Thunder Valley practice report: Tomac tops 450 Class for third straight week

For the third week in a row, Monster Energy Kawasaki's Eli Tomac is the fastest qualifier in the 450 Class. His lap time in the second practice session (2:07.828) was about a half-second better than the rest of the field.

So far, those fast practice laps haven't translated into moto wins (or even second-place finishes) for Tomac. He will look to reverse that trend at Thunder Valley, and the key to that will be getting better starts.

Starts are even more crucial at Thunder Valley than anywhere else. Not only does the track feature a unique uphill start, but Lakewood is 6,100 feet above sea level. That sort of high elevation will rob bikes of horsepower.

If anyone knows Thunder Valley though, it's certainly Tomac. The Colorado native is one of the only riders in the field who is used to training at altitude, and it has typically shown in his results at the track.

But then there was last year. Tomac came into Thunder Valley riding a four-moto win streak, which he promptly extended to five victories in the day's first moto. But then, while leading Moto 2, Tomac went down and slammed hard. He injured both his shoulders and was done for the rest of the season.

Does that memory still weigh heavy in Tomac's mind?

"I'm gonna try to keep my head as clear as possible, but [the memory] is there. This is where I crashed," Tomac told NBC Sports' Georgia Lindsay after practice. "But I'll be fine. I want to get the win, so that's what I'm shooting for."

This will be a pivotal round for Tomac, who is currently 17 points behind 450MX championship leader Ken Roczen.

The top practice times from riders in both classes are below.

 

450 CLASS QUALIFYING TIMES

 

250 CLASS QUALIFYING TIMES

 

ALEX MARTIN RIDES PRACTICE

 

RYAN DUNGEY RIDES PRACTICE

 

KYLE PETERS HAS A CLOSE CALL