WASHOUGAL, Wash. — Chase Sexton and Eli Tomac went head-to-head for the overall win on Saturday afternoon during the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship’s return to the West Coast to round eight of the series.
The highly technical track layout at the Washougal National resulted in exciting battles for victory across both the 250 and 450 divisions.
Out of the 450 Class’ two elite combatants, Team Honda HRC’s Sexton edged out Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing’s Tomac via tiebreaker for Sexton’s second victory of the season.
The opening 450 Class moto began with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Ryan Dungey and Sexton side-by-side as they exited the first turn, where Dungey emerged with the MotoSport.com Holeshot. Sexton was able to solidify a hold of the lead in the next turn and looked to sprint away as Dungey then battled with Tomac for second.
Dungey continued his pursuit of the lead but suddenly experienced an issue with his KTM that ended his moto.
That misfortune allowed Tomac to assume second and give pursuit to Sexton, while Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen took over third, nearly 10 seconds behind the leaders.
As the moto passed the 10 minute mark, the battle for the lead was on.
Tomac appeared to have the faster pace, but found difficulty in trying to complete a pass. The Yamaha rider continued to keep the pressure on his Honda rival and made his way by Sexton with a savvy move just before the halfway point.
Once out front, Tomac quickly built a multi-second advantage over Sexton.
The closing 10 minutes saw Sexton claw his way back into the fight as he lowered the deficit to less than a second.
Behind them, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jason Anderson closed in on Roczen for a battle for third. Back out front, Tomac and Sexton reignited their battle for the final five minutes.
With three minutes to go, Tomac’s front tire got stuck in a rut and caused him to tip over. Sexton’s close pursuit caused him to run into Tomac and also hit the ground. The two riders then raced to pick up their bike, restart it and resume. Tomac got going first, with Sexton getting back underway moments later.
As they returned to race pace, the distance between them remained the same, while their 30-second gap over the rest of the field dropping to just under 20 seconds.
Tomac held on for his eighth straight moto win, 1.1 seconds ahead of Sexton.
Anderson made the pass on Roczen for third, while Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GASGAS Factory Racing’s Justin Barcia finished fifth.
In the second moto of the day, Sexton and Tomac once again led the the way, with the MotoSport.com Holeshot going to the Honda rider. As the lead duo began their fight for the top spot, Anderson and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Aaron Plessinger engaged in a battle for third.
A torrid pace on the opening laps allowed Sexton to inch away and open a lead of more than a second, while Anderson asserted his control of third and closed in to make it a three-rider breakaway.
Sexton continued to add to his lead and pulled out nearly two seconds clear of Tomac through the first 10 minutes of the moto. However, as soon as Sexton appeared to have the upper hand, Tomac responded and closed to within bike lengths of the lead.
With their battle, Sexton and Tomac easily left Anderson behind in third.
At the halfway point of the moto, Tomac appeared to have the faster pace and started to look for a way around, but Sexton countered and inched away once more as they navigated lapped riders.
The lead stabilized to more than a second for Sexton approaching the final 10 minutes, and despite Tomac finding the pace to get back within bike lengths, Sexton took his fourth moto win of the season by 8.4 seconds over his competitor.
“That was a really good moto for me,” Sexton said. “Eli [Tomac] was on me, but I kept fending him off. I finally got away and brought it home. It means a lot to me to win like that and I’m really looking forward to these last four races. I couldn’t be more happy to battle [for the championship] with a guy like Eli.”
By virtue of their identical moto scores — Sexton (2-1) and Tomac (1-2) — finished tied atop the overall classification, but the second-moto tiebreaker went to Sexton for his second victory of the season and the fourth of his career.
Anderson’s consistent 3-3 effort landed him third overall.
“I definitely was the third best guy out there. It’s tough when you’re out there riding alone, but I have to keep finding a way to try and keep up with those guys,” Anderson said. “All in all it was a good day today and we’ll see if we can keep it going for the final four rounds.”
With equal points, Tomac and Sexton remain separated by five points in the championship standings.
In the 250 Class, Team Honda HRC rider and championship point leader Jett Lawrence relied on consistency to secure his seventh win of the summer campaign, while Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing’s Justin Cooper and Team Honda HRC’s Hunter Lawrence rounded out the podium.