Looking to tomorrow’s showdown at Fox Raceway in heat-soaked Pala, California, Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Eli Tomac is planning on stringing together a much better race day than the 7-4 outing he posted up at the season-opening round at Fox Raceway last May.
“If you take away my first race there this season, I’ve had pretty good success there,” Tomac pointed out this week. “What happens is, I normally figure out my motorcycle like two or three rounds into the series. So, I’m going to be in a much better spot this time out. Obviously, I hope to do better than like 10th or whatever the heck I got there. I know I’m going to do better.”
After something of an erratic shove off to his Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship mission, at round four of the series at High Point Raceway, Tomac went out and won the second moto, and from there, went on an eight-moto win streak. After wrestling the points lead away from Chase Sexton along the way, the two racers have been caught up in a thrilling, moto-by-moto cage fight. So much so that there has been talk that the 29 year-old and 22 year-old have actually redefined the speed, tenacity and straight-up skill it takes to win an AMA Pro Racing motocross title.
“I feel like it has been that way this year,” nodded Eli Tomac, agreeing that both he and Sexton have taken the game to another level in 2022. “We’ve been the strongest guys in the field. It has been fun doing it. I mean if you look at the season, we’ve just been going back and forth, back-and-forth. I’ve never been in a championship like this, so it’s been fun and enjoyable and we’ve both raced each other well and I think we’re both pretty respectful around each other. I think it’s going to come down to what we said, may the best man win this last race.”
Bounce off the satellites and take an electronic trip to any one of the motocross websites and chat rooms the world over and you’ll come across a hell of a lot of chatter centering upon Tomac, Sexton and the showdown at Pala. Tomac has picked up on all of this.
“Yeah, the fans are pumped up and I guess it is because a lot of the time with these different racing series, they’re over, say, only halfway through,” explained Tomac of the high drama cloaked around Fox Raceway. “You know there is a runaway guy and this year that hasn’t been the case at all. If you were a fan and sitting back and watching, I could only imagine how exciting all of this would be. But for us racers, you want that final position. Obviously, neither one of us is backing down now.”
Interestingly, when it comes time to get on 450cc factory motocross bikes and racing them in anger, Eli Tomac sees a bit of himself in Sexton.
“I feel like if you look at his rising technique and look at the way Chase rides the 450, he is obviously on an upward trajectory in the 450 class. He’s even elevated my game this season and I think I’ve done the same with him and I almost feel like we have similar riding styles too. We’re both not overly animated and I also feel that we both are really strong on our bikes too and I would say that we both have more of a powerful riding style, you know?
After 358 laps run by each racer thus far in the 450MX championship tussle, Sexton has led 129 laps on his Honda while Tomac has run out front 138 laps aboard his Yamaha. According to Tomac, come the drop of the gate for moto one on Saturday, it’s going to take everything both riders and their 450cc motorcycles have to come out on top on Saturday.
“Yeah it’ll take everything,” said Tomac. “That’s the way that I see it, you know? And with the heat, that’s going to be the biggest thing for us. Looking back to round one where I went 7-4, I mean that was my first outdoor race on Yamaha and you never really know you are at with everything until you go racing. You just ride the bike as well as you can in the pre-season, but in racing situations you really start to learn. Thankfully, I was there to capitalize and get it in the right direction after round one. I’m going to have a totally different feeling at Pala this time around and I hate putting any blame on the motorcycle. It was my fault for going in a certain direction at that first race. Yeah, this time out at Pala should be a much better feeling for me than the first race there.”
It all seems something akin to a heavyweight title fight — and Tomac gets a kick out of seeing it all this way.
“It is like that,” he said, very much in good spirits about the task at hand. “It’s fun. I mean I just don’t want to back down, that’s for sure! We’ve gotten this far and like I said, it’s been a great series and the competition has been great. There hasn’t been too much drama, you know? We’ve just been out there and racing each other and it’s now the end of the season. I mean, in my head, I only have one option and that’s to beat Chase, because we’re dead even. I have a one-point advantage. If I do what I did last week at Ironman, I can still win it with a 1-2, or a 2-1. In my head, though, you have to go out and win, period. There is no room for backing down and no room for error. That’s both of our situations on Saturday.”