Monster Energy Kawasaki’s deal with Eli Tomac has been common knowledge for quite some time, although it only became official today. The long wait meant the announcement was a little anticlimactic; it is still huge news though, especially with most other contenders in the middle of multi-year deals.
Eli has been associated with Geico Honda since he first gained the ‘professional’ status in 2010 and has enjoyed a lot of success with the squad, so I’m sure some of you are wondering why he would want to move. There were obviously many factors involved, but I think he was searching for some answers as far as the bike was concerned. Although he eventually found a happy place on the CRF450, he has already pointed to the Kawasaki chassis in the PR. In the end I don’t think this will massively impact his career; Tomac is one of the greatest riders in the world, so will adjust to his new surroundings in time and be back on the top step.
It may be wise to temper expectations, however; I question how long it’ll be before he is in a position to contend. He had surgery on both shoulders following the Lakewood crash and is not yet back on the bike – reports suggest that he’ll first spin some laps in November. That isn’t much time to learn a new bike, build up his fitness and go through the various stages of testing. Consequently he may be racing himself into shape and growing week by week once the Monster Energy Supercross series fires into life.
Some familiar faces should help with the transition; Eli will have Wil Hahn alongside him again, like he was at Geico Honda for a handful of years, so will be able to learn and bounce off of him in the early stages. It is also worth noting that his longtime mechanic is moving over with him too, which is an important piece of the puzzle.
It shouldn’t be overlooked that this deal is also a big one for Monster Energy Kawasaki, as they were in desperate need of ‘a name’ following the departure of Ryan Villopoto and Davi Millsaps. The team had a severe lack of wins and podium finishes this year – a USGP moto win for fill-in rider Josh Grant was the only high point. Eli will ensure they have a presence at the front of the pack each week, however, and should, in time, deliver more number one plates to the team who have won so much.
Words: Lewis Phillips | Image: James Lissimore
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