Monday Kickstart – Thunder Valley 2012

Mountain weather reared its ugly head this weekend in Lakewood, Colorado, threatening to put a stop to the Thunder Valley National, but after an hour delay in between the first 450 and 250 motos, the show resumed in front of a brave and diligent crowd, who toughed out the weather to watch their favorite riders tear up the hillside track.
James Stewart topped the noteworthy buzz, but unfortunately it wasn’t because he continued his moto win streak. Instead, a get-off in the deeply rutted straightaway coming down the hillside forced Bubbs to the sidelines, ending his race day and, thus, forfeiting his lead to Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey.

Yikes. What started as a sunny, warm day quickly turned dark, cold, and wet by the time racing started. At 6,000 feet above sea level, the Lakewood area commonly sees drastic shifts in weather in a short time.


Yoshimura Suzuki's James Stewart came into Thunder Valley with four straight moto victories and the confidence that stems from winning grueling motos in the heat. He started his day on Saturday right where he had left off the week before by posting the fastest qualifying lap and took the first gate pick. Both he and Red Bull KTM's Ryan Dungey were over two seconds faster than the third qualifier.

James Stewart's day ended after he stacked it up in the deep ruts of a downhill straightaway. He hurt his wrist badly, and was forced out of racing the rest of the day. Check out his explanation of the crash here:


We are extremely bummed--as are all moto fans--that this budding rivalry may be cut short. Hopefully, James will bounce back from his crash this weekend and return to dicing with Dungey very soon.

Tyla Rattray's mechanic and stepfather Wayne Lumgair has taken over wrenching on Ivan Tedesco's bike. Tyla made the fill-in move to Monster Energy Kawasaki but his racing ended nearly before it started. He has been sidelined since the opening round at Hangtown. Dean Wilson is also on the couch with injury, so Tedesco and Lumgair have found each other in the shuffle.


Monster Energy Kawasaki's Jake Weimer enjoyed his best-ever 450 National finish at Thunder Valley, earning second overall via 2-4 moto scores. Weimer coughed and hacked his way through the day, suffering from a chest cold he came down with a couple days before the National, making his performance even more impressive. Sadly, Jake didn't get to share it with his regular mechanic Dana Wiggins, as he was home with his expectant wife. Ryan Villopoto's mechanic, Mike Williamson, will be filling in for Wiggins for the next few races.


JDR/J-Star/KTM's Malcolm Stewart seems to be settling into his outdoor groove. After rough two rounds of racing, Mookie stayed consistent at Thunder Valley with 8-6 moto scores and now has some added confidence and momentum going into High Point. Expect the younger Stewart to dice it up with the Geico Honda, Red Bull KTM, and Pro Circuit guys next week.


Jimmy Albertson's Shades of Gray-painted lid is amazing! Showing his love for the Oklahoma City Thunder who are tied 2-2 in the NBA conference finals with the San Antonio Spurs, Albie proved that moto and basketball are kindred sports...maybe.


Another look at Top Jimmy's Fly helmet.

Geico Honda's Justin Barcia gave the Thunder Valley crowd a sneak peek at the all-new 2013 Honda CRF450R with a parade lap before the first 450 moto. American Honda's Bill Savino added a brief overview of the machine over the PA system while Barcia flicked a few whips for the fans.




We are pretty sure they are letting them ride. In fact, we are pretty sure they held two motos that Jessica Patterson, Ashley Fiolek, and the rest of the WMX talent raced.


Scott riders kept their vision clear with new 2013 designs. Scott formally launched their entire 2013 line at the Colorado Rockies/Los Angeles Dodger game Friday night at Coors Field. Stay tuned later today for a peek at the new line.

Geico Honda's Wil Hahn started his day a bit slow, grinding out the first moto for ninth, but returned the second time around with a holeshot in the second moto. His lead, though, was cut short immediately by his teammate Justin Barcia. Wilbur managed to hold on for seventh and secure eighth overall in the highly competitive 250 class. He sits seventh in points heading into High Point.



If only the skies at Thunder Valley had stayed as clear as the trophies...

In the upper part of the track, where may riders found themselves picking up their bikes from a crash, the soil is deep, dark, and pretty tacky. Well before the weather turned ugly in Lakewood, the dirt was still extremely sticky. Mechanics had their work cut out for them after each practice and moto to get the bikes ready for the next line-up.


Team Honda's Ashley Fiolek suffered a horrendous crash while leading the second WMX moto, slamming the mat in one of the hard-packed sections of the crash. The defending WMX Champion was somehow able to remount and recover for sixth in the moto, and third overall. Immediately after the race, she collapsed to the ground and was taken to the Asterisk Mobile Medical unit, where she spent a couple hours before going to the local hospital. Fiolek was diagnosed with a bad concussion and will have to spend a couple extra days in Colorado before flying home to St. Augustine, Florida. Get well, soon, Ashley.

Honda Muscle Milk's Justin Brayton looked comfortable on the Thunder Valley track, but didn't quite manage to hold the same pace as the front-runners. After scoring a ninth-place finish in the first moto, however, Brayton did improve his results in the second with a sixth just behind Valli/Star/Yamaha's Nico Izzi.



With his overall win, Dungey took the red plate away from James Stewart. Dungey now sits 35 points ahead of Jake Weimer, who is just one point ahead of Stewart.



Hometown hero Andrew Short took third overall to the delight of the fans. He said after the race that he is happy with the progress they have made and that he is very proud of how hard the team has been working.




They say a photo speaks a thousand words, and we would agree with this particular example. Fan devotion: check. Youthful ingenuity: check. Local brew: check. The list goes on.


Fox riders and Red Bull KTM teammates Ryan Dungey and Ken Roczen are sporting some dope one-off Fox pants. With Red Bull logos integrated into the TPR patches and venting, the pants are about as factory as possible.

Ken Roczen chased down Justin Barcia in the first moto. Lap after lap, he yo-yoed behind the Geico Honda rider. Late in the moto, however, he made his push and cut Barcia's lead to just a few bike lengths. Just when it looked as though he was about to be in position to challenge the lead, he tipped over in a turned after his front wheel pushed over the top of a small rut. Barcia took the win, but Roczen managed to hold on for second.

When the weather decided to wreak havoc on the race, it did so with furious wind gusts, intermittent rain, and lightning. The winds were so bad, that just about every piece of branded track decoration was torn from its posts. Even the start gate backdrop was not safe from the Rocky Mountain fury.


The Colorado ladies love Eli Tomac.

Before a rock ended Tommy Hahn's day, the replacement Honda Muscle Milk rider scored a big holeshot in the first 450 moto. In previous years, Hahn has had some decent luck at Thunder Valley, and after this holeshot, it looked as though he might continue down the road to good fortune. Unfortunately, the track had other plans.


Nick "Lil' Swap" Paluzzi (center) returned to racing this weekend in Lakewood, trying his luck in the 450 class. He put in a relatively forgettable performance, but it was encouraging for him to be back on the race track.

Although the weather was absolutely scary and damaging, the Colorado fans toughed it out. After an hour delay, racing resumed with a full crowd to cheer the racers on. Colorado natives are devoted ( and apparently pretty used to sketchy weather).

Pro Circuit's Blake Baggett secured the red number plate for another week, but Geico Honda's Justin Barcia and Red Bull KTM's Ken Roczen aren't far behind. The 250 class is shaping up to be a pretty incredible season-long battle.

See you at High Point!