Johann Zarco became the first rider to successfully defend the Moto2 title by wrapping up the championship with one race remaining in Malaysia on Sunday.
Zarco, 26, won the intermediate class of motorcycle racing for the first time in 2015, but did not make the move up to MotoGP, instead preferring to spend another year in Moto2 with the Kalex-backed Ajo Motorsport team.
Zarco faced a stiffer challenge for the title in 2016, coming under early pressure from Thomas Luthi and Alex Rins at the top of the riders’ championship.
The Frenchman enjoyed a run of four victories in five races over the summer to re-assert his authority over the field, only for a DNF at Silverstone to allow Rins to close the gap.
Two non-scores for Rins gave Zarco the chance to create some breathing room ahead of the final run-in, before victory on Sunday at Sepang saw him move into an unassailable lead with one race to go.
The result sees Zarco become the first French rider to win more than one title in grand prix motorcycle racing, and will give him a boost ahead of his long-awaited move up to MotoGP in 2017 with Tech3 Yamaha.
Webb and Tomac won the last four championships with two apiece in alternating years, but they were not one another’s primary rival for most of those seasons. On the average, however, the past four years show an incredible similarity with average points earned of 21.0 for Webb and 21.3 for Tomac. With five wins so far this season, Tomac (23 wins) leads Webb (19) in victories but Webb (43) edges Tomac (41) in podium finishes during this span.
Sexton still has a lot to say and after winning last week in Detroit, he is speaking up. The Supercross numbers are against him entering Seattle, however, because a points’ deficit this large after Round 10 has been erased only once. In 1983 David Bailey was 47 points behind Bob Hannah, and like Sexton he was also in third place. Bailey took the points’ lead with one race remaining.
The seven points Sexton was penalized last week for jumping in a red cross flag section in Detroit could prove extremely costly.
In fact, it has been a series of mistakes that has cost Sexton the most. In the last two weeks, he lost 10 points with a 10th-place finish to go with his penalty. Erase those, and all three riders hold their fate in their hands.
Plessinger’s heartbreak in Detroit is still fresh, but the upside of his run is that was his best of the season and could turn his fortunes around. Prior to that race, he led only seven laps in three mains. He was up front for 20 laps in Detroit with five of those being the fastest on the track.
Last week’s win by Hunter Lawrence tied him with his brother Jett Lawrence for 17th on the all-time wins’ list. With the focus shifting to 250 West for the next two rounds, Jett has a great opportunity to pull back ahead. The real test will be at the first East / West Showdown in East Rutherford, New Jersey on April 22.
Last Five Seattle Winners
450s 2022: Eli Tomac
2019: Marvin Musquin
2018: Eli Tomac
2017: Marvin Musquin
2014: Ryan Villopoto