Many expected Cianciarulo to emerge as one of the front-runners in the battle for the 250 Class title, and he’s made it clear through the first two rounds that there’s no hangover from his heartbreaking loss of the 250SX West Region title just a few weeks ago.
What’s been more impressive about Cianciarulo’s back-to-back wins is how he’s done it by stepping up to take matters into his own hands in the second moto. He’s battled his way to solid results in each opening moto, and has rose to the occasion when it matters most. At Hangtown, the rainy conditions meant a strong start was crucial to a shot at victory, and he put himself at the front and rode to the win. At Fox Raceway, Cianciaurlo had to dig deep to pull things out.
The afternoon qualifying session saw Monster Energy go 1-2-3 atop the time sheets with Cooper, Cianciarulo, and Nichols. Ferrandis posted the sixth-fastest lap, with Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki riders Garrett Marchbanks and Martin Davalos in ninth and 13th, respectively.
Thus far in 2019 the opening motos have belonged the Cooper. The rising star has abundant speed and more often than not he’s able to find his way to the front on the first gate drop. He held off Cianciarulo at Hangtown, and in Pala he was even better, going wire-to-wire for the second straight weekend. For Cianciarulo, the first moto was a bit of an adventure. He gambled on a far outside gate pick, which didn’t pay off and left him outside the top 10. He didn’t panic and methodically worked himself into the top 10. He got his way to the verge of the top five, and after Hunter Lawrence and Jordon Smith took each other out, it moved Cianciarulo up to fifth about halfway through the moto. He knew there was little time to waste and proceeded to pick up the pace. After he moved into fourth the battled that ensued between he, RJ Hampshire, and Nichols for the remaining spots on the podium was thrilling. Hampshire withstood Cianciarulo’s challenge and managed to fight his way around Nichols for second. Nichols’ strong hold on the podium came to an end a short time later when Cianciarulo bullied his way into third. Cooper took a drama-free win, while Cianciarulo showed his resiliency in third. Nichols settled for fourth, while Ferrandis rebounded from an early crash to finish seventh. Marchbanks followed in ninth, while Davalos endured to finish 18th.
When the second moto got underway Cianciarulo put himself into a much better position by slotting into third, right behind Shane McElrath and Alex Martin. He wasted little time in getting around both riders and took control of the lead just a few minutes in. Behind him, Cooper and Ferrandis were making their way to the front as well and soon occupied third and fourth.
Cianciarulo appeared to be on his way to a relatively easy moto win, but Australian rookie Hunter Lawrence came on strong to steal the top spot away. That pass threw the overall into Cooper’s favor, but the drama wasn’t over. Lawrence crashed out of the lead to hand the top spot back to Cianciarulo, while Cooper lost a spot to Ferrandis. Lawrence recovered and closed back in on Cianciarulo, but it was too late. The Kawasaki rider did what he had to do to earn his third career win with a hard-fought 3-1 effort.
"Today definitely wasn't an easy win, but man does it feel good to come out on top. That first moto we gambled a bit with that outside gate pick that didn’t really pay off, but we dug deep and put it on the podium to set us up to be in a good position for the overall. The second moto I had some good battles, but no one was stopping me from what was mine. We’ve got a long summer ahead of us, and a lot of motos left, but I am pumped to be leaving here with the points lead. We will continue to do our work this week and be ready to go in Colorado next weekend.”
Cooper’s quest for the first win of his career was put on hold for another week with a second straight runner-up finish (1-4), but the New York native appears poised to break through. Ferrandis’ strong second moto put him onto the overall podium for the first time this season in third (7-3) to complete the Monster sweep. Nichols finished fifth (4-7), with Marchbanks solidly inside the top 10 in seventh (9-8), while Davalos’ up and down day ended in 14th (18-9).
Cianciarulo added to his lead in the championship and now holds a six-point lead over Cooper. Ferrandis is third, with Nichols fourth, while Marchbanks also holds down a top-10 standing in ninth. Davalos holds down 15th.
250 Class Results
1. Adam Cianciarulo, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki (3-1)
2. Justin Cooper, Monster Energy/Star/Yamaha Racing (1-4)
3. Dylan Ferrandis, Monster Energy/Star/Yamaha Racing (7-3)
4. Chase Sexton, Honda (5-5)
5. Colt Nichols, Monster Energy/Star/Yamaha Racing (4-7)
7. Garrett Marchbanks, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki (9-8)
14. Martin Davalos, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki (18-9)
250 Class Standings
1. Adam Cianciarulo, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki – 92
2. Justin Cooper, Monster Energy/Star/Yamaha Racing – 86
3. Dylan Ferrandis, Monster Energy/Star/Yamaha Racing – 70
4. Colt Nichols, Monster Energy/Star/Yamaha Racing – 68
5. Chase Sexton, Honda – 65
9. Garrett Marchbanks, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki – 42
15. Martin Davalos, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki – 27