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Monster Energy® Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac Secures Fifth Overall Podium During Ninth Round of Pro Motocross Championship
Monster Energy® Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac secured his fifth podium during Round 9 of the 2021 AMA Pro Motocross Championship when 4-3 moto scores earned him third overall at the famed Budds Creek MX Park in Mechanicsville, Maryland. In the 250 class, Austin Forkner led the Monster Energy®/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki effort by putting together two consistent performances to claim fifth overall (4-5) with teammate Jo Shimoda close behind in sixth (7-7), while Seth Hammaker faced adversity on his way to 18th overall (17-DNS).
The Budds Creek MX National features one of the most historic motocross tracks in the country, where the great American monuments of nearby Washington DC are echoed by monuments of the venue’s illustrious motocross heritage. When this year’s race fans left behind the Lincoln Memorial and arrived at the likes of Henry Hill, they were met with wet and slimy conditions that all but assured an exciting day of competition. In the 450 Class, Tomac kept true to form and traversed the rutted terrain with aggression on his way to logging the third fastest lap of qualifying practice with a 1:49.511.
In 450 Moto 1, Tomac launched his KX™450 out of the gate to put himself in contention at the front of the pack. After being just edged out for the holeshot, Tomac dropped a couple of positions down the running order when he was briefly held up by a muddy line going into the second turn, but the ever-tenacious Coloradan quickly began his counterattack from third position at the end of lap one. Displaying exceptional corner speed and fearlessly flying to the bottom of Henry Hill in typical Tomac style, he made it apparent his sights were set on the riders ahead. Tomac’s forward focus came to fruition as he maneuvered his way into second place before the race distance had reached halfway. Pressure from behind was soon to come as the latter portion of the race would see Tomac slip back two positions to fourth place where he finished out the first moto.
In the second 450 moto, Tomac once again set out to rival at the front of the field. Running in seventh off the start, Tomac used a crafty outside line on lap one to pass two riders at once and swiftly began his push through the top five. The No.3 KX450 of Tomac charged his way up to third by the mid-way point of the race and significantly shortened the distance to the front two riders in the process. On lap seven Tomac set the fastest lap of the race with a blistering 1:48.376. To the crowd’s delight, the race reached a peak when Tomac brought up the tail end of a three-rider battle that saw the podium positions blanketed by only a few seconds for several laps. Ultimately, Tomac’s spirited ride proved strong enough to place him third amongst the formidable competition of the premier class. His 4-3 moto scores on the day ranked Tomac third overall and he enjoyed yet another hard-earned podium ceremony.
“In Moto 1, I had one of my best starts this season and was amped on that, but then I lost a few positions early in the race. The lines were rapidly changing out there which made it difficult to defend the position in a battle. Getting passed was a bit frustrating, I did what I could to hang onto those guys, but I tightened up a little and just wasn’t able to stay in touch with the podium. Moto 2, I didn’t have as great of a start, but I felt much better with my riding, line selection, and overall performance. While I felt somewhat on the defensive in Moto 1, in Moto 2 I was able to attack and charge forward with some creative lines. The battle at the front was really close and it looked like I could maybe get by both of those guys, but I’m happy to come away with a podium and we’ll keep trying to get an overall win.”
- Eli Tomac
The Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team came into Budds Creek ready to strike with the speed and preparedness that all three riders have been building over the previous weeks. In the first qualifying session Jo Shimoda went straight to work by setting the fastest lap with a 1:55.659 and teammate Seth Hammaker followed close behind in third with a 1:56.553. Fellow Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider Austin Forkner took slightly longer to familiarize himself with the technical track, but by the end of the second qualifying session he had logged the third fastest lap overall with a 1:51.772. Shimoda and Hammaker were ninth and 21st overall, respectively.
Forkner started strong in 250 Moto 1, coming around the first turn third and making quick work of the competition to move himself up to second. The strides Forkner has been making with both his consistency and confidence were unveiled as the No.38 KX™250 rider held firm in a podium position until a slight mistake at the bottom of one of Budds Creek’s notorious off-camber corners caused him to slip back to fourth in the final laps of the first moto. Meanwhile, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki teammate Shimoda put together another impressive race through the pack to come from outside the top-10 on lap one to secure seventh by the time the checkered flew. Hammaker started the moto inside the top-10, but difficulties throughout the race would lead to him finishing 17th.
The second 250 Class moto followed suit for the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki riders as Forkner executed another top five start while Shimoda found himself caught up in the pack. Forkner briefly jockeyed for fifth position before solidifying his spot and finishing out the remainder of the race with a consistent pace to take fifth overall on 4-5 moto scores. Shimoda pushed hard for the duration of the race and by the time it was over, he had made his way from 14th to seventh position. Shimoda’s 7-7 moto scores were enough to earn him sixth overall on the day. In conjunction with the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team, Hammaker made the decision not to compete in the second 250 moto, but he will continue progressing through the final rounds of his rookie year.
“Overall, today was a big step in the right direction for me. My starts were better, my riding was fast in practice and in the motos, and I was consistent in both races. This is definitely a building block that will help me going forward. The goal from here is to keep trending upward and to execute these rides with regularity. I know I am capable of challenging the guys at the front and now we are starting to get there. I’m looking forward to Ironman.”
- Austin Forkner
“Today I had to fight hard in both motos to get up into the top-10. My start was not great in the first moto, but I made passes and rode with good fitness to overtake guys throughout the whole race. In the second moto, I was around 14th off the start and worked my way up to seventh and I was not far behind the next two positions. I have been practicing my starts during the week and will keep working to put it together on the race day.”
- Jo Shimoda
“This is like my hometown race so it was great to have so much support from the fans. I started the day off good and was happy with my speed in the first qualifying session. Even though the track was still pretty muddy and slick, I adapted and got up to pace quick. I think that’s a really important skill to develop in the pro ranks and I’ve been pleased with how quick I’m learning the tracks and adjusting to new conditions. I will carry that going on and look forward to continuing the process.”
- Seth Hammaker