Yeah, man, it’s Thunder Valley national time! Round three of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship took place just outside of Denver at a track—and a national as a whole—that I’ve always said is sneaky good. Weather is usually awesome, the track is close to the center of a cool city, the viewing at the facility is superb, the pits are great to traverse and all in all, I like this race. You guys have got to go! And afterwards if you want to go tour the Coors factory in nearby Golden and get smashed, you can!
The track is always pretty good and without the rains that hit the area last year, it was a little easier for the riders. Last year we saw deep ruts everywhere and it became a slot car track with big braking bumps. This year the track was basically the same layout, just a few rollers added here and there, but it featured a much harder base. The downhill that claimed Eli Tomac last year and James Stewart in 2014 (Weigandt is calling it the End Zone) was the same but the designers put an off-camber at the very bottom so the riders had to start braking sooner, thereby slowing the track down in that particular section.
This Roczen guy is starting to become something else, right? He told us after Glen Helen that he ate steak and mac and cheese the night before the race, then this week he dropped an Instagram of a donut on Friday night. After he dominated for a 1-1 score at Lakewood he talked about he wanted to eat a pizza. A little bit of jab jabs at his main competitor Ryan Dungey and his old trainer Aldon Baker?
Whatever it is Kenny’s doing on or off the bike, he needs to keep doing it. I thought he was in some trouble after I watched him get totally pinched off the start and was way back in moto two. But the greats like Roczen have an amazing ability to cut through the pack on the opening lap and limit the damage.
If it hadn’t been for a wire on Roczen’s KYB forks that went wonky at Glen Helen (it was either a data acquisition wire put in by the team to check air pressure and temperature or a wire and button for Roczen to push and let some air out once the pressure builds late in the race) he would be undefeated right now. I think we knew Roczen would be good, but this good? No way, man. It’s impressive.
Having said that, the series is off this week and then we’re heading east. The dirt is different, the weather will be more unpredictable and hotter and in my experience bike set-up changes at the East Coast tracks. So things could change one way or another.
Ryan Dungey knew that he pinched Roczen off the start in the second moto and he knew that when he got into second he needed to A) get by Trey Canard and B) sprint like hell before the 94 could work his way through traffic. Unfortunately for Ryan he had a rare crash on the first lap and that was it for him. It would have been interesting to see if Dungey could’ve held off Kenny (looking back I don’t think he would have) and split moto wins. Dungey’s been very, very fast but Roczen’s just flat out better right now and it must be weird for Dungey to be a second place guy at the moment. Even when Ryan Villopoto was beating him for 450MX titles, I don’t remember Dungey clearly being a second place guy when it comes to motocross. Well, it started that way last year against Tomac but we know that ended by this third round.
It was a big weekend for Joey Savatgy. We saw what happened at Hangtown and how good he was, but we also saw Glen Helen where he wasn’t nearly as good. Was the opener a weirdo anomaly or was this guy really that good? Well, he is that good. The first moto was Savatgy’s all the way until he fell late and gave the moto win to Jeremy Martin. There was this huge pack of Star Yamahas up front early and Savatgy worked his way through both Cooper Webb and JMart to get the lead, before he crashed. The second moto he took the lead right away and took off. He later held off a late challenge from Alex Martin. His 2-1 scores gave him the overall and he got the red plate back as well.
I think the best part of Savatgy’s race came late in the second moto. For three laps, Alex Martin was coming. In fact I thought the Ewok Warrior was going to get Joey and snatch the win. Savatgy looked back over a jump going up a hill, saw it was Alex and put the hammer down to maintain that gap. In fact Savatgy’s fastest lap of the moto was his 14th (out of 16). That’s impressive work right there. I talked about his fitness at Hangtown and how good it is and it showed up again at Thunder Valley.
Still, Alex Martin was again amazing this weekend. He fell after he hit Aaron Plessinger’s bike in moto one but he came from so far back to get eighth that at the end of the moto I had to double check the results! Second moto he scrubbed by his brother early on and took off after Savatgy. Great rides again by AMart. I know he lost the points lead but that first moto was amazing as was the second. Please tell me that any doubts you had about this guy being for real are over?
Some stats from both classes after six motos:
Best starter: Jeremy Martin averages a 3.8 at the start of motos.
Guy doing the best with the worst stats: Aaron Plessinger. In the first three rounds he’s qualified an average of 11.3 and has an average start of 11th place, yet sits 5th in the points.
Weirdest stat: Marty Davalos. The qualifying hot lap wonder of supercross can only muster a 19th place qualifying time through the first six motos.
Fastest guy with the worst starts: Mitchell Oldenburg. The TLD rider qualifies 10th fastest on average and then comes around 19th place at the start. Zach Osborne is not far behind with an average qualifying result of 9th and coming around in 14th.
Best starter: Kenny Roczen comes around averaging 2nd place.
Guy doing the best with the worst stats: Broc Tickle. He qualifies around 12th, comes around in 16th after lap one and is 10th in points.
Worst starter in the class: Is it even a debate? Eli Tomac comes around averaging a 12th so far.
Starts don’t mean everything always: Justin Barcia averages a 5th place start each moto and is 9th in the points.
Let’s take a look at the results shall we?
1 37 Joseph Savatgy Thomasville, GA Kawasaki KX 250F 2 1- I drove into the track with Savatgy and walked to the pits with him and his dad in the morning. After he finished saying that I was the last person he wanted to see first thing in the morning we talked about how Davalos probably hates me even more.
2 1 Jeremy Martin Millville, MN Yamaha YZ 250F 1 3- Jeremy rode well but probably still not super pumped on his results. At the end of the day I saw him talking to Buddy Antunez for a while, which I would assume is about training/riding. (Martin and Johnny O’Mara have parted ways.) Or maybe they were talking about funnel cakes—who knows?
3 26 Alex Martin Millville, MN Yamaha YZ 250F 8 2- I asked Alex what he was going to buy with his national winning bonus and he replied “a new mattress” which is so Alex Martin it’s not even funny.
4 16 Zachary Osborne Abingdon, VA Husqvarna FC250 4 6- Wacko Zacho rode great all day. This was perhaps his best ride of the season as he ripped through the pack in both motos to get these finishes. He might have the most passing points in the series if things like that actually counted. That’s the good news. The bad news is he’s over 40 points down in the championship.
5 17 Cooper Webb Newport, NC Yamaha YZ 250F 3 8- Webb’s finally riding during the week and after the break he should be better. Afterwards he gave me this: “Just not quite there physically. I feel like my speed is there but just really hadn’t been riding enough and hadn’t put in enough motos. But to still be there, I’m stoked on that. I honestly thought I’d be pretty far back. So I’m stoked on that. Today was rough overall.”
6 49 Martin Davalos Ecuador Husqvarna FC250 7 5- Marty’s usually pretty good at Lakewood for whatever reason and he showed his skills there again this weekend. Yeah, he faded a bit (he was second in the second moto for a while) but this is still a good finish. With Marty’s talent, bike and experience he should never be out of the top ten unless disaster strikes.
7 39 Jordon Smith Belmont, NC Honda CRF250R 5 12- Smith’s scores look like he was once again his usual inconsistent self and bottom line, he wasn’t able to put two motos together. BUT he came from way, way, way back in moto two to almost get inside the top ten. Nice day for him.
8 30 Shane McElrath Canton, NC KTM 250 SX-F FE 12 7
9 214 Austin Forkner Richards, MO Kawasaki KX 250F 17 4- Forkner is great, man. I’m impressed. I’ve got to stop listening to these amateur motocross “experts” that told me he wasn’t going to be a top five guy. He was right up there in the first moto before crashing early.
10 289 Mitchell Harrison Brighton, MI Yamaha YZ 250F 11 11- For whatever reason Harrison doesn’t seem to crash as much outdoors which is a good thing. He’s 14th in the points after three rounds and that’s pretty good. He’s lost in the “Forkner” hype machine but looking good.
11 23 Aaron Plessinger Hamilton, OH Yamaha YZ 250F14 10- I have no idea what happened here outside of his crash in the first moto. Can someone tell me?
12 31 RJ Hampshire Hudson, FL Honda CRF250R 10 14- One good and one bad for Hampshire and the beat goes on for him. I thought his first moto ride was pretty strong and through the first six motos I have to say I don’t remember him having this much stamina.
13 66 Arnaud Tonus Switzerland Kawasaki KX 250F 18 9- Sort of invisible out there to me but good second moto for him.
14 44 Adam Cianciarulo Port Orange, FL Kawasaki KX 250F 6 38- Adam rode great in the first moto coming from 18th to 6th in a nice charge. Second moto he pulled the holeshot but crashed which resulted in his bike getting banged up. A lot of us guys wondered about AC getting good starts (he’s a monster now in case you haven’t checked lately) but he pulled the holeshot in the second moto uphill at elevation. So maybe we won’t worry so much about that anymore.
15 69 Colt Nichols Muskogee, OK Yamaha YZ 250F 15 13- Nichols on social media: “ A little bit of a struggle yesterday in Colorado but we are making improvements. Bike is getting better along with myself. Can't wait to get back to @reynardtrainingcomplex and put in work with @rr67 and the rest of the Oklahoma crew.” Not to pick on Colt specifically but a rider says that his bike is getting better, he’s improving and he can’t wait to get to work? Color me shocked.
16 42 Mitchell Oldenburg Alvord, TX KTM 250 SX-F FE 9 25- I was impressed with Freckle because he tangled with a rider halfway up the start straight and crashed. Took a long time to get up and a lot of riders would’ve pulled it back in. He was SO far back. But Mitchell got up, dusted himself off and put in a 30-minute moto.
17 13 Jessy Nelson Paso Robles, CA KTM 250 SX-F FE 13 34- Nelson is usually very fast at Lakewood but it didn’t work out this year. He came from ways back to 13th in the first moto and in the second moto he crashed in kind of a weird spot and got hauled off by Asterisk.
18 46 Luke Renzland Hewitt, NJ Yamaha YZ 250F 39 15- I spoke to Luke at riders meeting (I know we should’ve been paying attention to the flags, right?) and he lamented his early moto issues and slow start. Then about five turns into the first moto I look over and he’s in a pile up with another dude and the bikes look mashed together. When it rains, it pours.
19 48 Anthony Rodriguez Venezuela Kawasaki KX 250F 21 16 - Can we just all agree that we’re happy ARod is alive after that crash down the hill at Glen Helen last week? Whatever he scores from here on out is just a bonus!
20 45 Kyle Cunningham Aledo, TX Yamaha YZ 250F 19 18- I know the sheets say that Kyle’s on a Yamaha but trust me, he’s on a Suzuki for Motorcycle Superstore Suzuki.
1 94 Ken Roczen Germany Suzuki RMZ 450 1 1- The 94’s passes on the Honda guys were something else. Canard cut him off at one point, and Kenny just kept the rear wheel on the ground over a jump and motored by the 41 on the outside. Then he went warp 4 around a rut that was probably two feet deep and passed Seely on the outside. We haven’t seen this sort of riding since…well, since Dungey and Tomac last year.
2 1 Ryan Dungey Waconia, MN KTM 450 SX-F FE 2 4- So weird to see Dungey be human and actually crash. And then for him to just not be able to catch Seely in the second moto was weird also. Maybe, just maybe he’s not a robot?
3 3 Eli Tomac Cortez, CO Kawasaki KX 450F 5 2- Starts, starts and more starts. How many times have we said that about the #3? His second moto ride was his best of the year and there was a point where Dungey got up and was two or three spots behind Tomac. If Dungey had caught him and motored by we might have had a melt-down by Eli. But that didn’t happen; he pulled away and kept it up the rest of the way.
4 14 Cole Seely Newbury Park, CA Honda CRF450R 6 3- Seely was good. Actually, he was great! First moto he came from outside the top 20 to that 6th. Second moto he got a nice start (Honda power sent him and Canard to the holeshot line basically together) and held it strong with only Tomac getting by. It was a great day for Cole who’s starting to train a bit different according to HRC team manager Dan Betley.
5 41 Trey Canard Edmond, OK Honda CRF450R 3 6- Funny how Seely rode awesome and Canard, with identical scores, was not happy after the second moto and left right after. Probably because he led for a bit, then ran third for a long time and was simply caught and passed by Tomac, Josh Grant (he got Grant back) Dungey and Musquin. The good news was the first moto was very good with him standing on the box.
6 33 Joshua Grant Riverside, CA Kawasaki KX 450F 4 7- He slipped back a bit in the second moto but JG’s had a great six motos to start the year. Yeah, they’re all tracks that he’s been good at but 8-8-6-6-4-7 and sixth in the points? Monster Energy Kawasaki would take that all day long. Remember he’s a fill-in rider for Wil Hahn so I guarantee you Kawasaki isn’t paying him much and he’s producing.
7 51 Justin Barcia Madison, FL Yamaha YZ 450F 11 8- Barcia had bike problems in the first moto that held him back and in the second moto he crashed. He’s been getting good starts through the first six motos but it has been strange to watch him slip backwards pretty much every moto. We’re waiting to see if he can flip the switch like last year and start winning or at least make podiums.
8 32 Matthew Bisceglia Tualatin, OR Suzuki RMZ 450 10 10- Look at this! I don’t understand the whole “Bisceglia parts ways with his MAD Suzuki team” thing (both sides are being pretty nice about it) because he has no guarantees from Yoshimura Suzuki that he can stay on their team. They have two riders coming back from injury so Matt’s potentially going to be on the sidelines soon. Buuuuuuttttt…Suzuki will take this these two motos ALL DAY LONG. Matt had four days on the bike before this race and rode great and steady the whole way. Both Baggett and Stewart have been injured and up and down when not injured so the Yosh guys have to love the 10-10 scores from a dude that’s not raced a 450 since amateur days. I know the #4 and #7 are supposed to be back for High Point but Suzuki’s got to find a way to get Matt to the next round in my opinion. I do know after the race that they planned on getting Matt a practice bike so he can stay sharp.
9 377 Christophe Pourcel Dade City, FL Husqvarna FC450 8 12
10 19 Justin Bogle Cushing, OK Honda CRF450R 7 13- Sounds like Bogle’s hand injury caught up to him in the second moto as he dropped back. Better than last week’s DNF though!
11 20 Broc Tickle Holly, MI Suzuki RMZ 450 14 9- Tickle was into the top ten in the first moto and crashed so he had some work to do after that. RCH team manager Kyle Bentley told me he yelled at Broc a lot in-between motos and I guess that worked because he rode well in the second moto.
12 43 Fredrik Noren Sweden Honda CRF450R 12 11- All fast Freddie does is lurk under the radar and put in good results. Look at all the riders in front of him and then look at the dudes below him. He’s in some high dollar company.
13 10 Justin Brayton Fort Dodge, IA KTM 450 SX-F FE 9 14- Brayton got a good start in the first moto and hung in there for a good finish. Second moto he tipped over and at some point he was in a battle with his two teammates out there.
14 25 Marvin Musquin France KTM 450 SX-F FE 37 5- A bad crash in the first moto followed by another smaller one and Marvin called it a day. Second moto was more the Marv that we have been waiting for as he rode what was by far his best moto of the year.
15 167 Benny Bloss Oak Grove, MO KTM 450 SX-F FE 13 15- Bloss has been pretty good to start the year. Sometimes big dudes struggle on tracks that have ruts in them because they can’t get their feet and legs out of the way but I guess Benny was fine.
16 52 Ben LaMay Wasilla, AK Yamaha YZ 450F 15 16- I used to do service for EKS Brand goggles and LaMay wore, and still wears, EKS, so I’ve paid a bit more attention to him over the years. Two things: 1) is he’s way better outdoors than in and 2) he’ll never cheat you on effort.
17 29 Andrew Short Colorado Springs, CO KTM 450 SX-F FE 17 18- Well, this isn’t the ride that hometown hero Shorty wanted at his last-ever Thunder Valley national. Strangely enough he was better on the first two tracks, which he doesn’t feel comfortable on. You can’t say starts were an issue either as he was up there both motos.
18 188 Dillan Epstein Thousand Oaks, CA Kawasaki KX 450F 19 17
19 96 Noah Mcconahy Spokane, WA Husqvarna FC450 16 20- Four motos out of six have seen Noah in the points in a deep field. That’s a pretty good way to drop that national #96 I would say.
20 718 Toshiki Tomita Japan Honda CRF450R 20 19- I haven’t been able to see where Tomita is parked—I assume by the Honda truck somewhere—but they’re doing a good job of hiding him. [Note: We think it’s over under the Rock Mountain ATV/MC rig.]
Some other news and notes:
- Silly season time is always on but by now we’re starting to get some concrete plans on who’s going where and what someone is leaning towards. Here’s a little rumor round-up of what I’ve got so far:
Looks like Jeremy Martin won’t be going to RCH Suzuki after all like a lot of us thought. Not sure what happened but the latest for Jeremy I hear is ride 250SX for the factory Yamaha team with Cooper Webb before jumping up to the 450 class for motocross. This would make sense if Chad Reed goes back to blue because he’s not doing outdoors anyways and this gives Yamaha two guys in 450’s in each series.
Brother Alex has suddenly become a hot commodity with his rides and with Star Yamaha already signing up four riders for next year (Aaron Plessinger, Mitchell Harrison, Dylan Ferrandis, Colt Nichols) there’s probably one spot open but I imagine not much money. I’d look for Alex to go on over to TLD KTM next year.
We know Honda’s going to be Kenny Roczen and Cole Seely and last week I broke it on my Twitter that Trey Canard is going to Red Bull KTM next year. What’s unclear is whether KTM is going to have three 450’s (Ryan Dungey, Marvin Musquin and Canard) or four and perhaps keep Dean Wilson.
BTOSports-KTM-WPS will be Davi Millsaps and one other rider—maybe Wilson, maybe Justin Bogle. Yoshimura Suzuki is talking to Justin Brayton about coming on over. Finally, I think Kawasaki is leaning towards re-signing Josh Grant as the second rider over there.
Thanks for reading this little column we put together each week. Email me firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to chat about this or anything else.