Title chases heat up heading in to Oakland for Round 5


2/3/2017

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Round 4 last weekend in Arizona was a big one. Many significant things happened, but the most exciting thing was probably seeing many riders come alive with speed, aggression, and starts that we haven't seen from then before. As a result the points race tightening up in both classes and the stage being set for an important weekend for many riders in Oakland this weekend.

            Speaking of improving starts, Eli Tomac had a great performance in Phoenix, as it's safe to say he annihilated the competition. At one point he had a lead of 17 seconds over second place Seely, but backed it down just a notch towards the end to take the win by a huge margin over Chad Reed.


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.Yes, that's right! -- Chad Reed. After a battle royale with Seely and Dungey, the wiley veteran Reed got around them both and stayed there to take second place at the checkers. It was an incredible battle that lasted several laps and had the crowd in the stands and at home, off their seats.

            After the race, Reed said he'd finally gotten the go-ahead to make a few key changes to his factory YZ450F and this incredibly battle and second place finish was the result. With confidence being a key component in his racing, Reed's at an all-time high as we head into Oakland. The rainy forecast for the weekend must literally have Reed on cloud 9 (or 22), as history shows he's done pretty well for himself in the mud.


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Both breaking out for another great ride were Davi Millsaps and Blake Baggett. Each have been making a mark the last couple of weekends. Millsaps was definitely on fire, winning another stacked heat race and riding his bike way all the way to the fifth position -- and knocking on Seely's door for fourth -- by the end of the race. 


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Seely, with a good start, has the speed and tenacity to hang with just about anyone for most of a main event. The fact he was caught by the Reed/Dungey freight train must've been a tough pill to swallow, as it put him just out of a podium position.

            Also really coming alive lately, Seely has just about everything he needs to get there and maybe - with the right circumstances - could pull off a win this weekend. And expected muddy or slick track could be the wildcard he may have been waiting for.


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Justin Hill made has now taken two wins in the last two rounds, tying him with points leader McElrath who also has two wins this season.

            Hill and his buddy McElrath are clearly the front-runners in a deep and talented pack of 250SX West Regional racers, and it won't be a surprise this weekend when they make their way to the front and battle it out again - rain or no rain.


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Finally breaking out for a 250SX main event podium finish was rookie Austin Forkner. Forkner looked fast but maybe not as consistently as the top two -- Hill and McElrath -- but he certainly is gaining speed from earlier in the year. Being a mid-westerner, he may be better suited for the possibly muddy conditions in Oakland this weekend, but let's not forget that he's literally never been to any of these stadiums before, so it's a new experience for him every weekend.

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The inevitable injury list grows each week, this time including multi-time outdoor motocross champ Jeremy Martin. After a run-in during practice that left him with a light concussion, Martin has chosen to skip this weekend's round in an effort to better prepare for Arlington the following weekend.

            Also joining the injury list is 450SX front-runner Weston Peick, who had a crash in practice and will be missing Oakland as a result.

 


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The track is built and ready to go, all covered up to shed the rain as a storm system heads through the Bay Area.

            At some point though, the plastic has to come off and how much water hits the surface is anyone's guess. Mud race? Maybe. Or could it just be slick? It seems likely that the conditions will be unpredictable, just like this race, so you won't want to miss out.

 

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