Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Kubota Southwick National: Saturday Notebook

by Chris Leone // Website // Twitter
Images via Down and Dirty Show

Excited for today’s Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Kubota Southwick National? We’re on site here at The Wick 338 following all the action! Be sure to check in for periodic updates throughout the day.

4:50PM ET: Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Marvin Musquin won a race in Massachusetts while a frustrated and downed Eli Tomac finished second.

No, this wasn’t like Monster Energy Supercross at Gillette Stadium, when last lap contact between the duo saw Musquin showered in more boos than champagne after he won. This one was all on Tomac, who made a pair of mistakes in open space that he was finally unable to recover from.

The early lead went to Musquin, with Justin Bogle once again taking the holeshot win and holding onto second after Musquin got by. Once again, a subpar start for Tomac put him back on the fringes of the top 10 in the first turn, but he recovered quickly to get past Ken Roczen, Blake Baggett, and Phil Nicoletti, among others, to climb back into third.

But by the end of the second lap, Tomac was already in the lead, having found a way past both Bogle and Musquin. Roczen and Justin Barcia would get past Bogle shortly thereafter to send the returning rider back to fifth. Meanwhile, Tomac put down a succession of laps in the 2:12 range, allowing him to gap Musquin handily and giving him plenty to be comfortable about.

But everything can change in an instant in motocross, and so it did when Tomac got unsettled in a rutted section and went down about halfway through the race. That gave Musquin a new sight at the lead, although Tomac was still able to hold onto the top spot. Unfortunately for the championship leader, lightning struck twice, and the second time enabled Musquin to make the pass as Tomac picked his bike up and build an eight-second gap with nine laps to go.

From there, it was all about holding on; Musquin to his lead and Tomac to his damaged bike. The gap grew to over 20 seconds once the race hit the 30-minute mark, and while Tomac was never in danger of losing second to Barcia, the winner of the second moto is crowned the overall event winner in case of 1-2 results for both winners. As such, Tomac’s charge for the first perfect season since James Stewart’s unblemished 2008 is left behind in New England.

3:50PM ET: After contact between Austin Forkner and a hard-charging Alex Martin, Dylan Ferrandis inherited the lead and took the victory in the second 250 moto from Southwick. The French rider, in only his third week back from injury, not only repeated as a moto winner here after winning the first 250 race last season, but also took his first overall win in the United States.

Not content just to try and lead at the end of the race, Forkner grabbed the holeshot over Shane McElrath this time, but points leader Aaron Plessinger was forced off track early in the first lap. The incoming points leader lost a number of positions while re-entering the track, and would need to fight back.

Forkner, McElrath, R.J. Hampshire, Martin, and Joey Savatgy settled into the top five, but with Plessinger back in the pack, Martin saw the opportunity to make his move. He climbed into third place, passing Hampshire, while Plessinger was forced to contend with teammate Dylan Ferrandis as both looked for a podium spot. Martin then found a way around McElrath for second, setting his sights on Forkner for the lead, as Ferrandis took third, having left Plessinger well behind him outside of the top five.

But when Martin tried to make an inside pass on Forkner in the final minutes, both riders went down. The contact gave Ferrandis the lead, McElrath a close second place, and Hampshire third; Martin would get back on the bike quickly and recover to fourth place, but a shaken Forkner fell well outside of the top 10 and off of the lead lap after visiting the pits. With McElrath unable to get close enough to make a pass, Ferrandis was able to hold on. Plessinger managed seventh, but Forkner fell all the way to 20th.

2:50PM ET: Eli Tomac’s legendary season continued with a win in the first 450 moto of the day from The Wick 338, as he patiently stalked and eventually passed rival Marvin Musquin for the victory.

Justin Bogle claimed the holeshot in his first round of the season after returning from injury, but would give up the lead before the end of the first lap. Ken Roczen, Justin Barcia, and Musquin settled into the top three spots, with Blake Baggett fourth and Tomac in fifth, about 10 seconds off the lead. Tomac had gotten off the line 11th, but passed a number of riders and soon got by Bogle to crack the top five.

Tomac got to work immediately on closing in to the leaders, chasing down Baggett for fourth and setting his sights on the podium. Meanwhile, in an intense battle at the front between the three leaders, both Barcia and Musquin made impressive passes to take first and second from Roczen. But the battle only sped up Tomac’s charge to the the lead pack, and he passed Roczen 11 minutes into the race.

Musquin got by Barcia for the lead, and Tomac got by Barcia for second, setting up a battle for the lead between the sport’s finest by the halfway point of the round. But while the Colorado native closed in multiple times, the Frenchman kept finding ways to increase the difference or close the door.

The heat was on with three laps to go, with Tomac amplifying his pursuit in 93-degree heat. Every time he’d try to make a pass, Musquin responded by finding the right line to choke off the opportunity—until just before both riders took the white flag, when Tomac made an aggressive move on the outside. On the final lap, Musquin made a mistake on a jump that took him off the bike, and that was that for the battle.

1:50PM: Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider Austin Forkner won the first 250 moto of the day, his first moto win since the 2016 season finale at Ironman Raceway.

Shane McElrath, last year’s overall winner, took the holeshot, with local native Jimmy Decotis second and Justin Cooper third once the field initially settled in. McElrath was able to check out early, holding a nearly eight-second advantage after two laps in, as Forkner put the pressure on both Decotis and Cooper to create a three-way battle for second. Decotis would soon fade to outside of the top 10.

With Forkner in second, he set his sights on McElrath and began to whittle down the advantage in hopes of taking his first victory in nearly two years. By the race’s halfway point, the deficit was less than five seconds; just a few minutes later, Forkner cut the gap down to nearly a second, forcing McElrath to match his pace to defend.

But Forkner wouldn’t be denied, and clawed his way into the top spot, leaving McElrath to the clutches of a hard-charging Alex Martin and Aaron Plessinger, the current top two championship players. Facing his own winless drought that dated back to Thunder Valley last year, Martin tried to put the distance on Plessinger, and both closed in on Forkner to set up an all-out war in the race’s final laps.

A mistake by Plessinger coming into the final lap ensured a two-way battle, while Martin dug deep to catch Forkner. But the Missouri native responded strongly, grabbing the first win of the season for both himself and his team. Martin, Plessinger, Dylan Ferrandis, and Chase Sexton rounded out the unofficial top five.

12:35 PM: The consolation races and two-stroke action from Southwick are all done. Nathen LaPorte, Felix Lopez, Coty Schock, and Kyle Murdock took the final four transfer spots into the 450 motos. Matthew Klann, Joshua Berchem, Bradley Esper, and Mason Wharton advanced in the 250 round.

After opening ceremonies, the first 250 moto kicks off at 1:10PM ET. Fans can watch live on MAVTV or stream via NBC Sports Gold. The MAVTV show will continue through the first moto for each class, ending at 3PM ET. While the live stream remains active from there, NBCSN will be showing the second motos for the 250 and 450 classes on tape delay at 8PM ET.

11:25 AM: Practice and qualifying is over from The Wick 338, and the riders who are guaranteed to move on in each class have been set. Eli Tomac’s 2:07.385 was good enough to nip Marvin Musquin for the fastest time in the 450 class. Tomac was the top qualifier here last year as well.

Dylan Ferrandis’ 2:08.927 was top of the charts in 250 Group A, but still not enough to beat Justin Cooper’s 2:08.659 from the first session. Cooper’s 2:09.360 was second-best in the second session. Meanwhile, 250 Group B was led by local rider Gabe Gutierres.

9:35AM: The first set of practice/qualifying sessions is done. Marvin Musquin’s 2:07.315, turned on the last lap in Group A, was best in the 450 class, ahead of Justin Barcia (2:09.455) and Eli Tomac (2:10.375). Locals Robby Marshall (Stow, MA) and Chris Canning (Coventry, CT) completed the top five in the quick group, while Justin Bogle and Cooper Webb were ninth and 10th in their respective returns to action. Eric Grondahl led Group B.

In 250 Group A, Justin Cooper threw down a 2:08.659 to pace the session, more than a second and a half ahead of Joey Savatgy in second and best of the 64 entered. In Group B, say his name: Walter White led all riders.

8:25AM: Good morning from The Wick 338, home of today’s Kubota Southwick National. It’ll be a hot one today, with expected highs in the mid-90s. The rider’s meeting and chapel services are finished up, and practice is about to kick off.

Eli Tomac (450) and Aaron Plessinger (250) are the two points leaders, but they had very different weekends here last year. While Tomac swept both motos and took the overall victory in 2017, Plessinger went down hard in the first moto and didn’t start the second.

Stay tuned throughout the day right here and on Instagram @DownAndDirtyShow for updates from the event!

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