In the Seattle, the theme of the night was mud. The rain started first thing in the morning and besides a few brief moments, it never let up. Monster Energy / Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac wasn’t blazing fast in qualifying—finishing 5th fastest—but that all changed in the heat race with Eli setting a lap time eight-seconds faster than anyone and winning his heat by a massive 39-seconds.
In the main event, Eli started behind Jason Anderson and Marvin Musquin, and it was quickly obvious that El Hombre wanted this win badly. While Tomac went back and forth with Marvin and made quite a few mistakes in the process, the #21 got away up front. Tomac secured second on lap three, but he was nine seconds back and had his work cut out for him with the race being cut to just 12 minutes. On lap six, though, Jason made a huge mistake and handed the lead and the eventual win over to Eli.
Eli recorded the sixth win of his 2018 season in Seattle and the 19th win of his 450 career. The win pulled him up to tied for 10th on the all-time premier class wins list and tied him for 1st with Damon Bradshaw for riders with the most main event wins without ever winning a title. That’s a list nobody wants to be on top of, but with Eli trailing Jason Anderson by a massive 68 points, the #3 will likely end 2018 in sole possession of that record. Fortunately for Eli, he is only 25 years-old, and if he does not win it this year, he will for sure come into 2019 once again as the odds-on favorite.
Eli, win number six. Congrats. This was a weird one with the weather. You talked a little in the press conference about how you guys sort of expected to be doubling and tripling some things, but it just wasn’t possible. What was so different about tonight’s mud?
It was just really heavy and made us go slow. It made the best guys in Supercross look like we have been riding for a couple of days. (laughs) It was just a slow and heavy dirt, and the ruts were so deep that we were dragging our pegs and couldn’t get any momentum. It was one of those that we were just slow. (laughs)
Talk a little bit about having just one, 10-minute practice session today to try and get acclimated to this slop.
Yeah, it’s tough. For this condition, it was actually okay. This obviously would be the only condition where you would have ten minutes, but I think it’s crazy how quick we have to learn them every other weekend anyway. When you only have ten minutes, you’re like, “Man!” And we had to make it count because that was the only qualifying time for your gate pick. It’s something you gotta be ready for right away.
Was it more about figuring out the soil than it was setting a fast lap, just because it was so different?
Yeah, there were a few areas where you could get sucked into the big main line, so for me it was trying to find a couple main lines here and there that would keep you out of the main rut.
You weren’t noticeably better than any of the top guys in qualifying, but in the heat race you looked a lot more aggressive than anyone right away. You probably felt like a goon at times, but when you watch the tape you’ll see how much more aggressive you were than others. Did you just feel a little more comfortable in the main?
It was just moving out of that main line in a few spots. Maybe on 75% of the track I used the main line, but those couple areas that I moved out is where I was able to get good momentum. Just being relaxed and picking a couple different lines.
Did you ever even think about the finish line double or any of the bigger stuff like that?
No, that was gone. That wasn’t even on my mind. (laughs)
Jason went down and handed you the lead about half way through the shortened main event. Before that happened, did you feel like you had the pace to catch him? You had cut into the lead about three seconds—cutting it to about six seconds—just before his mistake. To be fair, you were catching him.
(laughs) That’s so much speculation, you know. I probably would have been pushing a little bit harder if he didn’t go down. He was pushing and slid out there, but you never know. It could have been close. I could have stayed there. It’s a mud race, so you never know.
Well, you have six wins now in just 13 rounds. If anyone told you at the beginning of the year, “Eli, you’ll have six wins at Seattle, but you will unfortunately be in third, 68 points behind the leader,” what would you have said to that?
Ah! It’s almost a rewind of last year, but I’m even further back in the points. It’s nothing I ever want to do again. It’s great we’re getting wins, but it’s part of the game. It’s my fault, though. I crashed at Anaheim 1—injured myself—and you can’t do that in this series.
Here’s more speculation. There are four races left. Can you win out and get that ten win mark? (laughs)
(laughs) Anything is possible. Good starts and no crashing, it’s possible.
Photos by: Octopi