MECHANICSVILLE, Md. – Nestled in the shadow of the nation’s capital of Washington D.C., Southern Maryland’s Budds Creek Motocross Park served as the site of the ninth round of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship Saturday afternoon.
Intermittent cloud cover was complemented by humid conditions for the Circle K Budds Creek National, as a fierce battle for victory unfolded in the 450 Class and required a tiebreaker to determine a winner.
In the end, Monster Energy/Star/Yamaha Racing’s Dylan Ferrandis prevailed over Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen for the Frenchman’s fifth win of the summer. In the 250 Class, Monster Energy/Star/Yamaha Racing’s Jeremy Martin relied on an emphatic win in the final moto to capture his class-leading third victory of the season.
The first 450 Class moto got underway with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Cooper Webb at the head of the pack with the holeshot, with Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac and Roczen in hot pursuit. Known as one of the best opening-lap riders in the world, Roczen put the hammer down immediately and made a quick pass on Tomac for second and then fought his way into the lead around Webb a short time later. By the completion of the first circuit, Roczen was already more than a second clear of the field.
As Roczen continued to inch away, Webb and Tomac battled it out for second, which allowed Team Honda HRC’s Chase Sexton and Ferrandis, the championship leader, to join the mix. A determined Tomac saw several pass attempts thwarted by Webb, but he eventually made the move. However, a hard charge by Sexton saw the Honda rider get by both Webb and Tomac on the same lap to vault from fourth to second and put Honda 1-2 in the running order.
The Honda duo continued to put distance over the rest of the field as Tomac started to lose ground to Ferrandis in fourth. The Frenchman got into a rhythm and soon found himself within a few bike lengths of the Kawasaki, at which point he went on the attack and made an impressive pass to take control of third. Back out front, Sexton started to chip away at his deficit to Roczen and closed to within a few seconds of the lead, while Ferrandis continued to log the fastest laps on the track.
With less than five minutes remaining in the moto, the top three ran within five seconds of one another, with Ferrandis consistently the fastest of the trio. As the race clock ticked to under a minute remaining, Ferrandis closed in on Sexton for third and took advantage of a lapped rider to make the pass happen with relative ease.
With two laps to go, four seconds separated the championship rivals. Ferrandis took huge chunks out of his deficit and closed to within striking distance on the final lap, and even had a shot at stealing the win as they navigated the final section, but Roczen held on to take the moto win by three tenths of a second. Sexton finished a distant third, with Tomac fourth and Webb fifth. The torrid pace by Roczen and Ferrandis saw them lap through 11th place.
The German picked up where he left off to start the second moto by racing to the holeshot over Webb, Ferrandis, and Sexton. With no one ahead of him Roczen put his head down and sprinted away on the opening lap to a lead of just under two seconds. Behind him, Sexton aided his teammate with a pass on Ferrandis, which dropped the Yamaha rider to fourth. Sexton wasn’t done and he kept the charge going on Webb, easily moving into second to put the Honda riders once again at the head of the pack. Ferrandis responded as well and made the pass on Webb for third, while Tomac dropped Webb to fifth a short time later.
The top four riders on the track ran within a handful of seconds of one another 10 minutes into the moto and things only got tighter from there. As the race reached the halfway point the gap closed to just over two seconds. A bobble by Sexton allowed Ferrandis to move into second and put Sexton into the clutches of Tomac. The Kawasaki rider bided his time but eventually made his move to take over third.
Up front, Ferrandis had Roczen in his sights. They traded fast laps to keep the gap at about a second as they approached the final 10 minutes of the moto, while Tomac lurked in third. A battle for the lead ensued as Ferrandis looked for a way around. After several attempts Ferrandis made the pass happen and seized control of the moto with seven minutes to go.
Once out front, the Frenchman gapped the German and appeared to have the moto in hand. Roczen was able to put in a late charge in the closing laps and got within a few bike lengths of Ferrandis, but the points leader responded, was more efficient navigating lapped traffic, and brought home the moto win by 4.8 seconds at the end.
With identical moto scores, Ferrandis (2-1) and Roczen (1-2) ended the day tied atop the overall classification. However, by virtue of his better result in the second moto Ferrandis earned the tiebreaker to earn his fifth win of the season. Tomac completed the overall podium in third (4-3).
“Last weekend I got beat so bad, so we made some changes this week and came back better (today),” said Ferrandis. “The bike was so good, I could do whatever I wanted. I was glad to get my pace back and in the second moto I was able to catch Kenny (Roczen) and battle for the win. It was fun, but it’s always the most fun when you win.”
With equal points for the afternoon, Ferrandis’ lead over Roczen in the 450 Class standings remains at 39 points with three rounds remaining. Tomac remains third, 71 out of the lead.