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 told NBCSN 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.
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 on NBCSN. “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. .
Heat 1: Cover the top three with a blanket as Ken Roczen, Eli Tomac and Blake Baggett battled throughout the entire Heat. Roczen ended with a one second lead after Tomac (second) and Baggett (third) made slight contact on the final lap. … Malcolm Stewart continues with an impressive start to the season by finishing fourth in Heat 1. … Zach Osborne rounded out the top five. … Kyle Cunningham took the last transfer spot in ninth. | Heat 1 Results
Heat 2: Justin Hill grabbed the early lead and never looked back. … Cooper Webb kept the pressure on and finished 1.6 seconds back in second. … Justin Brayton was a distant third 11.7 seconds back). … Aaron Plessinger and Martin Davalos rounded out the top five. … Third in points entering Oakland, Justin Barcia was running third on the last lap before his engine expired. He pushed the bike to the mechanics area and the race was on to change the powerplant. … Adam Cianciarulo and Jason Anderson crashed on the opening lap, but were able to recover and move into the transfer positions. Cianciarulo finished sixth; Anderson was seventh. … Benefitting from Barcia’s problems, Joshua Cartwright earned the final transfer spot in ninth. | Heat 2 Results
LCQ: Justin Barcia got a slow start, but grabbed the lead on Lap 1 and then made it look easy with an eight second lead over Dean Wilson. … Cade Autenrieth finished third. … One of the best battles of the night was for the final slot in the Main between Alex Ray and Jason Clermont. Blocks by both riders ultimately resolved in Ray’s favor with Clermont heading home early. | LCQ Results
Heat 1: Austin Forkner was as patient as a rider can be in a five-minute race. After making a low-drama, easy pass on Jacob Hayes, Forkner had a much more difficult time getting around Michael Mosiman. … Mosiman made another charge on the last lap, but settled into second. … Riding momentum, Brandon Hartranft settled into third with Hayes falling to fourth. … Taiki Koga took the final transfer spot in ninth.
Here| Heat 1 Results
Heat 2: Cameron McAdoo had to sit out three weeks for injury. He was fourth at the start of Heat 2 before slicing through the field to win. … Dylan Ferrandis climbed to second. … Mitchell Oldenburg got the hole shot, but he lost the lead to Luke Clout early. Those two battled for the lead and allowed McAdoo and Ferrandis to catch them. … Oldenburg was third with Clout in fourth. … Robbie Wageman rounded out the top five. … Justin Cooper was battling among the top five until he was run into by Clout. Cooper fell, had trouble restarting his bike, and fell to 10th. … Jay Wilson grabbed ninth and the final transfer position. | Heat 2 Results
LCQ: Justin Cooper did not expect to have to race his way through the LCQ, but a blitzkrieg move by Clout in his Heat forced him to run those six additional laps. … He won over Killian Auberson by more than 11 seconds. … Lorenzo Camporese finished third. … Logan Karnow rounded out the transfer positions. … Wyatt Lyonsmith was the first rider on the outside looking in. | LCQ Results
Next race: February 8, PETCO Park, San Diego, Calif.
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