Perfect autumn temperatures made for ideal conditions at the WPS/FLY Racing Thunder Valley National, where the hometown favourite, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac, prevailed for the second time in three years at his home national.
In the 250 Class, Monster Energy/Star/Yamaha Racing’s Justin Cooper charged to his first win of the season.
As the gate dropped on the first 450 Class moto of the afternoon it was Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo who emerged with his fifth holeshot with Team Honda HRC’s Chase Sexton right behind him as Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Zach Osborne slotted into third.
With a clear track, Cianciarulo was able to quickly build a multi-second advantage that he then managed through the middle portion of the moto. Meanwhile, Sexton shed himself of Osborne to assert his hold of second.
As the second half of the moto wore on, Sexton was able to gain some ground on Cianciarulo and got to within less than two seconds of the lead.
With less than five minutes remaining, Cianciarulo narrowly avoided a crash when he briefly lost control of his Kawasaki, which allowed Sexton to close within just a second-and-a-half. Once again Cianciarulo dug deep in response and was able to rebuild his lead to its largest margin. Behind the see-saw battle up front Tomac, who started sixth, was able to track down Osborne and make the pass for third.
Cianciarulo went wire-to-wire for his fourth moto win of the season, crossing the finish line 2.6 seconds ahead of Sexton with a hard-charging Tomac in third. Osborne followed in fourth, with Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Justin Barcia completing the top five.
The 450 Class field made uphill charge once more to begin the final moto of the day and as the riders exited the first turn it was Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Marvin Musquin who secured the holeshot over Cianciarulo, who quickly applied pressure and jumped into the lead, followed by Osborne into second.
Musquin continued to lose ground as Twisted Tea/H.E.P. Suzuki’s Max Anstie took over third and left Musquin to deal with Tomac in a battle for fourth. Tomac pounced and stormed past both Musquin and Anstie to go from fifth to third.
After a busy opening lap, Cianciarulo was able to sprint away to a second-and-a-half advantage over Osborne, while Tomac gave chase from third.
The top three ran within a couple seconds of one another and after several laps of trading momentum Tomac began to apply pressure on Osborne, successfully taking control of second a little more than 10 minutes into the moto. From there Tomac kept looking ahead and started to make the move on his team-mate for the lead. With the home crowd cheering him on, Tomac made the pass happen and took control of the moto.
Once out front Tomac dropped the hammer and quickly gapped the rest of the field. Together, the Kawasaki tandem then pulled away from Osborne. The pace of the top three was so impressive that the leaders enjoyed more than a 10-second advantage over fourth halfway through the moto. With a handful of time left on the clock it appeared as though Tomac had the win in hand, but his place slowed as he appeared to deal with something on his motorcycle, which allowed Cianciarulo to close back in. Tomac’s slowing was brief and he regrouped to rebuild his advantage.
With Tomac back up to speed, managing a lead of about five seconds, Cianciarulo was forced to deal with some pressure from a late charge by Osborne from third. The championship rivals were within a few bike lengths of one another when Cianciarulo nearly crashed after his bike took off awkwardly on a jump.
He kept his Kawasaki on two wheels, but it allowed Osborne to assume second. Just a few laps later Cianciarulo put in one final charge to catch and pass Osborne. Cianciarulo came to the inside on one of the track’s downhill sections but couldn’t get the bike slowed enough, causing slight contact between the two that sent Cianciarulo off the track momentarily. Out front Tomac finished strong to take his second moto win of the season by 8.9 seconds over Osborne, with Cianciarulo in third.
Tomac (3-1) and Cianciarulo (1-3) finished with identical moto scores, leaving them tied atop the overall classification. However, by virtue of his win in the final moto Tomac earned the tiebreaker to give him his second victory of the season and the 25th win of his career.
It also signified the first 1-2 sweep for the Monster Energy Kawasaki duo. Osborne rounded out the overall podium in third (4-2).
“Such a cool day here in Colorado. So glad we were able to get back here this season,” expressed Tomac.
“I finally had a race where I felt like myself. In the first moto I was out of touch (from the leaders) early on, but in the second moto I was much closer to the front. I had a bit of a clutch hang up, but it fixed itself. We really needed this. I’ve kind of been searching lately, so it feels good to have a day like this and get back on top.”
Osborne lost five points to Cianciarulo in the championship and will now enter the final round with a 24-point lead in the standings, looking to secure his first premier class title.
“In the first moto I got slammed by another rider in the second turn and my foot got jammed really bad. The more I went the more I could feel it,” explained Osborne.
“I got it massaged before the second moto and then adrenaline carried me from there. I had a mid-race lull there in the second moto, but was able to finish strong and get a good result. I wasn’t in my comfort zone today so I did a little bit of point racing. We’ll look forward to next week.”
Photo courtesy Align Media
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RESULTS AND STANDINGS:
450 Class Overall Results (Moto Finish):
1 Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki (3-1)
2 Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, Fla., Kawasaki (1-3)
3 Zach Osborne, Abingdon, Va., Husqvarna (4-2)
4 Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda (2-5)
5 Christian Craig, El Cajon, Calif., Honda (7-4)
6 Marvin Musquin, France, KTM (6-8)
7 Max Anstie, England, Suzuki (9-6)
8 Benny Bloss, Oak Grove, Mo., Husqvarna (14-7)
9 Justin Bogle, Cushing, Okla., KTM (12-9)
10 Jake Masterpool, Paradise, Texas, Husqvarna (13-10)
450 Class Championship Standings:
1 Zach Osborne, Abingdon, Va., Husqvarna – 325 Points
2 Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, Fla., Kawasaki – 301 Points
3 Marvin Musquin, France, KTM – 283 Points
4 Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki – 278 Points
5 Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda – 245 Points
6 Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., Yamaha – 234 Points
7 Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., KTM – 232 Points
8 Christian Craig, El Cajon, Calif., Honda – 195 Points
9 Max Anstie, England, Suzuki – 166 Points
10 Joey Savatgy, Thomasville, Ga., Suzuki – 147 Points
250 Class Overall Results (Moto Finish):
1 Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha (2-1)
2 Dylan Ferrandis, France, Yamaha (1-3)
3 Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Honda (4-2)
4 Shane McElrath, Canton, N.C., Yamaha (3-5)
5 Hunter Lawrence, Australia, Honda (5-4)
6 Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda (6-6)
7 Jo Shimoda, Japan, Honda (7-8)
8 Mitchell Harrison, Brighton, Mich., Kawasaki (8-9)
9 Jarrett Frye, Mechanicsville, Md., Yamaha (9-10)
10 Carson Mumford, Simi Valley, Calif., Honda (13-11)
250 Class Championship Standings:
1 Dylan Ferrandis, France, Yamaha – 352 Points
2 Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Honda – 334 Points
3 Shane McElrath, Canton, N.C., Yamaha – 254 Points
4 Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha – 251 Points
5 Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Suzuki – 242 Points
6 Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda – 230 Points
7 RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Husqvarna – 217 Points
8 Cameron McAdoo, Sioux City, Iowa, Kawasaki – 165 Points
9 Mitchell Harrison, Brighton, Mich., Kawasaki – 163 Points
10 Brandon Hartranft, Brick, N.J., KTM – 148 Points