Analyzing Eli Tomac’s early season Motocross strugglesby Jack Gaffney June 11, 2021 0 comments
Two Nationals into this year’s AMA Pro Motocross season, Eli Tomac has had a disappointing start. The rider who had won three consecutive championships between 2017-2019 has yet to record a top-five moto finish. On top of simply not riding like a top-flight rider on the eye test. With that in mind, I felt a deep dive would be warranted to see if any personal frustrations were warranted as a fan.
Past Season’s Starts
To get a basis on what Tomac has typically done to open up the outdoor campaign, here are his average Moto results four motos into the last five seasons. In his opening year with Monster Energy Kawasaki, Tomac had a respectable average moto finish of 3.5 through four motos in 2016. He had back-to-back third overall finishes to start off, both of which were behind Ryan Dungey and Ken Roczen. In his first title year in 2017, Tomac averaged a moto finish of 5.75. This one is somewhat skewed as a 19th in the fourth moto of the year throws things off a bit. Tomac had won two of the first three motos that year and finished runner up in the third.
2018 would see Tomac win the opening four motos of the year. This statically was his best year in AMA Pro Motocross by a decent amount. Tomac had 16 Moto wins to go along with eight National Overall wins. In 2019, Tomac’s average slightly shoots up to 1.75. A fourth in the opening Moto of the season in Hangtown ruined what could have been a 4-0 start. The anomaly of the five years happens in 2020. Tomac had a brutal run at Loretta Lynn’s averaging a 10.5 in four motos there with a 24th being his lowlight. Adding this five-year average starts together gives Tomac an average of an average Moto finish of 4.5. With some off performances here and there, this feels about right where it should be. Now for Tomac’s current start.
To open up a few weeks ago in Pala, Tomac ended up having a less than stellar start in Moto 1. Officially scored at but ended up getting up to eight in the early goings. From there, he hung in the eighth spot for a rather long stretch of time. He was unable to show the pace needed to keep up with Justin Barcia ahead of him in seventh. Then Marvin Musquin was able to get by him in the closing stages of the Moto to put Tomac back in ninth, where he would end up finishing. At face value, you can live with that finish in this 450 class with the ludicrous amount of depth. However, hanging around the back end of the top ten then losing the position you had most of the race in the last five minutes is less than ideal.
Tomac once again had a bad start in Moto 2 on the day, officially scoring 12th at the holeshot line. However, on the video, it appears it was actually around 17th. He was able to get himself to eighth in that second Moto. The frustrating thing here is that Chase Sexton, who came across the holeshot line in dead last, only finished two spots back of Tomac. I get that not every rider Sexton had to pass was on his level, but Sexton also was faster than Tomac the entire moto. Via the AMA PDF results archive, Sexton was on average a tenth of a second faster per lap. Not to mention Sexton had three laps that were better than Tomac’s best.
Tomac in his home state of Colorado would look to get back to form. However, that would most certainly not be the case. Tomac would actually take a bad start and rally up to sixth place about halfway into the opening moto. After that, though he would hit a wall, squandering a chance at a top-five finish, to finishing outside of the top ten. Beyond frustrating. Looking at his lap times, Tomac averaged around a 2:13.9 second lap which based on riders ahead of him by this point was good but not great. That average would take a freefall in the second half, averaging an average lap of 2:17.6 seconds. No clue as to what caused that colossal free fall in Tomac’s lap times but that’s not great in any case.
Moto 2 would then be more of the same. Despite what was an exceptional start, Tomac almost instantly slid back outside of the top ten. Proceeding to camp out around the 11th spot in the early goings. From there, Tomac was close to a non-factor as he has ever been on a 450. Finishing in 10th place that in all honesty, is way worse than it looks on paper. This would get him a 10th on the day As of this moment, Tomac sits in an objectively dismal 10th in points to boot.
The problem here is not that Tomac is failing to win Motos and overalls. This 450 class is stacked to the gills and the number of riders who can win is probably in the double digits. He probably will have some off motos and that is perfectly acceptable. The problem is that Tomac, who can be considered one of the best motocross riders on the planet over the last five years, is nowhere near riding like so. He is struggling to maintain top ten’s right now, let alone trying to win races.
The baseless accusations of Kawasaki purposely giving him bad equipment from fans as of late are so off base they warrant no mention. What does however is that Tomac absolutely should be better than where he is at currently. A rider of his caliber currently sitting tenth in points, accident-free, is quite frankly unacceptable. He is absolutely riding like he has one foot out the door to Yamaha from the looks of it. I would like to think that he and Kawasaki do not want to end their run like this.
Not like the ask here is for Tomac to finish out this season 20-0 by any stretch. But based on his riding these last number of years, competing for wins and podiums should not be an earth-moving ask. Tomac now looks puts this horrendous start to the 2021 outdoor campaign after this weekend break. Most of the tracks remaining on this year’s schedule, Tomac has been exceptionally well at historically speaking. Namely Southwick, Washougal, Budds Creek, Ironman, and Hangtown. Tomac has a combined 11 Overall wins at those tracks since 2016. So in short, there is a reason for cautious optimism here. But any change has to begin next weekend at High Point in Pennsylvania.
Follow Jack Gaffney on Twitter @JackGaffneyPTST
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images