The Good: Jeremy Martin | 1st Place Overall
I mentioned last week that I felt like Jeremy's season could be considered a success as long as he managed one moto win, so for him to win an overall this early into the season is very promising. He did it without winning a moto (he scored 3-2 in the two races), but this gives us a little bit of hope that this championship won't be quite the Dylan Ferrandis show that I feared it might become after the first round. Yes, it was muddy, and Dylan did get a horrible start in the second motos, but it feels like Jeremy's the only one that looks to have the speed and consistency to challenge Dylan this season. I think this coming weekend will be a big indicator of how the rest of the championship will go.
The Good Bonus: Alex Martin | 3rd Place Overall
Big Al got himself a moto win! It's always great to see Alex get on the overall podium and even better to see him get a moto win. He always brings his A-Game for the outdoor season, and this year seems to be no different. I don't see him making a run at the championship or anything, but I'd expect to see him on the podium several more times this season. I'm curious to see if Alex will return to JGR Suzuki next year, or if he'll end up somewhere else. I think he has done an excellent job for them and feel like they're a pretty good group for him to be with at this point in his career, but it seems like there are always question marks surrounding the future of JGR at the end of each year.
If you haven't been watching Alex's vlogs...do yourself a favor and check them out. They're pure gold.
The Bad: Troy Lee Designs KTM
Troy Lee's squad of riders is incredibly young this year, and with that came many question marks. Brandon Hartranft is the "vet" of the team, and he has only been around for a few years, Derek Drake is only a year in, Pierce Brown is a true rookie, and we all know the story of Brian Moreau's devastating injury. There's a lot of speed in this young group, but they've had a very up and down 2020 and that trend continued in the muddy conditions of Loretta's 2. Drake was the top finisher with 19-9 finishes for 12th place overall, followed by Brown in 16th place overall and Hartranft in 21st place overall. Granted, Brown and Hartranft both suffered DNFs in the second moto, which severely hurt their overall scores, so they aren't entirely at fault, but it just wasn't a great day for the team as a whole. If Ironman is a dry race, I expect this team to have a nice bounce-back weekend.
The Ugly: Jett Lawrence | 34th Place Overall
Jett's day at The Ranch couldn't have gone much worse as he suffered two DNFs in two motos. He's usually thought of as one of the most care-free guys in the pits, but he couldn't hide his frustration this week and made a post about it on Instagram. The GEICO Honda team has had a hard time getting all of their bikes across the finish line through these first two rounds, and there has to be some frustration under their tent right now as a result. If I told you a week before the season started that both of the Lawrence brothers would be outside the top 10 in points two rounds into the season, what would you have said?
The Good: Adam Cianciarulo | 2nd Place Overall
A great bounce-back race for Adam after he had a pretty big crash at the first round of the season. I said this a lot during Supercross, and it never came to be, but I think it's just a matter of time until he gets his first moto win. He's last year's 250 champ, and he has looked great on the 450, so far...he just needs to stay off of the ground. Unfortunately, I'm sure that Adam's solid performance was overshadowed by the team's struggles with Eli Tomac's bike that led to a double-DNF, which I'll talk about below.
The Good Bonus: Broc Tickle | 4th Place Overall
Man, it sure was great to see Broc have a good day after his struggles (whether it be with the FIM or injury-related) over the past two years. Whether it was accomplished in the mud or not, this was what he probably needed to give himself a shot of confidence and, hopefully, spring himself back into a string of top-five results like we've seen from him during previous outdoor seasons. Considering he's searching for a ride for next year, too, he kind of has to show out this season. It's very difficult to find a ride in this 450 field right now, and I don't see him securing a factory ride unless he's able to put in top 10s and top fives for the majority of this outdoor championship.
The Bad: Blake Baggett | 8th Place Overall
It seems like yesterday (it was actually 2017) when Blake was looking like he was going to be a serious threat to win the outdoor championship for the next several years. Still, for one reason or another, it has never come to fruition. Blake has had a tendency to start slow and build momentum. Still, he's 8-4-14-8 through the first four motos of the season, and I genuinely don't think he'll be in the championship conversation at any point between now and the Fox Raceway National. Zach Osborne is showing that age doesn't seem to matter as much as we may think it does in this sport, but sometimes I wonder if Blake's best chance at becoming a 450 champ has come and gone faster than I initially expected.
The Ugly: Eli Tomac | 16th Place Overall
That's gonna be a yikes from me, guys. We're two rounds into the series, and Eli Tomac has two DNFs and is 40 points down in the championship. Given that Zach Osborne looks incredibly strong right now, and that this is a shortened series of only nine rounds, I have to imagine that the team is thinking that this will be the moment they look back on if Eli's unable to get himself back into the title fight. We've seen Eli deal with a 9-DNF result and still win the title back in 2018, but he also had six more motos to work with and only won the title by 16 points. Bottom line: Eli's going to have to go on an absolute run of wins for the remainder of the series and cannot afford one more big mistake or mechanical issue. So place your bets, everyone. Will Eli be able to make a comeback for the ages? Or have his chances of securing a fourth-straight title all but evaporated?
Words by Grant Dawson
Photos by Steve Giberson