2019 THUNDER VALLEY NATIONAL MX RECAP

The third round of the 2019 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship in Lakewood, Colorado kept the excitement alive from the first two rounds, providing for just as entertaining of racing as there has been all summer. In both the 250 and 450 classes, the usual front runners were back up front, but we did see some new faces jump into the mix to add just a little more action into an already action-packed weekend. After having to deal with the down-pour brought upon the riders at round one and then going through some fairly muddy qualifying sessions at round two, there’s no question that the riders were counting on Thunder Valley to stay dry. For most of the day they got their wish, but a thunderstorm rolled in for the first 250 moto cutting it short by about 10-15 minutes. The storm left a good amount of moisture on the track, creating deeper ruts and causing some riders to have to stop for goggles. Other than that, though, the rest of the day remained in good condition. With a week off next weekend, it will be interesting to see how riders will come back at round four, to see if they worked on anything new to give them that extra edge over their competitors, or if they used their time to simply recover from the first few rounds. (For extended coverage of the 2019 Thunder Valley National MX, click here)

250 Class

As we’ve seen in the past two rounds, Star Racing/Yamaha’s Justin Cooper gets the 250 class motos going with a good start and finishing out the moto with the win. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider Adam Cianciarulo presents this same trend, only in the second motos. Neither of the riders have won outside of this statistic, but they’re also both not always the runner up to one another, creating the points gap that we see Cianciarulo have over Cooper. It also helps that Adam is the only rider in the 250 field to land on the podium in every moto so far, making him the most consistent of anyone else.

Photo courtesy of Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki race team

At round three, we saw all of the same things happen: Justin Cooper got out to a great start in moto one, quickly passing into the lead (even having to pass Adam Cianciarulo early on, as well) and going on to win the moto. In the second moto, things shifted a little when Cooper grabbed the holeshot and was leading the second moto, a feat he had yet to accomplish until this past Saturday. He held strong for most of the moto, but ended up making a mistake and going off the track, losing the moto win and his first overall. There was hope for a little bit, however, coming from what he believed at the time was Adam Cianciarulo gaining an unfair advantage after making a mistake of his own and having to reenter the track in an odd fashion. Adam had cross-rutted coming up a hill and had no other choice but to enter the track where he did, but all Justin could see was Adam jumping back on course right next to him, which would have been far lesser of a lead than what Cooper had before the mishap. What he didn’t know was that Adam chopped the throttle in an effort to give Justin back his lead, being as fair as possible in a wonky situation. There’s no telling what kind of mentality this puts a rider into and if his later mistake would have been avoided if he wasn’t concerned about his competitor “cutting the track”. Only Justin would be able to say for sure. The decision, however, ultimately went in favor of Cianciarulo, granting him the overall win with 2-1 moto scores and continuing his points lead by six. Justin Cooper remains second in the points with his 1-2 finish on the day.

Photo courtesy of Husqvarna Motorcycles

Michael Mosiman had the breakout performance he has been hoping for since his pro debut, two years and twelve days before the 2019 Thunder Valley National, to be exact. He has had solid runs in his career so far, continually progressing every year. Last Saturday was finally the day he seemed to put everything together, earning his first career podium with 4-3 moto scores. His weekend’s success began with the fourth in moto one, having to come through the pack following just behind Dylan Ferrandis and using him to get past the riders ahead of him. At the end of the shortened first moto, Mosiman was a bit surprised to see he had such a comfortable gap from him to the next guy in fifth. The confidence gained from his moto one finish showed in his second moto performance, making an out-of-character aggressive pass on Colt Nichols for third in the moto and the overall.

450 Class

It appears that the red plate might carry some sort of different weight compared to the 250 riders, seeing how going into round four the points lead has shifted once again from Eli Tomac over to Ken Roczen. After the morning qualifying sessions, it seemed as though Tomac would be untouchable all day, clocking a lap time two seconds quicker than anyone else all day. The rain played a much bigger factor in his results on Saturday than it did at the first round at Hangtown, leaving him with a broken set of roll-offs and forcing him to make a stop in the pits for a replacement, only to still end up fifth in the moto. The Kawasaki rider rebounded similarly to how his 250 counterpart does in his motos, winning the second race by almost ten seconds. The second moto win wasn’t enough, however, to take another overall victory as the fifth in the first moto put him too far back in terms of points. A second overall would be the best he could salvage on the day.

HRC/Honda’s Ken Roczen came out and surprised everyone with his moto one performance. There was no doubt that he could win motos and overalls, as he has proved at the first two rounds, but the shear dominance he displayed in the first moto was uncanny. Kenny may not have grabbed the holeshot, but he quickly made a charge into the lead and gapped the rest of the field, winning by over 35 seconds. The second moto was similar to how it has been for Roczen the rest of the year, though, unable to match the pace of a vengeful Eli Tomac and placing second in the moto. Although a second in the last motos isn’t always successful in giving someone the overall, on Saturday it was superior to Tomac’s 5-1 score, giving not only the overall to Roczen, but giving him the red plate back as well.

Photo courtesy of Husqvarna Motorcycles

Rockstar Energy/Husqvarna’s Zach Osborne has definitely been putting in the work to quickly become more acquainted with his FC450 in his rookie season. He’s been really close to grabbing that first podium finish at the first couple of rounds already, finishing fourth overall at both Hangtown and at Fox Raceway. Something about Colorado just clicked with the Husky boys this weekend, as Osborne was able to go 2-4 in his motos for his first 450 class podium in third, also picking up the first moto holeshot. Being a past 250 class champ in both outdoors and supercross along with his progress so far this summer, there’s no doubt that we’ll be seeing more of Zach Osborne out front throughout the rest of the summer.

Photo courtesy of KTM Racing.

Marvin Musquin had problems of his own during the first moto at Thunder Valley, connecting with another rider in the first few turns and going down. After remounting back outside the top 25, he got back going to finish eighth. Moto two went much better for the Red Bull/KTM rider, as he was able to avoid any troubles around the first corners and make his way across the line in third, good enough for fifth overall in the day’s overall.

Photo courtesy of KTM Racing.

Cooper Webb had a similar story as his French teammate, but in reverse. Cooper got out to a third place start in moto one, battling all the way to the finish to secure that third place spot. In the second moto, he was able to grab the holeshot and lead for a lap before succumbing to the charges of Tomac and Roczen behind him. The rest of the moto did not go as well for Cooper as the first did, having a crash and stalling the bike, resulting in his eighth place second moto finish and giving him sixth overall behind Musquin.

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