The Good: Eli Tomac | 1st Place Overall

After dealing with the major disappointment that was the Motocross of Nations, I guess Eli Tomac decided a million bucks would probably make him feel a little bit better. He was the fastest rider on track the entire night, and he was able to make passes and gap the field on a track that frankly wasn't easy to pass or make up time on. It seemed like he has the 2019 bike pretty dialed in already, which is quite impressive considering he hasn't been riding it for very long. If anything, Eli's performance on Saturday should worry just about everyone in the class outside of Marvin Musquin, who was actually faster in qualifying and ran a similar pace to Eli in the first race. In other news, it was cool to see a fan win a million smackers because of Eli. That was an unexpected addition to this year's race and probably one that someone (aka whoever has to pay out the $2 million) isn't too pumped on right now.

Eli Tomac.

The Good Bonus: Max Vohland | 1st Place Overall in Supermini

I've loosely followed Max through social media for the past year or so and he is looking faster all the time. Yes, it's early in his "career". He's still on a supermini and you never know how a rider is going to develop once he moves up to the bigger bike that he'll ride as a pro. However, he looked dialed in on Saturday and dominated his class without ever looking out of sorts. He's also fairly tall already and looks like he's about to outgrow his supermini, so I don't think his size will be a problem when he moves up to the bigger bike. Don't be surprised if you start hearing his name more and more over the next couple of years.

Max Vohland.

The Good Double Bonus: Joey Savatgy | 3rd Place Overall

Now THIS is the Joey Savatgy we want to see. He has only been riding the 450 for a couple of weeks, but he already looks comfortable on it. He got three good starts, led some laps, and scored a third overall in his 450 debut. That's basically the equivalent of a win to him and Monster Energy Kawasaki. Joey's always had a smooth riding style which clearly didn't always fit the 250, but I wasn't sold on him being any better on the 450 purely because of how rough 2018 was for him. He had the speed in qualifying almost every week on the 250, but just couldn't make it happen during the races. He says he was in a funk last year and maybe that really was the problem, and the change to a bigger bike and new team helped him snap out of it. As far as "Let Eli By Gate" goes, what exactly did everyone expect to happen? It was Joey's debut with the team and Eli Tomac, arguably the biggest name in American motocross right now, is his new teammate AND he was one position away from securing a million dollars....of course he pulled over. It was a lose-lose situation for Joey (he either makes his team or fans mad), but he chose the best option for himself. I'd be willing to take a little heat from fans if it means I get to avoid pissing off my teammate at my first race with the team. Plus, Joey was going to be on the podium regardless and I'm sure Eli is going to toss him a little bit of cash as a thank you present. I understand why people don't like the move. Everyone wants races to play out fairly, and everyone feels a little cheated when someone gives up a spot without a fight, but sometimes it happens, especially when teams are involved. Congrats to Joey on a great 450 debut. 

P.S. Joey's Just1 gear setup is actually pretty sweet. I'd never really been a fan of the brand, but their gear is pretty minimalistic and overall good-looking. I'm a little curious about how the Just1 goggles stack up against other brands, though.

Joey Savatgy.

The Bad: Blake Baggett | 10th Place Overall

Oof, Saturday night was a pretty big pile of caca for KTM. Jordon Smith (who is normally a 250 rider) was the top finisher for the brand in ninth place. Blake Baggett was the only other one in the top ten, and honestly, he was a ghost the entire night. If I had just watched the broadcast and didn't look at the results, I would've guessed Blake just skipped the event. He didn't get the best of starts, but he also didn't move up a whole lot in the races and kind of just stayed where he was. This is an off-season event so we can't assume a whole lot for the guys who were hanging around mid-pack, but combine this performance with basically all of 2018 and it's looking a little worrying for Blake. 2019 is going to be a big year for him to show that he can still win races and make regular podium appearances. It's weird how he made a huge surge in 2017, but then through 2018 and now Monster Cup he has been back to the results he was getting when he rode for Suzuki. Weird stuff, and hopefully he gets the train back on track in 2019.

The Bad Bonus: Cooper Webb | 12th Place Overall

The first race of the night was promising for Cooper Webb. He got sixth and looked decent out there. The rest of the night didn't go so well, though, as in the second race he was involved in a crash (with, ironically, Tyler Bowers) off of the start and then in the final race of the night he got pushed off of the track on the first lap. So, it was basically a wash for his debut with Red Bull KTM. We didn't get to see a whole lot and can't get much of a feel for how he's gonna do next year. However, Cooper isn't in his rookie contract anymore. He's on a bike that fits shorter riders well, and he will be on a solid training program. If he doesn't perform in 2019 and 2020, no excuses can be made. It's time for him to show what he can do in the 450 class.

Cooper Webb.

The Ugly: Marvin Musquin | 11th Place Overall

If there's one thing that has become evident over the course of Monster Cup's lifespan as an event, it's that whichever rider wears the #1 at the event is bound to encounter some bad luck. Ryan Villopoto, Justin Barcia, Ken Roczen, Eli Tomac, and now Marvin Musquin all either crashed or had some sort of issue while running the number one plate at this event. Davi Millsaps is really the only one that survived unscathed, and he just didn't perform that well. Just a trend I noticed that continues to prove true. Anyway, Marvin's day started out very well when he qualified first. That's about where it ended, though. He was on pace with Eli (for the most part) in the first race but by the time he got up to second place Eli had already established a gap and Marvin wasn't able to cut down on his lead enough to challenge him. His chances at a million dollar repeat were gone just like that. In the second race, he was looking to make a charge before running into a stalled-out Chad Reed, and then in the final race he got shoved wide in the first corner by Malcolm Stewart and pulled out of the race shortly after. So it didn't pan out the way he was hoping, but the speed to challenge Eli (and Jason Anderson when he gets up to speed) is clearly there which is really all we need to know for now. We still have a few months, but it's looking like 2019 is going to be a dog fight for the title between the three big names of the sport: Eli Tomac, Marvin Musquin, and Jason Anderson.

Marvin Musquin.


Words by Grant Dawson
Photos by Steve Giberson

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