Blake Baggett ends Jeremy Martin’s streak, Ken Roczen gets 450 Class Motocross win at Thunder Valley (VIDEO)

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It took six motos, but Jeremy Martin finally showed a hint of imperfection.

Martin has absolutely dominated the 250 Class this year, winning the first four motos of the season in convincing fashion. His sudden ascent to the top of the division caught the rest of the field by surprise, but now that the secret’s out, everyone has him in their crosshairs.

One of the riders who has been vocal about wanting to put an end to that success is Blake Baggett. The 2012 champion of the 250 Class entered the season as a title contender but has become more of an afterthought with Martin stealing the headlines at each of the first two rounds.

After he pulled out of the second moto a week ago at Hangtown with bike problems, Baggett told the TV crew that he was determined to “come back next weekend and try to stop the Yamaha streak.” Saturday at Thunder Valley, Baggett followed through on that wish.

In Moto 1, Martin found himself in an unfamiliar position – having to chase down the leader for the first 20 minutes of the race after Jessy Nelson got off to a great start and opened up a lead. A couple mistakes from Nelson allowed Martin to close the gap and make the pass for the lead, which he would not relinquish. Although it was his smallest margin of victory this season, Martin extended his winning streak to five motos.

Martin would face an even tougher challenge in Moto 2. Finding himself in seventh after the first lap, he was left with a lot of work to do in order to get up front. Baggett took advantage with a vintage performance, moving from fifth to first over the opening six laps and then checking out with the lead en route to a win.

Having battled his way up to fourth, Martin still would have been able to secure the overall win had he picked up one more position, but an uncharacteristic crash cost him several spots and gave the overall victory to Baggett. Martin would settle for sixth in the moto and third overall for the day but still holds a significant edge in the point standings.

250 Class Overall Results
1. Blake Baggett (4-1)
2. Justin Bogle (3-2)
3. Jeremy Martin (1-6)
4. Jessy Nelson (2-9)
5. Marvin Musquin (7-4)
6. Jason Anderson (5-5)
7. Christophe Pourcel (11-3)
8. Cooper Webb (9-7)
9. Cole Seely (8-8)
10. Justin Hill (10-10)
*Moto 1 and Moto 2 results in parenthesis

In the 450 Class, James Stewart stepped up to the task of ending the streak of wins from Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen and Ryan Dungey. Leading the race nearly wire-to-wire, Stewart fended off a challenge from Roczen in the final laps of Moto 1 to take the win – becoming the fourth rider to win a moto in the premier class this season.

Roczen stormed back in the second moto though, passing Josh Grant and Ryan Dungey on the opening lap to move into second, then overtaking Trey Canard for the lead two laps later and holding on for the win. With 2-1 moto finishes, Roczen locked up the overall win for the second consecutive week and more than doubled his points lead in the process. After a third-place finish in Moto 2, Stewart secured second overall for the day and continues to look better each week.

450 Class Overall Results
1. Ken Roczen (2-1)
2. James Stewart (1-3)
3. Ryan Dungey (4-2)
4. Trey Canard (3-4)
5. Josh Grant (5-6)
6. Brett Metcalfe (9-5)
7. Malcolm Stewart (7-8)
8. Andrew Short (6-9)
9. Weston Peick (10-7)
10. Jake Weimer (8-12)
*Moto 1 and Moto 2 results in parenthesis

Red Bull rising into the form expected when the season began

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Young “Mad Max” Verstappen had plenty to be angry about for the first half of the Formula One season. After his breakout season in 2016, this year had been little more than a rash of retirements, crashes and clashes with other drivers.

But a late burst over the last two races delivered his second career victory and a second-place. Those results have Red Bull rising and looking more like the fast and muscular team it was expected to be.

Verstappen and teammate Daniel Ricciardo now look primed to keep pushing for the front over the final four races of 2017, starting this week at the U.S. Grand Prix. Do that and the prospects for a 2018 title fight grow brighter.

“We’re definitely going the way we need to be going,” Ricciardo said. “If we start on the front foot, I genuinely believe we can fight for the title if we start closer. That’s what we’re aiming for.”

Verstappen’s win in Malaysia demonstrated a perfect marriage of the young Dutchman’s driving skill and his improving car when he beat Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton with a head-to-head pass early. He was on the podium again a week later in Japan. The champagne spray at both races was a tasty but dry reminder that Red Bull wanted – and expected – so much more this season.

While Ricciardo has been a workhorse with nine podiums and one victory, Verstappen’s season was crippled by reliability issues with his car or crashes.

“There were so many races this year when he was in a fantastic position to achieve big results,” team principal Christian Horner said this week. “Credit to him that at such a young age he hasn’t let frustration boil over … when it comes right for him, it’s going to come right in a big way. And that’s exactly what happened in Malaysia. He drove a great race there, with no issues.”

Some of the “issues” created internal tension.

The first lap of the Hungarian Grand Prix was a disaster for Red Bull. Verstappen tried to overtake Ricciardo and hit him, knocking Ricciardo out of the race while Verstappen finished fifth. Ricciardo lashed out at Verstappen as “immature” and criticized the “amateur” maneuver.

Verstappen said he can’t think about what happened early in the season.

“That frustration I put behind me,” Verstappen said. “It happened. You can’t change it anymore. You’re just happy that it’s going well again and we had some good results.”

Ricciardo has carried Red Bull to the podium time and again but his broad smile hasn’t beamed from the top spot since Azerbaijan in June. Despite his run of strong finishes, he’s stuck at fourth in the driver’s standings and needs a boost to overtake Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas for third.

The Circuit of the Americas has been good for both Red Bull drivers in the past. Ricciardo finished third here in 2014 and 2016. Verstappen had an attention-getting drive in 2015 when he finished fourth in his Toro Rosso after sloshing his way through the field on a wet track.

Verstappen had a wild race in 2016 when he challenged for the lead early, came in for a pit stop when the crew wasn’t ready and yelled to his garage: “I’m not here to finish fourth!” He didn’t finish at all when his car was knocked out with a gearbox problem on lap 32.

Verstappen was 17 when he joined the F1 grid as the youngest driver in series history and he still jokes about his age. Austin is known for its live music and nightlife, but he’s limited as to how much he can party away from the track.

“I’m only 20. I can’t drink,” Verstappen said. “If I’m on the podium (Sunday) I won’t care.”