Scott Dixon tests INDYCAR Aeroscreen on Dallara simulatorJuly 5, 2019
Watersheds. Turning Points. Defining Moments. Whatever you want to call them, the first six rounds in the 12-round Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season has been filled with them.
Each race has been marked by an enduring storyline that foreshadowed the events to follow and subtly altered the course of the season.
From the very beginning, it was apparent this year would be special. After mounting a determined comeback not once, but twice in the past two seasons, Ken Roczen finally stepped onto the top rung of the podium in the opener. It was his first win since January 2017, after which he shattered bones in both arms and underwent extensive recovery.
Eli Tomac matched Roczen that week with a Moto win. The stage was set for these two riders to dominate the top of the order.
Also emerging from Round 1 was a storyline of recovery and rebounds as Jason Anderson returned to the track for the first time since Round 3 of the Supercross season. He looked like he had never left. Anderson stood on the bottom step of the podium and has quietly been part of the top-five hunt ever since.
Jason Anderson returned to action in Hangtown with a third-place finish. Rich Shepherd, ProMotocross.com.
The preseason focus was on Tomac.
In the past two seasons, he got off to such a great start that the competition had little to do but chase him throughout 2017 and 2018. Of course, one of his main competitors was beset by injury and with the Hangtown win, Roczen threatened that dominance.
Tomac needed to establish his strength in Round 2 – and he did so with wins in both Motos at Pala Raceway.
Roczen podiumed in both events, but lost the red plate to Tomac.
Round 2 also was the first appearance of Marvin Musquin among the top five in points. Like Roczen and Tomac, he swept the podium at Pala and jumped to third in the standings.
Eli Tomac served notice this would be his championship to lose after winning in Round 2. Rich Shepherd, ProMotocross.com
Thunder Valley had another lead change. Roczen’s early season form continued to impress with a 1-2 in the first and second Motos and the overall victory.
This was also the week when Tomac began establishing a pattern he would prefer to avoid. A disastrous start to Moto 1 left him mired in the pack and he could manage to finish only fifth at the end of that race. His victory in Moto 2 was not enough to give him the overall win but more importantly, since points are accumulated in each race, Tomac went from being four points up to two points down.
Someone was greasing the seesaw.
Musquin was also showing inconsistency at this stage of the season with an 8-3 that landed him fifth in the overall and dropped him to fourth in the standings.
Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen battled handlebar-to-handlebar for the first four rounds of the season. Rich Shepherd, ProMotocross.com
High Point was the most inconsistent round to date. None of the riders ran particularly well in both Motos, although Tomac was able to podium in each. He got off to another slow start, battled back to third by sheer determination and then finished second in Moto 2 to take the overall win.
Blake Baggett became the first rider other than Tomac or Roczen to win a Moto. He took Moto 1 but then crashed in the second race and finished a disappointing 15th.
Roczen’s struggles came in Moto 1 with a sixth-place finish. He rebounded with a Moto 2 win, but lost a few points and the championship race was tied at the top. Third-place was also tied with Osborne and Anderson knotted up 32 points back.
Meanwhile, Musquin continued to lose ground in what may turn out to be his pivotal race if he cannot catch Tomac. He finished 4-7 in the Motos and landed sixth overall.
Blake Baggett became the first rider other than Tomac or Roczen to win a Moto in 4 at High Point. Rich Shepherd, ProMotocross.com
As soon as it looked like Musquin could be discounted, he bounced back to win in the deep sand of WW Ranch. Following in Baggett;’s footsteps, he became the second rider to win a Moto besides Tomac or Roczen and this time he backed it up with a third in Moto 2 and the overall victory.
Tomac fell behind in Moto 1 and could only ride up to seventh at the end of the race while Roczen appeared to have the points lead between the two sets. Tomac won Moto 2, however, and kept the red plate affixed to his bike.
Roczen’s second-place finish in Moto 1 was his last highlight to date. In the brutal heat, Roczen faded badly in Moto 2 and finished 10th, landing sixth on the overall rundown. He lost six points to Tomac and allowed Musquin to close onto his back tire.
Musquin may have waited too late to make his charge, but now he had the leaders in sight.
Marvin Musquin won the overall at WW Ranch with a Moto 1 win and had a third in race 2. Jeff Kardas, ProMotocross.com
Last week marked two milestones. Musquin became the first rider this season to score back-to-back overall victories at Southwick.
This was also the first time in 2019 that neither Tomac nor Roczen scored a Moto win with Musquin taking the first and Osborne victorious in Moto 2.
With Roczen fading in both Motos at Southwick, Tomac didn’t need to win to pad his lead, however. Roczen finished 12-10 and lost a ton of points to the leader, while Musquin’s 1-2 was only slightly better than Tomac’s 2-3 for the afternoon.
This may turn out to be the establishment race that Tomac needed in order to ride comfortably for the remainder of the season.
Musquin will need to press hard in the final six rounds (12 Motos), and often when a rider pushes too hard, they start making mistakes.