The 450MX title race is even tighter after the opening moto at High Point, as just one point now separates the top two riders heading into Moto 2.
Just when you think you've already seen it all this season, the racing at High Point started off with another curveball: a gate malfunction. With the 30-second card dropped and bike engines revved, everyone was set to go racing, but the gate failed to drop.
After a second false start, things finally got going on the third attempt, and Josh Grant narrowly took the holeshot over Blake Baggett, with Justin Bogle and Christian Craig among the riders close behind them. Eli Tomac quickly picked off a few riders to move into second, but then promptly went down and was shuffled to the back of the pack.
Meanwhile things didn't go much better for Marvin Musquin. The 450MX points leader found himself 13th after the first lap.
When things shuffled out on the opening lap, the top three were Grant, Craig and Dean Ferris. Ferris, currently leading the MX1 point standings in the Australian Motocross Nationals, came to the U.S. solely to race High Point on his own dime. Despite having a ride with Red Bull KTM in 2014, Ferris ultimately never raced outdoors that summer, so this is his Lucas Oil Pro Motocross debut.
Ferris got around Craig for second on the second lap, leaving Craig to battle Baggett for third. Baggett would get the spot on Lap 4.
Up front, Ferris closed in on Grant and made some fierce challenges about eight minutes into the race. Ferris made an aggressive move that nearly resulted in the two riders coming together and ultimately emerged with the lead.
Baggett then went to work on Grant and made the pass at the 10-minute mark. That set up a battle between Ferris and Baggett for the top spot. With about 18 minutes left, a minor mistake from Ferris allowed Baggett — who was turning faster laps — to get by him and pull away with the lead.
Backing up the smack talk he put down on the PulpMX Show after his Thunder Valley win, Baggett went on to take the moto victory by 22 seconds.
Baggett's moto win was his second consecutive one, ending a streak of five straight motos with different winners. If he replicates the result in Moto 2, he would become the first rider to win multiple 450 overalls this season.
Behind Baggett, Ferris was able to hold off Grant for second place, giving the Aussie an incredible result to kick off his Lucas Oil Pro Motocross debut.
Bogle, who turned heads by winning a moto last week, was riding in fourth for awhile but came together with Jason Anderson, putting both riders on the ground. That allowed Cooper Webb and Broc Tickle to move into the top five. Tickle caught fire in the closing laps, passing Webb for fourth, but was unable to chase down Grant.
Anderson ended up passing Webb for fifth, leaving Webb to take sixth. Bogle — who was clearly frustrated with Anderson after their collision — finished seventh. The top ten was rounded out by Weston Peick, Dean Wilson and Cole Seely.
Before the midway point, the top two in points — Musquin and Tomac — found each other on the track. But due to the events of the opening lap, it was a battle for 16th place. Tomac easily got around Musquin, who seemed off his game all day amid rumors that he may not be fully healthy. Tomac worked his way up to 12th, while Musquin, who got lapped during the course of the race, settled for 16th.
Due to those subpar performances, Baggett has taken over the points lead for now. He'll enter the second moto with a one-point edge over Musquin.
Craig had to pull off the track in the second half of the race and did not finish.
Moto 1 Results
1. Blake Baggett
2. Dean Ferris
3. Josh Grant
4. Broc Tickle
5. Jason Anderson
6. Cooper Webb
7. Justin Bogle
8. Weston Peick
9. Dean Wilson
10. Cole Seely
11. Fredrik Noren
12. Eli Tomac
13. Martin Davalos
14. Thomas Sipes
15. Dakota Alix
16. Marvin Musquin
17. John Short
18. Ronnie Stewart
19. Isaac Teasdale
20. Josh Mosiman
37. Christian Craig (DNF)