RedBud - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly 2

Or, as this could also be sometimes called, when bad things happen to good riders...

RedBud - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

250 Class

The Good: Aaron Plessinger | 1st Place Overall

Aaron solidified himself as the leading candidate as Team USA's MX2 rider for the Motocross of Nations with his performance this weekend. Austin Forkner may have been a bit faster in the first moto, but Aaron is the one who went 1-1 and looked to be having a really great time out there during the motos. Besides, if Aaron still holds the red plate by the time Unadilla rolls around, do you really think anybody else has a shot at getting the spot? We should put our best overall 250 rider on the team...and who's the best overall 250 rider? The guy holding the red plate. 

Now, Aaron has had a rather interesting season so far. Some weekends, like RedBud, he is absolutely on it and dominates. But other weekends, he gets bad starts and just hangs out around fifth place or so for both motos. It's odd, but if his terrible days are when he gets fifth overall, is he really having any terrible days? The 250 class has proven that speed, and even wins, do not guarantee a spot in the title fight. Consistency is the name of the game in the small bike class this year, and Aaron is playing it well so far.

The Bad: Sean Cantrell | 41st Overall

This is Sean's second full season of motocross and I have to say it has been a bit underwhelming. He has been hanging around the same spot in the running order as he did for most of the last season, and at times he has even been doing worse.  He still has time to turn the season around, but so far it has been a bit of a head-scratcher. Anyway, RedBud went bad for Sean in a completely different way, as he went down pretty hard in practice and then went down very hard in the first moto. That crash ended his day, but luckily it doesn't sound like he sustained any serious injuries and he plans to be back on the line at Spring Creek.

The Bad Bonus: Alex Martin | 2nd Place Overall

Alex, along with everyone else, saw RedBud not only as a chance to make up some points on Aaron Plessinger, but also to audition for the 250 spot on Team USA for MXoN. Unfortunately, the day didn't work out for him at all. He struggled in the first moto to find his flow, and for a while it looked like he wasn't even going to make it back to the top five, but he charged towards the end and secured a fourth. In the second moto, he was riding much better and even had a chance to run down Aaron after moving his way into second, but Aaron started to get away a bit and then Austin Forkner eventually got around Alex. So, he lost points to Aaron on the day, and in my opinion he lost out on the audition for Team USA, as both Aaron Plessinger and Austin Forkner looked more impressive during the motos than he did. He'd still be a solid pick if something were to happen to the other two...but I think it'll be Aaron wearing the colors in October. As for the championship, Alex is now 35 points down with five rounds to go. Is it possible for him to claw his way up to Aaron? Absolutely, but he is going to need to start winning motos and overalls, and Spring Creek would be a good place to start.

The Ugly: Monster Energy / Pro Circuit Kawasaki

One place I wouldn't have wanted to be after the first 250 moto? The Pro Circuit Kawasaki tent. It was quite a rollercoaster for the team during the moto. Austin Forkner's going for the lead? Never mind, he's on the ground. Joey Savatgy's having his best moto in a while? Shucks, sorry boys, he just hit the deck as well. Even Garrett Marchbanks was having a great moto until he tipped over (he would still finish in sixth, though). It was hard not to at least let out a little chuckle over how bad their luck seemed to be during the first moto, because it was just so unbelievable. The second moto was much, much better, with Forkner finishing in second and Savatgy snagging fifth, but Marchbanks ended up with a DNF. This season in general has to be one of the most frustrating for the team in a while. Forkner struggled early in the season before finding his old form, but he has had a few collisions with other riders that have cost him, Savatgy has been underperforming nearly the entire season (apart from Thunder Valley, which ended up not going his way despite riding great), and Marchbanks got injured a few rounds in (RedBud was his comeback). On the bright side, if one of the Pro Circuit riders secures an overall win at one of the remaining rounds, it's gonna feel extra nice.

450 Class

The Good: Marvin Musquin | 1st Place Overall

Marvin may have benefited from Eli's bike letting go in the first moto, but his comeback ride was pretty freaking awesome. I mean, as we've discussed before the field isn't that deep right now, but it has gotten deeper as the season has gone on and a charge from 40th to second place is impressive regardless. Then he made it happen in the second moto and took full advantage of Eli Tomac's struggles, as he now holds the red plate. He was down 32 points coming in! That's insane. Many of us were commending Eli for managing this championship much better than last year and holding onto the lead, but seven rounds in and the Frenchman has invaded Green Land and taken its most valuable possession. Also, many fans were wanting a closer championship...well, here we are. The gap is now three points and Eli is once again the one chasing the points lead. Will Marvin hold onto it?

The Good Bonus: Jake Nicholls | 10th Place Overall

Jake Nicholls is on a bit of a world tour this summer. He already went to Canada to race a round of their championship and did well, and then he came to race our series on Saturday and put in a solid performance. I don't think he is aiming for a ride here or in Canada, rather I think he's just enjoying trying out the different series during the off weeks of his main series, the British Motocross Championship, where he's the championship leader. It's always cool to see riders come over from other series and see how they do against our riders. Hopefully he enjoyed the experience.

The Bad: Benny Bloss | 11th Overall

You were so close, Benny! A podium was yours for the taking! Seriously, though, it would have been awesome to see him up there on the podium at the end of the day. But, alas, a crash in the second moto left him looking a little unsure of what year it was and as a result he didn't score points. He once again showed us that he is capable of landing on the overall podium this year, and he has five more chances to do so. I sincerely hope he does, because there'll probably be a party over at the Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM's tent afterwards.

The Ugly: Eli Tomac | 15th Overall

One thing that we have to remember with Eli Tomac is that apparently no red plate is safe in his possession, unless he has over a round's worth of points on everyone else. He had a 32 point lead going into RedBud. Was he locked in to win the championship at that point? No, of course not, but it was nearly inconceivable to think that he'd lose the entire 32 point cushion that he had built up over the course of six rounds in one day of racing. It was looking good, too, as 30 minutes into the first moto Eli was in full control. Another win, another three-to-five points added to his cushion. Life was good, and then his bike broke in the roller section. It was done, and had to be pushed back to the pits. Not Eli's fault at all, but rather an unfortunate occurrence that happens in this sport. So 22 of the 35 points that he lost on the day can't really be blamed on him. But still, that 32 point lead he had coming into RedBud? It was 10 points heading into the second moto. He had a terrible gate selection due to his DNF, but it was easy to think that even with a bad start he'd be able to come through and salvage a third or so–effectively keeping his plates red heading into Spring Creek. But that's not what happened. He started in the very back of the pack, sliced through most of the field, went down, got back to ninth, went down, fell back to 11th, and only came back to ninth by the checkered flag. The remaining 10 points of his lead vanished and he is now three points down in the championship. It seemed to me that he was charging very hard (he was running a pace similar to the leaders) early in the moto which led to his first crash, and then after that he was probably so frustrated it was just a matter of time until his next problem was going to occur. This was the nightmare scenario for Monster Energy Kawasaki. 

Many people questioned his mental toughness throughout his challenging quest for this championship last year, but it seemed like he was managing the pressure much better this time around, so how will he respond to this sudden tsunami wave of adversity? He has almost two weeks to think about it and prepare for Spring Creek.

Words by Grant Dawson
Photos by Steve Giberson

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