The opening round of the 2019 AMA Pro Motocross Championship kicked-off Saturday with the 51st running of the Hangtown Motocross Classic and brought unusually cool weather and heavy rain. Monster Energy®/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider Adam Cianciarulo rode two strong motos to collect the 250MX overall win, while Monster Energy Kawasaki rider and defending champion Eli Tomac excelled in the sloppy conditions winning the second moto and finishing second overall in the 450MX class to start the season.
As the three-man Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki squad lined up for 250MX Moto 1, it was Cianciarulo who positioned himself near the front of the pack in second aboard his KX™250, where he muscled his way through the mud, keeping pressure on the leader all the way to the checkered flag to take second. Teammates Garrett Marchbanks and Martin Davalos found themselves battling forward and fighting for every position, eventually breaking into the Top-10 and finishing eighth and ninth, respectively.
Marchbanks returned to Hangtown for his second year, marking the completion of his rookie campaign; he showed quick speed as he set the fastest lap time in qualifying before lining up for the motos.
250MX Moto 2 saw Cianciarulo rocket off the line to grab the holeshot and lead all 13 laps of the race, grabbing the checkers by a margin of 16 seconds and going 2-1 to capture the first overall victory of the season. Marchbanks had a tough time getting through the mud but managed to maneuver his way around 12 of his contenders from 29th to 17th, finishing 13th overall (8-17). Davalos was off to a great start to the moto sitting third for a couple of laps before running into issues with his goggles, hindering his sight and causing a hard crash. Unfortunately, he was unable to continue the race, resulting in 15th overall.
"It definitely wasn't an easy win and the mud was crazy, but man does it feel good to come out on top. I know a lot of people were questioning my focus coming into today's race, but I think we proved that we're in it and ready to fight for this championship. The field is stacked this year so it's going to be a good season of racing, that's for sure!"
- Adam Cianciarulo
"I'm a little disappointed with how things went in Moto 2, but I'm happy to be leaving without any injuries. After qualifying fastest and my top-10 finish in the first moto I was feeling really confident, but the rain and mud proved to be my toughest competitor and caused me to make some big mistakes. We'll regroup this week and be back next weekend to fight again."
- Garrett Marchbanks
"The track was difficult today, but it felt good to be back racing the young fellas out there again. I had a good first moto and felt really good about things, but I had some issues with my goggles in the second moto I and couldn't really see so things went south quickly. I had a pretty hard crash and I just couldn't continue, unfortunately. I'm going to check in with the doctors this week and make sure everything is okay, and just hope to be back on the line next weekend."
- Martin Davalos
Tomac, the reigning back-to-back 450MX champion lined up for the first moto determined to defend his title and the No. 1 red plate on his KX™450 just as the heavy rainstorm rolled in. Tomac started seventh but made strong moves in the sloppy conditions, making his way around three other contenders on the sloppy track that made passing extremely difficult to go on and finish fourth.
450MX Moto 2 is where the real action came, as Tomac laid down the hammer right out of the gate as he shot out front. Tomac lead the first lap before getting passed, but it didn't take long for him to steal the lead once again after putting relentless pressure on his competition. By Lap 5, Tomac raced his KX450 to the front and began creating a gap, finding himself in a league of his own. Tomac powered through the mud and went on to lead the last nine laps of the moto, crossing the finish line with a massive 43-second margin of victory and going 4-1 for second overall.
"What a crazy day of racing! I was riding pretty well in the first moto, but I had a hard time getting around some of the guys. We were a little more prepared for the rain in the second moto and I just went out there and gave it all I had, but man was it slick. I definitely had a few close calls, but fought through them and came out on top. I'm so glad we were able to come back and recover; second place overall isn't a bad place to be! We'll be ready to fight for first next weekend."
- Eli Tomac