Motocross

Eli Tomac And Jett Lawrence In Control At Ironman Raceway

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Dylan Ferrandis and Cooper Webb battle it out for the holeshot at the start of the 450 class moto. Photo: Align Media
Dylan Ferrandis and Cooper Webb battle it out for the holeshot at the start of the 450 class moto. Photo: Align Media

The 2021 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship took another step towards crowning a pair of champions as the series traveled to Indianapolis and Crawfordsville’s Ironman Raceway.

The Guaranteed Rate Ironman National signified the 10th stop of the 12-round season and featured arguably the toughest weather conditions of the summer thus far with both high temperatures and high humidity. When all was said and done, a familiar name stood atop the 450 Class podium for the first time this season as Eli Tomac broke through for an overdue victory. In the 250 Class, the points lead changed hands for the third time this season following a dominant sweep of the motos by Team Honda HRC’s Jett Lawrence.

As the gate dropped on the first 450 Class moto and the field emerged from the first turn it was Joey Savatgy who grabbed the MotoSport.com Holeshot as Dylan Ferrandis and Tomac gave chase. A wild opening lap saw several riders engaged in battle at the head of the pack, as Ferrandis went on the attack and got by Savatgy for the lead. However, Savatgy battled back and brought along a hard-charging Ken Roczen aboard his Team Honda HRC machine. Soon Roczen was in the lead, but Ferrandis battled back to reclaim the position.

After a torrid opening phase of the moto Ferrandis, Rozen and Tomac settled into the top three and started to put some distance over the rest of the field. All three riders remained within a couple seconds of one another as the momentum ebbed and flowed. Roczen showed a wheel on Ferrandis a few times, but the championship leader never flinched. As the moto passed the halfway mark, Tomac pulled the trigger on a move on Roczen and successfully made the pass for second. The Kawasaki rider then looked to track down Ferrandis for the lead.

Eli Tomac captured his first win of 2021 and became the season's fifth different winner. Photo: Align Media
Eli Tomac captured his first win of 2021 and became the season’s fifth different winner. Photo: Align Media

The pressure on Ferrandis persisted throughout the moto, but he remained focused on hitting his lines and logged consistent laps to keep Tomac at bay. Ferrandis was also efficient in navigating through lapped riders, which allowed him to put some distance on Tomac in the late stages.

The Frenchman finished strong to capture his sixth moto win of the season, finishing 4.1 seconds ahead of Tomac, followed by Roczen in third. Cooper Webb posted his best moto finish of the season in fourth, followed by Team Honda HRC’s Chase Sexton in fifth.

Dylan Ferrandis added significantly to his championship lead with a runner-up finish. Photo: Align Media
Dylan Ferrandis added significantly to his championship lead with a runner-up finish. Photo: Align Media

The second and deciding moto got underway with Ferrandis leading the way with the MotoSport.com Holeshot ahead of Webb. With the clear track things appeared to be advantageous for the Yamaha rider, but Webb came on strong before the conclusion of the opening lap and surged into the top spot. On the following lap Ferrandis found himself under attack from Tomac, and while the Frenchman initially held off the Kawasaki rider, Tomac made the pass happen and dropped Ferrandis to third.

With second place in hand Tomac set his sights on the lead and put the pressure on Webb. Ferrandis gave chase from third, while Roczen lurked in fourth. Despite Tomac’s best efforts, Webb’s crafty defensive riding allowed him to prevent the initial pass attempts. Tomac regrouped and mounted another attack, this time with success about 10 minutes into the moto. Tomac built a lead of nearly two seconds as soon as he had control of the moto, while Webb and Ferrandis began a battle for second.

Cooper Webb enjoyed his best effort of the season en route to his first podium result of 2021. Photo: Align Media
Cooper Webb enjoyed his best effort of the season en route to his first podium result of 2021. Photo: Align Media

Ferrandis wasted no time in attempting a pass on Webb and made the move as soon as the opportunity presented itself, which resulted in contact between the two. Webb got the worse end of the moment, briefly checking his balance, which allowed Ferrandis to slip by for second. Behind this battle, Honda teammates Roczen and Sexton engaged in a brief battle for fourth, from which Sexton came away with the position.

The top five continued unchanged through the remainder of the moto as Tomac went unchallenged en route to his fourth moto win of the season, all of which have come in the second moto. He took the checkered flag 4.7 seconds ahead of Ferrandis, who was closely pursued by Webb for the rest of the race as the KTM rider captured his first moto podium since the 2019 season.

Tomac’s 2-1 finishes put him into a tie with Ferrandis in the overall classification, but by virtue of Tomac’s second moto win the tiebreaker went to the Kawasaki rider. The win is his first since the eighth round of the abbreviated nine-round 2020 season and ends a 10-race winless drought, which is the longest gap between victories of Tomac’s decorated career. It also signified his 26th win in the 450 Class, where he sits fourth all-time.

“All I can say is it’s better late than never (to get a win),” expressed Tomac. “I finally had the day I’ve been wanting to have. I kind of felt like there’s been two sides to me from one moto to the next all season. Today, I finally felt good in both. I got good starts, was able to make the pass (for the lead) happen in the second moto, and ride the race I wanted.”

Ferrandis secured his 10th podium finish of the season in the runner-up spot (1-2), while Webb landed on the overall podium for just the second time in the premier division in third (4-3).

By virtue of his second-place finish, combined with a fourth-place finish by Roczen (3-5), Ferrandis extended his lead in the 450 Class standings to 50 points, which puts him into a position to clinch the Edison Dye Cup one round early should he tie or finish ahead of Roczen at the next round.

“(My success) has been from hard work that I’ve put in for years. It’s finally paying off,” explained Ferrandis. “I do everything for my sport and to be on top. Today was just one of those days where I suffered on the bike. I don’t know why. I just didn’t have the strength. Eli (Tomac) was riding awesome, so credit to him. We had another good day in the championship, so I’m happy with the result.”

250 Class

Australian Jett Lawrence had the best outing of his young career, going 1-1 for his third win of the season. Photo: Align Media
Australian Jett Lawrence had the best outing of his young career, going 1-1 for his third win of the season. Photo: Align Media

The first 250 Class moto of the afternoon began with the points leader, Justin Cooper, earning the MotoSport.com Holeshot ahead of Jett Lawrence, his title rival, and Max Vohland. As Cooper looked to establish a lead on the opening lap, Lawrence and Vohland traded second place before Lawrence asserted himself in the position and set his sights on Cooper.

A few bike lengths separated the lead pair for several laps as Lawrence applied persistent pressure and looked at alternative lines to mount an attack on Cooper. The Australian dropped the hammer and made an easy pass on Cooper to seize control of the moto. Once out front, Lawrence quickly sprinted out to a mult-second lead as Cooper was then forced to fend off his teammate, Jeremy Martin, from third. The Star Racing riders battled for a couple laps before Martin got the upper hand and moved into second.

Four seconds separated Lawrence from Martin as the moto reached its halfway point, but all eyes were on the Yamaha rider, who was the fastest on the track. The former division champion took chunks out of Lawrence’s lead and was all over the Honda with 10 minutes remaining in the moto. Behind them, Cooper continued to lose ground and fell out of the top three, giving up third to Jo Shimoda.

Jo Shimoda equaled his career-best finish with a runner-up effort. Photo: Align Media
Jo Shimoda equaled his career-best finish with a runner-up effort. Photo: Align Media

Back out front, Martin’s attack brought him bar-to-bar with Lawrence for the lead, which the Honda rider fended off. About a lap later Martin crashed while in pursuit of Lawrence, which ended the Yamaha rider’s day. Martin’s misfortune moved Shimoda into second and Michael Mosiman into third, with Cooper trailing in fourth.

With no pressure from behind, Lawrence cruised to an emphatic moto win, crossing the finish line 8.3 seconds ahead of Shimoda, who earned the best moto finish of his career in second. Mosiman finished third, followed by Cooper in fourth and Austin Forkner in fifth.

Justin Cooper kept his podium streak intact in third, but lost possession of the red number plate. Photo: Align Media
Justin Cooper kept his podium streak intact in third, but lost possession of the red number plate. Photo: Align Media

The second moto began with Shimoda charging to the MotoSport.com Holeshot and the early lead ahead of Lawrence and Cooper. The Japanese rider’s first opportunity at the head of the pack was met with a stiff challenge from his former teammate and close friend. Lawrence started to look for a way past Shimoda, and while the Kawasaki rider responded initially, Lawrence eventually made the pass to once again secure control of the moto.

Lawrence quickly built a multi-second advantage over Shimoda as Cooper gave pursuit from third. The Australian continued to extend his advantage on the field, which shifted the focus to Shimoda and Cooper and their battle for second. Cooper closed on the Kawasaki rider briefly but then started to lose touch. Before long, Cooper was battling just to keep hold of his spot in the top three as RJ Hampshire closed in from fourth. Hampshire made quick work of Cooper and took over third.

Hampshire’s forward push continued as he set his sights on Shimoda for second. The Husqvarna rider closed the gap and was patient in looking for his opportunity to try and make a pass. When he finally made his run it came on the track’s longest stretch of jumps, which carried Hampshire around Shimoda and into second. However, the battle persisted as Shimoda fought back. They traded fast laps and Shimoda was able to show a wheel in several areas, but Hampshire held on as they navigated lapped traffic.

Back out front, Lawrence capped off the most impressive outing of his young career and the most dominant performance of the 2021 season with his first-ever moto sweep. He took the checkered flag nine seconds ahead of Hampshire, who fended off Shimoda in third. Cooper finished a distant fourth.

Jett Lawrence reclaimed the red plate and now has an 11-point lead in the 250 Class standings. Photo: Align Media
Jett Lawrence reclaimed the red plate and now has an 11-point lead in the 250 Class standings. Photo: Align Media

Lawrence’s triumph (1-1) signifies the third overall victory of the season for the 18-year-old and the fourth win of his career. Shimoda followed in the runner-up spot (2-3) to equal his career-best result, while Cooper secured his 10th podium finish of the season in third (4-4), despite failing to finish in the top three in either moto for the first time this summer.

“It’s a great feeling (to go 1-1),” said Lawrence. “It shows I’m not giving up. I’ve been needing this for a while now. It feels good and I hope I can continue this through the rest of the season.”

Lawrence’s return to the top of the 250 Class standings came via a 14-point swing between he and Cooper, who entered the Ironman National with a three-point lead. Lawrence now holds an 11-point advantage over Cooper with four motos remaining.

“I just have to keep fighting,” said Cooper. “It’s not going to be easy. Jett (Lawrence) was riding awesome today and I had nothing for him. I got the best I could out of myself and I have to be happy with that. I just need to keep digging. It’s not over til it’s over.”

The 2021 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship will make its return to the West Coast for the penultimate round of the season next Saturday, September 4, for a second visit to Pala, California’s Fox Raceway on Labor Day weekend.

Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship – Guaranteed Rate Ironman National
Ironman Raceway – Crawfordsville, Indiana – August 28, 2021

450 Class Overall Results (Moto Finish)
1 Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki (2-1)
2 Dylan Ferrandis, France, Yamaha (1-2)
3 Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., KTM (4-3)
4 Ken Roczen, Germany, Honda (3-5)
5 Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda (5-4)
6 Coty Schock, Dover, Del., Honda (8-6)
7 Joey Savatgy, Thomasville, Ga., KTM (7-8)
8 Justin Bogle, Cushing, Okla., KTM (10-7)
9 Brandon Hartranft, Brick, N.J., Suzuki (9-9)
10 Kyle Chisholm, Clearwater, Fla., Yamaha (11-10)

450 Class Championship Standings (Round 10 of 12)
1 Dylan Ferrandis, France, Yamaha – 439 Points
2 Ken Roczen, Germany, Honda – 389 Points
3 Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki – 368 Points
4 Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda – 342 Points
5 Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., KTM – 278 Points
6 Marvin Musquin, France, KTM – 240 Points
7 Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., GASGAS – 239 Points
8 Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, Yamaha – 232 Points
9 Christian Craig, El Cajon, Calif., Yamaha – 224 Points
10 Joey Savatgy, Thomasville, Ga., KTM – 216 Points

250 Class Overall Results (Moto Finish)
1 Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda (1-1)
2 Jo Shimoda, Japan, Kawasaki (2-3)
3 Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha (4-4)
4 Michael Mosiman, Sebastopol, Calif., GASGAS (3-6)
5 Austin Forkner, Richards, Mo., Kawasaki (5-5)
6 RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Husqvarna (13-2)
7 Ty Masterpool, Paradise, Texas, GASGAS (6-7)
8 Carson Mumford, Simi Valley, Calif., Honda (8-8)
9 Hunter Lawrence, Australia, Honda (12-9)
10 Dilan Schwartz, Alpine, Calif., Suzuki (9-13)

250 Class Championship Standings (Round 10 of 12)
1 Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda – 414 Points
2 Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha – 403 Points
3 Hunter Lawrence, Australia, Honda – 319 Points
4 Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Yamaha – 307 Points
5 RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Husqvarna – 300 Points
6 Jo Shimoda, Japan, Kawasaki – 262 Points
7 Austin Forkner, Richards, Mo., Kawasaki – 218 Points
8 Jalek Swoll, Belleview, Fla., Husqvarna – 195 Points
9 Michael Mosiman, Sebastopol, Calif., GASGAS – 189 Points
10 Max Vohland, Sacramento, Calif., KTM – 182 Points

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