Frames by: JT McDonald
In typical Northeastern United States fashion, the weather of the weekend was anything but predictable. The days leading up to the race saw endless shit-storms of rain and no-so-ideal motocross weather. The conditions got so bad, in fact, that the amateur day was cancelled and the women were shifted to race on Saturday with the pros. High Point is usually pretty gnarly as is, consistently drawing comparisons to its European counterparts. But for this particular weekend, the track was just about as rutted. rough and technical as High Point will ever get. Hence, we dawned the title of this post, as most riders were in just as much a battle with the track, as they were the other dudes they were racing. Exhibit A: Eli Tomac.
The 450s, as a surprise to most casual fans of the sport, have been quite volatile in terms of favorites to swoop the title. The season started off with Eli Tomac as a runaway favorite to claim the 1st 450 title of his career. And after Hangtown, most who jumped to that conclusion looked as right as possible. In fact, they were proven so right that they were probably dicks to their friends about it the next day: like, “See dumbass, I told you Eli was going to dominate.” Then, Marvin Musquin made all of those people who were so right the first round, look so wrong the 2nd & 3rd rounds. Musquin had been incredibly consistent through the first 3 rounds and was toting a 17-point lead heading into High Point. Then, out of the woodworks, Blake Baggett starts to sneak his way into the conversation, trailing Tomac by a few points in the championship.
The points leader coming in had a pretty gnarly knee injury during the week which essentially ruined his prospects for the weekend. As such, the stage was set for a toe-to-toe battle between 2nd & 3rd in the points to see which could possibly lay claim to the points lead and momentum moving forward in the championship.
The first moto got underway, and the people’s champ, Josh Grant, was off to an early lead. Tomac made some quick moves, and placed himself on the rear wheel of his teammate rapidly. It wasn’t but halfway through the first lap, that the kid from Southern Colorado tucked his front end in a rut and ended up in last place. From there, Baggett was in prime position to put on one of his patented ‘El Chupacabra’ performances. With only Bogle, Ferris, Craig and Grant ahead of him at the end of the first lap, Baggett was assertive in making his way into the top position. He notched what amounted to a rider a lap, and was able to claim the lead on the 5th lap. From there, it was the Baggett show as he checked out and was not to be seen from again.
There was actually a pretty decent jostle from the 4th spot on, as Bogle, Anderson, Webb and Tickle were all battling for the second half of the moto. Outside of that there wasn’t much else to report from the 1st 450 Moto, well except for the fact that Tomac had another mental error and Dean Ferris came out of the woodworks and snagged up a 2nd place finish.
The 2nd moto, however, saw a different fate for the son of a really great mountain bike racer. (S/N how hilarious is it that they always mention that in broadcasts as if it were the first time they’ve ever mentioned it?) Anyway, Tomac got out to another sterling start in the 2nd moto, and with some patient aggression, was able to quickly maneuver his way around the 21 of Anderson. From there, he put his head down and was not to be seen from again. The action that went down behind him was undoubtedly the most entertaining of that moto (that was televised, our bad, budget is garbage). As Anderson and Tickle went at one another for most of the moto, and Wilson & Webb has their fare share of battles beyond that. We would included Baggett in that, but Baggett was mostly just an afterthought to those battles as he diced past them so suddenly.
Hero ride of the day came from an incredibly banged up Marvin Musquin, who muscled his way from a 27th qualifying time, 16th place in Moto 1 to an utterly impressive 7th place salvage ride in Moto 2.
Points are friggin’ tight heading into Muddy Creek, as the Top 3 are separated by a meager 11 points.
Look back a few years to say, 2015 Pro Motocross competition and try to tell me that someone would not only pace Jeremy Martin, but pass him and straight up check out. I would’ve looked at you, puzzled, wondering why your parents let you smoke so much weed when you were a teenager. Fast forward to 2017, and from all appearances, J-Mart has that same breakaway speed and endurance, but Zach Osborne is straight oozing confidence. After ripping the holeshot, Jeremy Martin commanded the moto early on. Aaron Plessinger actually ripped by Osborne pretty quickly, and began working on J-Mart. Suddenly, at about the halfway point, Osborne decided that it was time to go and swiftly ripped past Plessinger, with his sights set on the former champ. It was kind of weird watching someone handle Martin in the manner that Osborne did. He caught him in a heartbeat, and after a lapper hung Martin up ever so slightly, Osborne ripped right on by. And that was all she wrote for the rest of the fellas, as the MAN from Virginia went on to dominate that moto, nearly winning by 10 seconds. Plessinger actually ended up putting on a bit of a charge on Martin towards the end of the moto, but J-Mart was able to thwart and hold on for a 2nd, with the Ohio kid coming in 3rd.
In the second moto, the older of the brothers from Minnesota came out throwing haymakers. After pulling the holeshot, Alex Martin quickly asserted himself as the guy to beat in that moto. Dissimilar to his brother in the first moto, A-Mart wasted no time in putting a gap between himself and Plessinger. All the while, Osborne was simply buried somewhere around 10th. J-Mart, apparently not too stoked about how things ended in the first moto, began one of his world-famous charges to the front. Within a matter of laps, J-Mart caught, passed and began to pull on his older bro. Plessinger, much to our surprise, actually began a weird fade as Forkner, Ferrandis and Osborne gobbled him up pretty damn quick. Plessinger would recover, though, as he put on a solid late moto charge to snag up a second consecutive 3rd place finish.
The highlight of the moto was, after he went on a torrid run towards the front to catch & pass 2nd place, when Osborne tore off his goggles, taking the apparently flimsy visor with it. Then, while trying to figure out his new-found goggle problem, cruised outside before the big downhill double and blocked A-Mart from sneaking back past him. Some would say it was kind of douchey, but realistically, he earned that spot from A-Mart fair and square. Admittedly, he could’ve been more effective in goggle prep, but he deserved to keep that spot after that charge.
So, after a really stellar weekend for J-Mart, he’s literally no better off thanks to the efforts of one eyebrow-wielding son of a gun. Osborne and Martin split moto wins and came out with an even 47 points on the weekend. With Plessinger cruising in for a not-surprising 3rd place overall.