Photos by: Jessica Hare – Reed Photography
For round 8 of the 2020 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, the series headed a mile high to the base of the Rocky Mountains for the 2020 Thunder Valley National in Lakewood, Co.
In the 450 Class, it was Monster Energy / Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac (2-1 for 1st) and Adam Cianciarulo (1-3 for 2nd) sweeping the two motos and grabbing the top-two overall spots on the podium. Occupying the last spot on the podium and hanging onto a 24-point lead in the 450 Championship was Rockstar Energy / Husqvarna’s Zach Osborne. The pressure is real as the second-year 450 rider is just two motos away from possibly locking down his first-ever 450 AMA National Championship at 31-years-old.
In the 250 Class, Monster Energy / Star Racing / Yamaha’s Justin Coooper—who came into the season recovering from an injury—scored a 2-1 day to climb to the top step of the podium for the first time this season. Cooper’s teammate Dylan Ferrandis used a 1-3 day to grab 2nd overall and stretch his points lead in the 250 Championship to 18-points over former two-time Champ, GEICO / Honda’s Jeremy Martin.—who finished third overall.
After the racing was over, we gathered numerous quotes from riders about their penultimate outdoor MX race of 2020.
Eli Tomac: (1st in 450MX) “Everything just felt right today. Similar to Moto 2 from last weekend at WW, I was able to go forward and get to the front like I have done for the past three years. I thought they did a wonderful job with the track; it was smooth in the morning but by the time our second 450 moto came around it was rough and challenging, and it wasn’t just a big freeway out there. Being able to win in front of the home crowd is always something special and something I don’t take for granted. When I passed for the lead, it reminded me of supercross a little bit as I could hear the fans cheering. It makes you appreciate having them back at the race. I am looking forward to finishing out the season strong next week at Fox Raceway.”
Justin Cooper: (1st in 250MX) “It was a good weekend for myself and the team. We got a win under our belt, and it feels dang good! I felt comfortable all day. I came here looking for this win, so I’m glad to put it on the top step. We’re focusing on finishing this season out strong. Not much more to say except that I am just so stoked on the day!”
Adam Cianciarulo: (2nd in 450MX) “I am frustrated that I couldn’t seal the deal today. Moto 1 we led from start to finish with a good amount of pressure from behind. In Moto 2 we got to the front in a hurry on the opening lap, but I kept making a few minor mistakes that ultimately added up and cost me two positions. I try to remind myself that this is only my rookie season, but I also know that I have what it takes to win if I can just clean up some of those little pieces throughout the race. All in all, it was a great day for Kawasaki going 1-2 on the podium. My Monster Energy Kawasaki KX450 has been an absolute beast this season and has helped put me at the front of the pack in each moto. Let’s go have some fun this weekend at Fox Raceway and put on a show for the fans!””
Dylan Ferrandis: (2nd in 250MX) “We had a perfect Moto 1 with a good start and took the win. It was a completely different scenario in Moto 2. I had a bad start and a crash and then had to come back from behind. The track was tricky today. I’m happy to leave with second overall and gain some more points before the finale next week.”
Zach Osborne: (3rd in 450MX) “It was a decent weekend. I had some decent riding there in the second moto, I kind of found my feet a little bit and did some points racing today, so I feel good about my chances going into Pala next weekend. Our focus now is on this championship and wrapping it up, so that’s what we’re going to go there and do.”
Jeremy Martin: (3rd in 250MX) “I’m not super-stoked on that. I got a really good jump out of the gate in moto 1 and some of the guys just went right around me. I don’t know what happened there—I shifted really really good. It was a dog fight! Really the whole first moto I was trying to catch the blue bikes [Star Racing / Yamaha’s] . I inched up on Shane [McElrath] a little bit but I’d get up on him a little bit and he’d just sprint and get away. In moto two, we changed the gearing and it helped a ton out of the gate. I got off to a really good start. I tried to get in on Justin [Cooper] there but he was riding really well. I thought I could get him early, but he started to catch onto some of my lines. I threw a could of good efforts at him, but he rode well. I didn’t have anything for him there and that was it.”
Chase Sexton: (4th in 450MX) “Round eight in Denver was pretty good. In the first moto I ran behind Adam [Cianciarulo] and tried to make a push for the win and ended up second, which was my best moto finish so far. I had a really good start in the second moto and finished fifth; I didn’t ride as well as I wanted but ended with fourth overall, so still top five. We’re making improvements.”
Christian Craig: (5th in 450MX) “The day started off good in Colorado. I qualified fourth, which was one of my best of the year. I felt good on the bike and on this track, so I went into the motos pretty confident. Unfortunately, I got off to a bad start, which has kind of been my story all year; I had to make some passes and got up to seventh, tagging along with [Marvin] Musquin for the whole moto pretty much. In the second moto, I got off to a better start, top-five off the line. I battled with some guys, made a couple passes and ended up fourth. It’s exactly what we’ve worked for. Obviously, the ultimate goal is to win, but to improve is what we look for every weekend. I ended up with 7-4 for fifth overall and am headed to the final round ready to go.”
Shane McElrath: (4th in 250MX) “It was a pretty good day for me today overall. We were just shy of a podium, but huge improvements were made. I’m excited about the progress we are continuing to make on the bike for the rough tracks. We will be ready to give it everything at the last round!”
Marvin Musquin: (6th in 450MX) “It’s frustrating. Obviously, last weekend I did good in more of the sandy conditions but this weekend was harder dirt and the track was a bit difficult, just a very tough day overall. It’s been a tough two weeks since my crash at Millville and then at practice at WW. I rode a couple laps this week but I can’t train on the motorcycle during the week because of my thumb. On race day, pain isn’t the issue but strength-wise it’s not awesome and confidence-wise I was off. We’ll do everything we can to finish on a high note at Pala next weekend.”
Hunter Lawrence: (5th in 250SX) “It was definitely a better day today. The tear has kind of sucked for me, but I wouldn’t say I had many races at the front like today during this season due to [bad] starts, my shoulder not being 100% and stuff like that. We had some decent starts and I’m just feeling more and more like myself. Hopefully, we can put in a good two motos at [Pala] and we’lll see how we go”
Mitchell Harrison: (8th in 250MX) “It was a much better day overall. Qualifying wasn’t the best, but I made some adjustments to the bike and really focused on my form and technique which paid off in the races. I pride myself on being a good starter and with the combination of my Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki KX250, we have the recipe for success, and it showed in Moto 1. It was good to just get out front and run with those Top-3 guys. I feel like my 8-9 scores for eighth overall do not really do justice for how good I was really feeling on the bike. I am bummed we only have one more race left this season because I am just enjoying racing with my team, but we’re going to the make the most of it one last time next weekend.”
Justin Bogle: (9th in 450MX) “Today was a good day. I was in the groove all day and feeling really fast on the bike. We have been working hard and it feels good to put in two solid motos like that to earn a top ten for the weekend. I’m ready to end the season strong with another top ten ride next weekend at Pala.”
Freddie Noren: (11th in 450MX) “I’m more comfortable but I’m not finishing in the results where I feel like I should and can be. In the second moto I had a crazy start crash. I’m glad I didn’t get hurt in it. I was able to get going and back to thirteenth place, which was good. I’m looking forward to Pala next weekend to finish the season strong!
Justin Barcia: (12th in 450MX) “It started out to be a great day but didn’t end well. I really was happy to be up front with the group in the first moto. The track was tough, but we were able to get a good result. The second moto was even tougher and I ended up going down and wasn’t able to keep going. I’ll work on getting back to 100 percent this week so we can end the season strong.””
Jarrett Frye: (9th in 250MX) “It was a good weekend for me. There were a lot of positives to take away from today, including my best result so far. We are getting better each weekend. I’m looking forward to finishing out the season strong next weekend.”
Broc Tickle: (18th in 450MX) “I think overall, it was a positive day for myself. That big crash at Millville set me back, and I missed WW Ranch. My starts were a little better today. The first moto was better than what I have been on the start, but I would say my riding wasn’t the best. I finally found a flow about halfway through and started clicking off some decent lap times as the track deteriorated. I ended up getting 10th, which wasn’t what I’m looking for, but it was an okay finish for the circumstances. Going into the second moto, I knew the track was going to deteriorate even more, which I normally strive and thrive in. I went out there and came close to the best start I’ve had all year. I was able to be close to the top 10 on the first lap, but unfortunately, I had to pull into the mechanic’s area and sit the second moto out. So all in all, like I said it was a positive day and good to be back at the races, but it’s kind of a bummer to miss out on some more points. We’ll come back at Pala and work to get back into the top 10 in the championship.”
Alex Mnartin: (11th in 250MX) “I had some rough luck this weekend in Colorado.” Martin explained, “I tangled with another rider off the start in the first moto and made a couple more mistakes throughout the day. I’m looking to make a strong comeback at the last race in Pala next weekend and get back into the top three in the championship.”
Dilan Swartz: 12th in 250MX) “Colorado was a step in the right direction. I got a good start in moto one and put together a solid moto getting tenth place. In moto two I didn’t get the greatest start but came from the back to finish fifteenth. I’m happy with the bike and the team and I’m excited to give it our all next weekend at Fox Raceway.
Nate Thrasher: (13th in 250MX) “It was a solid day for me to get my first Pro National under my belt! I had pretty good speed all day. I just needed to clean up a few things. I definitely learned a lot. Thanks to the whole team behind me. I’m going to give it my all for the last round at Fox Raceway!”
Preston Kilroy: (17th in 250MX) “After Loretta’s I knew Larry and the team had my bike dialed so I wanted to see where I stood. I set a top 20 goal for Thunder Valley and finished with a 17th overall. I’m excited to work on improving that next weekend at Pala.”
Cameron McAdoo: (39th in 250SX) “” “Unfortunately, on the last lap of Moto 1 a lapper went down right in front of me and I was hit by his bike which resulted in breaking three fingers on my right hand. The good news is that I should heal well with just a couple weeks of rest. I can’t thank my Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team enough for sticking behind me. This is obviously not the way I wanted to end my season, but I’m grateful it’s not worse and should heal quickly.: (th in 450MX) “”
Joey Savatgy: (42nd in 450MX) “It was another tough weekend. A practice crash put a halt to my weekend. I tried to go racing anyway but couldn’t hold on with my feet so I shut it down.”
RJ Hampshire: (43rd in 250MX) “It’s a disappointing way to end my season. I hit the ground hard the past couple weekends and today finished it off. It’s a pain riding injured and always seems to lead to more. I have a couple broken bones in my right hand but everything is in place so surgery shouldn’t be needed. My body needs a few weeks to recover. I’m bummed for myself and the team but we have a lot more to look forward to!”