Daytona Supercross Race Report 2016

Eli Tomac and Jeremy Martin use their motocross skills to take their first wins of the season at the Daytona Supercross by Honda, round nine of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series held at Daytona International Speedway.

The start at Daytona, Daytona Supercross 2016
The start was super critical at this year’s event in Daytona, and here Ryan Dungey (1) has the edge over Eli Tomac (3), however, Tomac would exit this turn with the lead, and eventually the win.Photo By Shan Moore

Eli Tomac looked every bit the rider who ran away with the first few rounds of the Pro Motocross Championships in 2015, as he claimed a flag-to-flag victory at this weekend’s Daytona Supercross by Honda. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider rode to his first win of the season on a sandy course that came more closely resembling an outdoor track than a supercross course.

Tomac was aggressive from the get-go, as he earned the fastest time in qualifying and then took a six-second win in his heat race over series points leader Ryan Dungey, the same rider who would push him all the way to the finish in the main event.

In fact, Dungey got the jump on Tomac at the start, but Tomac was having nothing of it and forced his way into the lead in turn three while Dungey seemed unable to do anything about it.

Eli Tomac, Daytona Supercross 2016
Eli Tomac claimed his first-ever win at Daytona and only the fourth SX win of his career.Photo By Shan Moore

Dungey kept Tomac honest for the remainder of the race, staying one to three seconds behind the Kawasaki rider, but never got close enough to attempt a pass. At the finish, Tomac was just over two seconds ahead of Dungey when he crossed the finish line.

“Today the start was super key, just the way that it fell in there through the chicane after the first turn,” said Tomac. “The day kind of started with qualifying, because that’s how important the start was. It was a good thing for us that we came out on the pole there. That led to a good heat race start and to a good main event start going into the race itself. It wasn’t the roughest Daytona track I’ve seen but you still had to pick your lines and jump over some bumps here and there and just stay clean the whole time. But for me and the team, this was huge. Obviously this year we’ve been a little bit down in the dumps. Hopefully this is a little bit of a change of wind for us and we’ll see what we can do the rest of the season.”

Ryan Dungey, Daytona Supercross 2016
Ryan Dungey was in position to capitalize if Tomac faltered, but the opportunity never came.Photo By Shan Moore

For Dungey, the race was very similar to the one in Arlington, when he had the lead initially but lost it to Ken Roczen. In Arlington, Dungey pushed Roczen for the entire race but was not quite able to get close enough to make a pass, just like the race in Daytona. However, the series points leader didn't seem too upset about it during the press conference.

“Overall it was a good race and if I have to get second, it was a good battle and it’s not too bad either. Just keep building,” Dungey said after the race. “I had the inside line covered and then Eli kind of snuck around there by the second or third corner and made the pass. Obviously, that start was really key so I tried to focus on it. I knew he was going to be strong so I tried to obviously get behind and then tow in with him. I let the race kind of settle in a little bit and then tried to just put the pressure on.”

“Obviously I made a few mistakes and he got away,” added Dungey. “It never was super close. I never was to the point where I probably could have made a pass, but it was right there. The track was tough to pass on tonight, and that’s no excuses. But where we were at in the heat race and then we made a few changes, I was definitely happy with the performance more in the main event. Obviously Eli was a little bit faster than us in the heat. Then in the main event it was good to know we were right there on him. There were a few corners before the dragon back where he went wide and maybe if I was close enough… But like I said earlier, when he’s going that pace it’s very tough to get on the inside. So he had his bases covered tonight.”

Marvin Musquin, Daytona Supercross 2016
Marvin Musquin grabbed his second podium finish in a row.Photos By Shan Moore

After nearly getting his first main event win in Atlanta, Marvin Musquin looked fully capable of taking down the main event in Daytona after claiming an impressive heat race win. But as both Tomac and Dungey had pointed out, the start was oh so important and Musquin exited the first turn in third and stayed there the entire race.

“The goal today was obviously to win,” said Musquin. “When I saw what I was capable of to doing last weekend, obviously I was trying to win today. I knew it was going to be difficult. But obviously, the start is really, really important. To be able to win the heat race for the first time for me it was nice today because it gave me second gate pick. And obviously I can get a good jump and I was still inside. I was still fourth or third. It was the key to be inside on the start. And then I was obviously trying to follow those guys. They were going pretty fast. Like they said it was not very rough but still it was difficult to push, I felt like. You had to be smooth and hit the lines. It was real easy to make some mistakes and then when got around 15 laps they kept pushing, pushing and I just tried to keep it safe. To be third tonight is big for me.”

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Jason Anderson battled briefly with N-Fab/Toyota/JGR Yamaha’s Phil Nicoletti before taking over the fourth position. Anderson has been the king of fourth place in 2016 and added his fourth such showing in Daytona.

Ken Roczen, Daytona Supercross 2016
Ken Roczen (94) chases Davi Millsaps (18) in the main, while Trey Canard (41) and Josh Grant (33) pursue.Photos By Shan Moore

Ken Roczen suffered another bad start and had to work his way up the order, something that was difficult on the tighter-than-normal, hard-to-pass-on Daytona course. The RCH/Soaring Eagle/Jimmy Johns/Suzuki rider eventually landed in fifth.

Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart didn’t even make one lap in his heat when he looped out in the whoops and landed on his tailbone. No word on his condition, but stay tuned!

Kudos to Josh Grant, who rode a privateer Suzuki (one that he personally drove out from California in his van) to a solid and impressive seventh place.

When all was said and done, Dungey left Daytona with a 39-point lead in the standings over Roczen. Interestingly, all 6 manufacturers are represented in the top six of the series standings: KTM, Suzuki, Husqvarna, Kawasaki, Honda, Yamaha (Dungey, Roczen, Anderson, Tomac, Seely, Reed)

Jeremy Martin, Daytona Supercross 2016
Jeremy Martin relied on his fitness and speed to claim his first win of the season.Photos By Shan Moore

East Regional 250SX Class

The 250 race might have been the best racing we’ve seen all year, with Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Jeremy Martin dogging GEICO Honda’s Malcolm Stewart for 12 laps before Martin’s superior fitness kicked in.

Martin was relentless in his pursuit of Stewart in the final, though it was obvious he was getting frustrated with the lack of passing opportunities on the track. The fierce battle between the two front-runners allowed Troy Lee Designs Red Bull KTM’s Justin Hill to move into striking distance, joining Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Martin Davalos, Martin and Stewart in a four-way battle for the lead.

Martin passed Stewart for the lead on lap 13, with Hill also passing Stewart two laps later. Finally, Stewart stalled his engine with two turns remaining in the race and relinquished third place to Martin Davalos.

At the finish, the order was Martin, Hill, Davalos and Stewart.

The win was Martin’s first of the year, and we’ll have to wait until Toronto to see if it came because of the nature of the Daytona track, or if it was because Martin has finally arrived on the “Supercross” scene.

RESULTS 450 Class

  1. Eli Tomac (Kaw)

  2. Ryan Dungey (KTM)

  3. Marvin Musquin (KTM)

  4. Jason Anderson (Hsq)

  5. Ken Roczen (Suz)

  6. Trey Canard (Hon)

  7. Josh Grant (Suz)

  8. Christophe Pourcel (Hsq)

  9. Justin Brayton (KTM)

  10. Cole Seely (Hon)

East Regional 250SX

  1. Jeremy Martin (Yam)

  2. Justin Hill (KTM)

  3. Martin Davalos (Hsq)

  4. Malcolm Stewart (Hon)

  5. Aaron Plessinger (Yam)

  6. Arnaud Tonus (Kaw)

  7. RJ Hampshire (Hon)

  8. Jesse Wentland (Hon)

  9. Tyler Bowers (Kaw)

  10. Shane Mcelrath (KTM)