MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – With its final break of the season in the rear-view mirror, the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, is set for a captivating run to the finish.
The final three weeks of the 12-round championship will kick off this Saturday from one of the sport’s most iconic venues.
Unadilla MX in New Berlin, N.Y., has been hosting the world’s most prestigious championship since its inception in 1972, and this weekend’s anticipated 31st running of the Unadilla National will signify the next stop in RCH Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s/Suzuki Factory Racing rider Ken Roczen’s quest for a second 450 Class title, while Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Cooper Webb seeks his first ever national crown in the 250 Class.
At the championship’s previous round from the picturesque Pacific Northwest in Washougal, Wash., Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac continued his recent surge by capturing his second overall victory in the past three rounds.
While the win for Tomac added to his building confidence at the most critical juncture in the season, it ultimately resulted in no change in the 450 Class standings thanks to a tie for the win with Roczen. As a result, 55 points sit between the longtime rivals with three rounds remaining.
Since breaking through for his first win of the season at Southwick one month ago, Tomac has stepped up to become the only rider standing between Roczen and a second 450 Class title. He’s poised to add to his success this season and continue to take away from Roczen’s win share, but will face a steep challenge in trying to overcome a deficit that sits at more than two motos.
For Roczen, his unparalleled consistency has put him in a position to race in the best interest of the championship. He’s yet to finish off the overall podium this season, and while he does have the luxury of a healthy points lead, it would be no surprise to anyone to see him continue to rack up wins and end any hopes Tomac has at catching him.
While Roczen can control his own destiny, with six motos remaining anything can still happen, which has been evident throughout the 2016 season. Neither Tomac nor Roczen have ever won a premier class race at Unadilla, but in the absence of defending champion and back-to-back winner Ryan Dungey, a new rider will likely emerge to become the newest winner at the famed facility.
While Roczen and Tomac continue their battle atop the championship standings, Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin will look to maintain his hold on third over Autotrader/Monster Energy/Yamaha’s Justin Barcia. Currently 39 points sit between the two and both have come on strong in recent weeks.
Barcia’s return to his native New York could play into his favor this weekend, but the European style of the Unadilla layout could benefit Musquin, who has a 250 Class win to his credit at the facility.