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Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship Prepares for Stretch Run of 2016 Season

Wednesday, August 3, 2016 | 5:05 PM

Roczen and Webb Sit in Control of Their Own Destinies as
Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship Preps for Stretch Run
Respective Championship Leaders Each Posses 50-Plus Point Margins

The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, is in the midst of its final break in action for the 2016 season, but in just over a week’s time the world’s best riders will return to action for the stretch run of the summer. The final three stops of the 12-round championship loom ahead, with visits to the legendary venues of Unadilla MX in New Berlin, New York, and Budds Creek Motocross Park in Mechanicsville, Maryland, before closing out the season at the newest venue of Ironman Raceway in Crawfordsville, Indiana. Currently, RCH Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s/Suzuki Factory Racing’s Ken Roczen and Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Cooper Webb sit in control of the 450 Class and 250 Class standings, respectively, and control their own destiny in the chase for the sport’s most prestigious title.

Relive the first nine rounds of the 2016 season with Pro Motocross On Demand.

Roczen has led the 450 Class standings since the opening round of the seasonPhoto: Simon Cudby
Roczen has led the 450 Class standings since the opening round of the seasonPhoto: Simon Cudby

Roczen has controlled the 450 Class since the opening round of the season, beginning the summer with a dominant outing at Hangtown that has carried over through the majority of the championship. With a 55-point lead over Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac, Roczen is in a position to carry the red plate from start to finish, a feat that was last accomplished by Ryan Villopoto in 2013 and has been done just twice over the last 10 seasons.

While Roczen has undoubtedly been the most successful rider of the 2016 season, capturing six overall wins in nine rounds and finishing no worse than second, he’s been given a stiff challenge by Tomac during the second half of the championship. Tomac has taken the win in two of the last three rounds, but still faces the tough challenge of overcoming a points deficit of more than two motos in order to surpass Roczen. While at face value that feels like a seemingly impossible task given Roczen’s near bulletproof consistency, in the sport of motocross virtually anything is possible.

An uncharacteristically high attrition rate has narrowed the title fight down to a two-rider contest, but has also opened the door for a highly competitive battle behind Roczen and Tomac. Following the departure of defending champion and Red Bull KTM rider Ryan Dungey to injury, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Jason Anderson assumed the position until he too was sidelined by injury. Since then Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin has stepped up to challenge the lead pair most consistently, but Autotrader/Monster Energy/Yamaha’s Justin Barcia and RCH Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s/Suzuki Factory Racing’s Broc Tickle have also put themselves on the box. Tickle has since been forced out of action with an injury as well, while Barcia continues to make his presence felt. With three rounds remaining, Musquin’s hold on third appears secure over Barcia, with 39 points sitting between them.

Tomac has won two of the last three rounds.Photo: Simon Cudby
Tomac has won two of the last three rounds.Photo: Simon Cudby

Over in the 250 Class, Webb’s ascension to the top of the championship standings happened somewhat quickly and unexpectedly. Many wondered if the Yamaha rider would even be able to complete the entire Pro Motocross season after suffering a wrist injury weeks before the opening round, and while his tenacity was noticeably reduced to start the season Webb was still able to steal a moto win and be a consistent podium contender. However, Webb during that time was forced to endure through incredibly strong starts by Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Joey Savatgy and his Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha teammates of Alex and Jeremy Martin. After three rounds, Webb found himself fourth in the championship and didn’t appear to have the consistency of his fellow competitors.

At the fourth round from High Point things took a dramatic shift when both Martin brothers recorded DNF’s that left them with no points scored. Their misfortune vaulted Webb to second in the championship behind Savatgy, where he still faced a 20-point deficit. The momentum began to shift in Webb’s favor at Muddy Creek where he took his first overall win of the season and chipped away an eight-point chunk of that deficit in the standings. Then at the halfway point of the championship at RedBud the tides turned heavily into Webb’s favor following major misfortune by Savatgy. Webb went on to claim a second straight win and suddenly found himself atop the standings in possession of the red plate.

Since then Webb has managed the pressure of leading the championship for the first time with the poise of a veteran. His tenacity has returned and his three wins over the last five rounds have been critical to his ability to open up a 51-point lead over defending back-to-back champion Jeremy Martin. Since Tennessee Webb has posted an average finish of 2.0 in the motos, while his rivals’ averages are at least double that – Jeremy Martin, 4.8; Joey Savatgy, 6.9; Alex Martin, 4.8. He’s been the most consistent rider in the division and is the only rider in the 250 Class to finish in the top 10 in every moto this season. Webb hasn’t necessarily been dominant on his way to this point with three rounds remaining, but his patience and persistence has paid off in a big way.

Webb has surged to the top of the 250 Class standings and holds a 51-point lead.Photo: Simon Cudby
Webb has surged to the top of the 250 Class standings and holds a 51-point lead.Photo: Simon Cudby

Next Saturday, August 13, the world’s most prestigious off-road racing championship will return to action at one of its most storied venues with the Unadilla National from Unadilla MX in Central New York. From there the series will make its final trip to the eastern seaboard with its annual visit to Budds Creek Motocross Park for the GEICO Motorcycle Budds Creek National on Saturday, August 20, in the shadow of the nation’s capital in Southern Maryland. The 2016 season comes to an exciting conclusion with the third ever visit to Ironman Raceway for the Ironman National on Saturday, August 27, just outside the motorsports mecca of Indianapolis.

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