Whenever a professional motocross race is held on the infield of a road race facility, there is going to be some disdain. So it was not surprising at all to hear a couple of complaints about the most recent round of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series, held at the Miller Motorsports Park in Utah, as the circuit is far from traditional.
In my honest opinion, it was probably the worst race of the year. However it did add another variable to the championship, as it was quite different to the other venues. The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series is notorious for having very little diversity in the track surfaces. So the Utah national did add something to the series, I believe. It [the circuit] was not all bad; there were a handful of cool jumps, and interesting obstacles, such as the deepsand section. Aside from the sand section, the soil seemed to be the source of most complaints – it was a track typical of the west coast, as it was hard baked with very little traction.
Clearly, the inaugural event at the Miller Motorsports Park ran into some issues, as a violent windstorm and a high level of dust put a dampener on the second motos. It was strange – at different points you could not see the riders at all! But MX Sports aren’t to blame for this, as there was nothing that they could have done to prevent the situation. It was unfortunate, as it gave all of the naysayers a reason to criticise. Interestingly, it seems as though the series is not committed to the event in Utah – if MX Sports weren’t happy with how it played out this past weekend, they do not have to go back there next year.
Although the event wasn’t the greatest, the Utah National proved to be poignant, as both Eli Tomac and Ryan Villopoto were crowned the champion of their respective classes. It was not surprising that they both won the two titles, but it was surprising to see Tomac lock it up one round early. Although it was a possibility – it seemed unlikely. But Roczen struggled again (he hasn’t been the same since his Millville fall), which gave Eli the cushion that he needed.
Judging by what has transpired on-track in recent weeks, I believe that Eli Tomac is deserving of the 250MX title; he has been unstoppable recently. The Geico Honda rider last lost a moto at Red Bud, which seems like a lifetime ago now! Prior to his win streak, he was going quite a similar speed to Roczen – there was not a lot to separate them! But, Tomac has proven to be the better rider now, undoubtedly, and he has a number one plate to back that up. It is quite hard to believe that it has taken him four years to grab the 250MX title – but he has done it, finally. It just took a lot longer than we thought it would after he came out and won his first ever race.
Since the first gate drop at Hangtown, it has been obvious that Ryan Villopoto would lock up the 450MX title eventually. In Utah Ryan needed to go 1-1 in order to secure the title – for a guy as capable of RV, it is quite an easy feat. Despite the ‘difficult’ track surface at the Miller Motorsports Park, which was really quite different to the Floridian soil that Villopoto usually rides on at home, he had a dominant day – no one saw him after lap one in either moto! You cannot argue that he isn’t deserving of the number one plate; he has dropped out of the top three just four times this year! It is hard to believe that he is not hundred-percent right now. Can you imagine how strong he is going to be next year?
The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series will head to another unpopular round this weekend; Lake Elsinore will host the last round for the second successive season. Interestingly, there were a few rumours floating around that suggest the race may not go ahead – there are supposedly some water issues at the venue. However the issues will be resurrected in time for the event it seems, as MX Sports are desperate to run the final round. But what state the circuit will be in when the riders arrive remains to be seen. If round twelve doesn’t ago ahead, it would not have to much of an affect on the points; most of the spots at the front are decided, it seems.
Words by Lewis Phillips