By The Numbers
For the second straight year, Justin Cooper claimed the overall win at Thunder Valley Motocross Park. The win was Cooper’s third career overall win as he hopes to earn his first Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship title with his rather consistent results.
Jett Lawrence claimed the race win over Cooper in the second moto and claimed second with 4-1 finishes. With Jeremy Martin suffering a crash in the second moto, Lawrence and Cooper appear to be the two title favorites moving forward. While Jett has showed he can charge through the field after bad starts, Cooper’s starts paired with that Yamaha YZ250F have allowed him to have an average start of 2.3 through four motos, compared to Jettson’s 6.8.
Behind Jettson was his older Hunter Lawrence, who finished 5-3 for third overall—the third AMA Motocross podium of his career. This was the first podium since the 2019 Spring Creek National on July 20, 2019—over 686 days prior. Hunter recorded two overall podiums in his AMA Motocross debut season in 2019 but his 2020 season was hindered but a shoulder injury and health issues. Now, the 21-year-old is healthy and fighting inside the top five once again. According to Honda, this is the second set of brothers to land on the same overall podium in AMA Motocross, joining the Martin brothers, who did so in both 2016 and 2017.
|Millville, MN United States||2 - 2||Yamaha YZ250F|
|Millville, MN United States||4 - 1||Yamaha YZ250F|
|3||Cooper Webb||Newport, NC United States||1 - 4||Yamaha YZ250F|
|4||Austin Forkner||Richards, MO United States||3 - 5||Kawasaki KX250F|
|5||Aaron Plessinger||Hamilton, OH United States||5 - 6||Yamaha YZ250F|
Tough Day for the Martins
Speaking of the Martin brothers, it was a tough day for the Minnesota family. During qualifying, older brother Alex Martin suffered a crash that resulted in a broken arm. Younger brother Jeremy Martin claimed the moto win in the first 250 Class moto at the Thunder Valley National (the 36th of his career) then stated the win for Big Al. However, J-Mart’s day turned south in the second moto when he crashed and appeared to reaggravate an injury he entered the season with. Steve Matthes is reporting both Martin brothers will undergo surgery this week and will miss a significant chunk of time this summer.
After a great battle with Dylan Ferrandis and Adam Cianciarulo in the first moto, Ken Roczen came out victorious. The Honda HRC rider backed up his ride in moto one with another moto win, claiming the overall—his first since the 2019 Unadilla National on August 10, 2019, which was 665 days prior to the 2021 Thunder Valley National. The win was Roczen’s 18th career 450 Class overall win. The #94 has finished with a 1-1 sweep 13 times in his 18 career wins. The last time he has swept an event 1-1 was also the 2019 Unadilla National.
Roczen has now claimed three of the first four moto wins on the season. The last rider to win at least three of the first four motos of the year was Eli Tomac, who did so in 2019 and 2018 (he won the 450 Class title both of those years). Since 2009, there have been eight seasons where a rider has claimed at least three of the first four moto wins to start the year, and the last three times, the rider to claim three of the first four moto wins has gone on to become the champion.
Seasons With One Rider Winning 3 of the First 4 Motos
|Year||Rider||Moto Four Motos Finishes||Eventual Champion||Champion Total Moto Wins|
|2019||Eli Tomac||4-1-1-1||Eli Tomac||11|
|2018||Eli Tomac||1-1-1-1||Eli Tomac||15|
|2016||Ken Roczen||1-1-4-1||Ken Roczen||20|
|2015||Eli Tomac||1-1-1-1||Ryan Dungey||13|
|2013||Ryan Villopoto||1-1-1-1||Ryan Villopoto||18|
|2012||James Stewart||1-1-1-1||Ryan Dungey||18|
|2011||Chad Reed||2-1-1-1||Ryan Villopoto||10|
We got this nugget of information from TV producer Pete Richards last week:
“So you would think that since Ferrandis won the season opener, he’s definitely going to win the championship, right? And since Tomac, Osborne and other contenders struggled at Round 1, they have no shot at the 2021 title, right??
As Lee Corso might say, ‘Not so fast, my friend!’ I went back and looked at the 49 previous season openers in the history of Pro Motocross, and the winner of the season’s first overall went on to win the championship in the Premier Class just 24 times in those 49 years, just a shade less than 50 percent of the time (48.97959 percent to be exact). The average finishing position in the season opener by the eventual champion is 2.22, and the worst overall finish in a season opener by the eventual champ was Donnie Hansen who was 9th overall in the 1982 season opener at Hangtown, but he recovered to win his one and only 250 MX National Championship that year. The average final points position by the season-opening race winner is 4.04, and for every Zach Osborne, who won the first race of the year and went on to the title, there’s an Eli Tomac from 2015 (won the opener but 14th in points), a James Stewart in 2012 (won the first race but finished 12th in points), or Ryan Villopoto in 2009 (24th in points).”
I also dug into the previous 49 years of AMA Motocross years from a cheat sheet from Richards to see how often the first rider to earn two overall wins on the season went onto become the champion. The first rider to two overall wins became the champion in 29 of those 49 seasons—that’s 59 percent, which is just slightly more than the percentage of the rider to win the opener winning the title. While it is not a gaurentee, the first rider to earn two wins could start to separate themselves. Roczen has been the first to two overall wins three times in his career (in 2014, 2016, and 2019) and he won the title in two of those years (2014 and 2016). Ferrandis, competing in his first 450 Class Pro Motocross championship, will have his hands full battling the two-time champion but he appears ready for the challenge. Of all riders who have competed in a Pro Motocross gate drop in the first two rounds (52 in the 250 Class and 51 in the 450 Class), Ferrandis is the only rider to earn a moto podium in every race so far as he has finished 1-3-2-2. Will the French rider continue to constantly put his Yamaha YZ450F on the podium moto after moto?
Starts are important in each individual race but starting the championship off well is also a key. This ‘strike fast early’ approach worked out in 2020 for Zach Osborne, who won the first round then said he wanted to points stack. He ran into trouble at the Spring Creek National when he suffered a front tire in the second moto but his great start to the championship helped him to his first premier class title. But again, the first to two overall wins does not mean the championship is a done deal—for example, Eli Tomac’s 2015 season where he was on his way to winning the first six motos of the year when he suffered that season-ending crash at Thunder Valley Motocross Park. So who gets to two overall wins first? And will they hold onto claim the title? Or will another competitor join the lead duo out front?
Josh Varize had quite the weekend. The privateer, who receives some support from KTM but is far from a factory rider, said his motorhome broke down driving from California to Colorado and his home drove another vehicle to Varize and his dad in order for the #241 to make the national. Varize got a top-five start in the first moto before finishing 16-16 for 17th overall at the second round, tying his career best.
“I have the best mom anyone could ever ask for! My dad and I were on our way to round 2 of @promotocross and our motor home broke down in the middle of the night 300 miles into the trip and it is not gonna be an easy fix. So we spent all morning looking to rent a truck/van and there was no luck. But my amazing mom skipped work and drove a second vehicle out for me to be able to make it to the second round of the series. The #PrivateerLife is rough”
Quotes From the Paddock
Aaron Plessinger | 5-4 for 5th overall in 450 Class
“It was a solid weekend for me. We had some good battles and were consistent with a 4-5 finish to get fifth overall. I’m stoked to have a weekend off. We’ll go back and do some homework and come back for High Point ready as ever!”
Christian Craig | 6-7 for 7th overall in 450 Class
“Thunder Valley went pretty well for me. I always look forward to coming here, and I was able to set a good qualifying time and was confident heading into both motos. I had some heated battles with some other guys but was able to go 6-7 for seventh overall. It’s a step in the right direction, but I’m looking for a little more to try to get into that top five soon!”
Cooper Webb | 8-8 for 8th overall in 450 Class
“We’re kind of searching again – we made a lot of bike changes today and I actually felt a lot better in the second moto. I felt like we made the bike a lot better and I was feeling like I finally had some speed and could run up front and then I had a little tip over. That spiked my heartrate and I got all flustered and got passed for ninth but I got back into a good flow and was able to catch Marvin with two to go. It’s a little bit of progress. We have a weekend off, so we’ll try to get the bike a little better, get faster and keep on grinding.”
Marvin Musquin | 9-9 for 9th overall in 450 Class
“It was difficult for me to have the pace of the leaders and I just couldn’t do anything more than 9-9 today. I’m not happy with this result but I feel like I couldn’t do much more. We will try to push more during the week leading up to High Point – we have a weekend off, so we’ll try to see what we can do better.”
Eli Tomac | 11-10 for 10th overall in 450 Class
“Today didn’t really go the way I expected it to. This is my hometown race and I really wanted to give the local fans something to cheer about, but I’m having some trouble finding my rhythm right now. My fitness is where it needs to be, and I feel comfortable on my KX450. It’s only a matter of time before I start finding my rhythm again and battling at the front of the pack. This next weekend off is going to be all about rest and recovery as we prepare to come back swinging for the next round.”
Justin Bogle | 14-11 for 11th overall in 450 Class
“Today is a step in the right direction. I rode hard as I moved forward after midpack starts. We figured some things out with the bike and it helped here at Thunder Valley. Looking to the week off to head back to Florida and dial in the bike even more so we can continue this forward progression at High Point!”
Joey Savatgy | 10-15 for 12th overall in 450 Class
“My speed was there today just made a few mistakes that kept me from a solid finish. We are headed in in the right direction and leave here on a positive note. We’ll take the break to regroup and come back ready for High Point in two weeks.”
Max Anstie | 13-13 for 13th overall in 450 Class
"I rode strong in both of the motos. I'm just obviously trying to climb my way up and have good battles. We want to be further up and we'll keep working. I'm looking forward to having this two-week break now before round three to go back to the drawing board and try and work on some things. I definitely feel like the team and I are in a good spot and we're going to keep progressing from here."
Dean Wilson | 16-12 for 14th overall in 450 Class
“The day was pretty rough, I was just struggling with a few things myself. The second moto was a little better than the first, I was in the mix up in 11th for a little bit and then I got passed for 12th. It’s a tough class and I need to just keep plugging away and trying to get better every moto.”
Brandon Hartranft | 18-17 for 17th overall in 450 Class
"The track this morning was fast. I took advantage of that and qualified 14th, which was a pretty solid spot. In Moto 1 I got a mediocre start then fell into my own pace and ended up 18th. I'm not happy with that finish, but it's a step in the right direction compared to last weekend when I fell in the first moto. In the second moto I had a good start, I think I was in the top ten. I got shuffled back a little bit early in the race; I wasn't taking the best lines so I was a little bit uncomfortable. The track was pretty chattery by the end of the day. Then mid-moto I changed up my lines and started clicking some laps away and I ended up 17th, which gave me 17th overall. I'm making improvements every time I get on the bike so we're looking forward to High Point."
Jo Shimoda | 6-4 for 4th overall in 250 Class
“Today was much better than last week. Fourth overall is a career best for me outdoors and I’m pumped on that, but I want to go after that podium finish. I have the speed to move up through the field and catch the lead pack. All I need is a good start so I can be there battling with the leaders from the beginning. We’re in a good place right now and we’ll build off this milestone come High Point. I can’t thank the entire Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team enough for all their hard work this weekend.”
Colt Nichols | 9-5 for 5th overall in 250 Class
“I made my life really difficult today with two bad starts but my riding was much better this weekend so I’m happy about that. I just need a better start and to have more pace at the beginning of the race. We have something to build on during our weekend off and look to keep building going into High Point.”
Jalek Swoll | 10-6 for 7th overall in 250 Class
“I’m content with the day but not stoked. We’re going in the right direction so there are always some positives to take out of it. I think the more we race, the better the bike will get and the better my fitness and all that kind of stuff will get. By these next few rounds, I should be right up there with the top of them. Just having fun and taking it step by step. I kind of feel like this season is my rookie season because I’ve been hurt every outdoors but I’ve been enjoying the grind and we’ll keep taking it step-by-step.”
Dilan Schwartz | 8-12 for 9th overall in 250 Class
"Colorado was awesome. I didn’t get the greatest of starts, but I was able to make a bunch of passes and get inside the top ten in moto 1, which I’m really happy with. I came just a bit short in moto two with a twelfth. Overall, I’m really happy with getting my first top ten overall finish and I'm looking forward to round three at High Point!"
RJ Hampshire | 3-19 for 10th overall in 250 Class
“I felt great on the bike again today. I was comfortable and I knew we had a pretty good bike going into the motos. I got a good start in moto one and probably did one of the best motos I’ve ever done in my pro career. In moto two, we got a good start and made a simple little mistake that cost me big time. It’s a bummer because it definitely doesn’t show how good we were riding and how good of a spot we’re at physically right now. I tried to dig deep there just to get some points because there was a big shake-up in the championship this weekend, so I’m trying to keep myself in this. We’re headed back east and I think we’re going to continue to get better from here.”
Austin Forkner | 13-8 for 11th overall in 250 Class
“I didn’t ride that great today, but I know I can do better than what my results are showing. My KX250 is like a rocket out there, my fitness is good and I’m confident I can get the job done. Now it’s up to me to prove it. This off weekend will be a nice break, but I’m already looking forward to the next round and hopefully battling with the lead group.”
Nate Thrasher | 11-10 for 12th overall in 250 Class
“I had a great time out in Colorado but had to fight for the results. I had some pretty good starts in both motos, but I’m looking to clean up some things and be ready for the East Coast rounds.”
Jarrett Frye | 12-13 for 13th overall in 250 Class
“Our results didn’t show it, but I rode better this weekend. We will go back to work and use this weekend off to be ready for High Point.”
Pierce Brown | 36-9 for 15th overall in 250 Class
Pierce Brown: “I had a rough first moto, unfortunately. In the second moto, I got a terrible start but everyone pushed wide in the first corner so I snuck under a bunch of people and I was in a really good spot in sixth. A couple laps in, I made a dumb mistake and fell over in a corner dropping back to 15th but I charged my way back up as far as I could. To fall and still get ninth was not a terrible moto but I know I could have had more, for sure. We’re going to put our head down and work these next two weeks and come back swinging at High Point!”
Michael Mosiman | 34-11 for 16th overall in 250 Class
“It was a rough day, which is a bummer since this is one of my favorite tracks. I felt good all day but unfortunately, we ran into some bike issues with the altitude here in Colorado and hopefully we will get it sorted out so we can get back up front.”
Max Vohland | 15-17 for 18th overall in 250 Class
“I ended up getting food poisoning when we got here on Thursday night, so I was sick and couldn’t eat anything for at least 30 hours straight and didn’t get a lot of sleep the night before the race. I gave it my all and I didn’t quit, which was the best I could do. I did get a good start in one moto, so that’s something to take away for the next race. It was tough but we survived.”
Derek Drake | 20-22 for 24th overall in 250 Class
"Thunder Valley was a tough weekend. I just need to get a good start and run up front. Just a few steps forward will really turn things around this season."
Stilez Robertson | 38-35 for 38th overall in 250 Class
“It’s a bummer that we had bike problems today but we’ll get it fixed and come back stronger. I’m really hungry for more, I want to be up front. I’m tired of being in the back so we’re going to put our head down these next two weeks and come out swinging at High Point.”
Clip of the Day
Watch Ferrandis rail this inside berm to make a pass on Barcia with two laps to go in the second moto.