Eli Tomac’s 450cc win streak comes to sudden and violent end in Lakewood, Colorado. Ryan Dungey wins 450cc class; Jeremy Martin rebounds in 250cc class.
After five perfect moto’s GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac was looking strong to collect his third consecutive win of the 2015 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship season at his home state round in Colorado.
But Tomac’s fortunes, and perhaps his season, took a turn for the worse in one vicious split second during Moto Two of the 2015 True Value Thunder Valley National in Lakewood, Colorado, yesterday. While attacking the horribly rutted Thunder Valley track and adding to his race lead, Tomac’s GEICO Honda suddenly swapped sideways in a fast section of the track on lap eight, and he was thrown to the ground instantly, coming to an abrupt stop while his bike tumbled violently. Tomac was up almost immediately, but it was clear that he was seriously injured as he limped off the track and had to be attended to by the Asterisk Mobile Medical staff.
But such are the fortunes of one of the toughest and most competitive motorcycle racing series in the world. One second you feel like you’re on top of the world, and the next you feel like you’ve been plowed under it. On the plus side, for Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey, the 2015 True Valley Thunder Valley National marked a return to the top of the motocross world as Dungey claimed his first 450cc overall win of the 2015 season, via 2-1 moto finishes. For factory Suzuki riders Ken Roczen (RCH/Soraring Eagle/Jimmy John’s) and Blake Baggett (Yoshmiura), it yielded their first podium finishes of the season–and Baggett’s first-ever on a 450. And for reigning Lucas Oil 250cc Pro Motocross Champion Jeremy Martin, the race spelled redemption after a trying Glen Helen round. Martin claimed his second overall victory of the season with 1-1 performances, which put him back into the class points lead.
Tomac started the day off strong yet again by claiming his second Bud Light Fastest Qualifier of the season, but when the opening moto got underway, Dungey outran Roczen to grab the Motosport.com Holeshot Award. Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Jason Anderson ran third and Tomac fourth aboard.
Roczen, clearly feeling better after the back injury that hampered him at the Hangtown season opener two weeks ago, immediately attacKed Dungey on the first lap and got by him to lead a moto for the first time in 2015. Tomac was also on the move, and he made quick work of Anderson and then Dungey before the first lap was complete. Dungey also ran into a little trouble on his own when he went off track and lost two more spots, dropping back to fifth.
Tomac continued to charge, closing in to follow Roczen before making a pass for the lead on lap three. From there, Tomac did the same as he had done in the four previous motos thus far in the season, pull away and build a huge lead as he went on to maintain his undefeated streak with a fifth straight moto win by 14.546 seconds. Dungey came back to pass Roczen with two laps to go and finish second. Roczen held on for third, ahead of two more Suzuki riders, Baggett and Roczen’s RCH Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s teammate Broc Tickle.
Team Honda HRC’s Cole Seely edged out Autotrader.com/Toyota/Yamaha’s Justin Barcia for the Motosport.com Holeshot Award to start Moto Two, but like the first moto, Tomac came out of the first turn in fourth and breezed into the lead before the end of lap one. Roczen and Dungey moved their way forward and into second and third, respectively by lap three.
Tomac had once again built a 14-second lead on the field when, on lap eight, his rear wheel hit a bump that caused the back end of the motorcycle to jump sideways, slamming him to the ground. According to Tomac’s team, he suffered a dislocated right shoulder, which was then put back into place by the series medical staff. He will undergo further evaluation next week.
With Tomac out, Roczen moved into the lead and held a 5-second advantage over Dungey with two laps ago. However, once again the complexion of the race changed when Roczen crashed, losing virtually all of his time cushion. Roczen tried to hold Dungey off but lost the lead and fell again soon after, effectively giving the second moto win and the overall victory to Dungey. It was later revealed that Roczen’s bike had suffered a flat front tire that contributed to his late-race falls.
Dungey won Moto 2 by 21.492 seconds over Roczen to secure the overall (2-1). It was the 32nd of his career and his fourth win at Thunder Valley, giving the the most wins of any rider in Lucas Oil rounds held at the venue.
“We made some changes coming into the weekend, but this track was much different than anything we had prepared for,” Dungey said. “We adjusted to that and were good coming into the motos. I got a good start in the first moto but made a mistake there early. Luckily I was able to bounce back. In the second moto I didn’t get the start I needed, none of us [Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen] did, but I was able to work my way forward. I saw Eli took a tumble, so I hope he’s okay, but the track was really difficult today. We caught a bit a gift [with Roczen’s crash], but we kept our head down all day and it ended up working out.”
Roczen earned his first overall podium finish of the season in second (3-2), while Team Yoshimura Suzuki’s Blake Baggett captured his first career 450 Class podium in third (4-3).
“I’ve been trying to figure things out on the motorcycle and it was really good in the second moto, which made it a little bit easier for me,” Roczen said. “I planned to push hard over the final couple laps [in Moto 2] but I went down and lost all the ground to Ryan [Dungey]. I tried to push again when I got back up and ended up crashing a second time, so I was wondering what was going on. When I got going again I noticed it was turning weird and I realized I had a flat tire. We’ve made a lot of progress since the start of the season so I’m happy to be on the podium given how rough things have been for me the past few weeks.”
Dungey entered the race facing a 19-point deficit in the championship standings, but with Tomac’s DNF in the second moto and seventh-place overall finish (1-33), Dungey took over the 450 Class points lead following his win and now carries a three point lead into the next round. Tomac still sits second, while Baggett moved into third, 29 points back.
The 250 Class saw a surprise atop the practice charts when the day began as GEICO Honda’s Christian Craig, who was called out of etirement to fill in for an injured Justin Bogle, earned the Bud Light Fastest Qualifier in his first race back. However, when the gate dropped on Moto One, Craig found himself mired outside the top 10 while Martin grabbed the Motosports.com Holeshot Award ahead of Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil/Red Bull/KTM’s Jessy Nelson and Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin.
Martin used the opening laps to establish a comfortable lead, leaving Nelson and Musquin to battle for second. Nelson held Musquin off for three laps, but the 250cc class points leader eventually got by after Nelson briefly went off the track at the finish line. Just a few laps later as he looked to track down the defending series champion out front, Musquin went down and fell outside the top 10. He was able to remount, but took his time getting back up to speed.
Without the pressure of anyone behind him, Martin cruised to his second moto win of the year by 18.720 seconds. Musquin’s absence resulted in a spirited battle for second between Nelson and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Zach Osborne that lasted the entirety of the moto. Nelson appeared to have hold on the runner-up spot, but Osborne was able to make a last-lap pass to steal the spot, leaving Nelson third. Musquin recovered to finish 14th.
Martin maintained his regained momentum in Moto Two, sweeping the Motosport.com Holeshot Awards for the afternoon, this time with Osborne, Musquin and Nelson on his rear fender. Looking to rebound from the misfortune of the first moto, Musquin made a quick move on Osborne to take over second and keep Martin in his sights while Nelson moved into third. Martin went on to build a huge lead again, with Musquin running alone in second place for the entire moto.
With the top two spots spoken for, the battle for the podium once again came down to Nelson and Osborne. Osborne passed Nelson on lap five, and Nelson continued to lose ground as the moto wore on, ultimately dropping out of contention for the overall podium. Martin completed the moto sweep 18.604 seconds ahead of Musquin in second, with Osborne capping off his best ever afternoon of racing in third.
Martin’s dominant 1-1 day gave him his second overall win of the season, one week after he lost the points lead with an adversity-filled outing. Osborne earned a career-best second-place finish (2-3) and put Husqvarna back on the 250 Class podium for the first time since 1976 when it was called the 125cc Class. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo earned the first overall podium finish of his career in third (5-4).
“I didn’t necessarily feel dialed all day, but I got the bike better as the day went on,” said Martin, who now has seven career wins. “I knew I’d be able to do well in the motos, my fitness is better than it’s ever been. Today was an awesome day. When you train the way we do during the week you dream about getting two holeshots and leading every lap. It was a perfect day with the exception of practice, where we didn’t get the fastest lap. The track was really tough today and if you weren’t on your game the entire time it was definitely going to bite you. I’m happy we walking away with another win and the points lead.”
Martin erased a 19-point deficit to Musquin in the 250 Class standings and moved ahead by two points after Musquin’s seventh-place overall effort (14-2). Nelson, who finished fourth (3-7), moved into third, 48 points back.
The 2015 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship continues next Saturday, June 6, with the Red Bull Tennessee National from Muddy Creek Raceway in Blountville, Tennessee.
2015 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship
True Value Thunder Valley National
Thunder Valley MX Park
Results: May 30, 2015 (Round 3 of 12)
1. Ryan Dungey-KTM/2-1
2. Ken Roczen-Suz/3-2
3. Blake Baggett-Suz/4-3
4. Broc Tickle-Suz/5-5
5. Cole Seely-Hon/8-4
6. Justin Barcia-Yam/7-6
7. Eli Tomac, Cortez-Hon/1-33
8. Christophe Pourcel-Hus/11-7
9. Phil Nicoletti-Yam/10-9
10. Justin Brayton-KTM/9-10
Lucas Oil 450cc Pro Motocross Championship Point Standings (After 3 of 12 rounds)
1. Ryan Dungey-128/1 moto win/1 overall win
2. Eli Tomac-125/5 moto wins/2 overall wins
3. Blake Baggett-99
4. Ken Roczen-93
5. Justin Barcia-87
6. Weston Peick-79
7. Broc Tickle-75
8. Jason Anderson-72
9. Christophe Pourcel-72
10. Phil Nicoletti-62
1. Jeremy Martin-Yam/1-1
2. Zach Osborne-Hus/2-3
3. Adam Cianciarulo-Kaw/5-4
4. Jessy Nelson-KTM/3-7
5. Christian Craig-Hon/4-6
6. Jordon Smith-Hon/6-5
7. Marvin Musquin-KTM/14-2
8. RJ Hampshire-Hon/9-10
9. Aaron Plessinger-Yam/13-8
10. Shane McElrath-KTM/12-9
Lucas Oil 250cc Pro Motocross Championship Point Standings (after 3 of 12 rounds)
1. Jeremy Martin-128/3 moto wins/2 overall wins
2. Marvin Musquin-126/3 moto wins/1 overall win
3. Jessy Nelson-80
4. Adam Cianciarulo-76
5. Joey Savatgy-72
6. Alex Martin-68
7. Zach Osborne-67
8. Shane McElrath-65
9. Matt Bisceglia-64
10. Chris Alldredge-62