Ken Roczen would not be denied in Round 4 of the Supercross season at Indianapolis as he cemented his points lead with a victory. He became the fourth different rider to win in the first four races of the season.
It wasn’t and easy trip to the top of the podium.
Eli Tomac got the holeshot and was leading on Lap 3 when he leaned over a little too aggressively exiting the whoops. He laid his Kawasaki down and handed the lead over to teammate Adam Cianciarulo with Roczen hot on his tail.
Tomac remounted in third and quickly caught the two leaders. For the next 10 laps a blanket could have been thrown over the potential podium riders. Roczen stalked and then passed Cianciarulo on Lap 13 with Tomac following him through. Cianciarulo would leave the battle on Lap 14 when he too laid his bike over.
Roczen and Tomac remained in contact for the remainder of the race. But with only a few minutes remaining on the clock, Roczen cross-rutted and jumped off course. Not wishing incur a penalty from Supercross, he took a cautious approach to rejoining the course and then re-passed Tomac for the lead on the following lap.
“I was so glad we made it happen,” Roczen said from the top of the podium. “I made a mistake on the second double. I jumped off the track and I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. I let Eli by because I didn’t want to gain an advantage. I felt like that was the right thing to do. I put the pass on again right away and had a clear track.”
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Tomac was once more riding high on the seesaw that has defined the first four rounds. He finished 15th in Round 1, won Round 2, struggled in the final race in Houston to finish fifth and rebounded at Indy to score a second-place finish.
After finishing 13th in Round 1, Tomac had what he then described as a “scary deficit” of 16 points. His Round 2 win, coupled with a penalty for Roczen, shaved that to four markers, but greater consistency from his rival threatens is slowly building the deficit back toward the double digits. Following Round 4, Tomac is nine points behind the leader.
“The pace tonight was hot for sure, the whole moto,” Tomac said. “I thought to get a chance at this thing I’m going to have to start out front. Unfortunately made the mistake, clipped my front end on that last loop.
“Looking back, I was like ‘gosh darnit, I’m such a dork.’ The rest of the moto I was paying attention to pop my front wheel over that jump.”
Cooper Webb rounded out the podium.
“The start has been really important recently,” Webb said. “We’re all super close. Tonight showed there’s three of us that are really fighting hard. And there are a lot of other contenders too. It’s going to be just maximizing opportunities all year.”
After leading 10 laps in the middle of the race, Cianciarulo finished fourth with Zach Osborne rounding out the top five.
POINTS, RESULTS: All the postrace statistics from Round 4 in Supercross
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In 250s, Colt Nichols became the first repeat winner in either class. Behind him, last-lap drama radically altered the podium.
Nichols and Craig made an early battle out of who would keep the red plate. They raced head to head in the first heat with Craig winning that battle. In the Main event, they picked up where they left off at the gate drop. Nichols scored the holeshot and surged to the lead.
Craig gave chase. As it turned out, he should have been looking over his shoulder instead.
“That’s ideal,” Nichols said from the top of the podium. ” Whenever you get a good start and put yourself in a position. I’ve been struggling to do that this year, so it felt really good to get the holeshot and come around the first turn, get a fresh tear off and ride your own race.”
The 250 class was marked by drama – both drama that might have been and drama that was.
In Round 3, Michael Mosiman and Jett Lawrence tangled at Houston when Lawrence rode into the side of Mosiman’s bike in a tight corner. Lawrence got the better outcome and finished third.
In Saturday night’s heat race, the two squared off again. Mosiman made an aggressive pass on Lap 2 of Heat 2, but did not touch Lawrence. He did, however, use up all of the track and sent Lawrence to the ground.
In the Main, Lawrence got off to a terrible start. He missed a shift out of the gates and then stalled on a wall jump when it appeared he was about to run into the back of Thomas Do. He remounted in 12th. From then until the white flag lap, he put on a show. With a few minutes remaining on the clock, he caught Mosiman running fourth at the time.
A lapped rider separated the two and Lawrence surged past. Lawrence set his sights on Craig and caught him on the final lap – clearly faster and with a line that would have given him second and marked him as Indy’s Comeback Kid. Craig took a wide exit in a sweeping turn and rode both bikes off course.
Mosiman and Jo Shimoda swept past, taking the two podium spots given up by Craig and Lawrence in the incident.
A second-place finish was Mosiman’s best result of the season and his third consecutive top-five.
“Obviously stuff went down with Jett and I the week prior,” Mosiman said. “You hear about it all week. Use it as motivation. I didn’t want to say anything – use words – I just wanted to share it with my actions. And I think I did that tonight.
“Jett and I are cool. He gets it. We fist-bumped at the end of the night.”
Shimoda finished third to earn his fourth consecutive top-five of the season.
“I put on a really good ride. I was pushing the whole time,” Lawrence said after finishing fourth. “I thought I could get Christian on that last turn and we came together. I wasn’t too fazed, but then we got tangled up and just kept going. I was bummed because I put my heart into that race.”
Craig rounded out the top five in fifth.
Max Vohland did not make his feature. He crashed in practice and was evaluated for a possible dislocated right hip.
ROUND 1, HOUSTON: Justin Barcia wins opener for third consecutive time
ROUND 2, HOUSTON: Eli Tomac rebounds, wins after Round 1 disappointment
ROUND 3, HOUSTON: Cooper Webb wins, Ken Roczen denied revenge