Race Report: Thunder Valley 2012

words: Anton
photos: Kinman 

The Lucas Oil AMA Motocross Championship made its annual stop at Lakewood, Colorado's Thunder Valley Motocross Park for the third round of the 2012 season. This was the seventh visit to the suburban Denver track, and a change from its typical placement of later in the summer. The move by MX Sports and the AMA was to help curb the oppressive heat that the riders must overcome in addition to the increased altitude, and was met with mixed results. While temperatures were drastically cooler, but a spring storm front rolled over the mountains and wrecked havoc on the track and schedule. A dramatic turn of events in the first 450 moto of the day regarding James Stewart added another unforeseen element to the day, and allowed Ryan Dungey to sweep the class. Justin Barcia, Blake Baggett, and Ken Roczen made it a three way duel for the 250 overall, as Barcia and Roczen stuck to one another while Blake Baggett launched yet another come from behind charge.

 

450 Class

Moto One

Tommy Hahn led the 40-person field into the first turn aboard his Team Honda Muscle Milk CRF450R with Monster Energy Kawasaki's Jake Weimer in tow. Hahn set the pace for a number of laps and held off advances from Weimer and Chaparral Motorsports' Andrew Short, but a charging James Stewart made his way to the front after only a handful of laps on his still new Yoshimura Suzuki. Red Bull KTM's Ryan Dungey had established a rhythm much like Stewart's to earn the second spot before the 10-minute mark and set about closing the already extensive gap. As Stewart crested one of the many blind jumps on the hillside layout, an unnamed photographer/videographer crossed the track in view of the airborne Stewart, apparently causing him to bobble as he entered the soft, deeply rutted straightaway. Stewart flipped violently into the ground, but remounted, pacing the track slowly and favoring his right hand/wrist before pulling off. This incident handed the lead to Dungey for the first time of the 2012 season, and Dungey would go on to win the moto with ease.

As the Red Bull KTM racer rode to his first win, the field of riders behind battled for the available positions. Both Weimer and MotoConcepts Racing's Mike Alessi worked past Hahn for a place in the top three, and Hahn would be forced to drop out of the day altogether after a flying rock broke one of the replacement rider's fingers. In the final moments of the race Stewart's teammate, Brett Metcalfe, made a charge to steal the final podium spot from Alessi.

Results

  1. Ryan Dungey (KTM)
  2. Jake Weimer (Kaw)
  3. Brett Metcalfe (Suz)
  4. Mike Alessi (Suz)
  5. Nico Izzi (Yam)
  6. Ryan Sipes (Yam)
  7. Andrew Short (Hon)
  8. Josh Grant (Kaw)
  9. Justin Brayton (Hon)
  10. Kyle Chisholm (Kaw)
  11. Billy Laninovich (Hon)
  12. Michael Byrne (Suz)
  13. Matt Lemoine (Kaw)
  14. Shane Sewell (KTM)
  15. Vince Friese (Suz)
  16. Derek Anderson (Kaw)
  17. Kevin Rookstool (Hon)
  18. Ben LaMay (Yam)
  19. Evgeny Mikhaylov (Suz)
  20. Les Smith (KTM)
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Moto Two

Dungey carried the momentum from his victory earlier in the day to the line for the second moto and edged Team Honda Muscle Milk rider Justin Brayton at the stripe for the holeshot. With his foil out for the day with an injured arm and wrist, Dungey rode away to the overall victory, his first of the year and third at Lakewood, without incident.
As Dungey motored away, the talented and stacked 450 class battled viciously. Andrew Short moved past Brayton in the early moments for second place, a spot he would hold for the majority of the moto. With the running order of the top two locked in place for the moment, the attention turned to Jake Weimer and Broc Tickle's duel for third. Tickle was on a quest to overcome his first moto DNF, and the Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider put in the most impressive performance of his 450 career. After making work of Weimer by railing the outside of a rutted turn, he closed on Short, but would not be able to pry second place away from him. These finishes gave both Weimer and Short the final two overall podium solts.

Results

  1. Ryan Dungey (KTM)
  2. Andrew Short (Hon)
  3. Broc Tickle (Kaw)
  4. Jake Weimer (Kaw)
  5. Nico Izzi (Yam)
  6. Justin Brayton (Hon)
  7. Michael Byrne (Suz)
  8. Billy Laninovich (Hon)
  9. Mike Alessi (Suz)
  10. Brett Metcalfe (Suz)
  11. Kyle Chisholm (Kaw)
  12. Matt Lemoine (Kaw)
  13. Shane Sewell (KTM)
  14. Les Smith (KTM)
  15. Ben LaMay (Yam)
  16. Derek Anderson (Kaw)
  17. Jimmy Albertson (Suz)
  18. Vince Friese (Suz)
  19. Josh Grant (Kaw)
  20. Evgeny Mikhaylov (Suz)

 

Overall
1. Ryan Dungey (KTM)
2. Jake Weimer (Kaw)
3. Andrew Short (Hon)
4. Nico Izzi (Yam)
5. Brett Metcalfe (Suz)
6. Mike Alessi (Suz)
7. Justin Brayton (Hon)
8. Michael Byrne (Suz)
9. Billy Laninovich (Hon)
10. Kyle Chisholm (Kaw)
11. Broc Tickle (Kaw)
12. Matt Lemoine (Kaw)
13. Shane Sewell (KTM)
14. Josh Grant (Kaw)
15. Ryan Sipes (Yam)
16. Derek Anderson (Kaw)
17. Ben LaMay (Yam)
18. Vince Friese (Suz)
19. Les Smith (KTM)
20. Jimmy Albertson
450 Class Championship Points Standings (After 3 of 12 rounds)
1. Ryan Dungey (136 pts/1 win)
2. Jake Weimer (101)
3. James Stewart (100/ 2 wins)
4. Mike Alessi (100)
5. Andrew Short (97)
6. Brett Metcalfe (84)
7. Josh Grant (73)
8. Nico Izzi (71)
9. Broc Tickle (63)
10. Kyle Chisholm (50)

Page Two: 250, Page Three: WMX

250 Class

Moto One

As the 250 class waited behind the gate for their first race of the day, the storm system that had been hanging over the Colorado mountain valley became active. The combination of rain, wind, and lightning forced the AMA and MX Sports to halt the day for a length of time, but the racing eventually resumed. GEICO Honda's Justin Barcia was at the head of the pack as they raced around the slick and muddy first turn, and that is where he stayed for the duration of the moto. Barcia's time at the front of the pack did not come without issue, as rival Ken Roczen pressured him until the final moments. The Colorado layout is the only US track that the Red Bull KTM rider has prior experience on, and he used this to his advantage as he stalked Barcia. It looked as though a pass to overtake the lead was imminent, but just before the two riders began one of the final laps, Roczen washed out in a turn. This allowed Barcia to motor away to victory with a sizeable gap between himself, Barcia, and eventual third place finisher Blake Baggett.

Results

  1. Justin Barcia (Hon)
  2. Ken Roczen (KTM)
  3. Blake Baggett (Kaw)
  4. Eli Tomac (Hon)
  5. Marvin Musquin (KTM)
  6. Blake Wharton (Suz)
  7. Jake Canada (Hon)
  8. Malcolm Stewart (KTM)
  9. Kyle Cunningham (Yam)
  10. Wil Hahn (Hon)
  11. Alex Martin (Hon)
  12. Jason Anderson (Suz)
  13. Gareth Swanepoel (Yam)
  14. Ivan Tedesco (Kaw)
  15. Hunter Hewitt (Suz)
  16. Travis Baker (Hon)
  17. Zack Freeburg (KTM)
  18. Kelly Rusk (Hon)
  19. Tevin Tapia (KTM)
  20. Kyle Peters (Yam)
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Moto Two

Barcia was the rider that took control of the 250 class by again being the first to the turn ahead of Roczen. And much like the first moto, the two foes battled tirelessly, with Roczen still unable to take control from the Honda rider. Roczen held the throttle on longer as the two negotiated a right hand sweeper and made his presence know to Barcia with a very close pass attempt, but it was not enough to take the spot. With their focus on only each other, Blake Baggett increased the already blistering pace and closed the space between he and them. The Kawasaki rider first passed Roczen for second, and Barcia shortly after for the lead. He then tore off at an unrivaled speed and left the two disputing for second place. After Roczen eventually passed Barcia, the overall win for the day was mathematically Baggett's.

Eli Tomac had overcome a lackluster start to inch into the top four behind his teammate Barcia, and in the final laps of the race, he made the gap even tighter. Barcia was on a surge of power as he reeled in Roczen, and on the final lap of the moto, was within striking distance of second place. With only corners to go, he and Roczen tangled in a tight corner, which caused Roczen to falter and drop to fourth behind Barcia and Tomac. This last lap incident allowed Barcia to score the points necessary for the overall, and with 1-2 finishes on the day, he grabbed his first overall since 2009.

Results

  1. Blake Baggett (Kaw)
  2. Justin Barcia (Hon)
  3. Eli Tomac (Hon)
  4. Ken Roczen (KTM)
  5. Marvin Musquin (KTM)
  6. Malcolm Stewart (KTM)
  7. Wil Hahn (Hon)
  8. Ivan Tedesco (Kaw)
  9. Blake Wharton (Suz)
  10. Kyle Cunningham (Yam)
  11. Jessy Nelson (Hon)
  12. Travis Baker (Hon)
  13. Gareth Swanepoel (Yam)
  14. Jake Canada (Hon)
  15. Jason Anderson (Suz)
  16. Hunter Hewitt (Suz)
  17. Kyle Peters (Yam)
  18. Phil Nicoletti (Hon)
  19. Zack Freeburg (KTM)
  20. AJ Catanzaro (KTM)

Overall
1. Justin Barcia (Hon)
2. Blake Baggett (Kaw)
3. Ken Roczen (KTM)
4. Eli Tomac (Hon)
5. Marvin Musquin (KTM)
6. Malcolm Stewart (KTM)
7. Blake Wharton (Suz)
8. Wil Hahn (Hon)
9. Kyle Cunningham (Yam)
10. Jake Canada (Hon)
11. Ivan Tedesco (Kaw)
12. Gareth Swanepoel (Yam)
13. Jason Anderson (Suz)
14. Travis Baker (Hon)
15. Hunter Hewitt (Suz)
16. Jessy Nelson (Hon)
17. Alex Martin (Hon)
18. Zack Freeburg (KTM)
19. Kyle Peters (Yam)
20. Phil Nicoletti (Hon)
250 Class Championship Points Standings (After 3 of 12 rounds)
1. Blake Baggett (139pts/ 1 win)
2. Justin Barcia (123)
3. Ken Roczen (120)
4. Eli Tomac (117)
5. Marvin Musquin (84)
6. Blake Wharton (82)
7. Wil Hahn (71)
8. Kyle Cunningham (65)
9. Jake Canada (62)
10. Ivan Tedesco (61)

 

WMX
The womens motocross series has developed some extremely fast ladies in recent years, but there are still three gals that pretty much hold most of the stock in the podium. American Honda’s Ashley Fiolek, Rockstar  Suzuki’s Jessica Patterson, and Lucas Oil/Troy Lee Designs/Honda’s Tarah Gieger pretty much run in succession of each other (their numbers on their bikes tell a very literal story) week after week for the last few years.
This weekend in Lakewood proved much the same, although it didn’t happen in quite the same pattern they’ve weaved routinely. Sure, Fiolek grabbed a holeshot in the first moto, but could not hold off Patterson. JP$, Fiolek, and Gieger then went on to finish in their respective order; no surprises there. However, the second moto saw Fiolek fight off the advances of Gieger while Patterson clamored back from a dismal start. Fiolek then suffered an uncharacteristic crash and Gieger took over the lead. Patterson finally edged out the lead, though, after Gieger made a mistake in a deep rut (which she later stated to be one of her weaker points). American Honda’s Sayaka Kaneshiro also put in a great ride in the second moto to salvage fourth overall after a seventh-place finish in the first.

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Overall
1. Jessica Patterson 1-1 (Suz)
2. Tarah Geiger 3-2 (Hon)
3. Ashley Fiolek 2-6 (Hon)
4. Sayaka Kaneshiro 7-3 (Hon)
5. Jacqueline Strong 4-5 (KTM)
6. Mariana Balbi 6-4 (Hon)
7. Sara Pettersson 5-7 (KTM)
8. Alexah Pearson 8-11 (KTM)
9. Sade Allender 12-9 (Hon)
10. Amanda Brown 11-10 (Hon)
WMA Class Championship Points Standings (After 3 of 8 rounds)
1. Jessica Patterson (141pts/2 wins)
2. Ashley Fiolek (125/1 win)
3. Tarah Geiger (114)
4. Sayaka Kaneshiro (99)
5. Mariana Balbi (88)
6. Jacqueline Strong (82)
7. Meghan Rutledge (78)
8. Sara Pettersson (76)
9. Kasie Creson (75)
10. Sale Allender (52)