After 12 rounds and 24 motos in what’s been a captivating battle for supremacy with Chase Sexton, Eli Tomac ultimately secured the 450 AMA Pro Motocross Championship by virtue of his 1-1 finishes at the finale at Pala.
With all eyes on Fox Raceway for the series decider to find out who’ll come out trumps in this epic showdown, it was Tomac who rose to the occasion in accomplished fashion to claim his fourth 450 Pro Motocross crown while becoming the first man in seven years to win both the Supercross and Motocross titles in the same year.
Holding a one point lead ahead of the final two motos of the crusade, Tomac set the tone for what was to follow by setting the fastest time in qualifying.
Getting a terrific jump in the first moto, he emerged in second right behind Sexton to put himself in an ideal position to manage the race while keeping tabs on his rival.
Riding with composure, conviction and intelligence in the sweltering conditions, the way he patiently bided his time, adapted to the track and studied Sexton’s lines was a testament to his vast experience and racecraft.
Keeping the gap between one and two seconds and maintaining a firm handle on the situation, it wasn’t long before he was ready to pounce. Alert to his surroundings with the lappers coming into play and waiting for just the right moment, it was a joy to watch Tomac set up the pass, with him ultimately seizing his chance in the rollers when Sexton was compromised by a backmarker.
Having upped his aggression and intensity to make the move with five minutes remaining, Tomac then put in a wicked charge to breakaway from his adversary, with his searing 2:25 lap time, which was four seconds quicker than Sexton’s, giving him the separation he needed.
Remaining focused to sustain his ascendancy in the dying embers of the race despite a late rally from Sexton, the Yamaha star ran out a deserved winner to kick off his day perfectly.
Extending his gap to four points atop the standings prior to the final moto of the season, the onus was on Sexton to produce a flawless ride and hope Tomac stuttered. But the seasoned veteran handled the second moto masterfully even though he got off to a poor start.
With Sexton falling twice within the first five minutes, this handed Tomac an early lifeline, meaning all he had to do was hold his nerve and focus solely on his own race. Working his way methodically through the field having started around 10th, it didn’t take long for him to get by the likes of Grant Harlan, Freddie Noren, Aaron Plessinger, Justin Barcia and Benny Bloss.
Settling in comfortably behind Ryan Dungey, an unfortunate spill over from the KTM legend then allowed Tomac to cruise into third behind Christian Craig and Jason Anderson. After breezing by teammate Craig at the halfway point, his task was then made even easier when Sexton crashed for the third time with 11 minutes left.
Meticulously avoiding danger as he wisely navigated the rutted, dry, dusty and deteriorating track conditions, Jason Anderson was next on his list. And although the Monster Energy Kawasaki pilot offered some stern resistance, Tomac eventually took the lead with roughly six minutes on the clock.
Clicking off his laps and controlling the race from the front, the rest of the moto was smooth sailing for Tomac, as he coasted to victory to clinch the title.
Parlaying customary power and finesse in his riding and expertly dealing with the immense pressure, how he managed the difficult circumstances he was confronted with was incredible.
Flexing his muscles just when he needed to most, there would be no denying the mentally formidable, ultra fit 29-year-old. “I just think of this whole season as an entirety, it’s been the most enjoyable year by far of my career. Just had so much fun doing it. Starting with Supercross, now with Motocross,” a delighted Tomac explained afterwards on his special year.
“The competition was unbelievable too from Chase, he is the next 450 guy hands down. We pushed ourselves to the limit and I felt like we even raised the bar this year. Thank you to my team, Monster Energy, Yamaha, we’ve done so much work this year. This is a very enjoyable moment – the cherry on top.”
Getting the job done and right on top of his game throughout the grueling series, there was unquestionably no better way for him to end his outdoor career.
Bagging his fifth overall and 14th moto win of the season to round out what has been a pulsating Pro Motocross championship that’s been littered with excitement at every corner, coming out on top clearly provided him with tremendous satisfaction.
Cementing his status further as one of the best of all time, Tomac will now rapidly switch his attention to capping off his immaculate 2022 in sensational style when he hopes to steer the USA to glory at the Motocross of Nations at the end of the month.