The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider took home the $1000,000 cash prize in Las Vegas.
By Hayden Gregory
Athletes converged in the City of Sin for the coveted Monster Energy Cup and the chance to win one million dollars. With three races set to run, the all star line-up were keen to get their engines firing in front of a jam packed Sam Boyd Stadium. As gates dropped on the opning moto, Blake Bagget rocketed into the lead scoring the holeshot ahead of Team HRC Honda’s Ken Roczen and Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey.
Baggett was placed under immediate threat and within the opening few turns Roczen had the lead. Eli Tomac joined the party passing Dungey before also making his way past Baggett. Roczen and Tomac were set for a race to the finish with both riders choosing to take the joker lane on lap nine.
The new Honda rider was able to hold on for victory in the opener just edging out Tomac and Dungey in third.
“It was a good first race with the HRC Honda Team, I’m happy with how the bike worked on the start and on the track,” said Roczen. “I’m looking forward to the rest of the night and seeing what we can do.”
Roczen started moto two where he left off the first, grabbing the holeshot ahead of Tomac, Reed, Dungey and Alessi. The defending champ began to pull away from the field and one million dollars began to look promising. A cruel twist of fate on lap seven however saw Roczen crash out, hitting the dirt hard and forcing him to withdraw from the race.
Tomac was the benefactor of the incident, taking over first place and cruising to victory in the second moto
“I came in with a little bit too much momentum on the start and it cost me the holeshot,” said Tomac. “It was unfortunate to see Ken [Roczen] go down, we laid down a quick pace early and yoyo’d each other back and forth.”
The third and final moto presented a number of riders the opportunity for the overall and it was Australia’s own Chad Reed who made his intentions known scoring the final holeshot of the day. Unfortunately, the Yamaha rider made a crucial mistake only moments into the race, handing Mike Alessi the race lead.
Roczen had recovered from his nasty crash in race two and was slowly gaining on Alessi before eventually making the leading pass on lap four. Marvin Musquin followed his lead as did teammate Ryan Dungey. Eli Tomac had made his way into fourth place and the overall became a battle between himself and Dungey.
The smallest mistake by Dungey on lap seven saw Tomac shoot by into third and the crowd was bought to its feet. Roczen continued to lead the race before taking the joker lane on lap nine. Both Dungey and Tomac waited until the very last lap to do the same and the Red Bull KTM rider was able to make one last ditch effort to recapture third.
Roczen won his second moto for the day ahead of Musquin and Dungey. The Honda HRC rider would be ruing his crash in moto two, as a DNF all but cost the German a shot at one million dollars.
Eli Tomac edged out Ryan Dungey by just a single point for the overall with a 2-1-4 scorecard, collecting $100,000 for his efforts. Marvin Musquin rounded out the overall podium in third.
“It was a crazy race and I did not make it easy on myself with a terrible start,” said Tomac. “I knew going into the race that I just needed to finish behind Ryan [Dungey] and I was able to catch up to him and have a good battle before settling on the last lap. I’m really happy with tonight’s performance and looking forward to the next season.”
Australian legend Chad Reed finished eighth overall aboard his Yamaha YZ450F.
Monster Energy Cup Class Results
1. Eli Tomac, Kawasaki (2-1-4)
2. Ryan Dungey, KTM (3-2-3)
3. Marvin Musquin, (4-3-2)
4. Cole Seely, Sherman, (6-5-6)
5. Mike Alessi, Honda (8-6-5)
6. Blake Baggett, KTM (5-7-9)
7. Ken Roczen, Honda (1-21-1)
8. Chad Reed, Yamaha (7-4-12)
9. Benny Bloss, KTM (9-8-7)
10. Vince Friese, Honda (11-12-8)