Unadilla takes center stage; Eli Tomac, Adam Cianciarulo merely players

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And then there were three. The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season is drawing to a close, and while the championships are not mathematically wrapped up, Eli Tomac and Adam Cianciarulo are clear favorites in both the 450 and 250 divisions.

This week, that doesn’t matter at all. The riders take a back seat to the track, which has hosted marquee events since before the creation of the series itself. Dating back to 1969, it is the only track that was part of the inaugural 1972 season. Gary Jones won that July.

Unadilla is described as a European-styled track and it has hosted international events for more than 50 years. As a result, 12 foreign born riders have won across all of the divisions. And that brings us back to the points battles.

A pair of Frenchmen Marvin Musquin and Dylan Ferrandis are chasing down Tomac in the 450 class and Cianciarulo in 250s. Notably, both of those riders are the defending winners in class with Musquin’s 2-1 last year beating Tomac’s 1-2 on a tie breaker. Ferrandis swept the motos to score maximum points – edging Aaron Plessinger both times.

For Musquin, this has always been a special place. He earned his first victory in the United States there in 250s in 2012 and is now in a position to become only the second rider in history to win three in a row. Ricky Carmichael threepeated in 2000-2002 and again in 2004-2006 after taking one year off to give Kevin Windham a chance to ascend the podium

Do not look for rider deep in the field to challenge the title contenders this week, however; only one racer has scored his first win. Adding to the international flare, South Africa’s Greg Albertyn won in 1996.

On the heels of this week’s news that Cianciarulo will join Tomac in the 450 class in 2020, those two riders are poised to give Kawasaki a manufacturer sweep. If that happens, it will be the first time since KTM performed the feat in 2012 with Ryan Dungey and Musquin.

In the 250 class, Ferrandis will have to buck the odds if he wants to repeat. In the past 10 seasons there have been nine different winners. The good news is that it was another Frenchman, Christophe Pourcel (2009 and 2014) with the two wins.

MORE: Eli Tomac versus Marvin Musquin at Washougal
MORE: It’s Tomac’s to take

Schedule:

Qualifiers: 9:15 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold
Race: Live, 12 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold, Moto 2 at 2 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold, (250 Moto 2, re-air at 3 p.m. on NBC; 450 Moto 2 5 p.m. on NBCSN).

July 27 – 2019; Washougal

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

August 11 – 2018; Unadilla 

450: Marvin Musquin (2-1) won over Eli Tomac (1-2) and Phil Nicoletti (3-5)
250: Dylan Ferrandis (1-1) won over Aaron Plessinger (2-2) and Mitchell Harrison (4-4)

Overall Wins

450:
[4] Eli Tomac (Pala, High Point, RedBud, Washougal)
[2] Ken Roczen (Hangtown, Thunder Valley)
[2] Marvin Musquin (WW Ranch, Southwick)
[1] Cooper Webb (Spring Creek)

250:
[6] Adam Cianciarulo (Hangtown, Pala, Thunder Valley, High Point, Southwick, Spring Creek)
[2] Dylan Ferrandis (RedBud, Washougal)
[1] Justin Cooper (WW Ranch)

Moto Wins

450:
[8] Eli Tomac (Hangtown II, Pala I & II, Thunder Valley II, WW Ranch I, RedBud I, Washougal I & II)
[3] Ken Roczen (Hangtown I, Thunder Valley I, High Point II)
[3] Marvin Musquin (WW Ranch I, Southwick I, RedBud II)
[2] Cooper Webb (Spring Creek I & II)
[1] Blake Baggett (High Point I)
[1] Zach Osborne (Southwick II)

250:
[6] Adam Cianciarulo (Hangtown II, Pala II, Thunder Valley II, High Point II, Southwick I, Spring Creek II)
[6] Dylan Ferrandis (WW Ranch II, Southwick II, RedBud I & II, Washougal I & II)
[3] Justin Cooper (Hangtown I, Pala I, Thunder Valley I)
[2] Hunter Lawrence (High Point I, Spring Creek II)
[1] Chase Sexton (WW Ranch I)

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New study surveys drivers’ opinions on crashes, concussions, more

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Auto racing safety has continued to improve through the decades, but the sport remains inherently dangerous, according to a new survey.

At the close of 2018, a new organization called Racing Safety United emerged with the intention of reducing drivers’ risk of being harmed.

RSU is made up of more than 30 members including former NASCAR Cup Series competitor Jerry Nadeau, two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Randy LaJoie, NHRA team owner Don Schumacher and motorsports journalist Dick Berggren.

One of RSU’s first initiatives was to determine what current drivers thought of racing safety. The organization developed a 14-question survey and promoted it on select motorsports websites and forums. 

Participants were given the opportunity to disclose their identity or remain anonymous, and those who provided contact information were entered to win a $500 prize (for anonymous participants, the prize funds would be donated to a motorsports charity). 

More than 140 individuals participated in the survey over the course of 12 months. Below are the results of the survey:

Driver status

The vast majority of survey participants (60%) were amateur racers, while 26% of the participants were classified as Semi-Pro/Professional racers. The remaining 14% consisted of other individuals involved in the sport such as team owners and crew chiefs. 

When asked how frequently they race, 58% of driver respondents averaged 10 or more times per year on track, while 42% averaged 10 times or less.

The top five tracks respondents said they raced most often: Road Atlanta (21 votes), Watkins Glen (17 votes), Virginia International Raceway (16 votes), Mid-Ohio (16 votes), and Road America (13 votes).

Vehicular damage, injuries common

Over a third of respondents said they had been injured while racing, and almost two-thirds sasid they had suffered severe vehicle damage while racing

Driver error was cited as the top cause of vehicle damage (42 mentions), followed by concrete walls (26 mentions), mechanical failures (24 mentions), and other drivers (19 mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for better driver training/coaching, energy absorbing walls, and more technical inspections.

Almost a quarter of drivers said they had experienced racing-related concussions, and nearly half the respondents said one or multiple concussions would affect their decision to race in the future. 

Drivers primarily influenced by peers 

Roughly half the drivers said they would consider adopting new safety equipment if influenced by another driver (51 total mentions) and/or if recommended by a sanctioning body (47 total mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for drivers to become safety advocates and educate other drivers and for sanctioning bodies to mandate safety equipment. 

Drivers concerned with concrete walls

Approximately three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said they believed certain race tracks were more dangerous than others. Nearly half the drivers surveyed believe that concrete walls were the primary cause of damage to drivers and vehicles. 

Drivers willing to help

Just more than three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said that they would be willing to join a safety alliance to advocate for safer tracks. Two-thirds of drivers said that they also would be willing to contribute to a motorsports safety fund.

Click here for the full results of RSU’s survey

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