Rich Shepherd, ProMotocross

Southwick Preview: Shifting sands predict more shakeups

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The first four weeks of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season was dominated by Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen.

In those opening rounds, if either rider bobbled in one of the Motos, they would immediately rebound and were the only winners as a result. As they seesawed through the opening rounds, they literally left the field in the dust and amassed a sizeable lead.

Professional sports are rarely that simple, however. Two weeks ago Blake Baggett became the first rider other than Tomac or Roczen to win a Moto. Last week, Marvin Musquin joined him and went a step beyond to win overall at WW Ranch in Jacksonville, Fla. With that run, Musquin jumped to third in the points and has the leaders in sight.

After Roczen’s struggles in Moto 2 at WW Ranch in which he finished 10th, Tomac was able to secure a little breathing room in the form of a six-point gap.

Still, this close of a battle is unprecedented territory for Tomac compared to the past two seasons. This week could be pivotal. If he can add a few more points over Roczen and the field, he could slowly begin to extend his advantage.

Now the series heads up the coast to Southwick, Mass. for the second straight race in sandy conditions.

Last week took a heavy toll on the riders – particularly the less conditioned and younger group from the 250 class. This week, the temperatures are forecast to be just as high even though the series is much further north. Back-to-back endurance races are going to further separate the field, making this another opportunity race that very well might showcase more new winners.

Shifting sand is not just a cliché. The track will undergo major changes throughout the day and the most experienced and flexible riders will ascend to the podium at the end of the round. It is going to be extremely important to get off to a steady start in Moto 1, but the second race is going to have increased importance and could feature a completely different track than the one the riders qualify on in the morning.

Fredrik Noren will climb aboard Justin Hill’s factory Suzuki after scoring a pair of top-10s in the first five rounds of the season.

MORE: Spreading the Motocross Wealth

Schedule:

Qualifiers: 10:15 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold
Race: Live, 1 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold (Moto 1), Moto 2 at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold (re-air at 7:30 on NBC).

June 22 – 2019 WW Ranch Motocross Park

450: Marvin Musquin (1-3) won over Eli Tomac (7-1) and Zach Osborne (5-2)
250: Justin Cooper (2-2) won over Dylan Ferrandis (4-1) and Adam Cianciarulo (5-3)

June 30 – 2018 The Wick

450: Marvin Musquin (2-1) won over Eli Tomac (1-2) and Justin Barcia (3-3)
250: Dylan Ferrandis (4-1) won over Alex Martin (2-4) and Shane McElrath (6-2)

Overall Wins

450:
[2] Ken Roczen (Hangtown, Thunder Valley)
[2] Eli Tomac (Pala, High Point)
[1] Marvin Musquin (WW Ranch)

250:
[4] Adam Cianciarulo (Hangtown, Pala, Thunder Valley, High Point)
[1] Justin Cooper (WW Ranch)

Moto Wins

450:
[5] Eli Tomac (Hangtown II, Pala I & II, Thunder Valley II, WW Ranch I)
[3] Ken Roczen (Hangtown I, Thunder Valley I, High Point II)
[1] Blake Baggett (High Point I)
[1] Marvin Musquin (WW Ranch I)

250:
[4] Adam Cianciarulo (Hangtown II, Pala II, Thunder Valley II, High Point II)
[3] Justin Cooper (Hangtown I, Pala I, Thunder Valley I)
[1] Hunter Lawrence (High Point I)
[1] Chase Sexton (WW Ranch I)
[1] Dylan Ferrandis (WW Ranch II)

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Michelin appoints new North American motorsports director

Michelin
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Michelin North America has named Tony Ménard as director of motorsports, effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Ménard is succeeding Chris Baker, who has held the role for the past eight years. Baker is scheduled to retire in March of 2020, ending a lengthy career that began with Michelin in 1982.

“Chris has played a vital role in the growth and success of our motorsports program, both for BFGoodrich and Michelin in North America,” said Matthieu Bonardel, global director for Michelin Group’s motorsports business entity. “His passion and understanding for motorsport fueled growth in the organization and established credibility in the market. Chris’s leadership propelled the Group, which experienced tremendous success with race wins, and advanced the way the brands leveraged our motorsports participation to benefit the overall business.”

A native of Le Mans, France, Ménard has served in several positions during his 30-year career with Michelin, most recently serving global business leader for Michelin brand in the passenger-vehicle category. Ménard has worked closely with the North American motorsports team since early July in preparation for the transition.

Baker oversaw the development of the motorsports function for Michelin and BFGoodrich Tires brands as a single business unit in North America. He also directed the expansion of Michelin’s involvement in IMSA sports-car racing as the “Official Tire of IMSA” and BFGoodrich Tires partnership with SCORE International Racing as the “Official Tire of SCORE.”

During Baker’s tenure, BFGoodrich achieved an unprecedented 650 off-road class wins, including five overall victories in the Baja 1000. The brand also demonstrated performance in the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing, Ultra4 King of Hammers, and provided strong support of grass roots racing across North America with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), National Auto Sport Association (NASA), and Super Production Challenge in Canada.

“I am incredibly grateful to Michelin for the opportunities and support throughout my career, and to all the folks that I have worked with and continue to work with,” Baker said. “I want to thank all the teams, partners, officials and fans who have made our relationships so successful and are essential to the brands’ successes. I look forward to witnessing the continued success of our motorsports programs under Tony’s leadership, as well as the contributions of the Michelin Motorsport North America staff and volunteers, who are completely dedicated and invested in representing our brands in competition.”