Eli Tomac Takes 2017 Motocross Title
It’s all over but the shouting, and Eli Tomac has added 2017 450cc Motocross Champion to his growing list of career accolades. Furthermore, this cat is young- so expect to hear plenty more from him in the years to come. All in all, a tremendous outdoor season. Congrats, Eli Tomac!
Enjoy the write-up, courtesy of monsterenergy.com:
Eli Tomac the 450cc Champ
Racers want to race to win. That’s what they train for, practice for, and line up at the races for. They never want to lay up for a title, but sometimes it’s the right thing to do. And that’s a lesson Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac learned on his way to winning his first-ever 450cc National Championship at this weekend’s season-finale Ironman MX National in Indiana.
Tomac had been trying to balance two different goals for quite a few rounds after the middle of the 2017 AMA 450cc National Motocross Championships; the first and foremost goal was to win the championship, but he still wanted to win races. It’s a tough thing to balance because winning races in a sport like motocross/supercross comes with some inherent risks that can be mitigated by riding more conservatively. Tomac had a solid points lead, and his primary championship challenger, Blake Baggett, was riding injured, so Tomac needed consistency more than he needed to win.
A Cut Above
Enter MXGP regular Jeffrey Herlings. With the Monster Energy US MXGP in Florida scheduled for the weekend after the Indiana AMA finale, Herlings decided to show up, with no pressure, and see what he could do against the AMA regulars. Herlings was fastest in both morning qualifiers, but in the first moto, Tomac got his first holeshot of the entire season.
Tomac’s M.O. is normally to work his way through at least a few guys on his way to winning races. This helps him judge their speed and figure out lines. Racers who aren’t accustomed to starting races out front often run into difficulty with finding lines and setting their pace, and that’s exactly what happened with Tomac after his holeshot. A few turns later, Herlings went by for the lead, and Tomac immediately switched from the fox to the hound.
With the points lead Tomac had, all he had to do was beat Baggett and Marvin Musquin in the first moto to clinch the title with one moto still left to run, but he saw red when he was passed by Herlings, and he went after the Dutchman straight away.
Tomac learned Herlings’ lines, then chased him back down and pressured him while the pair pulled away quickly from the rest of the field. Racers want to race to win, and Tomac is a racer.
However, it wasn’t long before Tomac tried a creative line where he jumped from the inside to the outside into a turn, and when he landed on the berm that he was counting on in order to rail the corner around the outside of Herlings, the berm gave way, and Tomac went down.
It was the last thing he needed to have happen. He remounted behind his two championship rivals with a motorcycle bent up a little bit from the fall, and that hindered his effort moving back forward. Herlings went on to win the moto in front of Musquin and Baggett, but Tomac, dejected, finished fifth.
Going into the final moto, Tomac carried a 24-point lead over both Musquin and Baggett (tied for second in the championship). And a moto win only awards 25 points! So, Tomac knew all he had to do was finish inside the top 20 to wrap up the title. Clearly, he learned his lesson from moto one.
In the second moto, Tomac rode conservatively for sixth place. And in doing so clinched his first-ever 450cc Championship. Furthermore, the first for Monster Energy Kawasaki since Ryan Villopoto’s last supercross title in 2014.
“That was not easy at all [laughs],” the 2017 AMA 450cc National MX Champ said about dealing with the pressure of the title at the finale. “I mean, I went back [between motos] and I was just like, ‘Man, is this day really going like this?’ I don’t know, I guess I let my ego get the best of me in that first moto, and I needed to really take it all in there between the motos and get our head in the right spot. We went out there and did what we could, but this is just a lifelong dream and goal that has finally come true, and I’m just kind of at a loss for words right now…”
With that monkey off his back, and with two more years on his current contract with Monster Energy Kawasaki, this title win is likely to continue bearing fruit for Tomac and the team for years to come.
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