Beast Mode: Eli Tomac
Colorado’s Eli Tomac charges into the 2018 Monster Energy Supercross Championship as arguably the man to beat. The Monster Energy Kawasaki pilot blasted to nine main event wins in 2017 and narrowly missed out on the title by a scant five points to the recently retired Ryan Dungey.
Eli got off to an inauspicious start to his 2017 campaign with finishes of 5th, 6th and 8th respectively. Many expected more after Tomac had become the 2016 Monster Energy Cup Champion and came into the 2017 with a lot of promise. Just as the negative speculation began to gain some noise, the tour hit round four in Glendale and the No. 3 Kawasaki simply dominated. Eli won by over 15 seconds and raised the eyebrows of the entire industry! What changed? In the post-race press conference, Eli claimed that his team had found a couple small things on the bike, but, other than that, he said that things had simply began to “click.”
Tomac would back up the Glendale victory with a second win in Oakland, where he stormed through the pack. With the train apparently on the tracks, all eyes were on Eli the following week in Arlington, where he would suffer a mechanical misfortune. Either through contact with another racer or some other form of collision, he bent his front brake and was forced to make a visit to the pit area for assistance. The end result was a dismal 15th place finish and in one fell swoop, Tomac dropped to 4th in the standings, 29 markers behind the ever-consistent Ryan Dungey.
That’s when “Beast Mode” took over and Eli began winning races by the bunches, including a span of five in a row. The high water mark was a rampage through the pack in Salt Lake City, where Tomac made up over 10 seconds on race leader Dungey, passed him, then pulled out an additional 10-second victory. The capacity crowd was left breathless and, with the red plates on his Kawasaki, the title appeared to be his for the taking.
However, it was not to be. Eli struggled in East Rutherford, crashing out of winning contention and posting a painful 8th place finish.The result left Tomac in a hole he could not dig himself out of at the final round in Las Vegas and he came up just short. That said, you have to ask what would have happened if not for the mechanical problem in Arlington?
As mentioned, Dungey has retired and Eli Tomac should be the man who is ready to step in and win the title. Easier said than done with Marvin Musquin, Jason Anderson and the returning-from-injury Ken Roczen all aiming to beat him.
With the season opener at Anaheim only 31 days away, it will be interesting to see if Beast Mode will show up. Will Eli take some time to find his groove again, or will he be ready to strike first and strike hard? One thing is for certain, Mr. Tomac has proven that he can be the fastest man on the planet at any time and, if he produces better consistency, look out. This could very well be the season we see the quiet man from Colorado bring Monster Energy Kawasaki their 5th Supercross championship of this decade.