At the championship’s previous round from High Point Raceway in Pennsylvania, Roczen continued his dominant ways in the absence of his primary challenger, defending champion and Red Bull KTM rider Ryan Dungey, who will miss 6-8 weeks with a cracked vertebrae. Roczen posted his third 1-1 outing of the season en route to his third overall victory and has now won seven of eight motos in 2016. As a result of his near-perfect afternoon, the German rider extended his lead in the championship to nearly two full motos, currently sitting 41 points ahead of Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac, who moved past the idle Dungey into the second in the 450 Class standings.
With 193 points through four rounds, Roczen has amassed the best start since the 2013 season when Ryan Villopoto also won seven of eight motos. Villopoto went on to win the title that season and Roczen hopes to keep the momentum rolling to a potential second title in three years of 450 Class competition. He’s the only former Muddy Creek winner in the field, taking the win back in 2014, and will look to join Dungey as the only riders with multiple wins at the track.
While it’s been a slow start to the season by Tomac’s standards, the Colorado native has been consistent. He opened the championship with three consecutive overall podium finishes and although he missed out on a fourth straight podium at High Point, he showed improvement, namely out of the gate where he has posted his worst statistical figures. Tomac started second and fifth in each respective moto at High Point, his best collective effort of the season, and if not for a tip over in the opening moto he very well could have enjoyed his best performance thus far. While the 41-point deficit he faces to Roczen will be tough to overcome, there isn’t a rider in the 450 Class field with more experience going head-to-head with Roczen than Tomac. These two appear destined to rekindle their rivalry that defined the 2013 season in the 250 Class, in which Tomac emerged triumphant.
While Roczen and Tomac lead the way in the premier class heading into Tennessee, several other riders come into Muddy Creek off their best efforts of the season. Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Jason Anderson has been knocking on the door of an overall podium finish throughout the season, and he finally accomplished that feat at High Point in what ended up being a career-best runner-up effort. In his first race carrying the flag for Red Bull KTM as its only rider, rookie Marvin Musquin stepped up to the plate to ensure his team was represented at the front of the field, earning the first overall podium finish of his 450 Class career in third. Season-best outings were also recorded by Autotrader/Monster Energy/Yamaha’s Justin Barcia (fifth overall), Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Christophe Pourcel (sixth overall), GEICO Honda’s Justin Bogle (seventh overall), RCH Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s/Suzuki Factory Racing’s Broc Tickle (ninth overall), and Autotrader/Monster Energy/Yamaha’s Weston Peick (10th overall).
Entering High Point the 250 Class was shaping up to be a hotly contested four-rider battle for the title between Savatgy and the Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha trio of Jeremy Martin, the reigning back-to-back champion, Alex Martin, and Cooper Webb. When the action got underway that trend continued, but heartbreak soon befell both Martin brothers in separate motos. While running inside the top three both Alex and Jeremy eventually lost power in their motorcycles and were forced to record DNFs, scoring no points in one moto. As a result, they lost considerable ground in the championship standings to Savatgy, who seized the opportunity to take the win in the second moto and secure his third overall victory of the season. Alex Martin ultimately soldiered home to an eighth-place finish, followed by Jeremy in ninth.
With the win and the misfortune of his closest challengers Savatgy vaulted out to a double-digit 20-point lead in the championship, his largest of the year, and will become the first rider this season to carry the red number plate over consecutive weekends. Following a return to the overall podium, Webb surpassed both of his teammates in the standings and now sits second behind Savatgy heading into his home race in Tennessee, where he earned his first career win back in 2014. Jeremy Martin is third in points, 24 out of the lead, with Alex Martin fourth, 30 points back.
Another hometown rider looking for big things at Muddy Creek will be Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Zach Osborne. The Virginia native is coming off the best race of his career at High Point in which he ended up in a tie with Savatgy for the overall win, just missing out by virtue of a second-moto tiebreaker. Nevertheless, the veteran rider enjoyed a memorable afternoon, breaking through for his first career moto win as well as his first-ever top qualifying effort. Arguably no rider has logged more laps at Muddy Creek Raceway than Osborne, who is surely feeling more confident than ever in his chances at taking a maiden victory at his home track this weekend.
450 Class Championship Standings
Ken Roczen, Germany, Suzuki – 193
Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki – 152
Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM – 131
Cole Seely, Newbury Park, Calif., Honda – 116
Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., Husqvarna – 113
Marvin Musquin, France, KTM – 104
Trey Canard, Shawnee, Okla., Honda – 97
Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., Yamaha – 92
Josh Grant, Riverside, Calif., Kawasaki – 88
Christophe Pourcel, France, Husqvarna – 76
Justin Bogle, Cushing, Okla., Honda – 76
250 Class Championship Standings
Joey Savatgy, Thomasville, Ga., Kawasaki – 166
Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., Yamaha – 146
Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Yamaha – 142
Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Yamaha – 136
Zach Osborne, Abingdon, Va., Husqvarna – 121
Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, Yamaha – 116
Austin Forkner, Richards, Mo., Kawasaki – 109
RJ Hampshire, Hudson Fla., Honda – 79
Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, Fla., Kawasaki – 72
Mitchell Oldenburg, Alvord, Texas, KTM – 70