Eli Tomac is the second-half hero. After getting poor starts in each Moto at Fox Raceway in Pala, Calif., Tomac took the lead in the second half to win both.
Tomac’s perfect finish that earned him 50 points did not start out that way.
Moto 1 looked like a carbon copy of Hangtown. Ken Roczen grabbed the lead early while Eli Tomac faded badly.
But in these 30-minute Motos, there is plenty of time for fortunes to reverse and just as it did last week in Hangtown, Tomac’s conditioning took over and he surged when it mattered.
“That Moto 2 was really comfy,” Tomac told NBCSN after the race. ” I was in cleaner air at the end there; much better start. Marvin (Musquin) was laying down a really good pace.
“We were just going that first half. And then after the half, I put on a little bit of a charge and kept putting pressure on him, found a good outside line after this double, then I went outside of him and got some good momentum. I was just really happy with my ride. Once I got out front, I just kept riding loose.”
Tomac took the points lead with his perfect day and now holds a four-point advantage over Roczen.
At one point in Moto 1, Tomac was as far back as sixth on the track and more than 10 seconds behind. In the second half of that race he began his march through the field. With time about to expire from the clock Tomac might still have fallen back to fourth, but Roczen became embroiled in a battle with Musquin that cost them both.
“About halfway (through Moto 1) I started feeling a lot better,” Tomac told NBC Sports Gold. “I made a couple of passes and really just kept trucking along. I felt like I held a consistent pace the whole time.”
Musquin finished second overall with a 3-2 and the tiebreaker that is broken by the second Moto.
“I was leading,” Musquin said. “I was in a great position, then I heard someone coming from behind. I tried to hang onto the lead, but there was nothing I could do. I was good enough for second today.”
Musquin failed to make up any ground on Roczen in the season standings, however, as both riders left the race with 42 points.
Roczen finished 2-3 to grab the final spot on the podium in both Moto 2 and the overall.
Coming off last week’s victory, Roczen was concentrating on a clean, uneventful race.
Zach Osborne finished 5-4 to grab the fourth position overall with Jason Anderson continuing his impressive comeback with a 4-5.
The Supercross champion Cooper Webb (6-6) finished sixth overall and now sits sixth in the standings.
Blake Baggett got the holeshot in Moto 1, but it would go bad quickly. Roczen took the lead from him before the lap was over. With five minutes off the clock it turned worse; Baggett broke a front wheel that forced to the mechanic’s area and cost him a lap. He passed seven bikes when he got back on track, but finished well outside the points in 33rd. He would rebound to finish 14th in Moto 2.
Adam Cianciarulo is riding like a man possessed. After crashing out of the Supercross finale and losing the championship, he knows the only thing he can do now is to win the Motocross championship – and that is where his mental energy is focused.
Cianciarulo won Moto 2 at Pala to took the overall win with a 3-1 to earn his second consecutive victory in MX.
Hunter Lawrence did not make it easy on Cianciarulo. After crashing in Moto 1 and failing to earn any points, he desperately wanted to win the second Moto and re-establish himself. He had the faster times throughout the middle of the race and with about five minutes on the clock slipped around Cianciarulo.
Cianciarulo managed to get back around Lawrence when he laid the bike down a couple of laps later, but Cianciarulo still lavished praise on the second-place finisher in the Moto.
“I can’t say enough good things about Hunter Lawrence,” Cianciarulo told NBCSN after the race. “He rode so good. And when he crashed, I was just trying to be smart. He had a couple of spots where he was fast and I thought he was further back than he was. Then I heard him behind me the last couple of laps and I thought ‘Ah Man, I need to empty the tanks’ “.
Justin Cooper won the first Moto. It was the second consecutive race in which he won Moto 1, but Cooper would have to settle for fourth in the second, and the 1-4 caused him to come up just a little short of the overall win. Cooper settled for second.
With a 7-3, Dylan Ferrandis finished third overall.
RJ Hampshire finished second in Moto 1 in a very spirited battle for second through fourth, but with seven minutes remaining on the clock in Moto 2 he was forced to retire while battling for fifth.
With a 5-5, Chase Sexton finished fourth overall.
Colt Nichols rounded out the top five with a 4-7.
The ride of Moto 1 belonged to Cianciarulo, however. He hit the afterburner with the clock winding down. Riding his Kawasaki like a bucking bronc, he swapped spots with Hampshire and then chased down Colt Nichols. At the line, Cianciarulo nabbed the spot.
“It was crazy,” Cianciarulo said after the Moto on NBC Sports Gold. “I took a big gamble going on the outside. Basically the thought behind that was they’d ripped the start so deep, but on the outside it was a little drier.”
Eli Tomac (93 points) (1 win)
Ken Roczen (89) (1 win)
Marvin Musquin (74)
Jason Anderson (72)
Zach Osborne (70)
Adam Cianciarulo (92 points) (2 wins)
Justin Cooper (86)
Dylan Ferrandis (70)
Colt Nichols (68)
Chase Sexton (65)
Overall Top 5s
Ken Roczen: 2
Eli Tomac: 2
Jason Anderson: 2
Zack Osborne: 2
Cooper Webb: 1
Marvin Musquin: 1
Adam Cianciarulo: 2
Justin Cooper: 2
Colt Nichols: 2
Dylan Ferrandis: 2
Chase Sexton: 2
 Eli Tomac (Hangtown II, Pala I, Pala II)
 Ken Roczen (Hangtown I)
 Justin Cooper (Hangtown I, Pala I)
 Adam Cianciarulo (Hangtown II, Pala II)
Next race: Thunder Valley Motocross Park, Lakewood, Co. June 1
Season passes can be purchased at NBC Sports Gold.