Eli Tomac outduels Ken Roczen in highly anticipated Oakland showdown
It was the battle everyone has been waiting for in the first five rounds of the Monster Energy Supercross season: Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen swapped the lead multiple times in the main event Saturday night at RingCentral Coliseum in Oakland, Calif.
Roczen earned his fourth holeshot of the year, but Tomac was never lower than third.
Once Tomac got around his teammate, Adam Cianciarulo, it was just a matter of which of the top two in points had the best performance in this mano a mano battle to the checkers.
It would be Tomac emerging with the win — but not without a fight.
With 9:15 to go in the main, he passed Roczen for the lead. Tomac got a little too aggressive on his braking with 5:28 to go and slipped off course, handing the lead back to Roczen. It took another three minutes to overcome his mistake, but Tomac got around Roczen for the second and final time with 2:11 remaining on the clock.
“We both got out one-two and then just went to war there,” Tomac said after the race.
Tomac took sole possession of seventh on the all-time wins list with his 29th victory, breaking a tie with Rick Johnson. Ryan Dungey with 34 is next in line.
Roczen kept the points lead with a podium finish, but on the last lap he gave up the second position. Mired fifth in the points, Cooper Webb knows that time is running out to make a charge for the lead. He entered the race 20 points behind Roczen and 12 points behind Tomac.
For much of the race, Webb was riding around the fifth position, but a determined charge in the closing laps allowed him to get around Cianciarulo and set his sights on Roczen.
“I thought I was a little far back tonight (to catch Roczen),” Webb said. “I went over the finish (on the white flag lap) and it seemed like a pretty far gap. I killed the last lap honestly (and) made a run in the whoops. I kind of missed in the only passing point on the track, but man we were so close – back and forth there – and unfortunately I made contact on the last turn.”
When Roczen jumped a little too far on the final straight, Webb blitzed Roczen in the final turn. The two made slight contact, which allowed Webb to secure the position.
Roczen finished third.
The top five was filled with starpower. Cianciarulo was riding with a bruised tailbone. He challenged Roczen early but lost some speed when he developed arm pump in the closing laps. He settled into fourth, but after a hard crash last week at Glendale, it was a solid performance.
The 2018 champion Jason Anderson recovered from a crash in his heat to finish fifth.
Austin Forkner graciously accepted Dylan Ferrandis’ late-race pass. Feld Entertainment Inc.
In 250s the points battle heated up as the three top riders stood on top of the podium.
This year’s champion may very well be the rider who is able to channel his aggression best.
Riding under the close scrutiny of AMA officials after an incident with Christian Craig in Anaheim 2, Ferrandis has to balance aggression with patience. Currently under a 12-month suspension, if Ferrandis steps over the line his season is over, but it can be difficult to pass a rider like Austin Forkner without a bold move.
With 4:52 remaining on the clock, Ferrandis caught Forkner in traffic. He dove to the inside and took away Forkner’s line – forcing him from the track.
“For sure I was thinking about (being on probation) because I don’t want to mess up anymore,” Ferrandis said from the top spot of the podium as boos once more rained down from the grandstands. “We caught up to a lapped rider and I saw I was faster than Austin. I think he slowed down because of the lapped rider. I came to his inside and I made the move.
“I think it was okay. I saw on the TV he went off the track, but that’s racing. You have to look out for the guys who are behind you.”
A rider with an aggressive streak as wide as Ferrandis, Forkner was gracious in accepting defeat.
“It was super tight and hard to make up ground on one another,” Forkner said. “We stayed pretty much the same until I got into lappers. They slowed me up a little bit in the tight section and then I made a slight mistake jumping into the whoops and clipped it. He got through them good and just got me. … no excuses. I just got beat tonight, but I’m happy with the way I rode.”
The points leader entering the race, Justin Cooper finished third and handed over the lead to his teammate Ferrandis.
Ferrandis now holds a two-point lead over Cooper with Forkner 10 points back.
Alex Martin finished fourth with Luke Clout rounding out the top five.
Michael Mosiman had a hard off midway through the race. He entered Oakland sixth in the points and left in 10th after a 22nd-plce finish. .