Ken Roczen has taken top honours at Round 3 of the AMA Pro Motocross and in doing so claimed the lead from Eli Tomac. In the 250 class it was Adam Cianciarulo who took the win from Justin Cooper, with each taking a win and a second place, but with Cianciarulo coming out on top to continue his winning streak, and holding onto the 250 standings lead.
The mile-high altitude of the greater Denver area provided the setting for Round 3 of the 2019 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, and was also the landmark 15th running of the Thunder Valley National at the Thunder Valley Motocross Park. The highest professional motocross track in the world, at an elevation of 6108 feet, provides a unique challenge to the world’s best riders.
Dean Ferris lead the Aussies in the 450 class with a 6-9 result for eighth overall, while Todd Waters was 14th, with the same result in both motos. New Zealand’s Cody Cooper was 32nd with a 30-29 result. Dean Ferris currently sits eighth in the standings.
In the 250s Hunter Lawrence recorded a 10-7 for eighth overall, while Wilson Todd was 15th with a 14-17. Hunter Lawrence is now ninth in the standings.
The opening 450 Class moto followed a brief thunderstorm at the track and it presented riders with a much different racing surface than what they’d previously been competing on. When the gate dropped rookie Zach Osborne grabbed his first holeshot over Roczen and Cooper Webb.
As Osborne looked to assert himself in the lead for the first time in his 450 Class career he came under fire from Roczen, who let it fly on the track’s biggest and longest downhill descent to surge into the top spot. With the clear track, Roczen upped his pace and was able to establish a multi-second gap over field at the completion of the opening lap.
Behind this battle, entering point leader and reigning back-to-back champion Eli Tomac was forced to fight his way from outside the top 10 aboard his Monster Energy Kawasaki. The Colorado native was in the mix in the top five off the start, but a crash by Marvin Musquin briefly held Tomac up and forced him to lose valuable track position.
Roczen was able to continue to add to his advantage, which left Osborne and Webb to settle into second and third, respectively. Without much action up front, the focus turned to Tomac and his quest to climb up the running order. He successfully broke into the top 10, but then encountered an issue with his goggles, which slowed his pace and saw him lose a position.
Tomac elected to make quick pit stop in the mechanics area to get new goggles and returned to the track in the thick off the battle for 10th place. He easily cleared Musquin and Justin Hill and made a push to gain more positions in the waning moments of the moto.
Roczen rode to a dominant and uneventful moto victory, his second of the season, by 35.4 seconds over Osborne. Webb rode to his best moto result of the season in third, with Anderson fourth and Tomac able to salvage a hard-fought fifth.
The deciding 450 Class moto saw Webb edge out Blake Baggett for the holeshot and surge out to the early lead. Roczen, who started third, was able to get around Baggett and quickly attacked Webb for the lead. Webb withstood the initial pass attempt and carried on to lead the opening lap.
Behind them Musquin engaged in a fierce battle with Baggett for third, with the two riders swapping the position. The Frenchman gained the upper hand as they started the next lap, while their battle allowed Tomac to close in from fifth.
Roczen stalked Webb throughout the next lap and eventually made the pass happen. Just like in the first moto, Roczen took full advantage of the clear track to establish a multi-second lead. Tomac began a determined charge from fifth that carried him around Baggett, then around Musquin into third.
He was able to close in on Webb for second and made the pass for the position in the exact same spot where Roczen took the lead. Once Tomac found his way into the runner-up spot he and Roczen were separated by about four seconds. Webb continued to lose ground and gave up third to his teammate Musquin, and later dropped another spot to a hard-charging Osborne.
Tomac continued to chip away at the gap to Roczen, and a battle for the lead began with about 10 minutes left in the moto. Tomac easily got within a bike length of Roczen, but found it difficult to make the pass.
Tomac was able to show a wheel to Roczen in a few turns, but the German was able to fend him off on numerous occasions. With the home crowd passionately cheering him on, Tomac finally found his way into the lead and quickly distanced himself from Roczen.
Tomac carried on to his fourth moto win of the season, 9.1 seconds ahead of Roczen. Musquin followed in a distant third.
Roczen’s 1-2 effort easily gave him his second overall victory and the 16th win of his career, which puts him into a tie for eighth on the all-time list. Tomac’s second-moto win vaulted him into the runner-up spot (5-1), while Osborne earned his first 450 Class podium result in third (2-4).
Ken Roczen – P1
“I tried all the way through [to the second moto finish]. [Tomac] was just quicker in the end there. The good thing was I didn’t let him get away,” said Rozen. “I almost got together with a lapper there coming to the white flag. He crashed right in front of me. It definitely got rougher in the second moto, for sure, but we did exactly what we needed to do to get the overall [win].”
With the win, Roczen also reclaimed control of the points lead for the second time this season. He holds a two-point lead over Tomac, while Osborne moved into third, 26 points out of the lead.
Zach Osborne – P3
“It was a pretty solid day, to get third in qualifying and then 2-4 in the motos for third overall, I feel pretty good about it. I feel like I didn’t ride to my peak today but I’m going to work on finding a little bit more speed and continuing to move forward from here.”
Jason Anderson – P4
“I’m happy to be leaving Colorado with 4-5 finishes, that’s the most points I’ve ever scored here. I’ll move on and try to be better for the next one at High Point.”
Marvin Musquin – P5
“It was a rough start of the day for the motos and I gave my best to come back to eighth in the first moto. Those guys out front were fast, so to catch more than that, it was difficult. I put myself in a better position to fight for the podium and the win in the second moto. Something clicked a little bit and then my riding was better – I had better lines and better flow. We improved the bike a little bit for the second moto and that was the positive.”
Cody Webb – P6
“It was a tough day in Colorado. I struggled a little bit in practice so it was nice to get on the podium in Moto 1. In Moto 2, I made a bike change that wasn’t good at all and I really struggled. It was a tough day but we have two weeks now to try to get better and start the east coast nationals off on a better note.”
The season has been one of learning and adjusting for Ferris, but he has also been eager to put his talent to the test. In the opening moto, he nearly grabbed the holeshot and was in the mix for over half of the race running in fourth. Near the end he fell back to sixth, but that still gave Ferris his best moto finish of the season. In Moto 2, it was more of an uphill battle as he pushed inside the top 10. Ferris would eventually make it up to ninth, giving him a 6-9 score for eighth overall.
Dean Ferris – P8
“Big improvements for me today. I got two reasonably good starts and kind of got pulled along with the big group. We made improvements with the bike. I’m somewhat comfortable now and feel like we’re getting the train on the tracks now for the rest of the season. The conditions were demanding, the track was really rutted and rough as usual, but I liked it. I’m definitely really happy about the improvements we made and the result this weekend. It’s something to build on.”
Justin Barcia – P9
“It was a tough day for me. I went back to Florida this week and came down with some kind of sickness. I don’t really know what it was but I had really bad migraines all week and struggled with that. I didn’t get a lot of sleep. It was difficult. I wasn’t feeling good the first moto at all and unfortunately it showed. That was really frustrating. In the second moto I felt a little bit better, kind of regrouped, got a little energy and put it all out there. All in all, I was happy with my bike settings and stuff like that. It seems like I’ve been making some progress, but it really hasn’t shown at the moment. I just need to use this off-week coming up to do a little testing, get healthy and go to the East Coast. That’s when I plan on really moving forward and turning it on.”
Todd Waters took 14-14 results on his Husqvarna for the same position overall, and holds 46 championship points for 14th in the standings. Cody Cooper went 30-29.
Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., KTM – 61
…14. Todd Waters Australia, Husqvarna – 46
…23. Cody Cooper New Zealand, Honda – 6
The first 250 Class moto of the afternoon saw rookie Ty Masterpool come away with his first career holeshot, followed closely by RJ Hampshire and Cianciarulo. Right behind the lead trio Justin Cooper slotted into fourth.
Hampshire attacked Masterpool for the lead early and successfully took over the top spot before the completion of the opening lap, bringing Cianciarulo along with him into second. Cooper then stole third right as they came to the line to begin the next lap.
Cianciarulo searched for a way around Hampshire, but the Honda rider withstood the challenge and opened a few bike lengths. As he gave chase to the lead, Cianciarulo started to lose ground to a hard-charging Cooper. The Yamaha rider snuck his way into second and then set his sights on the lead.
After patiently following Hampshire and learning his lines, Cooper pulled the trigger and dive-bombed down the outside of Hampshire as they traversed the downslope of the track’s biggest hill. He held his line and seized control of the moto, quickly gapping the field.
Hampshire continued to lose ground and soon lost his hold of second to Cianciarulo. The Honda rider was then forced to deal with Dylan Ferrandis. The duo battled for the spot for several laps before Ferrandis got the upper hand to moved into third.
Just after the halfway point of the moto a thunderstorm hit the track. Cianciarulo promptly began chipping away at his deficit to Cooper as they battled both the rain and lapped traffic. The point leader closed to within about three seconds on Cooper and was the fastest rider on the track, but race officials were forced to bring the moto to an end due to lightning in the area.
The red flag and checkered flag flew simultaneously with about six minutes remaining in the moto, giving Cooper his third straight Moto 1 victory ahead of Cianciarulo. Ferrandis finished third, followed by Michael Mosiman and Hampshire.
As the 250 Class field exited the first turn to start Moto 2 it was Cooper who succeeded in taking the holeshot, with Cianciarulo giving close pursuit from second.
The divisions’ top two riders quickly asserted themselves at the front, while the battle for third saw Jordon Smith settle into the position over Colt Nichols. Cooper has shown an impressive ability to maintain the lead once he gets there, and he soon stabilised his advantage over Cianciarulo to around a second.
The top two were able to separate themselves from Smith and the rest of the field, which allowed Cianciarulo to start trying different lines on the track in an effort to close in on Cooper. He was able to get the deficit to under a second, but briefly went off track and had to start the pursuit again.
At the halfway point of the moto Cianciarulo had once again closed to within bike lengths, but Cooper gave up the lead after a major bobble caused him to veer off track and onto the ground.
As Cianciarulo rode past with the lead, Cooper also lost second to his teammate Nichols and returned to the track just ahead of Smith in third. Cooper regained his composure to keep Smith at bay, and it didn’t take long for him to catch and pass Nichols for second.
Cianciarulo looked to maintain his comfortable lead over Cooper while the battle for third intensified behind them. Following a career-best finish in the first moto, Mosiman carried the momentum into Moto 2 and found himself in a position to earn a first-ever moto podium. He patiently waited for his opportunity to make a pass attempt on Nichols and took advantage of it to grab third.
Out front Cooper did well to gain ground on Cianciarulo in the waning stages of the moto, but the point leader held on to take the win by two seconds. Mosiman followed in third.
With identical moto scores between them, Cianciarulo (2-1) and Cooper (1-2) ended up tied for the overall win, but by virtue of his second-moto triumph, his third straight, Cianciarulo earned the tiebreaker to capture his third consecutive overall victory. Cooper settled for his third runner-up finish in a row, while Mosiman (4-3) earned the first overall podium result of his career on a breakthrough afternoon.
Cianciarulo becomes the first rider since James Stewart in 2004 to open a season with three wins in a row.
Adam Cianciarulo – P1
“That was a great [final] moto. Justin [Cooper] has been riding so good lately and we’re really pushing each other so much. I’m really enjoying [the battles]. It feels incredible to get three wins in a row. We’ve been putting in so much work, so to get the season start the way we have is amazing.”
Six points still separate Cianciarulo and Cooper in the 250 Class standings, while Ferrandis, who finished fourth (3-5), remains third, 33 points out of the lead.
The 2019 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship will observe its first off weekend of the summer before returning to action on Saturday, June 15, with the Circle K High Point National on Father’s Day weekend in Mt. Morris, Pennsylvania.
Justin Cooper – P2
“I have been feeling really good. It was another good win in Moto 1 even though it was cut short. In Moto 2, I came out of the rut and it threw my feet off the bike and I couldn’t get them back on and had to lay it over. I felt strong and was pushing until the end. I did my best today for all that was in my control. The bike and the team were awesome all day and it showed! I feel I definitely proved a lot today and look forward to bringing the heat at the next one.”
Michael Mosiman – P3
“I like this track and I knew I liked it, so I had a good feeling about this weekend. I qualified fourth and that’s where I started to believe I can run with those guys. It was super cool to bring it home for my first-ever podium.”
Dylan Ferrandis – P4
“The conditions were good and the track was actually good, too. We had a little storm during Moto 1 so we had red flag and had to stop before the end. I managed to finish third, but Moto 2 wasn’t good for me. I had a bad start then crashed in the corner before the finish line and lost lots of positions today. We will work again to get ready for High Point in two weeks.”
Colt Nichols – P6
“The conditions varied a lot throughout the day from practice to the downpour in the first moto, and then the second moto had a ton of ruts that were a little stickier from the rain. The first moto was tough because I didn’t get a great start. I had to make a goggle swap and in the second moto I didn’t really have the pace midway through, but I was able to manage a fourth. We will keep working. I’m looking forward to the next one.”
Hunter Lawrence went 10-7 to claim eighth overall at Thunder Valley and as a result sits ninth in the standings on 66-points.
Wilson Todd went 14-17 and was 15th overall for the round.
MCNEWS.COM.AU is a specialist on-line resource that provides motorcycle news for motorcyclists. MCNews covers all areas of interest for the motorcycling public including news, reviews and comprehensive racing coverage.