Eli Tomac of Cortez on Saturday opened the 2022 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship series with a fourth-place finish at Fox Raceway in Pala, California, after finishing seventh and fourth in the day’s two moto races.
Chase Sexton won both motos for the overall victory, and Honda teammate Ken Roczen was second, with two second-place finishes.
Christian Craig of Star Racing Yamaha was third, followed by Tomac, his teammate.
Tomac entered the race on the heels of his second 450cc Supercross title. He is now racing for a fourth 450cc motocross title.
He spent the past few weeks resting his knee, which he injured during his heat race at Atlanta Motor Speedway on April 16. He hoped to clinch the Supercross title in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on April 23, but after a short duel with Jason Anderson, he dropped back to seventh place.
On April 30, Tomac returned home to Colorado and clinched his second 450 Supercross title with a fifth-place finish at Empower Field at Mile Hile in Denver.
“I’ve had a good time off to heal the knee,” Tomac said, “and the team has found a great motocross setting for the bike. I can’t wait to put it all to the test on Saturday!”
Saturday’s series opener featured the return of Ryan Dungey and Roczen, but two notable riders were absent.
Defending Motocross champion Dylan Ferrandis missed the opener to undergo surgery on his left thumb, which he injured earlier in the week.
“I thought it was a minor sprain,” Ferrandis said, “but the medical exam showed a broken ligament with the Stenner effect, which means it will never recover without surgery.”
Malcolm Stewart is expected to miss the first half of the season with an injured knee. He sprained his knee during a crash at the St. Louis Supercross on April 9, then re-injured it in a crash with Justin Barcia during the final Supercross in Salt Lake City on May 7.
Tomac started fast in the first of two motos Saturday, finishing the first lap 1.96 seconds behind Roczen, the hole-shot winner and leader. Shane McElrath was third, and Sexton was fourth.
Sexton passed McElrath for third place in Lap 2, and while posting the fastest lap of the race in Lap 5, passed a fading Tomac for second place.
Sexton immediately challenged Honda teammate Roczen and overtook him for the lead in Lap 8, halfway through the race.
Tomac continued to drop back. He lost third place to Ryan Dungey in Lap 9, and dropped to seventh place in Lap 13.
Sexton, meanwhile, ran away from the field, winning nearly 16 seconds ahead of Roczen. Christian Craig recovered from an early crash to finish third, and Jason Anderson and Dungey rounded out the top five. Tomac finished seventh, behind Aaron Plessinger.
Tomac began in the second moto in seventh place, but halfway through the race, advanced into fourth place behind Craig. Roczen and Sexton raced for the lead, far ahead of the field.
Sexton overtook Roczen for the lead in Lap 10 and the eventual 4.587-second victory. Craig was third, more than 32 seconds off the pace, and was followed by Tomac, nearly four seconds back. Dungey was a distant fifth, 56 seconds behind the winner.
Earlier Saturday, Tomac was third in timed qualifying laps, with a best lap of 2 minutes, 13.831 seconds. Sexton was fastest, at 2:12.333, and Roczen was second at 2:13.120. Anderson and Antonio Cairoli rounded out the top five at 2:13.976 and 2:14.384.
The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship on June 4 goes to the Hangtown Motocross Classic in Rancho, Corodova, California, for the second race in the 12-round series.
The following Saturday, on June 11, Tomac will to return to his home state of Colorado for the Thunder Valley National in Lakewood.
|1. Chase Sexton||Honda||50|
|2. Ken Roczen||Honda||44|
|3. Christian Craig||Yamaha||40|
|4. Eli Tomac||Yamaha||32|
|5. Ryan Dungey||KTM||32|
|6. Jason Anderson||Kawasaki||31|
|7. Antonio Cairoli||KTM||26|
|8. Aaron Plessinger||KTM||26|
|9. Justin Barcia||GAS||25|
|10. Shane McElrath||Husqvarna||24|