2022 Thunder Valley Motocross | Race Report & Results
The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship stopped in Colorado on its journey East and got in the 2022 Thunder Valley Motocross, the third race in this summer’s tour of the US. The motos on the side of the Rocky Mountains were thrilling from start to finish, as four different riders claimed the checkered flag and tightened up the title chases.
450 Moto One
As the 450MX class left the gate for their first moto at Thunder Valley, Antonio Cairoli rounded the first turn in first place with Ken Roczen trailing. Christian Craig went down in the first turn with a few other riders and remounted in dead last. Back up front, Ken Roczen was pressuring Antonio for the lead on the first lap and made the pass stick after finding a faster line around the outside. Justin Barcia sat in third place, but Jason Anderson and Chase Sexton were trailing closely at the end of the first lap. While the battle for third continued to brew, Roczen had worked his way up to a three second lead on Antonio. Justin Barcia made a clean pass on Cairoli for second place on the third lap and Jason Anderson followed him a few sections later to pick up third. Anderson then went after Barcia but his line ultimately faded into a slower line, allowing Barcia to hold onto the lead.
The TV cameras didn’t show it, but word is Ken Roczen tipped it over for a brief second, allowing Barcia and Anderson to close the lead within 2 seconds. Back in the pack, Eli Tomac was turning up the pace and passed both Chase Sexton and Antonio Cairoli within two sections after two sneaky good moves. Eli now sat his sights on Jason Anderson and third place. A few laps later, Eli had closed the gap between himself and Jason to begin pressuring for position.
However, Anderson responded to the pressure from behind and made a move on Justin Barcia, after swapping lines, to pick up second place. Eli Tomac then challenged Barcia for position, but had to deal with a charging Chase Sexton. After lurking for a few laps, Eli Tomac cut inside of Barcia through one of the flat turns and got on the gas earlier to take over third place. Chase Sexton was now pressuring Sexton for fourth place.
Eli Tomac was now on Anderson’s rear wheel and pressuring for second place. Eli stayed on the gas longer going up the hill to cut inside of Jason and take away second place as they darted back down the hill. Eli was logging laps three-seconds faster than Ken Roczen and had already cut the gap to the lead in half. And just like that, with five minutes left on the clock, Eli Tomac had caught Ken Roczen.
Eli cut inside of Ken before the finish line and made quick work of Roczen. The Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider grabbed the lead almost as soon as he caught Roczen, however, Ken attempted to fire back though the rollers but was unable to respond.
Chase Sexton had caught Jason Anderson and the two were battling over third place with three laps to go. As Anderson worked to keep Sexton behind him, he began to reel in Ken Roczen who held down second place. Jason cut the gap between himself and Ken down to under a second but was unable to make a pass before the checkered flag waved. Eli Tomac crossed the checkered flag first to take the first moto win in Colorado.
450 Moto Two
The second 450MX moto was off and Antonio Cairoli was off to the early lead after another hole shot. Ken Roczen, much like in the first moto, immediately made the pass on Cairoli and took the lead. Shane McElrath was just behind Antonio, but had Jason Anderson trailing. Anderson went by McElrath and looked to have the pass on Cairoli too, but wasn’t able to make the move.
On the second lap, Eli Tomac and Christian Craig were entering the picture as they took over fourth and fifth place. However, Chase Sexton made a pass on Craig at the top of the hill to take over fifth. Jason Anderson then went down while running in third place, dropping him back to 11th place. Sexton then made the pass on the other Yamaha rider to take third place away from Eli Tomac.
Ken Roczen continued to lead and now had a four second lead on Antonio Cairoli. Chase Sexton was the fastest man on the track and was now reeling in Cairoli. Antonio had a slight bobble, allowing Sexton to take a shot at the pass. Sexton made the pass but Antonio attempted to respond before having to settle with the loss of position. Eli Tomac then made the pass on Cairoli and took over third place.
A few positions back, Christian Craig went down while running in fifth place and remounted with a twisted up bike. Jason Anderson then challenged Ryan Dungey for sixth place, but Ryan responded by upping his pace and reeling in Shane McElrath. While going for the pass, Ryan nearly tucked the front-end and went down, but saved it and continued pressuring Shane. Back up front, Chase Sexton caught and immediately went for the pass on Ken Roczen. Sexton opted for an inside line down the hill and ended the following turn in first place and ahead of his teammate.
Jason Anderson was back on Ryan Dungey’s rear wheel and pressuring for sixth place. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider ultimately made the pass on Dungey after a few attempts. Up front, Sexton had already built up a three-second lead on Roczen after just one lap but then got stuck behind Kevin Moranz for a few sections, allowing both Roczen and a charging Eli Tomac to reel back in.
Eli Tomac was the first to challenge for position in the top-3, as he mounted a charge on Roczen with just over three minutes on the clock. Though, Ken shut down Eli’s pass attempts, forcing Tomac to reset. A lap later, Eli dove inside and picked up second momentarily, but Ken cut down to retake the position and dart down the hill. As Roczen and Tomac continued to battle over second place, Chase Sexton broke back away from them and formed a four second lead.
A lap later, Eli used an outside line going down the hill to cut inside of Ken, but the two got hung-up at the bottom of the hill and Ken was able to get out of the rut first to hold onto second place. With two laps to go, Tomac was back on Ken’s rear wheel and used the outside line going down the hill again. Eli beat Ken to the corner at the bottom of the hill, but Roczen was able to push Eli wide and again survive an attack from Eli.
After that last pass attempt, Eli Tomac seemed to accept third place as he wasn’t quick to remount a charge like in the laps prior. On the final lap, Chase Sexton tipped over in the corner before the mechanics area, allowing Ken Roczen to get by and not only win the second moto but also take the overall victory in Thunder Valley.
250 Moto One
The first moto of the 250MX class was off and Levi Kitchen was off to the early lead with Stilez Robertson just behind. Justin Cooper was in third off of the start but made a quick pass on Robertson to take second place. Jett Lawrence sat in fourth but also made a quick pass on Robertson to take over third. However, Stilez stayed off the brakes down the hill and made the pass on Jett to retake third place. At the beginning of the second lap, Jett blitzed through the rollers and back to the inside of Stilez to again make the pass.
Levi Kitchen had built a three second lead after just one lap, while Seth Hammaker made a pass for fourth place and Jett Lawrence made the pass on Justin Cooper for second place. After four laps, Levi continued to lead the field with Jett just under 5-seconds back. Back in the pack, Jalek Swoll began pressuring Nick Romano for seventh place. Nick continued to hold Jalek off, but Swoll was able to take the preferred line through the rhythm and make the pass. Jo Shimoda was now pressuring Romano and ultimately made the pass after cutting inside going down the hill.
Hunter Lawrence was now going to work on Stilez Robertson for fifth place. While battling over position, both Stilez and Hunter were reeling in Seth Hammaker. Hunter cut inside going down the hill to make the pass on Robertson and now focused his attention on Hammaker and fourth place. Back up front, Levi Kitchen was the fastest rider on track and was building on his lead over Jett. After a few laps of pressuring Seth Hammaker, Hunter Lawrence was finally able to make the pass for fourth place.
Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha’s Levi Kitchen grabbed the hole shot, laid down some blistering fast lap times, and raced his way to a perfect start-to-finish moto to take his first career moto win in Thunder Valley.
250 Moto Two
As the second moto for the 250MX class left the gate, Hunter Lawrence was off to the early lead with Jett Lawrence and Justin Cooper trailing. Justin made a quick pass on Jett going up the Hill and took over second place. Seth Hammaker and Nate Thrasher were running fourth and fifth, but Hammaker took the inside line and came together with Thrasher. Both riders went down, but only Seth remounted as Thrasher was being tended to by the medics. Levi Kitchen, the first moto winner, tipped over trying to avoid Hammaker and Thrasher’s incident, remounting in ninth place.
Jett Lawrence made the pass on Justin Cooper and retook second place a lap after losing it. A few positions behind, Jo Shimoda was leading a charging Matt Leblanc, who was fending off Stilez Robertson and Levi Kitchen. Levi Kitchen took a far outside line around a corner and bolted to the inside of Robertson to take over Seventh. A few sections later, Levi railed another outside line to make the pass on LeBlanc for sixth.
Michael Mosiman made a quick pass on Justin Cooper for third place after a sneaky inside line. Levi Kitchen was now working on Jo Shimoda for fifth place, where he ultimately made the pass after a great drive from an outside line. Meanwhile, Hunter Lawrence continued to lead the field and now held a 5-second lead on his brother in second place. Justin Cooper was back on the charge, as he reeled Mosiman back in and was pressuring for third place. With just over 2-minutes left on the clock, Justin Cooper made the pass on Mosiman securing third place in the moto.
Hunter Lawrence crossed the checkered flag first to collect the second moto win after a perfect start-to-finish race in Thunder Valley.