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Cooper Webb and Ken Roczen head to Southwick as championship leaders

The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, has reached its halfway point of the 2016 season and this Saturday, July 9, the second half of the summer schedule will kick off with the series’ anticipated return to one of its most iconic facilities. The famed sand track that is The Wick 338 in Southwick, Massachusetts, will host its first round of the championship since the 2013 season with the Red Bull Southwick National. RCH Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s/Suzuki Factory Racing’s Ken Roczen remains in full control of the 450 Class title fight heading into the championship’s return to New England, while Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Cooper Webb has put himself atop the 250 Class standings for the first time in his career. The return of Pro Motocross to the sands of Southwick will be commemorated with live network television coverage of the final 450 Class moto on NBC, beginning at 12:30 p.m. PT / 3:30 p.m. ET. MAVTV will kick start Saturday’s coverage live at 10:00 a.m. PT / 1:00 p.m. ET with first motos of both classes, while NBC Sports Network will close out the afternoon with tape-delayed coverage of the final 250 Class moto at 9:30 p.m. PT / 12:30 a.m. ET.

The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship has been visiting Southwick since the 1976 season, which served as the marquee motocross event for the entire New England region for more than three decades. After a brief two-year hiatus, the National with arguably one of the strongest legacies of any on the 12-round schedule is back for its 36th running, ready to welcome a new pair of winners. The Wick 338 has been given a little bit of a makeover in anticipation for the return of Pro Motocross, but arguably the most prominent feature for this weekend’s Red Bull Southwick National is a return to its roots when it comes to track direction. When it debuted on the championship in 1976 the Southwick layout ran counter-clockwise and remained that way up until 2006 when it was changed to run in a clockwise direction. With the return of the world’s fastest riders to Massachusetts what better time than now to pay homage to the facilities’ storied history by providing a new challenge for the entire field of competitors.

This past weekend the championship reached its halfway point at the annual RedBud National, which serves as American motocross’ way of celebrating Independence Day. In the 450 Class it was more of the same dominance from Roczen, who continued to add to his impressive points lead. The German rider swept the motos for the fifth time this season and moved his season moto win total to 11 out of 12, capping off the afternoon with a victory of more than 30 seconds of Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac, the runner-up.

Roczen’s RedBud performance was arguably his most convincing of the season, particularly considering he had to battle his way from around fifth out of the gate in both motos. In the second moto he had to track down early leader Tomac, and proceeded to run away from the field. He went on to lead all but one lap of competition and, as a result, now carries a commanding 53-point lead into the Southwick. That’s more than two full motos worth of points with six rounds and 12 motos of racing remaining.

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RCH Racing has put two bikes on the overall podium in each of the last two rounds. Photo: Simon Cudby

Tomac’s back-to-back runner-up efforts the past two rounds have put him in a position to challenge Roczen, but the Kawasaki rider is still in search of his first victory of the season. In addition to Tomac, Roczen’s RCH Racing teammate Broc Tickle has come on strong the past two rounds, posting back-to-back overall podium finishes that have allowed the Suzuki team to flank the podium. Tickle looks poised to chase down Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin for third in the 450 Class standings after the Frenchman Musquin assumed the position following a fifth-place outing at RedBud.

Webb has been a fixture in the 250 Class title fight since the opening round, but he quietly amassed solid results while former points leader and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider Joey Savatgy, along with Webb’s Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha teammates Alex and Jeremy Martin grabbed the spotlight. However, all that changed when Webb broke through for his first overall win of the season two weekends ago in Tennessee, which he backed up with another victory at RedBud. Combine the North Carolina native’s surge of momentum with a pair of hard-luck motos for Savatgy, in which he found himself on the ground on multiple occasions, and you have a complete shift in the championship standings in which a total of 31 points have gone into Webb’s favor, erasing a deficit that once sat at 20 points just two weeks ago.

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Webb’s the hottest rider in the 250 Class and now sits atop the championship standings. Photo: Simon Cudby

Instead, Webb has control of the red number plate for the first time in his career as championship leader, carrying an 11-point lead over Savatgy into Southwick. Webb, Savatgy, and current third-place holder Jeremy Martin, the defending back-to-back 250 Class Champion, each have just one start at Southwick, providing little past experience to build from on what will be one of the championship’s most challenging tracks. Martin and Webb finished 14th and 15th, respectively, at Southwick during the 2013 season, while Savatgy failed to finish either moto. It sets the stage for another potential shift in this highly competitive and compelling championship battle.

250 Class Championship Standings

Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., Yamaha – 243
Joey Savatgy, Thomasville, Ga., Kawasaki – 232
Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Yamaha – 209
Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Yamaha – 198
Zach Osborne, Abingdon, Va., Husqvarna – 190
Austin Forkner, Richards, Mo., Kawasaki – 164
Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, Yamaha – 152
Shane McElrath, Canton, N.C., KTM – 124
Mitchell Oldenburg, Alvord, Texas, KTM – 117
RJ Hampshire, Hudson Fla., Honda – 113

450 Class Championship Standings

Ken Roczen, Germany, Suzuki – 293
Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki – 240
Marvin Musquin, France, KTM – 167
Cole Seely, Newbury Park, Calif., Honda – 151
Broc Tickle, Holly, Mich., Suzuki – 147
Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., Yamaha – 146
Christophe Pourcel, France, Husqvarna – 136
Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM – 131
Justin Bogle, Cushing, Okla., Honda – 118
Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., Husqvarna – 113

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