Dylan Ferrandis enjoyed a stellar debut in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross 450 class, taking the overall win with a 1-3 tally at the season opener at Fox Raceway in Pala, California.
It also marked the team’s first victory in the premier class, which was made sweeter with a double podium as Aaron Plessinger ended the day third overall after a strong runner-up finish in the second moto (4-2). Christian Craig had a solid start in the challenging conditions, finishing 12th overall with an 11-9 tally.
Earlier in the day, Ferrandis led the way for the team, qualifying fourth and then got a great start in the first moto in second. Although he was passed shortly after, the Frenchmen kept his cool in third and reclaimed second after the leader went down four laps into the race.
Sitting right on the heels of the new frontrunner, he was able to take over the lead a lap later and steadily built a comfortable gap to secure his first moto win in his first race in the premier class. In the second moto, the 2020 250MX Champion was back in eighth after the start. Undeterred, he put his head down and quickly fought his way forward to sixth. In a multi-rider battle for fourth, Ferrandis came out on top around the halfway mark. He advanced to third a few laps later, where he ultimately finished, claiming his first overall 450MX victory.
“It was a way different Pala race than last year, but it was a really good day for me,” Ferrandis said. “I didn’t wake up this morning thinking that I would win the overall. It’s an amazing result as a rookie in the 450 class to win the first moto and the overall. I’m also really happy to get that first 450 win for the Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing team. I’m really hard on these guys, and I make them work many hours during the race and the whole week, so this one is really for them. The hard work has definitely paid off. I want to say a big thanks to all of the people around me. It’s an amazing feeling and a day that I will remember.”
Aaron Plessinger had a good start in sixth from the ninth gate pick. He moved into fifth before the halfway point and then kept charging. On the final lap, the Ohio native made the pass for fourth and held onto it to the checkered flag. In the second moto, Plessinger got the start he was looking for and grabbed the holeshot. He was then shuffled to second but kept the leader in sight and threw down some fast laps. The pair were able to build a comfortable gap on the rest of the field, and Plessinger made a few attempts to pass for the lead but ultimately lost a little bit of ground. Sitting comfortably in the runner-up position, the 2018 250MX Champion brought it home to score his first overall podium in the 450 class with a third-place result.
“It was a great day for me overall,” Plessinger said. “I felt good coming into this weekend and felt like I could do some damage, and I did. I think my last outdoor moto was at the Ironman back in 2019, so to come out here and finish third after a tough two years, it’s pretty amazing. I want to thank the whole team. They do an amazing job. I love my bike right now, and I couldn’t be happier. I’m just going to come into Colorado with the same outlook and try to do It again!”
Christian Craig also had a good start to the day, qualifying eighth. He didn’t get the start he was looking for outside of the top 10 but was able to work his way up to ninth. As the race wore on, he struggled to find his comfort zone in the challenging conditions, ultimately finishing 11th. In the second moto, Craig got a much better start in seventh. The Californian was shuffled back to 11th, but with four laps to go, he found his flow on the track and was able to advance back to ninth to end the day 12th overall.
“It was a decent day at Pala for the first round. I struggled with the bike set up in the first moto, but I was able to rebound with a solid second moto. I expect a lot more out of myself, so I’m just going to keep pushing!” Craig said.
Ferrandis leaves Southern California with the points lead, while Plessinger sits third tied at 40 points with the Moto 2 winner. Next weekend the Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing team heads to Thunder Valley Motocross Park in Lakewood, Colorado, for Round 2 of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship on June 5.
450 Class Overall Results (Moto Finish)
1 Dylan Ferrandis, France, Yamaha (1-3)
2 Ken Roczen, Germany, Honda (6-1)
3 Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, Yamaha (4-2)
4 Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., GASGAS (3-6)
5 Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda (2-10)
6 Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., Husqvarna (10-4)
7 Marvin Musquin, France, KTM (8-7)
8 Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., KTM (5-11)
9 Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki (9-8)
10 Zach Osborne, Abingdon, Va., Husqvarna (13-5)
450 Class Championship Standings (Round 1 of 12)
1 Dylan Ferrandis, France, Yamaha – 45 Points
2 Ken Roczen, Germany, Honda – 40 Points
3 Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, Yamaha – 40 Points
4 Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., GASGAS – 35 Points
5 Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda – 33 Points
6 Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., Husqvarna – 29 Points
7 Marvin Musquin, France, KTM – 27 Points
8 Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., KTM – 26 Points
9 Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki – 25 Points
10 Zach Osborne, Abingdon, Va., Husqvarna – 24 Points