Photo by: Hoppenworld

“Cooksey’s Hard Truth” presented by Scott Sports is a weekly editorial written by Chris Cooksey. Chris will be diving in and out of controversial subjects and bringing you his hard truth about the racing and the riders from around the world of Supercross and Motocross.

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Last Saturday, the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship kicked off with Eli Tomac dominating with both speed and restraint. Eli has always been fast, but he struggles with knowing when to back down. There is strategy in riding enough to win while saving a little in the tank. Eli has claim to some of the most dominant race wins in the sport’s history. Unfortunately, the sport does not reward extra points for margin of victory. It’s finally time to give credit where credit is due.

Last Saturday, Eli demonstrated the same lightning speed from years before but only used it when necessary. Eli was patient and when he made a small mistake and tipped over he got up quickly, something he has had trouble doing in the past. He then dropped the hammer in order to catch up. Eli rode close to 5 seconds a lap faster than anyone else on the track. Apparently he wasn’t using 100% of his speed like in years before. This new maturity combined with his speed must instill fear into the hearts of his competition.

Can Eli Tomac keep it rolling at Glen Helen? Photo by: Justin Quinn

Before I go ahead and crown Eli the 2018 Champion, I need to see him repeat this maturity for a couple more weeks. Marvin Musquin gave it everything he had and believes he can beat Eli straight up. I don’t believe anyone can beat Eli straight up, but if Marvin can force Eli to ride at 100%, Eli has shown a tendency to make big mistakes. The guy I believe to be Eli’s biggest challenger is Ken Roczen. Ken is coming off some horrific injuries and looks like a shell of the rider we saw dominate this championship in 2016. Ken did show some glimpses last Saturday that lead me to believe he has the ability to get back to his championship form. Unfortunately for Ken, it will not be in 2018. He desperately needs to log some seat time and fully heal both of his hand/arm injuries. Ken might win some races, but not until near the end of the 2018 series.

Zsch Osborne fired the first shot in the 250MX class at Hangtown. Photo by: Justin Quinn

In the 250 class Zach Osborne’s riding style was beautifully violent. Watching him I can’t help but think he looks like a teenager running from the cops. Zach is constantly wide open and he moves to the front of the pack like his freedom depends on it. Zach is a seasoned veteran whose career almost ended in 2008 when he couldn’t get a ride in the United States. Zach took a ride in Europe in 2009 and spent 5 years there before receiving another opportunity in the United States. Zach rides like a guy who knows how fickle a racing career can be. Jeremy Martin looks to be the only rider set to challenge Zach in 2018. As a former two-time champion, Jeremy really wants to prove he can win a championship on a Honda (first 2 were on Yamaha). These two are set for some serious battles in 2018.

This is how the jump everyone is talking about looked back in 2016 (the last year Jody built it up). Look at the run up to it. Riders were clocked at as much as 65-70 mph and everyone we interviewed after the race that day said “never again”. It was scary for the 450 riders and everything the factory 250F’s had to get over it. Photo by: Hoppenworld

The second round of the series is at famed Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino, CA. Expect some drama before the gate drops as track designer Jody Weisel shows little regard for rider safety. I really have no idea what he is thinking. In 2016, he built a monstrous triple step up that riders hit at a near 80 mph. Luckily nobody was seriously hurt, but looks like he is taking another crack at possibly causing someone injury. These riders are truly world class and if they complain about the size of a jump, it’s not a little too big; it’s way too big! Jumping 150 plus feet these days is not unheard of for free riders, but in a pack or at the end of a grueling 30 minutes + 2 lap moto, it is asking for a catastrophic accident. Glen Helen has some of the most impressive natural landscape. These jumps are unnecessary, and while impressive, they are not worth possibly killing or paralyzing someone.

Video of the jump back in 2016. This is not MX

Big jumps are a part of motocross, but building giant spectacles for shock value is a short term marketing ploy. Even if whatever ridiculous jump on this year’s Glen Helen track actually works out, the need to go bigger the following year sets in. The event organizers are mortgaging the lives and futures of racers because they aren’t creative enough to build a successful marketing strategy that does not include death defying jumps. Big jumps are and will always be part of motocross racing, but this is stupid and I hope the riders take a stand. This sport is beyond dangerous without clowns building circus jumps to sell tickets.

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