Eli Tomac says Ken Roczen will be missed in motocross title battle

Supercross to watch 2021
Feld Entertainment, Inc.

The path to a fourth consecutive AMA Lucas Oil Pro Motocross championship got a little gotten easier for Eli Tomac with Ken Roczen announcing he’ll miss the 2020 season.

But Tomac seemed a little wistful when discussing the impending absence of Roczen, who is skipping motocross to recover from nagging health conditions and also spend more time with wife Courtney, who is expecting their first child in September.

“It’s a pretty big deal that Kenny’s not racing” motocross, Tomac told NBC Sports in an interview. “It’s understandable for some of his situations, but that’s the one guy that say I don’t get a good start, and he gets a holeshot, he’s the one guy that can run away.

“That’s a big loss for the series.”

WATCH PRO MOTOCROSS ON NBC, NBCSNBroadcast schedule for Pro Motocross

Roczen and Tomac have been fierce but respectful rivals at the premier level of dirt bike racing the last few years. Tomac was three points ahead of Roczen through 10 races of Supercross when the series went on hiatus for three months because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Roczen, who finished third in the Supercross points standings as Tomac won his first championship, will return in 2021.

SEASON PREVIEW: Tomac, Musquin lead pack as fans return

Tomac says it’s harder to size up his competition without Roczen in the Outdoors season, which will begin Saturday at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch. Marvin Musquin will be returning from a knee injury in a mix of championship contenders that also includes past Supercross champions Cooper Webb and Jason Anderson, as well as Tomac’s teammate, Adam Cianciarulo.

“I felt like Ken’s always my biggest threat when it comes to motocross,” Tomac said. “Now that he’s out, it’s like I don’t know who is going to be the guy. You have Cooper, Marvin, Jason, my teammate Adam. There’s guys like (Justin) Barcia.

“Either way, you can’t go in too overconfident. You have to be level-headed that way and believe in the work you put in beforehand, and that’s it and kind of run with it.”

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E

Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.