Washougal - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

250 Class

The Good: Joey Savatgy | 3rd Place Overall

Finally! The Joey Savatgy we've been waiting for all season showed at Washougal. He was able to put all of the pieces together and win his first moto of the year, and despite a rough start to the second moto, he was able to finish where he needed to secure his first overall podium of the season. This was probably a huge moment of relief for Joey, his team, and all of Joey's fans. Before the season started, I never would have placed a bet that Joey Savatgy would stand on the overall podium for the first time at round nine of the championship, considering that he has been a title contender for a few years now, but here we are. It's so weird how often this type of situation occurs in our sport. A rider could be the most prepared he has been in his career, but if the season doesn't start well he will most likely struggle to get anything going. It's the snowball effect. If you have one bad race, it's easy to think that if you go home to prepare a little bit more and come back you'll have a better weekend. If you have two bad races in a row, you think there's no way you could have three bad races in a row. If you have three bad races in a row, you might start questioning yourself and your confidence will most likely take a huge hit as a result. And it just gets worse as it keeps going. But on the flip side, when something does finally go your way like it did with Joey at Washougal, the confidence starts to come back. Maybe he'll go on a bit of a podium streak to finish out the season? I sure hope so after how rough the first two-thirds of the season was for him.

The Bad: Alex Martin | 6th Place Overall

After Jeremy Martin exited the championship due to a pretty gnarly back injury, I sincerely thought that Alex could challenge Aaron Plessinger for the championship. I figured that the opportunity in front of him would motivate him enough to push past being a consistent second-sixth place rider and start contending for wins every weekend. And I think we were all hoping that he'd start chipping away at the points lead because everyone wants to watch a battle for the championship. Unfortunately, the championship has slipped a little outside of Alex's grasp these past few rounds. He is now 59 points down from the lead with only three rounds to go. He needs to steal 9 points within the next two rounds to keep Aaron from sealing the deal at Budds Creek, but Aaron is going to have to have some serious problems for Alex to have an actual shot at winning the title at this point. And with how consistent Aaron has been riding during the second half of this championship, I don't see Alex gaining huge points on Aaron at any of the final three rounds unless he crashes or has a mechanical. Alex could very well win a couple of races as the season begins to wind down, though. 

As far as Washougal goes, Alex didn't have a great day all around. He qualified ninth and went 8-6 in the motos. His starts weren't that great, and the track wasn't easy to pass on, but regardless he didn't seem to be quite on pace with the front group. But hey, at least he has a week off to regroup and then try again at Unadilla.

The Bad Bonus: Dakota Alix | 19th Place Overall

Dakota Alix was fairly impressive last year when he filled in for the Rocky Mountain ATV/MC-WPS-KTM team in the 450 class, and I'm guessing that's how he landed one of the team's 250 rides this year. He did the team a solid, so they returned the favor. Plus, they probably wanted to give him a shot on a 250 since Dakota's time with the now-defunct Orange Brigade KTM team didn't go all that great. But, it hasn't gone the way they would have liked this year. He has dealt with injuries off and on all year and when he has raced his results haven't lit the world on fire. And if I'm completely honest, unless he puts in some super-solid results during this last block of races I could see him losing his ride at the end of the year. Even with how stacked the 250 field is, I don't think finishing just inside top 20 most weekends will be enough. I could be wrong, though.

The Ugly: Austin Forkner | 13th Place Overall

I'm surprised Austin hasn't started a petition to do away with the two moto format yet, because holy moly the second moto has not been his friend these past few weeks. Every weekend it seems to be something different (except RedBud, where his run-in with Aaron Plessinger occurred in the first moto). He has gotten taken out, has had an accidental collision with another rider, and has taken himself out all within the span of four races, and it has all occurred in the second moto. Weird stuff. Just another example of how some things in this sport seem like they snowball, whether it's actually a coincidence or not. According to the team, he was not seriously injured in the crash and should be back on the gate at Unadilla. I'm sure he's happy that we have a week off so he can let his body heal.


450 Class

The Good: Eli Tomac | 1st Place Overall

Another wildly impressive weekend for Eli Tomac, and he now has a 15-point lead in the championship. He got to the lead in the first moto and traded lap times with Marvin Musquin for a long time. Eli would be faster than Marvin in two of the sectors and then Marvin would be faster than Eli in two sectors, but Eli would still be three-to-eight tenths faster over the course of the lap because his fast sectors were a decent bit faster. Marvin eventually fell off the pace and Eli took the win. I'm not sure if anyone thought Eli was going to win the second moto after tipping over while in third place. Heck, even Eli thought second place was as far as he'd get! But once again, he switched on Alien Mode and started running lap times three-to-four seconds faster than the two riders in front of him. He got Marvin, made the move on Ken Roczen for the lead, and that was all she wrote. His ability to regroup from poor starts, and occasional tip-overs this season and pull back two, three, or four seconds a lap on the guys in front of him (who are past champions in either AMA MX or MXGP) is absolutely insane. He has found a way to combine his crazy speed with smart riding, and he has obviously been able to move past the championship pressure that seemed to haunt him after a couple of bad rounds last season. It'll be interesting to see how these last three rounds go.

The Bad: Blake Baggett | 5th Place Overall

Blake Baggett has been a bit of a curious case this season. When he struggled through the first few rounds, I figured it was primarily because of bike setup because he has taken a few rounds to get things exactly where he wants in the past. But, things haven't gotten much better as the season has gone on. He's still in the third-to-sixth position range and hasn't quite looked to be in race-winning condition most of the year. It sounds like he has been flying at the test track (according to people there), so I'm not sure exactly why it hasn't been translating to the races like it did last year before the thumb injury. It can't be completely blamed on poor starts, either, as he has started in the top five a few times and hasn't been able to make it happen. My guess is that maybe he has a small injury that he has been quiet about, or maybe the thumb is still taking a bit of a toll despite having surgery on it. Or...maybe he just hasn't been as good as the guys around him this year. He even said in the post-race interview that he wouldn't mind riding during the week with one of the guys who has been finishing ahead of him. I dunno. Your guess is as good as mine, but it has been an intriguing season for the number four to say the least.

The Ugly: Justin Bogle & Justin Hill's Second Moto

As I've touched on previously, Justin Bogle's return to racing hasn't gone as well as he probably expected it to go. His starts have been on point, but he has quickly dropped to around 11th-13th by around the halfway point. However, this past couple of weekends he has shown that the speed is still there. He held on to the lead at Washougal for around seven minutes or so in the first moto, which is a sign that he has progressed a decent bit since his return. So I'm guessing at this point it's time to start working on getting the race fitness to where it needs to be. But, at Washougal, he ended up pulling out of the second moto about halfway through, and I'm not exactly sure why. There haven't been any posts on Instagram or anywhere else from what I can tell. I'm assuming he crashed or had some sort of bike problem, and if it was a crash I hope it wasn't big. The last thing this dude needs is another injury. 

On the other hand, Justin Hill has been riding pretty great at times since switching to the 450 full time. Washougal was also his hometown race, so it wasn't very surprising that it seemed like he was going to send it all day long. He qualified second, led for a while in the first moto before finishing fourth, and was running in third for the first few laps of the second moto before cross-rutting and flying into a tree. The crash wasn't caught on camera, but he was shown riding off so at least we knew he wasn't seriously injured. He has said that his knee is extremely swollen, but he thinks he'll be back racing soon. It's gonna be awesome to see him on the big bike both indoors and out full-time next year.


Words by Grant Dawson
Photos by Steve Giberson

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