak that the USA has.
– I saw that Malcolm Stewart just went over and visited the MXGP race in Italy and I also saw that it’s now reported that Stewart could be in talks to ride the series. Pretty predictable and silly, in my opinion, to put that out there when Stewart, who was there as a guest of boot sponsor Gaerne, hasn’t raced a full American outdoor series in four years and would hardly be considered a motocross specialist.
It’s clear by all the decisions that Stewart has made that he doesn’t consider motocross much of a priority in his career and now he’s going to sign up for a motocross-only series over in Europe? There’s no real news in the story, just unconfirmed reports and a bunch of no comments. I guess in 2017, as we’ve seen over here more and more, you don’t have to have any proof to try and get people to click.
– Riders like Stewart racing MXGP is a pipe dream to me. It’s still interesting to see American riders like Darian Sanayei, Marshal Weltin and Tristan Charboneau have success in the MXGP series. It might be something that more young riders over here look to do? After some good results in the lower rung EMX series, Sanayei’s made the jump to MX2 and he’s just outside the top ten in points despite getting hurt two rounds ago. Weltin’s seventh in the EMX250 points, while Charboneau is tenth. Both riders have landed on the podium and Charboneau’s got some wins. Of course, being young riders in a strange land, there are some inconsistencies there as well.
Have they shown enough to be rewarded with deals for MX2? Thomas Covington is doing pretty well in MX2 and just inked a deal to stay in Europe for a couple more years. All three of the others in this story didn’t have much going on in America in terms of rides and they’re to be applauded for heading to a strange land to try and make it.
I did this myself as a mechanic back in 1998 (although to be fair it was tougher back then) and couldn’t really hack it. First job opportunity I got in America, I was back on that plane home. There aren’t a lot of rides that pay well over here and none of these riders are what I would consider elite talents, so they’re working the system to their advantage rather than head butt a wall over and over here in the USA. All three appear to be doing well and I’ll be watching to see if some more riders head over in 2018.
Words: Steve Matthes | Lead Image: Monster Energy/Ryne Swanberg