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Monster Energy® Kawasaki Rider Eli Tomac Earns Second Overall in the AMA Pro Motocross Championship Standings
The 12th and final round of the 2021 AMA Pro Motocross Championship at Hangtown MX in Rancho Cordova, California saw Monster Energy® Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac overcome the notorious hard packed track to claim second overall (4-1) and secure second place in the AMA Pro Motocross Championship standings. In the 250 Class, Monster Energy®/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Jo Shimoda earned second overall (4-2) to finish fifth in the championship while teammate Austin Forkner ended up 12th (40-5) for seventh in the overall standings.
The Hangtown Motocross Classic, the longest running national event in American motocross, hosts an outstanding layout and conditions that have proven to foster some of the best racing in AMA Motocross history. With significant elevation changes, exceptionally steep off-camber sections, and arguably the hardest soil of the AMA Pro Motocross Championship, Hangtown demands that riders combine technical bike skills with fearless commitment. In the first timed qualifying session of the day, Tomac showed that the venue’s unique challenges are right in his wheelhouse by setting the third fastest lap time with a 2:12.914. The smooth morning conditions proved to be the fastest of the day as racers were not able to improve their times in the second session when the track began to take on its typical rough and edgy form.
The first 450 Class moto saw Tomac start just inside the top-10 and quickly begin to tear through the front of the pack. Tomac had made his way into a battle for podium position before the end of Lap 2. By Lap 5 of the race, Tomac secured third position and shifted his focus to closing the small distance to the leaders. With a stretch of clear track in front of him, Tomac stayed true to form by picking up the pace and setting the fastest lap of the race to catch the riders ahead. To the crowd’s displeasure, Tomac’s push to the lead was fouled up by a crash through a tricky off-camber right-handed corner on Lap 8. The Coloradan was quick to regain his composure and finished the moto in fourth place.
In the second 450 Class moto, Tomac once again started inside the top-10 and showed no hesitation cutting his way through to podium contention. Tomac gained control of third position by the end of Lap 2 and mounted an attack on the leaders. Before the race had reached the halfway point Tomac split the difference between himself and the win by railing around the outside of a rutted section to grab hold of second place. The second half of the race would feature Tomac in a two-rider battle for first position that he refused to concede. On Lap 8, Tomac made another aggressive move around the outside of one of Hangtown’s legendary banked corners to take command of the lead. The No.3 KX™450 of Tomac only looked forward for the remaining seven laps on his way to claiming the second moto victory, second overall (4-1) on the day and gaining one position to earn second overall in the final championship standings. In the last six Pro Motocross seasons with Kawasaki, Tomac has not finished off the overall championship podium with three championships, two runner-up finishes, and one third place finish in the championship standings.
Following the final moto of the season, the Kawasaki Racing team presented Eli with a commemorative plaque highlighting the six years, four AMA championships, and 62 wins with Kawasaki aboard his KX450. Tomac secured his place amongst the sport’s most prestigious champions with his success aboard Team Green.
“In the first moto I was starting to get into a flow, I found some good lines, and I had a solid pace going until I crashed in the off-camber corner at the bottom of the hill. I tweaked my thumb in the crash, but regrouped to still finish fourth in that moto and reset for the second one. In Moto 2, I got off to a strong start and worked my way up to the lead which I was able to maintain until the end. I would have loved to come away with the overall win today, but with that small crash in the first moto, it just wasn’t in the cards. I’m happy to finish the season with a moto win.”
- Eli Tomac
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Forkner was eager to build from his top-5 finish in Moto 2 last weekend as he started the day by qualifying with the fourth fastest lap time at 2:15.644. Meanwhile, Shimoda adapted quickly to the Hangtown track in his first appearance at the venue to log the sixth fastest lap with a 2:15.846.
At the start of Moto 1 for the 250 Class, Forkner launched his No. 38 KX™250 out to a third-place start while teammate Shimoda was 10th by the end of Lap 1. A determined Shimoda lived up to his reputation as one of the hardest fighting racers in the paddock by persistently picking off the riders ahead. Through a combination of late race fitness and readiness to capitalize on mistakes from the competition, Shimoda passed his way up to fourth position with five laps remaining. The Japanese sensation continued to push toward the riders ahead and ultimately concluded the race with a fourth-place finish. Forkner retired from the race while running in third position but, would regroup and focus on Moto 2.
The second 250 Class moto saw the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki riders take charge at the front of the field when Forkner and Shimoda came around the track in fourth and fifth position, respectively, on Lap 1. The Team Green duo quickly moved their KX250 machines up the running order to take control of second and third by Lap 5 with Shimoda overtaking Forkner during the process. Kawasaki fans cheered as Shimoda and Forkner commanded two of the top three positions at the midpoint of the race. When the moto began to tighten in the later stages, Shimoda proved his fortitude by responding to every attack and pulling away from the riders behind to hold onto second place all the way to the checkered flag. Forkner would be overtaken by two riders on Lap 7 and, despite a late race effort to reclaim the lost positions, earned himself fifth place in the second moto.
“The track was very technical in the second moto because the ruts got hard packed and there were a lot of square edges. I’m happy with how I was able to keep charging forward all race long and didn’t have the kind of mistakes that cost a lot of my competition out there. In the second moto, it was awesome to move through guys to second and push all the way to the end of the race. I’m happy for second overall on the day and also to move up to fifth overall for the championship. It’s nice to do this for my Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team, they have helped me so much and to share these results with them is great.”
– Jo Shimoda
“My starts were great today and that really helped me to run up front in both motos. In the second moto, I was able to makes passes from fourth place to second in the first few laps and I think Jo and I made the most of the challenging track conditions. I ended up coming away with fifth in the moto and it was good to be back up there battling with the leaders in both motos, that progress has been a goal of mine for the whole motocross season.”
– Austin Forkner