2017 Seattle Supercross Preview: Tomac’s Hunt for Dungey Continues

2017 Seattle Supercross Preview: Kawasaki's Eli Tomac
2017 Seattle Supercross Preview: Kawasaki's Eli Tomac

2017 Seattle Supercross Preview

The 2017 Monster Energy Supercross series, an FIM World Championship, heads this weekend to CenturyLink Field in Seattle for round 14 of the series. This will be the first time the series has visited venue since 2014. The SX championship’s history in Seattle dates back 39 years with a total of 43 races across two different stadiums.

The weekend prior inside The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis, a crowd of 53,049 fans watched Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac continue his streak of dominance, racing to his fifth-straight win and inching even closer to points leader Ryan Dungey. In the Eastern Regional 250SX Class, Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM’s Jordon Smith took advantage of an early race mistake by championship leader Joey Savatgy to capture his second straight victory.

2017 Seattle Supercross Preview: Kawasaki's Eli Tomac
2017 Seattle Supercross Preview: Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac

Dungey was ready for a showdown to start the 450SX Class Main Event, claiming the SupercrossLive.com Holeshot aboard his Red Bull KTM 450 SX-F machine just ahead of Tomac. However, Tomac wasted little time in getting out front and made an aggressive pass on Dungey on the opening lap to take the lead. Dungey gave chase, while his Team Red Bull KTM Factory Racing teammate Marvin Musquin settled into third.

Tomac pushed the pace early to put some distance between he and Dungey, who was pressured heavily by Musquin. After fending off his teammate, Dungey set his sights back on Tomac and worked to erase the deficit. As the race passed the halfway point, Dungey started posting quicker lap times than Tomac and got the gap down to less than two seconds. With Tomac in his sights, it appeared as though Dungey was going to make a late run on his rival, but as the leaders encountered lapped riders it was Tomac who took advantage, navigating through the back markers more efficiently. As Dungey spent multiple laps trying to get around lappers, in particular Monster Energy/Yamalube/Chaparral/Yamaha Financial Services/Yamaha Factory Racing’s Chad Reed, he lost several seconds to Tomac.

2017 Seattle Supercross Preview: KTM's Ryan Dungey
2017 Seattle Supercross Preview: KTM’s Ryan Dungey

The Kawasaki KX450F rider easily took his eighth win of the season, and the 12th of his career, by 6.7 seconds over Dungey. Musquin was third.

“Today surprisingly wasn’t my best,” said Tomac. “The results don’t necessarily show it but I didn’t feel great most of the day. It’s all about not giving up though and we got it done in the main, where it really counts. I figured out my start, made an early pass, and then just pushed until the end. It’s a great feeling.”

Dungey’s runner-up effort was his championship-leading 11th podium result of the season, but he’s been unable to keep pace with Tomac’s recent run in which he’s earned 172 of a possible 175 points the past seven races.

“I definitely for sure want to win, but that’s a given – we all do,” said Dungey. “Eli is tough right now. He’s riding really good, he’s in peak condition right now in his career and everything is clicking for him. So when a guy is like that he’s hard to beat. I found that out many times in my career, so that’s the challenge of racing, that’s the challenge of pushing me to get better and it tests me, but it’s a good thing. Tonight was incredible, I was so pumped and I’m excited, I really am. I don’t know where this excitement is coming from, but I really am. It’s step forward and I’ll take it.”

2017 Seattle Supercross Preview: Husqvarna's Jason Anderson
2017 Seattle Supercross Preview: Husqvarna’s Jason Anderson

Just four points sit between Tomac and Dungey with four rounds remaining, after being separated by as many as 29 points earlier this season.

Musquin’s third place finish in St. Louis was his eighth podium finish this season. The French rider sits third in the championship standings – 49 points behind Dungey.

“Overall I’m having good weeks of training, good weekends, and feeling good on the bike having fun,” said Musquin. “It’s good to be up on the podium, but at the same time, I’m disappointed a little bit. My first lap was unreal because the start wasn’t so good and I made so many passes. I got 3rd at the end of the first lap, it was awesome. I felt like I was pushing Ryan and I was quicker. I was going fast and then I couldn’t make the pass. I feel like I tightened up a little bit. The track was really tough. I mean the dragon’s back – that’s where I crashed in practice and I didn’t want to make the same mistake. I kind of played it safe with 3rd place. That’s all I could do tonight.”

2017 Seattle Supercross Preview: Honda's Cole Seely
2017 Seattle Supercross Preview: Honda’s Cole Seely

When the gate dropped on the Eastern Regional 250SX Class Main Event, it was Rocky Mountain ATV/MC-WPS-KTM’s Dakota Alix, who narrowly secured the SupercrossLive.com Holeshot over Savatgy, who then moved into the lead aboard his Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki, followed by Smith into second. Alix settled into third briefly, but then gave up the position to Kissimmee Motorsports Kawasaki’s Gannon Audette. That early battle for third allowed Savatgy and Smith to pull out to more than five seconds ahead of the field.

While the lead pair asserted themselves out front, the battle for third intensified with Audette, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo, and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Zach Osborne. Cianciarulo and Osborne battled for fourth on lap 3 with Osborne diving to the inside of the Kawasaki rider, taking his line, and moving into the position. He then made a charge on Audette for third and was able to move into podium position on lap 4.

Out front, Savatgy had established a comfortable multi-second margin over Smith, but he experienced a major bobble on lap 7 that forced him off the side of the track. While he was able to avoid falling, Savatgy lost considerable time and ultimately dropped to second behind Smith, reentering the track with the KTM rider in sight. This sequence of events also allowed Osborne to close in from third, putting the top three within just bike lengths of one another.

Savatgy regained his composure and charged to the back fender of Smith, clearly the faster rider. However, Savatgy was forced to start his challenge over again after making contact with a lapped rider, Paul Coates, which forced him to fend off a heavy challenge from Osborne for second. Savatgy withstood the challenge and pulled away from Osborne, once again closing on the back end of Smith as the time in the Main Event wound down.

Just a couple bike lengths separated the lead duo over the closing stages and Savatgy made a major challenge on the final lap, diving to Smith’s inside with a couple corners remaining, but ultimately it wasn’t enough to get by. Smith crossed the line just four-tenths ahead of Savatgy.

“The racing has been crazy this year with the top five so close and it has been a lot about the start and just minimizing mistakes,” said Smith. “The track was really tough. My team helped me make some changes that really made a difference for me tonight. I’m really thankful for them and all the support they give me.”

Savatgy’s fourth straight runner-up finish is the third in a row in which he led laps but came up short of the win. Osborne rounded out the podium in third.

“We are leaving here healthy and have the red plate so that is always good,” said Savatgy. “The little mistakes are frustrating, but the speed is there. The starts have been there, which is encouraging, so we’ll see what we can do after the break.”

Savatgy maintained control of the championship lead with his second-place effort, but Smith closed the deficit to just six points. Osborne is third, 12 points behind Savatgy.

2017 Seattle Supercross Preview: Kawasaki's Justin Hill
2017 Seattle Supercross Preview: Kawasaki’s Justin Hill

The Eastern Regional Championship will now take its lone break in action for the 2017 season, returning to the track at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on Saturday, April 29th.

While the East Region series takes a few weeks off, the West Region 250SX championship resumes at CenturyLink Field after a long eight-week break. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Justin Hill comes into Seattle with the championship lead and red plate adorning his Kawasaki KX250F. He has a 21-point lead over second place in the championship and also carries in a four-race win-streak and hoping the familiar Pacific Northwest weather will be an advantage for him to add another mark in the win column.

“It’s been nice to have some time off from traveling to the races, but after that first weekend off, you’re ready to go back. I’m really looking forward to being back on the gate,” said Hill. “We have been working hard during the break to try and get another win.”

Meanwhile, Hill’s teammate, Austin Forkner, will not race this Saturday due to soreness in his right hip as a result of a crash while practicing. Forkner’s return to competition is currently being evaluated on a race by race basis.

The action from CenturyLink Field can be viewed on FS1 on Saturday, April 8th via a live broadcast beginning at 7:00 PM Pacific Standard Time/10:00 PM Eastern Time.

2017 St. Louis Supercross 450SX Class Results:

  1. Eli Tomac, Cortez – CO – Kawasaki
  2. Ryan Dungey – Belle Plaine, MN – KTM
  3. Marvin Musquin – Corona, CA – KTM
  4. Jason Anderson – Rio Rancho, NM – Husqvarna
  5. Josh Grant – Wildomar, CA – Kawasaki
  6. Cole Seely – Sherman Oaks, CA – Honda
  7. Blake Baggett – Grand Terrace, CA – KTM
  8. Broc Tickle – Holly, MI – Suzuki
  9. Malcolm Stewart – Haines City, FL – Suzuki
  10. Justin Brayton – Mint Hill, NC – Honda

450SX Class Championship Standings:

  1. Ryan Dungey – Belle Plaine, MN – KTM – 276
  2. Eli Tomac – Cortez, CO – Kawasaki – 272
  3. Marvin Musquin – Corona, CA – KTM – 227
  4. Cole Seely – Sherman Oaks, CA – Honda – 211
  5. Jason Anderson – Rio Rancho, NM – Husqvarna – 188
  6. Blake Baggett – Grand Terrace, CA – KTM – 163
  7. Davi Millsaps – Cairo, GA – KTM – 160
  8. Broc Tickle – Holly, MI – Suzuki – 143
  9. Chad Reed – Dade City, FL – Yamaha – 136
  10. Dean Wilson – Clermont, FL – Husqvarna – 136

Eastern Regional 250SX Class Results:

  1. Jordon Smith – Belmont, NC – KTM
  2. Joey Savatgy – Thomasville, GA – Kawasaki
  3. Zach Osborne – Abingdon, VA – Husqvarna
  4. Dylan Ferrandis – Lake Elsinore, CA – Yamaha
  5. Christian Craig – Corona, CA – Honda
  6. Adam Cianciarulo – Port Orange, FL – Kawasaki
  7. Mitchell Harrison – Brighton, MI – Yamaha
  8. Gannon Audette – Tallahassee, FL – Kawasaki
  9. Kyle Cunningham – Willow Park, TX – Suzuki
  10. Anthony Rodriguez – Cairo, GA – Yamaha

Eastern Regional 250SX Class Championship Standings:

  1. Joey Savatgy – Thomasville, GA – Kawasaki – 146
  2. Jordon Smith – Belmont, NC – KTM – 140
  3. Zach Osborne – Abingdon, VA – Husqvarna – 134
  4. Adam Cianciarulo – Port Orange, FL – Kawasaki – 128
  5. Dylan Ferrandis – Lake Elsinore, CA – Yamaha – 104
  6. Christian Craig – Corona, CA – Honda – 81
  7. Luke Renzland – Hewitt, NJ – Yamaha – 70
  8. Anthony Rodriguez – Cairo, GA – Yamaha – 69
  9. Mitchell Harrison – Brighton, MI – Yamaha – 66
  10. Kyle Cunningham – Willow Park, TX – Suzuki – 62