CRAWFORDSVILLE, Ind. — official release — Simon Cudby photo — The 2014 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, entered the penultimate round of its 12-race championship series on Saturday with the inaugural running of the Thor Indiana National.
In what could be considered the most unpredictable conditions of the season, Saturday’s racing action came away with very little surprises, including the crowning of the first National Champion of 2014 with Yamalube/Star Racing/Yamaha’s Jeremy Martin clinching the 250 class title one round early.
In the 450 Class, Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen emerged victorious with a 1-2 performance to further extend his point lead over teammate Ryan Dungey as the series heads into the final round next week.
With natural rolling hills and a flowing layout, the brand new Ironman Raceway track was quickly deemed one of the most favorable tracks on the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross circuit, that is until the rain began to fall Saturday morning. Track conditions went from being perfect, to less than ideal, in just the matter of hours.
Roczen put himself into a favorable position right away by grabbing the Motosport.com Holeshot Award in the first 450 class moto, Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Trey Canard tucked in behind Roczen off the start, where he kept himself within striking distance through the first half of the moto.
Dungey experienced an issue off the start that caused him to get hung up just before the first turn, where he began around fifth on the opening lap. Roczen capitalized on the clear track ahead, especially with the muddy track conditions in the first moto, and put a gap on Canard and the rest of the field.
However, Dungey was bound and determined to close the gap on his teammate early on and the Minnesota native eventually charged past Canard, who went down mid-moto, to take over second.
Dungey maintained second place in moto one, with Canard finishing in third. GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac, who claimed the Oakley Bomb Fastest Qualifier Award, made a late pass on Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Brett Metcalfe to capture fourth, while BTO Sports/KTM’s Matt Goerke rounded out the top five.
In moto two, Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Trey Canard grabbed the MotoSport.com Holeshot and pulled away from the rest of the field to earn his second win in the last three motos. Roczen jumped into the second place position on the opening lap, but the 450 class point leader wasn’t able to match the pace of a hard-charging Canard.
Rockstar Energy Racing/KTM’s Ryan Sipes put himself into podium contention early on with a top-three holeshot in the second moto. Despite a crash late in the race, Sipes was able to tap into his newfound cross-country skills to maintain a solid and consistent pace. BTO Sports/KTM’s Andrew Short maintained a top five running throughout the entire moto, engaging in battle with Sipes for the final podium position. In the end, Sipes prevailed to capture third in the moto, with Short in fourth and Toyota/JGRMX/Yamaha’s Josh Grant rounded out the top five.
Dungey once again suffered from a bad start in the second moto, checking in just outside the top ten on the opening lap. The Red Bull KTM rider wasn’t able to make up much ground, finishing a disappointing ninth place in the second moto. Dungey’s 2-9 moto scores were good enough to capture third overall for the day, where he lost 13 points in the championship standings.
“The second moto, that’s where the downfall was,” Dungey said. “It was tough in those conditions to come from behind, but no excuses though. I just got caught up in a little bit of mud, which isn’t ideal at this point in the championship. I lost some points but I’m taking it race by race and all I can do is the best I can every time the gate drops.”
Canard’s moto two victory marks his second win in the last three rounds, as well as the his second career moto win in the 450 class. Canard’s 3-1 moto scores earned the Oklahoma native second overall for the day, just three points away from his first overall win.
“I’m definitely more comfortable these last two weeks,” Canard said. “Obviously last week helped but in general I’ve just had more fun at the races the last two weeks.”
Roczen’s win helped the German rookie extend the 450 class point lead over Dungey, bringing his championship lead to twenty points with one round to go.
“I really enjoy when it rains, it takes the edge off because most of the races it’s sunny and everyone is going for it,” Roczen said. “I think the track was overall super cool, like the layout and the entire venue. I think if it would have been dry this could be my new favorite track.”
Canard sits third in the championship standings, 76 points behind, with Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Brett Metcalfe fourth (-190) and Tomac jumping up all the way to fifth (-213) despite missing the first four rounds of the season with injury.
Heading into moto one, Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Jeremy Martin needed only nine points to claim his first career 250 class Championship. The Minnesota native got off to a good start in the first moto and carried his momentum to a second place finish, which is good enough to clinch the title one round early.
“To be able to have the number one plate, I’ve been thinking of how good it would feel to hear Kevin (Crowther) from the AMA to be passing on the number one plate to me and this is the greatest moment of my life,” Martin said after receiving the AMA No. 1 Plate and his first 250 class title.
TLD/Lucas Oil/Honda’s Jessy Nelson had a break out ride in the first moto of the 250 Class, beginning with a commanding MotoSport.com Holeshot. With Martin close in tow, Nelson set a blistering pace out front early on. The KTM trio of Joey Savatgy (Rockstar Energy Racing/KTM), Marvin Musquin (Red Bull KTM) and Jason Anderson (Rockstar Energy KTM) filled out the top five early on.
Nelson eventually stretched his lead to over seven seconds by the end of the moto en route to his first career moto win. Martin captured second to claim his first career title, with Musquin, Savatgy and Anderson rounding out the top five.
Nelson grabbed the MotoSport.com Holeshot once again in moto two but unlike the first moto, the young gun wasn’t able to maintain the lead for too long. Rockstar Energy Racing KTM duo Joey Savatgy and Jason Anderson got off to a good start, but the Frenchmen Marvin Musquin and Christophe Pourcel came quickly charging.
It wasn’t long before Musquin made his way past Savatgy and into the lead, with Valli Motorsports Yamaha’s Pourcel close behind. Pourcel kept the pressure on Musquin for the lead but the Red Bull KTM rider held on to secure the win, with Pourcel in second and Savatgy rounded out the podium.
Nelson continued to fall back, eventually finishing eighth in the second moto, giving the California native third overall for the day with 1-8 moto scores. Savatgy put forth a consistent ride with 4-3 moto scores and second overall for the day.
Jeremy Martin left the inaugural Indiana National with his first ever 250 Class Championship in hand, while also scoring Yamaha its first 250 Class Championship since Jeff Emig’s title in 1992. However, it was Musquin who secured the overall win with moto scores of 3-1, despite a muddy day of racing in Indiana.
“I think my technique worked pretty good today,” Musquin said. “I’ve been in the U.S. for a couple years now and I’ve never really raced in the mud here. I was just trying to be smooth and smart but when you’re on the track it’s so easy to make a mistake, it’s tough but that’s part of the racing.”