What does Tomac's Supercross dominance mean for Pro Motocross?


With his fifth straight win, Tomac reached a new level of dominance.

Eli Tomac, 2022 Seattle Supercross.

The racing in Supercross has been - in general - great in 2022. Although Ken Roczen dominated the Anaheim opener in the 450SX class, the racing in 2022 has been defined by rivalries, close battles and tough moves. 

Seattle, though, was not like that. Instead of the close racing and Main Event-long battles we have become somewhat accustomed to this year, the Main Event in Seattle was a demonstration of pure dominance by Eli Tomac. 

Ordinarily, that would not be an especially objective thing to say, write or type. But it was genuinely the reality last Saturday night as the series headed back West for the first time since February’s Anaheim 3.

Eli Tomac led each of the 26 (yes, 26) laps in Saturday’s Seattle Main Event. His winning margin was eight seconds, but at times he had as much as 17 seconds between himself and Jason Anderson, who finished second. 

Justin Barcia kept the #3 Star Racing Yamaha rider honest for five or so minutes at the start of the race, remaining within two seconds of the championship leader. But a crash on lap 11 ended the #51 Troy Lee Designs GasGas rider’s hopes of making the podium.

Barcia crashed in the place where Tomac was making the most obvious part of his advantage. The 4-in jump over the table in the second rhythm lane was achievable by a total of five or six riders in the whole 450SX field. But only Tomac was able to clear it consistently. On the lap he crashed, Barcia was coming up slightly short, but more critically he landed on a Tuff Block. That meant there was no recovery for the #51, and he was in the end quite fortunate not to land harder on the next jump face. 

Barcia was already over five seconds behind Tomac when he crashed, but the #3’s advantage grew to over 13 seconds after the fall. 

Jason Anderson was content to go away from Seattle and into the week off with a podium after a difficult couple of weeks in Detroit and Indianapolis. He did not have the speed of Tomac, but the only rider who did at any point in the Main Event - Barcia - ended up crashing trying to keep that pace. 

Behind, Anderson had to worry about Marvin Musquin, who was blisteringly fast in the whole track, but painfully slow in the whoops. The #25 Red Bull KTM rider almost went down in the whoops on the first lap, but gathered it together, and in the end was able to benefit from Barcia’s crash, and hold off Malcolm Stewart behind, to take his second consecutive podium. 

It is currently difficult to understand - or possibly even accept - Eli Tomac’s current dominance. A year ago retirement seemed a genuine possibility, but in his current run of five consecutive wins, Tomac has surpassed Ricky Carmichael’s Daytona Supercross win record with six, and his 44th Supercross Main Event win at the weekend in Seattle brought him equal with Chad Reed in the all time winners list. 

Tomac now has 54 points in hand over Jason Anderson in second place in the standings, meaning the #3 could miss the next two races, in St. Louis and Atlanta, and still come back at least two points ahead of his nearest rival. 

After the race, Tomac said, “It was a perfect main event and another great weekend in Seattle. I got the holeshot and put in a big sprint early in the race. The track was really good for the first half and then really tough in the second half of the race.”

Tomac continued, “Once Justin (Barcia) made the mistake, I had a pretty nice lead so I was just able to maintain it and try and get through the track. It was just another unbelievable weekend for us and the team. We’ve got some great momentum and love what we have going on.”

If Tomac wins four of the remaining five races in 2022, he will level Ricky Carmichael on the all-time winners list with 48, and it is a legitimate, serious possibility. 

On the RacerX Seattle Review podcast, Jason Thomas said that Eli Tomac has no weaknesses. Ordinarily this would be exaggerative, and yet right now it is not. What 2019 was for Marc Marquez, 2022 - at least in Supercross - seems to be for Eli Tomac. 

The current Eli Tomac that we are seeing could be the greatest one we have ever seen. On Saturday, he exhibited a speed superiority over the rest of the field that he previously had only ever displayed in Supercross before his championship year in 2020. 

What Tomac has managed to do since his move to Star Racing Yamaha over the winter is marry the speed of his pre-championship-winning years with the consistency and calmness of 2020 and 2021. It has proved to be a lethal combination as far as the series - which is essentially dead with five races still to run - is concerned, and at this point you have to begin to worry if the Pro Motocross season will suffer the same, or similar, fate.

Historically, Tomac’s bread and butter has been Pro Motocross, compared to Supercross. The longer motos allowed him to recover from poorer starts, and the greater space on offer on a motocross track compared to a supercross track enabled him to exploit his aggressive riding style more effectively.

Now, Tomac’s starts are better than before, and he will be riding the same bike for the same team that Dylan Ferrandis won the 450MX title with last year in his debut premier class campaign.

Ferrandis was likely to be Tomac’s biggest rival for the Pro Motocross season, with Ken Roczen suffering from health issues that have curtailed his Supercross campaign; Jason Anderson - who has been Tomac’s biggest rival indoors in 2022 - generally suiting supercross more than motocross; and Chase Sexton continuing to suffer heavy crashes.

But, with Ferrandis getting hurt in Detroit and generally having a disappointing Supercross season, the Pro Motocross 450MX title almost seems like an open goal for the three-times champion at the moment.

It is genuinely hard to imagine how someone will beat Tomac for the remainder of the year. But, that is why they - excuse the cliche -  drop the gate, to find out. Anything can happen in racing - another cliche, but one that is definitely true. 

It is also true that it is going to take something miraculous to prevent Eli Tomac from winning the 2022 450SX title, but at this point it is perhaps worth remembering that the last time Supercross was in St. Louis, Ken Roczen won his first Supercross race since his 2017 accident. It is difficult to say what that really means in relation to 2022 Supercross- perhaps Malcolm Stewart will come out on top in two weeks; he has certainly been knocking on the door this year.

But it is something, which might make the point that, while the points situation is objectively dire, there is plenty of racing left in 2022 that might not make a difference to the overall outcome, but instead create individual moments which can be- not equally special, but special nonetheless. 

In fact, we have already seen it this year. The battle between Jason Anderson and Eli Tomac in Arlington’s third Main Event was one of the best of the season. They were evenly matched, and at the time embroiled in a title battle where any psychological advantage could pay significantly. The race meant absolutely nothing for the overall of that night’s Triple Crown event, which meant it had no bearing, really, on the championship. In fact, due to the way in which statistics are collected and kept for Triple Crowns - or rather, not collected or kept - that race pretty much does not exist. Yet, despite all of that it was a great race. 

A first 450SX win for Malcolm Stewart would also not make much difference to the outcome of the championship, it might not make a difference to the Pro Motocross championship, or next year’s Supercross championship. But it would make a difference on the night. Stewart has become one of the most popular riders in the series, and the night he wins his first 450SX Main Event will be changed dramatically by that. 

And that is what we are racing for for the rest of the 2022 450SX season; those individual, unexpected moments that you will not forget because of how they made you feel.