Swizcorner "Pick it up where you left off"
By:
swizcore

The Hangtown opener was a kickoff straight out of Hell.

Lead Photo By: James Lissimore
 
Looking purely at the winners of the Hangtown Motocross series opener, you’d think we’d walked right out of Vegas and little had changed. Of course, Zach Osborne did not win in Vegas but we all know his chest was puffed up and the alpha dog of the 250 class was clearly the 16 on the Husqvarna. Likewise in the 450 class in Vegas, Eli Tomac didn’t win either but everybody (well, everybody except apparently Jeff Emig) was quite obviously keen to the fact that Eli Tomac was employing his “bunching” strategy. And just like the majority of the 2017 Supercross series, ET3 was the cream of the crop.
 

Long gone are the days of Hangtown being a rock hard, Carlsbad-esque track where dust was the only thing which rivaled the concrete-like square edged chop. In the years of late, the track has been ripped deep, watered heavily and early with the typical foreign soils and treatments brought in to help work a base in that is a little more TV and spectator friendly. What we end up with is a naturally hard base fighting against all of the artificial treatments and just baking in the heat and California sun. This means an insanely rough and rutted track which returns to it’s hard as granite form by midday and leaves the racers wishing they still ran a kidney belt.

 
Zach Osborne made the ultimate scoreboard move in Vegas on Joey Savatgy. Although only Savatgy felt the physical effects of Zach’s obliterating pass, it has affected everyone in the class mentally. Everyone and I mean EVERYONE knows how purposefully committed Zach Osborne is to winning now. He’s an inspired veteran who’s battled through plenty of heartbreak over the years and is now as confident as he has ever been that he has the speed, conditioning and finally CONFIDENCE to get it done so long as his machine is able to propel him forward. The 1-1 performance by Zach was both an easily reached conclusion and an impressive surprise. 
 
Multi-time class champ Jeremy Martin has an uncanny way to navigate a track in ways just about no one else does. He finds smooth paths and uses them, often far outside of where any other rider would dream of venturing for fear of losing tough with those ahead of him. But Jeremy does this regularly and not only avoids the gut-pounding chop but reels in leaders and moves forward until the checkers fly. Jeremy suffered a mechanical in moto 1 at Hangtown but don’t you worry, he’s the same outdoor rabid dog we’ve seen before and he will make the rest of the class look silly as he has before. As bad as his Supercross series’ have been, he’s still THE guy outdoors.
 
Austin Forkner really impressed me as well. He had bike issues in Moto 1 but in Moto 2 we saw him very closely resemble the Austin Forkner of the 2016 Nationals. His Supercross series was supposed to be his stronger format, which said a lot coming from a super impressive 2016 National series but here were are back at the Nationals for year 2 and it would appear the learning curve for Austin is just a little easier to crest outdoors… even in the blistering heat.
 
Alex Martin and Adam Cianciarulo are the two other guys I expect to snatch Moto wins and and be in the hunt for this 250 class title all year long. Alex went a quiet 4-4 for 2nd overall and although he tied with Aaron Plessinger, I’m not exactly sure what it is but Aaron looks to be a tad underprepared for the grueling outdoor campaign at this point. Adam pulled great starts and rode soundly to 4th overall. Adam has now survived a full outdoor campaign and a full regional SX series, so we are officially at “contention-time”. We’ve all taken notice of Adam’s “reel it in a bit and survive the series”, approach in the last year. I’m sure he’s learned some valuable lessons over that time and now it is time to put those lesson’s to use while at the same time, ramping back up to ludicrous speed. He’s a bigger dude now by quite a bit so, getting that larger frame back into balls out speed-mode could take a little longer than before when he weighed 110lbs soaking wet. He’ll get it.
 
In the 405 class we saw pretty much what we had expected… you know, Josh Grant running up front all day.
 
Oh, you DIDN’T expect that?!! It is really impressive to see Josh still has it after a stretch of health in his rearview mirror. Hangtown hasn’t necessarily bee n a great track for Josh (though he lead there for a long while at his pro debut) but he looked great on a gnarly track and in truly grueling temperatures. Next week in Glen Helen I’d expect more but just as you know what they say about “assuming”, it’s a cautious optimism.
 
With the fresh retirement of Ryan Dungey, there was a collective sigh throughout the fan bench racing discussions of the inevitability of an Eli Tomac sleeper-series. Perhaps not an outright sweep of 24-0 but regardless of how you do it, he’s currently on pace to do so. He was one other time in the past though and we know how that turned out so let’s just keep the expectations bridled a bit shall we?
 
Marvin Musquin has clearly grabbed the reigns of top dog at KTM and happily snapped them into action. I’m not sure if anyone anticipated Marvin actually giving Eli some of the business as he reeled him in and attempted to pass, but he did. I didn’t see anything wrong with any of Marvin’s decisions on the track as Eli was attempting to get by. If Marvin keeps getting good starts, this could be a surprisingly competitive 450 title fight with the guy who pretty much everyone had already given the crown to when Dungey retired.
 
Oh that dreaded heavy crown rears it’s head again.
 
On to the Helen’s of GLEN!
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