Eli Tomac of Cortez on Saturday finished the 450 motocross in Washougal, Washington, with a flourish of speed to claim second place overall and close in on the series leaders.
For the second consecutive week, Tomac started slow and finished fast.
He finished second in Moto 1 after rallying from eighth place. In Moto 2, he again rallied to second place, this time from seventh.
During his pursuit midway through Moto 2, Tomac reeled off the fastest individual lap times in the field of 41 riders. He later posted the fastest lap of the race – 2 minutes, 13.597 seconds – just before the white flag came out in Lap 15 and as he closed the gap to series leader Dylan Ferrandis.
Chase Sexton was the overall winner Saturday after winning Moto 1 and finishing third in Moto 2.
Ferrandis finished third overall after placing fifth in Moto 1 and leading start to finish in Moto 2.
Ferrandis now leads the series with 303 points. Ken Roczen is second with 256, and Tomac is third with 249, seven points behind Roczen and 10 points ahead of Justin Barcia.
After last week’s race at Spring Creek, the Kawasaki ace lamented his slow starts.
“I made my way up to third in that moto but spent all my energy at that point, and couldn’t catch the front two riders,” Tomac said.
“The team and I plan to work on starts this week, so I can put on a battle for the lead without having to use too much energy.”
Tomac raced from an eighth-place start to finish second in the first of two motos. Sexton led start to finish.
Sexton took the lead in Lap 1 and was followed by Roczen and Cooper Webb. Tomac, still struggling with his slow starts, was eighth, and series-leading Ferrandis was ninth.
In Lap 3, Tomac, Barcia and Ferrandis lined up behind Marvin Musquin, who raced in fourth place behind his KTM teammate Webb, a distant third behind Honda riders Sexton and Roczen.
Musquin and Tomac broke through Webb’s logjam in Lap 6 to move into third and fourth, then overtook Roczen for second and third in Lap 10.
In Lap 12, Barcia and Ferrandis also passed Roczen but remained more than 18 seconds off Sexton’s big lead, in fourth and fifth.
With two laps to go, Tomac slipped into second place after Musquin tipped over. Musquin finished third, and Barcia held off Ferrandis for fourth.
Ferrandis took the early lead in the second moto, with Webb, Sexton, Aaron Plessinger and Christian Craig close behind. Tomac was seventh, on Roczen’s heels.
Craig faded to seventh in Lap 2, and Tomac began a charge toward the front of the pack, passing Roczen and Webb in Lap 3, and gaining lap by lap on Plessinger.
in Lap 8, Tomac rode on Plessinger’s back wheel in the whoops and jumped by for third place. He immediately pulled away to pursue Sexton for second place.
As the riders entered the second half of the race, Tomac was the fastest rider on the track and gaining momentum. But he would need a win to beat Sexton for the overall victory.
Challenging Sexton in the whoops, Tomac forced Sexton to play defense.
It didn’t work.
Tomac roared past Sexton for second place in Lap 14 and then tacked on two fast segments to come within 2 seconds of Ferrandis. As the white flag came out in Lap 16, Tomac had pulled to within a second of Ferrandis before he settled in as runner-up.
Sexton finished third, 13 seconds back. He was followed by Plessinger and Musquin.
Earlier Saturday, Tomac was eighth in timed qualifying laps after posting a best time of 2 minutes, 12.760 seconds. Ferrandis posted the fastest lap, at 2:11.452.
The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship series next goes to the Unadilla National in New Berlin, N.Y., on Aug. 14., for the eighth of 12 races in the 2021 motocross season.