Another race in Salt Lake City and another big jump in points for Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac. Through three Monster Energy Supercross events inside a fan-less Rice-Eccles Stadium, Tomac has been dialed in. His 1-2-1 finishes in those races have seen his points lead grow from a mere three points coming into the final seven rounds to a full-race advantage of 26 points after Sunday’s triumphant ride in treacherous conditions.
With his seventh win of the season, combined with a 10th-place finish from main championship rival Ken Roczen, Tomac is now one step closer to hoisting that elusive Monster Energy Supercross World Championship. Never before has Tomac been in such control at this late point in a supercross season, and based on how well he’s ridden the past three races, he appears to be well on his way to protecting that now comfortable advantage.
Perhaps the most impressive element of Tomac’s rides in Salt Lake City have been the fact that he’s had to go to work each and every time. By no means have these results come easy. Tomac’s starts have left a lot to be desired thus far, but by sheer determination and unparalleled race speed, he’s been able to overcome essentially every obstacle he’s faced thus far. The Colorado native clearly looks at home in the higher elevation, and whether it’s been slick, dry and dusty, or rain-soaked and rutty, nothing has been able to prevent him from finding his way to the front.
On the flip side, it’s been a rapid decline for Roczen, which has contributed greatly to Tomac’s ability to build such a significant lead in the championship. After finishing third at the first race inside Rice-Eccles Stadium, Roczen has posted back-to-back finishes off the podium, including a season-worst 10th-place finish on Sunday in which he was lapped twice by Tomac. The Honda rider recently revealed breathing difficulties that seem to be attributed to an illness from this past winter, and now asthmatic symptoms are severely hampering his ability to sustain the speed that allowed him to go toe-to-toe with Tomac this entire season. The 23 point swing the past three races has by far been the most dramatic of the season, and it couldn’t have occurred at a more inopportune time for Roczen. In the face of his rival’s adversity, it’s been up to Tomac to capitalize on the opportunity that’s been presented, and he’s done exactly that.
In Roczen’s absence, reigning Monster Energy Supercross champion Cooper Webb has emerged as Tomac’s fiercest competitor. The KTM rider has been there every step of the way in Salt Lake City, virtually mirroring Tomac’s results with 2-1-2 finishes. Webb is one of the most tenacious riders in the 450SX Class, and his aggressive approach has actually worked in Tomac’s favor. In being forced to chase Webb, we’ve seen the absolute best out of Tomac. Like a greyhound chasing a rabbit, when Webb is out front Tomac finds another level, and to the benefit of those watching from home, we’ve had the chance to see some incredible battles the past two rounds.
Having a challenger should only benefit Tomac over the final four rounds. While he enjoys his most significant lead of the season, things can change in an instant in supercross, and Tomac still cannot afford to give up chunks of points to his competitors, whether it’s Roczen or Webb. The key to Tomac’s continued march towards the 450SX Class title will be to stay out of trouble and maintain the consistency he’s showcased thus far. A podium finish here on out will be unbeatable and given what we’ve seen thus far in Salt Lake City, a top-three finish for Tomac seems inevitable. However, he has certainly given himself some wiggle room should there be a misstep. Roczen will need to gain seven points a race in order to erase the deficit he currently faces to Tomac, while Webb would need to gain eight points a race. For reference, that kind of disparity between Tomac and Roczen or Webb has occurred just three times through 13 rounds and would be very unlikely to occur in succession over the final four races. In fact, seven points is the most Tomac has given up in any single event this season.
No matter how you slice it, Tomac is on a march to capture his long-sought-after Monster Energy Supercross title.