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Thunder Valley Motocross by the numbers: A new 450 winner will be crowned

Relive all the best moments from Pro Motocross action during Round 2 at Hangtown.

The first Pro Motocross race held at Thunder Valley in Lakewood, Colorado in 2005 was swept by Ricky Carmichael in a season where he won all but two motos while James Stewart won there in a 2008 night race on his way to winning all 24 motos and those are some of the numbers highlighting the track’s 18 years. Through two rounds and four motos, Jett Lawrence has been perfect in 2023 and he looks to add to the history of Thunder Valley.

MX Thunder Valley 2022 Dylan Ferrandis

One thing is certain, Thunder Valley will have a new 450 winner this week as none of the active riders have won in this division. Jett has one win on this track, but it came in the 250 class last year over his brother Hunter Lawrence, who is also undefeated in overall victories so far in 2023.

The odds are good that Jett will be in the hunt for both moto wins. Thunder Valley was his fifth-best Motocross venue in 250s with a third-place average finish but three other riders who have swept the top five this season will have some to say about that. Dylan Ferrandis (third at Fox and second at Hangtown), Aaron Plessinger (with two fourths), and Cooper Webb (fifth and third) each have a pair of strong runs.

Ken Roczen leads the league with five wins over Ryan Dungey with four. Eli Tomac has three wins on his home track, but neither he nor Roczen will participate this week.

This weekend, the track will host a race for the 19th consecutive year, giving it the third-longest active streak. Only RedBud in Buchanan, Michigan and Spring Creek in Millville, Minnesota have longer streaks.

Supercross statistician Clinton Fowler points out that Honda has dominated the opening two rounds for the past two seasons. In 2023, they have won six motos in the combined classes compared to five in 2022. Honda has led 73 percent of the laps (compared to 75 percent in 2022), set seven fastest laps (5 in 2022) and swept victory lane (3 overall wins in 2022).

Two of the top points’ contenders enter Thunder Valley with a lot of momentum: Chase Sexton missed last week’s race due to a concussion and mononucleosis, but he is riding a nine-race streak of top-five finishes otherwise. Webb has finished in the top five in every Main or overall he’s made this season. He started his heat but missed the Nashville main with an injury.

Last year’s race was run in June with Roczen, Tomac and Sexton on the podium. Dungey was also in attendance in sixth.

With the field being thinned by injury, it has opened the door for some strong early runs for three riders. Ty Masterpool was sixth overall in his 450 debut at Hangtown, Derek Drake seventh overall in his second start there and Jose Butron scored top-10 finishes in his first two Motocross starts this season with a best of eighth at Fox Raceway.

With two rounds in the books, there has been some notable movement in the 450 SuperMotocross World Championship points. Ferrandis (16th), Freddie Noren (18th) and Jett (19th) have moved into the Top 20. Lorenzo Locurcio (27th), Jose Butron (28th), Jerry Robin (29th) and Derek Drake (30th) were elevated into the Top 30 and have their eye set on getting the automatic invitation into the main events for the three-races SMX Playoffs that begin in September.

In 250s Jett, Hunter and Levi Kitchen stood on the podium last year. In 2023, Hunter has been almost as dominant as Jett and he has as much reason to believe he will win this week.

MX Thunder Valley win in 2022

This is Hunter’s second-best venue with a 4.5 average overall finish. He was third in 2021 and second to his brother Jett last year. The logical progression, especially in light of his first-place finishes in the first two rounds, is a win this weekend.

But one of the riders best suited to ending Lawrence’s streak of 250 overall wins is the only active rider to win at Thunder Valley in his current class. Justin Cooper is tied with five riders for the most overall wins at Thunder Valley with two. Since 2018, he has a perfect record top-fives with his worst finish of fourth coming in last year’s round.

It pays to get off to a strong start and the top three in the points’ standings, Lawrence, Haiden Deegan and Cooper, have each averaged a fifth-place position at the end of their first laps in the first two rounds. Fourth in points, Tom Vialle has the best record of 3.8.

Deegan’s Moto 1 win last week came early, but that is not exactly rare in Pro Motocross. He is one of 21 riders who won in their first seven motos -- a list that includes Hunter. While not uncommon, this early moto win suggests a strong career; 11 of the previous 20 riders won a Motocross championship.

With each moto paying 25 points to the winner, the move to the outdoors has allowed the 250 class to experience its own upheaval. Jo Shimoda (12th), Carson Mumford (17th) and Chance Hymas (20th) have moved into the Top 20 in SMX points since the start of the Pro Motocross season. Cooper (28th), Michael Mosiman (29th), and Caden Braswell (30th), who signed with Troy Lee Designs just prior to the season, climbed into the top 30.

In 2023, hole shots have been equally distributed with RJ Hampshire, Cooper, Lawrence and Deegan getting one apiece in the first four motos of the season.

Previous Thunder Valley Winners

2022: Ken Roczen
2021: Ken Roczen
2020: Eli Tomac
2019: Ken Roczen
2018: Eli Tomac

2022: Jett Lawrence
2021: Justin Cooper
2020: Justin Cooper
2019: Adam Cianciarulo
2018: Jeremy Martin

Supercross by the Numbers

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Anaheim 2
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