In a mirror image of Round 1 of the Motocross season, Ken Roczen won Moto 1 at Thunder Valley Motocross Park and protected his lead in Moto 2 to take his second overall victory of the season. In the process, he also regained the points’ lead in what is shaping up to be a great opening battle to the 2019 season.
After winning the first Moto, Ken Roczen picked up where he left off. He pulled out to a sizeable lead in the first 15 minutes, but recovering from a disappointing Moto 1 that forced him to the mechanic’s area for a goggle change he rode like a rider possessed. Just past the halfway mark, Eli Tomac started closing the gap.
With 10 minutes remaining, Tomac grabbed the lead and scored his fourth Moto win of the season.
Roczen did not need to win the battle in order to win the war. As with Hangtown, Roczen (1-2) rode a safe race at the end and scored his second overall win.
Tomac finished second with a 5-1, but he lost too many points in the first Moto to hold onto the points lead. Roczen took the lead by two points. Tomac finished second overall.
With a 2-4, Zach Osborne grabbed the third overall.
Roczen dominated the first Moto at Hangtown, but that was his only Moto victory and questions began to fly about whether he was really returning to his old form. Five minutes into Moto 1 at Thunder Valley, he was answering those queries with a nine second lead. By the end of the Moto, he had stretched that advantage to more than 30 seconds.
He beat Zach Osborne in second and Cooper Webb in third, both of who were unchallenged for their positions.
Eli Tomac was more than 1.5 seconds faster than the field in the first qualifier. But he had a terrible start to Moto 1. When Marvin Musquin went down in Turn 2 of Lap 1, Tomac was slowed by the traffic jam. Just before the halfway mark he experienced trouble with his goggles – forcing Tomac into the pits after losing 43 seconds to the leader.
Tomac returned to the track 12th and immediately passed a pair of riders to get back to 10th. He charged up to fifth and was battling for fourth before he got bogged down in a deep rut with a lap remaining.
(18 wins entering this race; 37 Moto wins)
Privateer Dean Ferris scored an impressive sixth, which is his best finish of the season.
The disastrous start for Musquin dropped him to 40th. In five minutes, he’d passed half the field. Musquin climbed to eighth at the checkers.
In Moto 1, Cole Seely tipped over in a rut that swallowed his bike while he battled for fourth. He dropped back to ninth.
Joey Savatgy back for the first time since New Jersey in the Supercross season when he finished seventh. He crashed early in his MX debut and finished 40th after completing five laps.
In Moto 2, Dylan Merriam crashed and was helped from the course by the medical crew.
You can’t get much closer than this. Winning Moto 1 for the third straight week, Justin Cooper needed to show that he could finish that well in a Moto 2. He got the hole shot to lead early, but pressure from Adam Cianciarulo was relentless.
Cooper heard Cianciarulo on his back tire for the first 15 minutes of the Moto until he laid the bike down and handed the lead over to the points’ leader. Cooper would right himself in third behind Colt Nichols, but he would immediately climb back into second.
With no pressure to speak of and a six-second lead, Cianciarulo rode a safe, clean final 15 minutes and won Moto 2, giving him the overall with a 2-1 on the tiebreaker.
Controversy was part of the second Moto. Riding second at the time, Cianciarulo went off course in the rollers. He cut a corner and re-entered the track without gaining a place advantage, but Cooper believed that he made up some time and trimmed his lead. Cianciarulo’s pressure may have been the deciding factor.
Nichols held onto second in the Moto with Michael Mosiman fourth.
Weather has played a factor in two of the first three rounds of the Motocross season. Rain fell hard in the opener at Hangtown and started to fall again in the first Moto at Thunder Valley.
This time it may have saved a series of perfect starts for Cooper. He has become the a first Moto master – winning the opening race in the first three rounds now. This victory came in an abbreviated effort as the red flag waved. But points’ leader Cianciarulo was cutting into that lead aggressively, shaving nearly a second a lap off what was once an eight-minute lead when the series broached the halfway point.
“I was able to separate myself; get a little bit of a gap and then the rain started coming down pretty hard so the track started to get a little slick,” Cooper told NBC Sports Gold after the Moto. “I saw lightning and knew it was probably going to get called, so I I was just trying to keep it safe and Adam started getting close there at the end.”
Dylan Ferrandis rounded out the top three in Moto 1.
Ty Masterpool grabbed the holeshot, but gave it up to Hampshire before the end of Lap 1.
Pit stops are not something normally seen, but Colt Nichols and most of the field were caught off guard as the clouds popped up over the mountains. Nichols rode into the mechanics area for a fresh set of goggles a couple of minutes before the checkers waved. He finished 13th in the Moto.
 Eli Tomac (Hangtown II, Pala I & Pala II, Thunder Valley II)
 Ken Roczen (Hangtown I, Thunder Valley I)
 Justin Cooper (Hangtown I, Pala I, Thunder Valley I)
 Adam Cianciarulo (Hangtown II, Pala II, Thunder Valley I)
Next race: High Point Raceway, Mount Morris, Penn. June 15
Season passes can be purchased at NBC Sports Gold.