The 2014 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, has officially reached its halfway point. As the world's best riders gear up for six more thrilling rounds of action, legendary Budds Creek MX Park in Mechanicsville, Maryland, is preparing to celebrate 25 years as a round of the most prestigious motocross championship on the planet. The GEICO Motorcycle Budds Creek National, the seventh stop on the schedule, will commence on Saturday, July 12, to mark a quarter century of competition in Southern Maryland, in the shadow of our nation's capitol.
Live broadcast coverage from Budds Creek begins Saturday, July 12, at 1 p.m. ET with the first motos of the 450 and 250 Classes on MAVTV, followed by final moto coverage of both classes on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) at 3 p.m. ET.
Despite having to go head-to-head against a star-studded 450 Class loaded with veterans and a trio of former champions in Red Bull KTM's Ryan Dungey, Team Yoshimura Suzuki's James Stewart, and Discount Tire Racing/TwoTwo Motorsports' Chad Reed, Red Bull KTM rookie Ken Roczen has been the most consistent rider in the premier division by far through the first half of the season. No other competitor has been able to come close to matching Roczen's average finish of 1.58, which is highlighted by six moto wins, five moto runner-ups, and one third-place moto score, and his ability to respond to any challenge has been the hallmark of his success to this point.
Roczen (94) continues to put the pressure on his 450 Class rivals as the
second half of the season begins.
Photo: Simon Cudby / Racer X
When it appeared as though his closest challengers were possibly closing in, Roczen countered and now boasts a three-moto winning streak to go along with back-to-back overall victories. With four wins in six starts, the German has set a standard that will be hard for any of his rivals to live up to over the course of the next 12 motos, barring a major misstep from the former world champion. As a result of his second career 1-1 moto sweep last weekend at RedBud, Roczen now enjoys a points cushion that extends beyond one full moto (26 points), allowing for some wiggle room should he encounter any adversity.
The only rider to provide a constant threat to Roczen throughout the first half of the season is his Red Bull KTM counterpart Dungey. As the second winningest rider in series history, there isn't an active rider more familiar with success than Dungey, but even he has appeared frustrated at times in his inability to maintain the torrid pace of his teammate. While Dungey sits comfortably in second in the 450 Class standings, his continued attempts to bring his performance consistently to the level of his teammate have led to uncharacteristic mistakes and the loss of valuable points. While a 2.5 finishing average is still exceptional and would surely be good enough to win a title most of the time, Dungey still faces an uphill climb to catch his teammate atop the standings. In fact, Dungey has only outscored Roczen on two occasions this season, each as a result of a moto win.
While Roczen and Dungey continue to separate themselves from the pack, Team Honda Muscle Milk's Trey Canard further asserts his hold on third, while GEICO Honda's Eli Tomac continues to blossom just two rounds into his 450 Class career. After a third-place overall effort in his debut, Tomac took one step forward at RedBud to finish in the runner-up spot behind Roczen. While he isn't a title threat this season, Tomac has nothing to lose with the sole intention of winning from here on out. As a result, his significant role in the outcome of the title fight is undeniable and will constantly be a storyline for the remainder of the summer.
Dungey knows how to win at Budds Creek and could make a statement on Saturday.
Photo: Simon Cudby / Racer X
After his toughest outing of the season brought his closest 250 Class challengers within striking distance of the points lead, Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha's Jeremy Martin responded to the pressure by capturing his third overall win at RedBud. Martin was at his best on a day when his rivals experienced misfortune, which allowed him to regain valuable points and move back to nearly a full moto advantage (23 points) in the 250 Class standings.
Through the first 12 motos, three riders have proven they can win each time the gate drops and as a result, have distanced themselves from the rest of the division in the points. Martin has six moto wins to his credit this season, while his Yamalube/Star Racing teammate Cooper Webb has two, and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Blake Baggett has four. Collectively, this trio carries a 31-point lead over the rest of the field and appears to be the ones that will battle it out for the title.
While Martin's blazing 5-0 start to the season has been the biggest reason for his position atop the standings, he's handled the spotlight like a veteran, despite being in just his second season of competition. When it looked as though he might lose his grasp on the championship, he rebounded in impressive fashion. That elite level of riding has in turn led to even better performances by fellow sophomore Webb, who has won two of the last three motos after five runner-up finishes and outdueled his teammate for the first time this season in the second moto at RedBud. Webb has shown no intimidation to the task at hand and as a result the Star Yamaha tandem continues to flourish off one another.
Webb (front) and Martin (back) have been within sight of one another for the majority
of the first half of the season.
Photo: Simon Cudby / Racer X
While he may appear to be a lone solider in this fight, Baggett's near three seasons of additional experience and his 2012 title outweigh any advantage in the Yamaha camp. His Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki teammates Dean Wilson and Justin Hill happen to be two of the top riders in the 250 Class, which is motivation enough, while his desire to end the control Yamaha has had atop the points since the opening round has helped him take things to the next level. Despite having a DNF to his record this season, Baggett is in the thick of the championship and is potentially still the favorite thanks to his past experience.
While the championship picture appears to have taken shape, many other competitors in the 250 Class have risen to the occasion this season and will ultimately play a role in how the title fight unfolds. GEICO Honda's Justin Bogle is on the verge of a breakout ride, while Red Bull KTM's Marvin Musquin appears to be hitting his groove at a crucial time. Moreover, Valli Motorsports Yamaha veteran Christophe Pourcel is still surprisingly winless this season and the confidence in Rockstar Energy Racing's Jason Anderson is growing each week. A former champion in his own right, Wilson has nothing to lose after missing three rounds with an injury and would surely like to help his teammate win a title if it meant he could return to the top step of the podium. With six rounds and 24 motos remaining, the 250 Class is far from being decided.
Baggett could gain valuable ground in the 250 Class championship with
a third straight win at Budds Creek.
Photo: Simon Cudby / Racer X
Budds Creek has been an integral part of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship since 1989 and in turn has become one of the most renowned tracks in the world, allowing it to earn global recognition in hosting additional events like the 2007 Motocross of Nations. With its iconic mix of sand and clay, multiple elevation changes, and wide range of obstacles, Budds Creek is a fast, fluid, and fun track that will push any rider to his limits. Combine that with the hot, humid weather of the East Coast in the summer and you have the makings of one of the most challenging rounds in the championship. The winners of this race are a true who's who of motocross history as the best often rise to the occasion there.
Last year at Budds Creek, Dungey earned his second straight 450 Class victory at the track after a thrilling battle with Ryan Villopoto. In the past four years, Dungey boasts three wins in Mechanicsville, which bodes well in his hopes of slowing the momentum Roczen currently has. In the 250 Class, Baggett also emerged victorious for the second straight season for his lone overall win of the 2013 season. The Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team has won eight straight years as Budds Creek, something the rest of the 250 Class field will surely be aware of on Saturday afternoon.
Action for the GEICO Motorcycle Budds Creek National this Saturday, July 12, begins at 8:30 a.m. ET with timed practice. Opening ceremonies get underway at 12:25 p.m. ET, with the first gate drop scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET.
Previous Round Results
Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship
Red Bull RedBud National
RedBud MX - Buchanan, Michigan
July 5, 2014
Round 6 of 12
450 Class (Moto Finish)
450 Class Championship Standings
250 Class (Moto Finish)
250 Class Championship Standings
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