Ken Roczen dominated Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Round 8 at Unadilla MX Park and narrowed the gap to points leader Dylan Ferrandis by eight as the series heads into their final four rounds of 2021.
Roczen’s win was never in doubt. He jumped out to an early lead in Moto 1 and rode away from the field. It took a couple of laps to get the top spot in Moto 2, but once he was up front, he never looked over his shoulder.
Roczen’s domination of the first race was so great, that eventual second-place overall finisher conceded the event at its conclusion.
“I think it’s too late to do anything better to beat Ken today,” Ferrandis told NBC Sports’ Ashley Reynard after finishing a distant second in Moto 1. “He’s very good on this track every year. He’s the guy to watch here. … I think two today is a very good result. To beat him? I don’t know if I have it in me. I’m going to have to dig deep. We’ll see if he makes a mistake or whatever. I think two today is the best I can do.”
While the overall margin over Ferrandis was sizeable, Roczen was not completely unchallenged in the first half of the first race.
The only rider who was able to keep up was Aaron Plessinger until he “looped out” of the race. Midway through, he landed hard over a jump, his front wheel popped into air and he wheelied off the back of his Yamaha. The bike landing on him, destroying it and keeping Plessinger from racing in Moto 2.
After that incident, Roczen was uncontested.
Honda teammate Chase Sexton was Roczen’s biggest competition in Moto 2.
Sexton won last week at Washougal, but he got into trouble early and crashed hard in Moto 1 after fishtailing out of a rut and then swapping the ends of his bike. He walked gingerly back to his steed, remounted and climbed to 11th at the end – but the damage was done for the day and with an 11-2, he finished fifth overall.
“It was unreal,” Roczen said at the end of Moto 2. “What a great moto it was. I had a great battle with my teammate. I felt like I got into that flow state. I was hitting my marks. The track’s brutal; it’s really bumpy, so it’s easy to make a mistake.”
Most importantly, Roczen stopped a two-race skid that saw him finish ninth at Washougal and eighth at Spring Creek. He narrowed the points gap from 47 to 39. Trimming eight points from Ferrandis’ lead was a solid step, but with four rounds remaining, he needs to make up nearly 10 points per event.
“I came here for the win, but obviously Ken was way to strong today,” Ferrandis said. “I kind of expected it,. I lost some points in the championship, but we have four rounds to go.”
Ferrandis did what he could and finished 2-3 for second overall.
Marvin Musquin joined his French countryman on the podium, giving European riders a sweep of the top three spots behind Germany’s Roczen. Musquin claimed third with consistency, finishing 4-4 in the motos.
Eli Tomac was a distant third in Moto 1 and an even more distant seventh in Moto 2. He finished fourth overall and lost ground in the standings to Roczen. Sitting third in the standings for the moment, he needs to make up nearly six points per race to advance to second.
After a practice crash during the two-week break, Justin Barcia was unable to join the field at Unadilla. He was fourth in the standings after Washougal.
450 results (moto finish)
- Ken Roczen, Germany, Honda (1-1)
- Dylan Ferrandis, France, Yamaha (2-3)
- Marvin Musquin, France, KTM (4-4)
- Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki (3-7)
- Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda (11-2)
- Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., KTM (5-5)
- Christian Craig, Temecula, Calif., Yamaha (7-6)
- Max Anstie, Newbury, England, Suzuki (8-9)
- Justin Bogle,Cushing, Okla., KTM (9-12)
- Coty Schock, Dover, Del. (12-10)
450 points standings
- Dylan Ferrandis, France, Yamaha – 345
- Ken Roczen, Germany, Honda – 306
- Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki – 283
- Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda – 270
- Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., GasGas – 239
- Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, Yamaha – 217
- Marvin Musquin, France, KTM – 213
- Christian Craig, El Cajon, Calif., Yamaha – 211
- Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., KTM – 209
- Joey Savatgy, Thomasville, Ga., KTM – 160
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Finishing second in Moto 1, he knew he had the opportunity to win the overall if he rode a clean and aggressive Moto 2. Lawrence chased down and passed Justin Cooper before the halfway mark and held the lead until the checkers.
“I finally got my starts sorted, so that helps a lot,” Lawrence said. “The boys were hooking and I had some different lines and it came in handy. I got Cooper and made stupid mistake and he got me back. But I felt really good there. I felt at home almost. It was such a good flow. I felt so fast. Good to be back on the podium. It’s felt like a while.”
Cooper has made no secret of wanting to finish 1-1 In the 250 class. Nothing else will do. He had an opportunity at Washougal with a Moto 1 win, but faded to eighth in the second race there to finish third overall. He was better in the second race at Unadilla and his 1-4 was good enough to place him second on the overall podium.
“I felt really good in the first moto,” Cooper said. “But I think we needed to make a bike change, the track got a lot rougher for the second one. It was just brutal out there. I lost my flow pretty early. … Once you lose your flow on this track, it’s pretty dangerous. It was kind of no man’s land and I rode it home.
“I didn’t want to risk anything. We got good points today. I’m definitely not going to ride my heart out when I’m not feeling comfortable on the bike.”
With that finish, Cooper maintains a perfect record of overall podiums through eight rounds, but Lawrence was able to cut the points’ advantage in half and needs to make up only four to catch Cooper.
After winning back-to-back races and becoming the first rider to win two overall this season, Jeremy Martin scored his third consecutive overall podium.
RJ Hampshire finished fourth overall with a 4-3.
One of the top stories of Unadilla was the strong run by a pair of Young Guns. Max Vohland scored a pair of top-10 overall finishes so far this year, but with his 6-5 at Unadilla, he scored his first career top-five.
In only his second pro race, Levi Kitchen scored a 12-7 to finish eighth overall one week after winning his division in the Loretta Lynn’s Amateur National Championship.
Chasing down a top-five position in the points, Jo Shimoda hit a track marker in Moto 2 and retired after injuring his left hand. He finished 16th overall with a 7-36 and fell one position in the standings.
250 results (moto finish)
- Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda (2-1)
- Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha (1-4)
- Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Yamaha (3-2)
- RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Husqvarna (4-3)
- Max Vohland, Sacramento, Calif., KTM (6-5)
- Hunter Lawrence, Australia, Honda (5-11)
- Jalek Swoll, Belleview, Fla., Husqvarna (8-9)
- Levi Kitchen, Washougal, Wash., Yamaha (12-7)
- Jarrett Frye, Mechanicsville, Md., Yamaha (13-8)
- Ty Masterpool, Paradise, Texas, GasGas (11-14)
250 points standings
- Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha – 324
- Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda – 320
- Hunter Lawrence, Australia, Honda – 263
- Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Yamaha – 262
- RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Husqvarna – 243
- Jo Shimoda, Japan, Kawasaki – 192
- Jalek Swoll, Belleview, Fla., Husqvarna – 173
- Colt Nichols, Muskogee, Okla., Yamaha – 172
- Michael Mosiman, Sebastopol, Calif., GasGas – 154
- Austin Forkner, Richards, Mo., Kawasaki, – 152
2021 SEASON SO FAR