This last weekend kicked off the second half of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship Series with one of the most anticipated races of the year – RedBud. The last time we were racing a pro race at RedBud was in October for the Motocross des Nations, in what was one of the muddiest races in recent history. For Round 7 of the Pro Motocross Championship, although it was a hot one, it luckily didn’t get muddy. In typical RedBud fashion, however, fans came out in droves decked out in their red, white, and blue and were ready to party from sunup to sundown. If you’ve never experienced a RedBud in person, I’d add it to the bucket list. This is a race unlike any other and the fan energy is absolutely insane. Here’s a look at the 45th annual RedBud National and the top five most memorable moments in this rendition of the Fast Five Recap.
5. Dean Wilson Returns to Racing
The last time we saw Dean Wilson on the line was during Denver Supercross in April 2019. Wilson was running in 8th place on the 8th lap when he came up short on a rhythm section. In what was regarded as a freak mechanical issue, the bike took a nose dive and ended up pile driving Wilson straight to the ground. In the crash, Wilson sustained a shoulder injury and a contusion on his kidney. Wilson was expected to miss only the first couple rounds of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross, but his shoulder needed much more time to heal than initially thought. He was finally able to make his return at one of the most beloved races of the year, RedBud. The thing about returning to racing after an injury that is probably the most challenging is the fact that even if you’ve had the opportunity to regain your strength, endurance, and fitness, you’re missing seat time in an actual race scenario. There is so much that comes into play on the line and so many skills that can only be sharpened behind the gate with a full lineup of riders by your side. Wilson may not have gotten the best start in his first race back, finding himself all the way back in 33rd in Moto 1, but that didn’t stop him from putting up a fight and an extremely valiant effort. He would traverse through the pack making decisive passes that would allow him to finish in 12th in Moto 1. Even though the start may have been less than ideal, considering that Wilson made passes on 21 riders in his first gate drop since April, I’d say you can log that in the impressive column. DeanO would race hard for a 12-7 box score, leaving him with 9th on the day.
4. Adam Cianciarulo Penalized for Riding Off Track, but Still Finishes 2nd Overall
Adam Cianciarulo has been on a tear this season, racking up moto win after moto win. If he gets off the gate with a good start, good luck trying to catch him. And even when he doesn’t, good luck trying to catch him. His skilled riding has helped him build a 25 point lead in the championship hunt, even in an incredibly competitive field. In addition to being one of the fastest riders out there, Cianciarulo also has one of the highest rider IQs. He is an expert at making smart racing decisions that not only lead to well-executed passes, but also keeping himself and his fellow riders as safe as possible when things go awry. On the first lap of Moto 1, Cianciarulo came over a jump and nearly got tangled with the rider in front of him. To avoid a potentially dangerous collision, AC made the split second decision to veer to the left, which ultimately pushed him off the track. There was no immediate opening to return to the track and because it was the opening lap, the entire field of riders were zooming by at top speeds. AC kept up with the speed of traffic and re-entered the track as soon as it was safe to do so, without gaining any positions. In his mind, Cianciarulo didn’t break any rules because he entered the track when safe to do so, and didn’t gain any positions. However, the AMA saw it differently and ultimately penalized him two positions for the off-track excursion. In his podium interview, Cianciarulo noted that he was surprised by the penalty because while he understands that you cannot accelerate while off track and cause yourself to gain position, he also knows that trying to merge with the pack while not maintaining speed is like slowing down on a freeway onramp – far more dangerous than the choice he made. Even with the penalty and a final overall score of 5-2 on the day, this was still good enough to give Adam Cianciarulo a 2nd overall, maintaining his championship lead.
3. Marvin Musquin Finishes 7-1 for 3rd Overall
RedBud didn’t get off to the most ideal start for the Frenchman, Marvin Musquin. At the end of the first lap Musquin was logged in 21st – a place we rarely see him in. 21st is not where any championship contender wants to be on the first lap, but after logging the 1st place overall finish the week prior, this first moto start is even more of a gut punch. In a very unlikely crash, Marvin found himself trapped under his motorcycle during the early parts of lap one. Alpinestars Mobile Medical Unit team members and race officials attended to Musquin in a very timely manner and lifted his bike off him. Luckily he was uninjured and was able to regroup and rejoin the race. But from 21st place, that meant there was lots of work to be done throughout the rest of the 30-minute plus 2 lap moto. If anyone can be up to such a task, though, Marvin Musquin is definitely the rider who can navigate his way from the middle of the pack to an overall podium finish. In fact, once he made it back onto the bike, he was hands down the fastest rider on the track for the duration of the race. He managed to pass up through an impressive 7th place in the first moto. Marvin was able to put that first moto crash behind him and charge hard the moment the gate dropped in Moto 2. He wasted no time before finding his passing opportunities to move into the lead, where he quickly set sail. He finished the moto more than seven seconds ahead of the competition and his 7-1 box score was good enough for a 3rd overall.
2. Alex Martin Lives the Highs and Lows of Moto
They day was off to a great start for the #26 of Alex Martin with a holeshot in the first moto. We all know that A.Mart has more than enough speed and ability on a dirt bike, but it’s taken some time for him to really get comfortable on the Suzuki. While Martin had a great start at Hangtown, the dots haven’t fully connected the way we know is possible for the JGR rider. RedBud, however, was quickly turning into the breakout ride Martin has been has been searching for. Martin spent the majority of the moto in second and had even gapped 3rd place rider, Adam Cianciarulo, by more than 5 seconds at one point. But with 2 minutes + 2 laps to go, Alex Martin gave that look that no rider ever wants to give, that look that says “Oh crap, something is wrong with the bike”. He held on, pushing as hard as he could through the remaining laps while losing power rapidly. Three turns away from a podium finish and the bike just quit. A collective sigh of disappointment rippled through the crowd and A.Mart looked reasonably devastated. In the quick turn around between motos, his mechanic and the whole JGR team was able to get the bike up and running again in tip top shape. A.Mart was able to put the heartbreaking first moto behind him, regroup, and race Moto 2 as if it were a brand new day. Again, Martin launched immediately to the front of the pack and found his stride early. He rode another exceptional moto and was able to finish Moto 2 in 3rd place.
1. Dylan Ferrandis Finishes 1-1 for First Overall Win of 2019
Dylan Ferrandis is surprisingly likely still on people’s sleeper pick list, rather than on their championship contender list – which is odd considering he is one of the most consistent riders in the field as well as the current defending Supercross 250 champ. Ferrandis plotted his pass for the lead and never looked back. It seemed like every lap he was able to find speed on the very challenging RedBud track. The best thing about pulling away form the competition is that you only have to race in front of you. You are able to ride your own race without worrying about having to protect your line or race behind you. This allows you to stay loose and flow with the track. By the time the checkers flew in the first moto, Dylan Ferrandis had gapped 2nd place rider, RJ Hampshire, by more than 18 seconds. Ferrandis would score his 3rd moto win in the last five motos during Moto 1, and round it off to his 4th moto win in six motos with another top step finish in Moto 2. He started off in 3rd, but maneuvered his way to the front of the pack where he would finish the grueling moto in 1st place, nearly 8 seconds ahead of Adam Cianciarulo. Not only was this an exception ride for the Frenchman, but it also marked his first overall win of the season and his first 1-1 box score of his career.
Round 7 was definitely a wild one, as RedBud always is. Between the dedication to being the rowdiest fans of the series, the extremely technical and challenging track for the riders, and beautiful vistas throughout the course it’s no wonder that it is one of the favorite races of the season for fans, riders, and teams. The season continues next week in Spring Creek at Millville. Stay tuned!