250 Supercross Phoenix podium: Eli Tomac (center) in first, Ken Roczen (left) in second and Martin Davalos (right) in third.
The 250SX Monster Energy Supercross racing class proved to be every bit as exciting and action packed as the big bikes inside Phoenix, Arizona’s Chase Field, offering some big surprises that few could predict. Among them was a first-time Phoenix win for Eli Tomac, Martin Davalos’s heroic ride and the startling speed of series rookie, Joey Savatgy.
After notching a victory at the season opener in Anaheim, California two weeks ago, Tomac continued to demonstrate his superiority by taking his second consecutive race win, crossing the finish line over 10-seconds ahead of second place (Ken Roczen). It was astounding how quickly the 20-year-old from Colorado ripped around the track—especially through the whoops where his body position was visibly exaggerated, with his butt hovering over the rear fender as if to extract every ounce of speed from his Honda CRF250R.
“My past two years here professionally haven’t been awesome so to do the W is awesome,” said Tomac, after winning his heat race and 15-lap main event. “This is one of the closest races to my hometown in Colorado so to do it here with some friends and family is something I really wanted to do.”
Although he grabbed the victory, the Honda ace still hasn’t perfected the art of the start which made his victory even more challenging: “Right now, I’m like spinning on the plastic and when I hit the dirt my front end pops up,” he explains. “I definitely need to work on that and we can get better.”
Despite a heat race win, Ken Roczen couldn’t duplicate the performance when it really counted, with the KTM racer from Germany running around mid-pack initially due to a poor launch from the gate. Roczen claims he lost his balance right as the gate dropped.
Ken Roczen certainly has the pace to run with Tomac but he’ll need to get a better start off the gate if he is to battle for a race win.
“I started with my right foot down and I lost my balance,” explains the orange rider. “I basically tipped over right before the gate dropped. I had to spend too much time coming through the pack.”
Roczen thinks he has the pace to run with Tomac and now it’s time to prove it.
“It’s important that we always stay close. Now I need to start mixing it up that I win and Eli is a little further back,” he says. “I need to keep charging and keep my head up. I think I did riding-wise and I feel fit. I had a bad start but I charged through. I got to keep it close and six points isn’t that much so I need to start putting it down and getting some wins.”
Martin Davalos put in a gritty, determined performance Saturday night in Phoenix. After running up front in his heat race, Davalos crashed spectacularly when he came up just a few inches short on the landing of a jump, sending his bike into an endo and his body through the air, head first and into the next turn’s raised wall berm. It was a gigantic crash, one that would send most men right into the back of an ambulance.
“That was one of the toughest crashes I’ve had in a while,” comments the third-place finisher. “It was scary and I am glad I’m in one piece. I destroyed the bike and they had to put my whole bike together [for the main event].”
Unfazed, the 26-year-old rider from Central America lined up for the LCQ—and won. He got another fantastic launch during the main and led the first half of the race until a more energized Tomac came whizzing by.
“I knew Eli was coming and I wasn’t 100% riding,” says Davalos. “I know I can win this – hopefully I can come back next week swinging.”
It was a tough weekend for Davalos’s teammate, Blake Baggett. After injuring his hand in a crash at the opening round in Anaheim, the Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider crashed again during practice. It’s unclear the exact extent of his injury, but it was enough for him to park his KX250F for the night. As of now it’s uncertain if he’ll be racing at the second Anaheim round this weekend.
Martin Davalos was the talk of the evening coming back from a heinous crash to finish third in the 250SX Supercross class from Phoenix.
Loretta Lynn’s young gun, Joey Savatgy, was one to watch in Phoenix. In only his second-ever Supercross race, the rookie, who rides for the JDR KTM team, nailed the holeshot in a heat that included more experienced racers like Christian Craig, Jake Canada and Tyla Rattray. Savatgy actually led most of the race before succumbing to the pressure of Tomac’s Geico Honda. In the main he went on to finish a respectable ninth and could be one to keep an eye on as the season progresses and he gains more experience.
The 250SX returns to Angel Stadium in Southern California this weekend for the second of three Anaheim rounds. With six races left in the West Coast series, the outcome of this year’s championship is still a big question mark.