The opening push of the 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship continued with the third round of the series, the 2018 Thunder Valley Motocross. The track’s location at the foothills of the Colorado Rocky Mountains was a challenge to riders and motorcycles throughout the day, as the altitude choked man and machine from reaching their full potential. Those that managed to overcome the challenge were greatly rewarded and it showed in the final results from the day.
250 MOTO ONE
Justin Cooper controlled the majority of 250 Moto One as he led the field through the first turn on his Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha Factory Racing machine and even managed to retain the spot after a very brief off-track excursion on the first speedy decline. Joey Savatgy stayed close to the rookie from the moment the gate dropped and together they two broke away from the rest of the field a few minutes into the moto. After a long pursuit, Savatgy managed to make his way into the top spot at the twenty-minute mark and immediately pulled clear of Cooper. Just when things looked like they were set for Savatgy, his Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki let go upon landing from a drop-off jump and he coasted to a stop, which marked the end of his moto. With Savatgy out, Cooper reclaimed the lead and sped to the checkered flag unchallenged for the first Moto win of his professional career.
There were multiple close battles to watch further back in the field, as the positions three through thirteen were in freight train formation around the track. Jordon Smith and Zach Osborne were both near the top of the running order early in the moto, but both experienced small issues that dropped them out of podium contention. The Martin brothers benefitted most from the setbacks of their competition, as Jeremy raced his way up to second on his GEICO Honda and Alex followed suit into third aboard his Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM.
250 MOTO TWO
All hell broke loose as the field funneled into the tight first turn. Despite a very poor gate pick, Joey Savatgy powered up the hill and hoped to sweep into the front of the pack with a daring line. Unfortunately, the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider ran into Zach Osborne just as the Rockstar Energy Racing Husqvarna rider was stood up and knocked out of his intended line by another rider. The resulting collision claimed a number of racers, with Osborne getting the worst of the damage as his shoulder was knocked out of place. After a few moments to collect himself, Osborne managed to "fix" the injury and rejoined the race in last place. Osborne eventually managed to make it back up to the twentieth place and scored one point in the moto.
Alex and Jeremy Martin managed to avoid the calamity in the first turn and took off with the top two spots in Moto Two. Older brother Alex held the lead over younger brother Jeremy and it was clear that the battle for the lead would be a clean fight that would only reward the faster rider. As the moto approached the halfway point, Jeremy managed to make his move and went into the lead, a move that ultimately put the overall victory in Jeremy's favor. In addition to the moto and overall win, Jeremy was able to take over the top spot in the 250 championship.
450 MOTO ONE
Justin Barcia and Eli Tomac squared off for the top spot the moment the gate dropped, with Barcia getting the upper hand on his Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing machine. For ten minutes the two riders diced for the lead around the track, and Barcia fended off every advance from Tomac. Just when the battle was reaching a tipping point, the red flag was thrown due to a hard crash that left Kyle Chisholm unconscious in the middle of the track. Chisholm soon came too and was able to walk off the track on his own, but the officials had already made their decision for a restart.
After some organization and gate pick determined by where a rider was scored on the most recent lap, the field was racked back into the starting gate for a nineteen-minute plus two-lap moto. Blake Baggett benefitted greatly from the restart, as the Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/WPS/KTM rider claimed the holeshot but was soon passed by Ken Roczen. The Team Honda HRC rider was quick and in control of the race after the restart, as he pulled a gap over the field and was not under immediate pressure through the opening laps. As the race wound down, Tomac upped the pace on his Monster Energy Kawasaki, closed on Roczen for the top spot, and passed for the lead in the closing minutes of the moto. Baggett attempted to take second from Roczen in the final laps, but no pass was made and Roczen took the runner-up spot.
450 MOTO TWO
Like the Moto One restart, Blake Baggett managed to make it to the front of the pack as they hit the first turn. Justin Barcia worked his way into the lead with a pass on Baggett during the opening lap, but moto went awry for Barcia as he went down while leading. Eli Tomac managed to avoid the downed rider in his path, but this crash allowed Roczen to take over the lead and Blake Baggett to take second. After a lot of laps with no battles at the front of the pack, Tomac found a flow and was able to pass Baggett and reel in Roczen. The two riders diced all the way around the track for the top spot, with Roczen countering attempts from Tomac to keep the lead. Just as the moto came to a close, Tomac managed to make one move stick and he motored to the checkered flag for his first 450 overall win at his "home" track.