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Monster athletes compete in Thunder Valley National
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Monster Energy Thunder Valley Motocross National Race Report

Jun 052017

Racing can be a cruel mistress, but at least in the middle of a series, the good news is that even if something goes very wrong, a chance at redemption is as little as one week away. The Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki team had a rough weekend of racing at Glen Helen seven days before the event at Thunder Valley, losing three different motorcycles to mechanical issues. And the Pro Circuit team captain, Joey Savatgy, has been giving everything he has to overcome a devastating loss at the final supercross round a month ago.

250 Report

At Thunder Valley, Savatgy and the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki team found the redemption they were looking for.

 

At the start of 250cc moto one, Alex Martin and his brother Jeremy led the pack, with points leader Zach Osborne just behind them, followed by Savatgy’s teammate Adam Cianciarulo, Mitchell Harrison, Savatgy, his teammate Austin Forkner, and the rest of the field. Osborne went down early on lap one and had to start working his way back up through the field from mid-pack.

 

Savatgy slowly started working his way forward through the front group until he went by Jeremy Martin for second late in the race, but he was soon joined by his young teammate Forkner up front, and Forkner brought Jeremy Martin back up to Savatgy with him. 

 

Forkner was on rails and went by Savatgy in short order, and before Savatgy could study up on Forkner’s lines, Jeremy Martin snuck by, too.

 

At the finish, it was Alex Martin with the win, Forkner second, then Jeremy Martin, Savatgy, and Cianciarulo. Three of the top-five finishers in moto one were Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasakis.

 

“I didn’t really get going in the beginning,” Forkner said after the moto. “They have a little bit more speed than me in the beginning, and I just kind of had to settle in. I found a couple better lines about halfway, and I really didn’t get that tired, and I really didn’t go slower toward the end, so I was able to go the same speed the whole time and I started reeling some guys in...”

 

Savatgy did one better in the second moto, grabbing the holeshot, only to lose the lead to Aaron Plessinger later in the opening lap. Savatgy applied pressure right away, and a few laps later, Plessinger went down, handing the lead back to Savatgy. Behind Savatgy came Dylan Ferrandis, Jeremy Martin, Forkner, Harrison, Osborne, Alex Martin, Cianciarulo and his teammate Justin Hill.

 

Jeremy Martin fought his way into second a few laps later, and then for the final 9 laps of the race, he was all over Savatgy, but couldn’t do anything with him. Savatgy ended up winning the moto over Jeremy Martin, Forkner, Alex Martin, Osborne, Ferrandis, Hill and the rest of the field.

 

For Savatgy, his 4-1 score gave him the overall win, proving that he is back where he needs to be.

“I’ve got to be honest with you, it’s been a rough couple weeks,” Savatgy said. “Obviously, supercross didn’t end the way I wanted it to, and I’d love to have a replay button, but that’s life, and we don’t have that. I’m beyond blessed to be up here, and my Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki got me off to a great start, and that was a hard-fought battle. Jeremy [Martin] rode well, but this feels like the first one for me; it’s been so long. We’ve had so many ups and downs this year, and so many little mistakes, and I was glad to take that all the way to the end. I just can’t thank the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki guys enough. Mitch, Bones, Adam from Showa... [And coach] Johnny [O’Mara]... He’s been believing in me when it’s hard to believe in me, but I have a good support system – my family, my girlfriend, Jeannie and Ricky Carmichael, and Big Rick... I’m stoked to get it going.”

 

Young Forkner, in his second season of racing at the professional level, put in a great day of work himself, and somehow he ended up fourth overall even though he ended the day with 2-3 scores. For perspective, last week’s winner Osborne won the race with a 4-2.

 

“I should probably get a little bit better starts,” Forkner said. “In the first one, the guys around me kind of flinched, and I flinched... And in that one, I just really didn’t get a super-good shift going up the hill. But with better starts, my speed’s there, and my fitness is there, so I should be up there good. A 2-3 today is really good, but it’s just weird that I got 2-3 and got fourth overall... I mean, it is what it is, and we’ll come back in a couple weeks and try to do it again.”

 

The success at Thunder Valley moved Savatgy up to fourth in points, with Forkner right behind him in fifth, and there are still 18 motos left to run.

450 Report

Coming into the Thunder Valley round of the AMA Pro Motocross Championships in Lakewood, Colorado, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac had won a majority of the 450cc motocross and supercross races held in 2017, and being a Colorado native, he had home-field advantage.

 

But if we knew the results ahead of time, we wouldn’t have to run the races in the first place, right?

 

Tomac started near the tail end of the top 10 to start the first moto, while Martin Davalos crashed out of the lead and handed the top spot over to Justin Bogle. Tomac’s teammate Josh Grant went down in turn one and would later drop out of the race. Monster Energy/Yamalube Yamaha’s Cooper Webb started just behind Tomac and was following him up through the field when he was forced to pit with a technical issue on his motorcycle. Webb rejoined the race a lap down and would finish outside the points in the opening moto.

 

In the early laps, Tomac had to duke it out with Autotrader/Monster Energy/JGR Suzuki’s Justin Barcia for third, but only a couple of laps later, Tomac went down awkwardly in a rutted left-hander when his left foot got kicked around to the other side of his motorcycle. Eventually, Tomac fought his way back up to sixth, but then Barcia got him back late in the moto for the spot. At the finish, it was Bogle, Jason Anderson, Blake Baggett, Marvin Musquin, Cole Seely, Barcia, and Tomac.

 

Broc Tickle got the holeshot to start the second moto, with Baggett, Barcia, Tomac, Bogle, Anderson, Webb, Grant, Musquin, Seely and Wilson giving chase. Baggett quickly passed Tickle, and Tomac followed him right by, then passed Baggett with a clever outside line in a chicane mid-way through the opening lap to take the lead.

Baggett hung tough, though, and around the halfway point, he pounced, passing Tomac back and then pulling away to win the moto and the overall.

Tomac hung on for a lonely second in front of points leader Musquin.

 

“For sure, the ruts were tough,” Tomac said. “This was one of the deepest tracks I’ve ridden. It started out really wet, and these four-strokes really eat up the track, so at least we were able to make a little bit of a comeback in that second moto. The first one was definitely a disappointment with the tip-over and all that, but we kept on fighting. Thanks to the whole Monster Energy Kawasaki team. We’ll come back, and we’ve got a weekend off, and we’ll see if we can get on that top step next time.”

 

For the last few laps, a massive battle brewed for the fourth through sixth positions, with Grant and Webb fighting it out with Anderson for the upper hand. At various points late in the moto, all three of the racers occupied fourth place, but it was Webb who ended up taking the spot through sheer force of will in the final two laps, holding off Grant and Anderson at the finish.

Baggett (3-1) took the overall win over Musquin (4-3) and Anderson (2-6), and then Bogle (1-9) was fourth, with Tomac (7-2) fifth overall. Tomac still sits second in points, only 17 points behind Musquin with 18 motos still left to race.

 

The series takes a weekend off this coming weekend before they all hit the gate in anger again the following weekend in Pennsylvania for the High Point MX National.

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