Round 8 of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season is here, as racing heads to Millville, Minnesota for the Spring Creek National.
We’re getting into the “crunch time” of the season for the championship hopefuls and both classes feel like there is a tight battle, although the points standings tell a slightly different story.
In the 250 class, Adam Cianciarulo is currently enjoying a 25-point lead over Dylan Ferrandis and a 26-point lead over Justin Cooper. Cianciarulo’s lead is down to just one moto over Dylan Ferrandis, so a disastrous moto for AC (25th place or worse) and Ferrandis could tie that points lead. However, in the state of racing these days, it’s not very common to see a top rider have those sorts of disaster races. Of course, mechanical issues do occur and riders crashes occasionally, but for the most part the skill and team that these top riders enjoy make it unlikely that something like that would occur. It’s more likely that Ferrandis and Cooper will have to put their heads down and grind out the second half of the season to catch Cianciarulo. All three of these riders have moto wins under their belt this season, meaning it’s clear that any of them can win at any time. If Ferrandis and Cooper can start beating Cianciarulo each moto, they’ll put themselves in great condition towards the closing few rounds.
Looking ahead to this weekend at Spring Creek, we could very well see either Ferrandis or Cooper top AC. Last year at Spring Creek, Justin Cooper found himself putting together a 4-3, which earned himself second place overall behind soon-to-be champion Aaron Plessinger. This shows that Cooper feels comfortable at this race and could be ready to put his Yamaha on top of the box again. Spring Creek is also known as one of the sandier tracks on the circuit, which bodes well for Ferrandis. Earlier in the season, Ferrandis showed his comfort with sand tracks at both Florida and Southwick, going 4-1 at Florida and 3-1 at Southwick, both for second overalls. The rub is that Ferrandis finished second to the two riders he is competing against the most: Cooper and Cianciarulo. However, Ferrandis seems to have shown a little more consistency in the sand than his two counterparts. Look for Ferrandis to be battling up front for the win this weekend. We expect all three of these riders to put in everything they have and we expect to see them towards the front of the pack in both motos.
In the 450 class, Eli Tomac is the current points leader, with a 34-point lead over Marvin Musquin and a 40-point lead over Ken Roczen. Musquin seemed to be catching fire in recent rounds (and he very well could be still), but a crash in the first moto last weekend in which his bike landed on top of him and kept him pinned down for several seconds could have been the nail in the coffin for the Frenchman’s title hopes. Musquin has shown that he has the speed to win week in and week out and he can beat both Tomac and Roczen (among other top riders) straight up. But Lady Luck has definitely not been on Musquin’s side this season. He has had a handful of inopportune crashes early in races that put him in last place and forced him to battle his way up. Meanwhile, his primary championship competitor, Eli Tomac, has started up front and gone mistake free. It’s as simple as eliminating the mistakes. Musquin gets great starts and has several holeshots on the season, but he must eliminate the mistakes and crashes if he wants to keep his hat in the ring.
Ken Roczen and Jason Anderson are the other championship hopefuls in the class, but neither have too fantastic of a bid for it this season. Roczen started the season in great shape and was decimating his competition early in the motos. However, the last few races he has shown some mid-season fatigue and hasn’t been able to keep the pace of the top riders, getting passed repeatedly and logging too many 7th-12th place finishes. On paper, Roczen is still in it. But he has to figure out his mental game and get himself back on track if he wants to keep fighting for the title. Lastly, there is Jason Anderson who is 12 points back from Roczen. If something disastrous were to happen with Tomac, Anderson would definitely be in the championship discussion, but until that point, it seems all but a lost cause. All four of these riders can battle up front, but the one who is the most consistent down the stretch will be the champion.