Hard Truth: Tomac, Worst Teammate Ever?
As the 2021 Lucas Oil Motocross series defied the odds and completed an abbreviated series, it was anything but boring. As the unconventional series kicked off at Loretta Lynn's ranch, a track previously reserved for Amateur racing had a different feel. Don't get it wrong this series was every bit as prestigious as any other year, if not more prestigious. This year it took an incredibly strong personality to battle through the series of challenges, and the curveballs COVID-19 tossed everyone. Through it all, Dylan Ferrandis and Zach Osborne ended up champions, but it was no picnic.
(The title came down to Adam Cianciarulo and Zach Osborne, but Zach had help from Adam's teammate)
Three-time and defending champion Eli Tomac was the clear favorite, but he didn't have the same fire as previous seasons. On the other hand, the always resilient Zach Osborne fought through any obstacle and proved his mental toughness on the way to his championship. Unlike his closest competitor Adam Cianciarulo, Zach had reasonable teammates, unlike Adam, whose teammate(Eli) seemed more intent on beating him than anyone else on track and may have cost Adam the title.
Throughout Eli's entire career, he has been the top rider on his team, and clearly, his ego cannot stand to let Adam take the spotlight. For football fans, it's a similar situation to when Brett Farve treated Aaron Rodgers like shit. It was apparent during the last two rounds; Eli was not going to retain his title, and Adam was Kawasaki's only chance to keep the title. Had Eli not passed Adam in the second moto at Lakewood, AC probably wouldn't have made the mistake that allowed Zach to pass. This would have had Adam 14 points behind Zach heading into the final round. Then in the first moto at Pala, had Eli not pushed and aggressively attacked Adam in the first moto's closing laps, Adam would have been 4 points behind Zach.
(Eli Tomac played spoiler, but for his own team. He hurt Kawasaki's chances of winning the championship)
Taking Lakewood out of the argument, what Eli did in the first moto at Pala was moronic! He went into beast mode and gave all his energy to pass Adam in the first moto. I would have understood if it was the second moto or if Eli had a chance to be champion, but it was nothing more than flexing on Adam. The first moto meant nothing for Eli, but Adam needed to keep the pressure on Zach. Eli taking second is almost as good as a win when overall wins are concerned; instead, Eli pushed both himself and Adam to the brink of exhaustion while taking unnecessary risks. Meanwhile, Marvin Musquin (KTM and Husqvarna are owned by the same company) understood the situation and politely stayed behind Zach when he clearly had the speed to pass him.
(Marvin Musquin raced for himself, but also knew not to do anything to hurt Zach's chances of bringing the title to the KTM/Husqvarna camp. Marvin is the perfect teammate.)
The first moto battle clearly took its toll on both Adam and Eli; Adam made a silly mistake while leading and handed a second moto win to Chase Sexton. A mistake I believe was due to fatigue, and Eli cruised to a fourth-place as he used so much energy in the first moto, he couldn't even crack the top three; clearly, he used an excessive amount of energy in the first moto. Not only did his decision to go bananas in the first moto cost Adam a chance at the title, but it also cost Eli a shot at an overall win. It was shitty race craft no matter how you spin it!
Add to this what Eli did to Joey Savatgy a couple years ago after winning a million dollars at the Monster Energy Cup. These two examples might make him the worst teammate in the history of the sport. Savatgy pulled over on the last lap of the third moto at MEC, which allowed Eli to win the million-dollar bonus paid if a rider wins all three races. After the race, the Tomac camp told Savatgy he would get a reward for his generosity, but then they went back on this statement claiming it would be illegal. They are correct; predetermining an outcome would be unlawful, but it wasn't pre-planned; Savatgy made the decision on his own at the moment. You know what's not illegal, sending him a car or Rolex for his birthday that year. Come on, Eli!
(Being a shitty teammate isn't new to Eli Tomac, click the link for the full story of how he hosed Joey Savatgy)
There is no denying Eli Tomac is one of the sports all-time greats, but it's also clear he is one of the worst teammates of all time! The way he treated Adam in the first moto, you would have thought Eli was looking to force the team to make some hard decisions moving forward. I have to imagine the entire Kawasaki team is going to be tense moving forward. If Adam wasn't the most mature and polished personality in the pits, this would already be ugly. Fortunately, Adam is the consummate professional and will keep it civil, but if this keeps up eventually, it will boil over, no matter how classy Adam is.
Next up, Monster Energy SupeJoey Savatgy a couple of years ago after winning a million dollars s Supercross. Feld Motorsports has been working overtime, ensuring that the 2021 series takes place. I am confident we will be watching Supercross in January. I can't wait until the bright lights of Supercross return.