With an elevation of 5,518 ft, Thunder Valley National in Lakewood, CO, is one of the most physically challenging nationals of the year. This year proved to be no different, with a few big crashes causing some major changes in the points standings.
The day got underway with a soft track after a week filled with rain. Surprisingly, Gieco Honda replacement rider Christian Craig, who replaced the injured Justin Bogle and hadn’t raced for a year, got off to great start and put down the fastest lap time in the first 250 qualifying practice. Pro Circuit rider Joey Savatgy was close behind Craig, but the 3rd fastest rider Adam Cianciarulo was almost a full 2 seconds a lap off of Craig’s time. Title favorites Marvin Musquin and Jeremy Martin were three seconds slower than Craig, and qualified back in 8th and 9th respectively. As the second 250 qualifying practice rolled around, it quickly became clear that the track was too rough and rutted to beat the fastest times from the first practice, and Christian Craig would take the pole position with his time from the first practice despite Joey Savatgy getting the fastest time in the second practice. The major news from qualifying practice was a crash from Justin Hill due to improper flagging, which caused him to sit out the racing later.
450 qualifying got underway with little drama, as title favourites Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen finished 1st and 2nd respectively. Dungey finished back in 5th, but Blake Baggett started his day well with the 3rd fastest time, making it the 2nd weekend in a row where he qualified in the top three. Similar to that of the 250 qualifying practice, the times in the first practice ended up being the fastest due to a rough and rutted track in the second practice.
250 Moto 1
The first race of the day saw Jeremy Martin and Jessy Nelson out front right off the start. Nelson was followed by Marvin Musquin, Zach Osborne, and Jordon Smith rounding out the top five. Jeremy Martin’s brother Alex Martin got off to a bad start after his holeshot device failed to release, causing him to pull into the pits on the first lap to get the problem fixed. By the time his team got the issue sorted out, he was already way back in 36th. The top five remained the same for the first three laps, with nobody extremely gaining or losing time. However, this would change at the end of Lap 3 when Jessy Nelson made a mistake and jumped off the side of the track, allowing Musquin to move up into 2nd. At this point, Jeremy Martin had opened up a small but significant 4 second lead. Over the next few laps, Musquin tried to close up this lead but J. Martin’s pace was too fast to overcome. On Lap 7, Musquin had a huge crash going down on the hills, severely bent the front of his bike. The crash was hard enough that it broke Musquin’s first half of his neck brace off and tweaked his wrist; Musquin sat on the side of the track for at least 15 seconds before slowly regrouping and getting back on his bike. By the time he got his pace back up to par, he was all the way back down in 15th. Musquin’s crash gave J. Martin a very comfortable lead over Nelson, who was still closely followed by Osborne. A few laps later back in 7th, the fastest qualifying rider Christian Craig had moved up through the pack from 12th place, and was now pressuring Chris Alldredge, who was riding behind Jordon Smith in 5th and Adam Cianciarulo in 4th. A little ways behind Craig, Matt Bisceglia in 8th was getting pressured from RJ Hampshire and Joey Savatgy. Hampshire had slipped back after starting in 6th, but was finding a second wind due to pressure from Savatgy, who had already crashed once and was working his way up through the pack. With just over two laps left, Craig found his way past both Alldredge and Smith up into 5th, and in the same lap, Savatgy found his way past Hampshire and Bisceglia up into 8th. A lap later, Craig continued his hard charge to the front, and passed Cianciarulo for 4th place. The checkered flag eventually fell to J. Martin 19 seconds ahead of Osborne, who had passed Nelson on the last lap for 2nd place. Savatgy also made a last lap pass on Alldredge to move into 7th. Musquin ended up crossing the finish line back in 14th place after his crash earlier in the race.
450 Moto 1
The holeshot in 450 moto 1 went to Ryan Dungey, but he was immediately passed by Ken Roczen. Eli Tomac followed Dungey in 3rd, and Jason Anderson and Phil Nicoletti rounded out the top five. Halfway through the lap, Ryan Dungey got crossed rutted and went off the track, allowing Tomac, Anderson, and Nicoletti to pass. Weston Peick and Chad Reed both crashed on the first lap, and were back in 38th and 40th respectively. Roczen was able to fend off Tomac for three laps, but on the Lap 4 Tomac was able to make his way past Roczen into the lead. By this point, Dungey had also found his way past Nicoletti and Anderson to get into 3rd, but was quite far behind the lead battle. Meanwhile, Blake Baggett and Justin Barcia were both making their way through the pack, and by the end of Lap 5, both riders had passed Phil Nicoletti to get into 5th and 6th respectively. Back up front, Tomac had already opened up a comfortable lead over Roczen; Roczen’s gap over Dungey behind him was also slowly dwindling. A few laps passed without much change, but by the end of lap 8, Baggett had caught up to Jason Anderson. The two of them battled for the next lap, but Baggett eventually sealed the deal and passed Anderson for 4th place. On the otherhand, Barcia’s charge to the front began to slow, and he found himself getting pressured from Broc Tickle. With the race dwindling down, Tickle made a pass for Barcia to get into 6th, and set his sights on Anderson not too far ahead of him. Behind the Barcia/Tickle battle, Cole Seely and Justin Brayton had both found their groove, and had passed Nicoletti and Kyle Chisholm to solidify their positions within the top 10. With only two laps left, Dungey, who had managed to catch up to Roczen, took advantage of a slight mistake from the reigning champ and made the pass for 2nd place just prior to receiving the white flag. The checkered flag eventually fell to Eli Tomac, who finished 14 seconds ahead of Ryan Dungey and Ken Roczen. Baggett crossed the finish line in 4th, and Broc Tickle managed to get past Anderson for the final spot in the top five. After their troubles on the first lap, Reed finished 18th, and Peick finished back in 19th.
250 Moto 2
Jeremy Martin resumed where he left off the previous moto and got off to the lead right away in moto 2. He was followed by Marvin Musquin, who looked refreshed after his first moto crash. Jessy Nelson, Zach Osborne, and Alex Martin rounded out the top 5. Alex Martin moved past Osborne to get into 5th during lap 2, but bike problems the following lap dropped him all the way back to 30th. A. Martin’s misfortunes allowed Adam Cianciarulo to move up into 5th, but he was beginning to get pressure from Jordon Smith. Smith had rebounded from a start outside the top five, and was having a good race through the pack to get right behind Cianciarulo. On the other hand, Cianciarulo’s teammates Joey Savatgy and Chris Alldredge were off to a horrible start after finishing lap 1 in 35th and 36th respectively, but both riders were attempting to race through the pack. Back up front, after 10 minutes of racing, J. Martin had opened up a comfortable lead over Musquin, who just couldn’t handle J. Martin’s pace. However, Musquin was doing a great job riding his own race, and had opened up his own lead over 3rd place rider Jessy Nelson behind him. Nelson started off the race strong, but similar to that of previous races, he began to drop off the pace as the race went on, hence Osborne was able to move past him just before the halfway point. Within the next four laps, Cianciarulo, Smith, and Christian Craig had all found their way past Nelson as well, thus dropping Nelson back to 7th. The next 10 minutes passed without many changes, but with just three laps left, Smith finally found his way around Cianciarulo after battling with him the entire race. Cianciarulo didn’t give up though, and on the last lap he managed to pass Smith back for 4th place in the moto and the last overall podium spot. J. Martin eventually took the checkered flag, with Musquin finishing 19 seconds behind him for 2nd place. Osborne got 3rd, and was followed closely by Cianciarulo and Smith. Alldredge managed to make his way slowly back to 25th, but his teammate Savatgy had some more bad luck and ended up finishing 34th.
|Position||Rider||Moto 1||Moto 2||Points|
450 Moto 2
450 moto 2 got underway with Eli Tomac getting into the lead right away. Cole Seely got a good start and rounded the first lap in 2nd, followed by Justin Barcia, Ken Roczen, and Ryan Dungey. Seely quickly dropped back though, and by lap 3 was back in 5th. Barcia had also faded back to 4th due to Ken Roczen and Ryan Dungey both charging up to the front, but by the time Roczen was in 2nd, Eli Tomac had already opened up a large lead. After his initial drop back to 5th, Seely began to regroup and was about to make a pass on Barcia before Barcia crashed going down one of the hills; Barcia was able to get back up in 8th, but quickly lost that position to Broc Tickle. Back up front, Eli Tomac was once again dominating the rest of the field and had opened up a large lead. However, just past the halfway point, Tomac’s race came to a disastrous end down one of the large hills due to a huge side swap that brutally slammed his body into the ground. Tomac slowly crawled off the side of the track, but was favouring his left arm and eventually got carried off by the medics. Tomac’s crash allowed Ken Roczen to get into lead, and Roczen had managed to open up a comfortable lead over Ryan Dungey. Dungey eventually found the proper pace, but struggled to reel Roczen back in. Meanwhile, Blake Baggett was making his way through the pack, and with just over three laps left, Baggett passed Seely to get into 3rd place. Tickle was also following Baggett through the pack, and was now up into 5th place behind Seely. Barcia, Pourcel, and Peick followed him in 6th, 7th, and 8th respectively. With two laps left, Roczen was still maintaining a comfortable lead over Dungey, but this lead evaporated when Roczen washed out his front end and crashed. This allowed Dungey to catch right up, and half a lap later, another small crash from Roczen allowed Dungey to pass into the lead. Dungey eventually took the checkered flag to grab his first moto win and overall win of the year. Roczen finished 2nd, with Baggett, Seely, and Tickle rounding out the top five.
|Position||Rider||Moto 1||Moto 2||Points|
The racing at Thunder Valley was exciting, with big crashes from Eli Tomac and Marvin Musquin seeing Ryan Dungey and Jeremy Martin to take over the points leads. Initial reports on Tomac is that he dislocated his shoulder, but he got it put back into place and did not suffer any other injuries; definitely a devastating injury nonetheless for the title favorite. There's no word yet on when Tomac plans to be back racing. One thing is for sure: round 4 this coming weekend in Blountville, TN, is going to be another great day of racing.