Good, Bad, 'n Ugly: Unadilla

450 Class

The Good: Ken Roczen | 1st Place Overall

Ken Roczen’s 1-1 performance on Saturday was exactly what he needed to get back on track after a couple of rough rounds. He’s still not completely out of title contention, but he will need some help to overcome the 39-point deficit he has in the standings right now. He could cut that lead down by quite a bit over the next four rounds, but unless Dylan Ferrandis has a DNF or a downright awful performance, it’s a long shot. It is awesome to see Roczen still fighting for it this deep into the championship, though. I was afraid he’d fade backward as we approached the end of the series. 

Ken Roczen.

The Good Bonus: Coty Schock | 10th Place Overall

I’m a big fan of the FXR/Chaparral team as my former co-worker, Michael Lindsay, runs the team, but I do think that Schock has proven that he deserves to take a step up in 2022 and receive more support. He has shown that he has indoor and outdoor skills and can do it on a small bike or a big bike. I don’t think he’ll land a factory 450 ride, but some 250 factory teams should take a look at him. At the very least, he deserves to land on a high-profile satellite team. 

The Bad: Eli Tomac | 4th Place Overall

Yawn, Eli Tomac was virtually invisible out there on Saturday. Sure, they showed him a few times on the broadcast, but there was absolutely nothing memorable about his performance on Saturday. He did get a moto podium, but even that doesn’t mean much for him. I really hope that his upcoming team switch lights a fire under him again.

Eli Tomac.

The Ugly: Aaron Plessinger | 43rd Place Overall

Oh, what could have been. Plessinger was looking fantastic early on in the race, and I really thought he was going to take over the lead and take off from the pack, but the track had other plans. He landed in a hole which caused him to go full throttle and loop out. The bike full-on plowed him into the ground, and I think we all knew immediately that his day was done. Luckily, he walked away with no broken bones. He did sustain a bruised lung and a bruised liver, but at least he won’t need surgery or anything. Heal up, AP! 

Aaron Plessinger.

250 Class

The Good: The Title Fight

There are only four points separating Justin Cooper and Jett Lawrence as we head into round nine of the series, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. Justin has proven to be the more consistent one, but he also has those random motos where he gets tight or is just off and fades backward. Meanwhile, Jett is almost always going 110%, but his starts have consistently killed him, and at times it has seemed like he can become a little timid when moving through the pack. They have such contrasting styles that we should be in for a treat these last handful of rounds, especially if they both start up towards the front in each moto. 

Justin Cooper and Jett Lawrence.

The Good Bonus: Max Vohland | 5th Place Overall

Max Vohland hasn’t won a moto or even landed on the podium yet, but he has been solid, and you can see the potential he has every time he’s out there. This kid is going to have a lot of pressure to perform next year, though, as I bet KTM will have much higher expectations. It’ll be interesting to see how he progresses. 

Max Vohland.

The Bad: Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki

Oof, you know Mitch Payton was fuming after the team’s performance on Saturday. Austin Forkner crashed hard in the moto and scored a DNF, and while he did line up for the second moto and scored a respectable sixth-place finish, you have to imagine Forkner is still in the dog house with Mitch due to how underwhelming his year has been. 2022 is going to be huge for Forkner. He has a lot to prove. 

Then we had Jo Shimoda who smacked his hand on a bale and couldn’t hold onto his handlebar grip after that. He posted on Instagram that nothing is broken and that he’s just in pain, but even if he can push through it for Budds Creek, I have to assume he won’t be at 100%. 

Finally, we have Hammaker, who is a rookie, so there’s not a whole lot to say here. He had a solid first moto and then he finished outside the points in the second moto after I assume he had a crash or bad start. He’ll improve as he gets more races under his belt. Overall, it hasn’t been looking good for Pro Circuit Kawasaki for a while now, but this may be the worst shape this team has been in, even during their current era of struggles. 

Seth Hammaker and Jo Shimoda.

The Ugly: TLD / GasGas Team

Poor Team TLD/GasGas is essentially a dumpster fire right now, as they came into the weekend already missing Justin Barcia and Michael Mosiman. Then Pierce Brown injured himself during the second moto on Saturday! You have to wonder what they’ll do if it looks like all three riders will be out for an extended period of time. Will they actually hire a full-in? There are definitely a few 250 guys (and 450 guys, for that matter) who I think could put in some solid performances for the team at the last handful of races. Of course, this also depends on the injury status of their guys, so I guess we’ll see what they decide to do in the coming days. 

Pierce Brown.

Words by Grant Dawson
Photos by Steve Giberson

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