The 2021 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship is set to fire off at Fox Raceway in Pala, California on May 29, and Eli Tomac of the Monster Energy Kawasaki team will be there on the starting gate.
A three-time 450 title-winner, Tomac wants the title back in his possession and is rolling into the summer on a mission. Third in the 2021 Monster Energy Supercross Series behind Cooper Webb and Ken Roczen, the 2020 champion wants an AMA Pro Racing title this year and is looking to the great outdoors to make it happen.
And then there is the Yamaha variable we’ve all learned about in the 24 hours. While Tomac will contest the 450MX Nationals on his familiar lime green KX450F, 2022 now potentially appears to be an entirely different reality. So just what’s up?
Q: The 2021 Monster Energy Supercross Series is done for the year. Reflecting on it all, how do you feel about your supercross body of work?
ELI TOMAC: There were some good results in there, and also there were some not-so-good weekends in there. The season was a little bit more up and down than I would have liked, but we never stopped fighting, and I’m just thankful that we go those races in, because it was still a modified schedule. I’d say the speedway races we went to were a lot of fun. That’s one thing I’ll look back on this series and be like, ‘That was pretty cool, to be racing inside a new speedway for us.’ The track was just a monster. That was one thing I will really remember about this season. I’ll remember that Atlanta track.
Q: You guys did the three Atlanta Motor Speedway races and then went straight to Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City. On those 450s, all of you guys were going so fast on very small and tight track laid out on a relatively small stadium floor. What a juxtaposition…
ET: Yeah, that’s the way it is. That’s supercross. Like you said, we’re getting the motorcycles to such a high level now that it’s almost like the 450s have outgrown the really tight stadiums, if you want to say that. It’s amazing just what you’re capable of doing now on the motorcycle, like how far they can jump, and just how much power they have, and how good they’re actually getting. I hope they keep those bigger tracks in the mix, and I think most people enjoyed that style of track and that style of racing.
Q: Did the 13th place finish you had at the season-opening race at Houston put you back on your heels straight away?
ET: It did. Yeah, round one there was just a bad result, so that was a big hole. And then it was a quick rebound for me in the second race (Note: Tomac won Houston II), but that first round, yeah, that was no good. I don’t know… I was off a little bit on the bike set-up and then unfortunately I paid the price for it. You’re always searching for more and then trying to find better things, and sometimes it just doesn’t work out, and you don’t know until you go racing.
Q: Indianapolis III and the two following Orlando races were also a bit rough for you as you had to come back from slower starts and charge back towards the front to try and make it into the top five.
ET: I almost think starts were even more critical this season, and I wasn’t quite there in that elite pack early on in some of those races. The races I started more up front in, it was fine. If it was behind and I got off to a slower start, it was more difficult to go forward this year. I don’t know what to say or what to blame it on, but in the tighter stadiums I struggled getting to the front of the pack. That’s where with the bigger stadiums and the more space, I feel like it is easier to move around and make passes.
Q: The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship is set to start up over at Fox Raceway in Pala, California on May 29. I get the sense that you are going to come out charging to try and win that title.
ET: I hope so. That’s what I’m looking forward most to. I want to start off with a clean points slate and just move forward. With the Nationals you’ve got the time to make things happen and you’re not in such a time crunch. Even though the starts are critical in all of the motos, you’ve got time to forward. You’re eating a lot of dirt, but it’s just a different discipline, right? It’s a different physical effort. Supercross is a high heart rate effort, and with motocross you’ve just got to be able to grind it out and be tough. I like that aspect of it with the motocross. It also looks like we’re going to be able to go with more of a normal schedule. It’s a little bit different than it normally is, but it’s mostly back to normal, so I’m excited to get back to the rest of the normal races for the National series.
Q: You’re a three-time Lucas Oil Pro Motocross 450 champion. Can you win it again this summer?
ET: Oh, yeah. We are plenty capable of getting another win. There’s another championship and that’s the only thing we are shooting for at this point more than anything. We wouldn’t want anything less. The championship is our goal, and like I said, we’ll be plenty capable of going after that.
Q: I have to ask the question. Is Eli Tomac going to race for Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha in 2022?
ET: I can’t really talk about that right now, so no comment.