Thunder Valley 450MX: Eli Tomac sweeps third consecutive round

June 2, 2018

Round 3 of the 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship is underway. Check back here throughout the day for recaps and highlights from each 450 Class moto at Thunder Valley.

QUALIFYING

Entering Thunder Valley on a four-moto win streak, Eli Tomac is on fire. That momentum carried over into the qualifying sessions at Thunder Valley, as the undisputed red plate holder was the fastest 450 Class rider in both practice sessions. His first session time (2:06.546) was more than two full seconds better than the rest of the field, while his second session time (2:05.848) was nearly a second ahead of Ken Roczen (2:06.697) and Justin Barcia (2:06.742).

Three years ago, Tomac also came to Thunder Valley undefeated. He won the first moto to make it five in a row, then crashed hard and ended his season while leading the second moto.

One of the morning's head-turning efforts came from privateer Brandan Leith, who had the No. 8 time (2:10.308) overall.

450 Qualifying Times
1. Eli Tomac, 2:05.848
2. Ken Roczen, 2:06.697
3. Justin Barcia, 2:06.742
4. Benny Bloss, 2:07.951
5. Marvin Musquin, 2:08.280
6. Blake Baggett, 2:08.662
7. Weston Peick, 2:09.424
8. Brandan Leith, 2:10.308
9. Chase Marquier, 2:10.583
10. Kyle Chisholm, 2:10.670
11. Alex Ray, 2:11.023
12. Lorenzo Locurcio, 2:11.256
13. Dylan Merriam, 2:11.361
14. Nick Schmidt, 2:11.413
15. Henry Miller, 2:11.494
16. Phil Nicoletti, 2:11.512
17. Cody Cooper, 2:11.607
18. Dare DeMartile, 2:11.925
19. Jake Masterpool, 2:11.967
20. Cade Autenrieth, 2:12.004
Full Results

MOTO 1

Despite dominating the first two rounds of the season, starts have been an Achilles' heel for Eli Tomac. Not so in Moto 1. Tomac came out of the gate strong, pushing his Kawasaki up toward the front of the pack. He got edged out for the holeshot by Justin Barcia and his Yamaha though, and Barcia went on to lead the first lap of the race.

While Barcia and Tomac battled up front, Ken Roczen and Marvin Musquin both found themselves inside the top five but unable to get by Phil Nicoletti, who was running in third place after a good start.

Barcia maintained his lead for the first 10 minutes of the race, despite Tomac showing him a wheel a few times, but then the race was red flagged due to a crash by Kyle Chisholm. That meant that the riders had to line up again (based on their running order at the time of the red flag) and attempt another holeshot, though the clock restarted where it left off before the race was stopped.

On the restart, Barcia and Tomac ended up in third and fourth, respectively, while Blake Baggett and Ken Roczen battled for the lead (Baggett got the holeshot but Roczen soon passed him). Unfortunately for Barcia, he went down on the first lap after the restart and lost several positions.

Even with Barcia out of the way though, it would not be an easy charge to the front for Tomac. Upon getting around Baggett for second, Tomac had to contend with Roczen. After a long, hard-fought battle between the two past champions, Tomac took over the lead with seven minutes left on the clock.

Tomac went on to take the checkered flag with a margin of victory of several seconds, while Roczen nearly fell into the clutches of Baggett. Throughout the final laps, Roczen and Baggett were narrowly separated by about one second, but Roczen was able to hold off the hard-charging KTM rider for second place. For both Roczen (second) and Baggett (third), it marked their best moto finishes of the 2018 season.

Musquin (fourth place) had his lowest moto finish of the season, and Barcia finished out a heartbreaking race in fifth place.

450 Moto 1 Results
1. Eli Tomac
2. Ken Roczen
3. Blake Baggett
4. Marvin Musquin
5. Justin Barcia
6. Benny Bloss
7. Weston Peick
8. Phil Nicoletti
9. Dylan Merriam
10. Lorenzo Locurcio
11. Jake Masterpool
12. Alex Ray
13. Cade Autenrieth
14. Brandon Scharer
15. Ben LaMay
16. Brandan Leith
17. Cody Cooper
18. Derek Anderson
19. Henry Miller
20. Dare DeMartile
Full Results

MOTO 1 HIGHLIGHT: CHISHOLM'S CRASH RESULTS IN RED FLAG

MOTO 1 HIGHLIGHT: TOMAC AND ROCZEN BATTLE HARD FOR THE LEAD

MOTO 2

The second moto featured hot starts from both of the Moto 1 holeshot winners: Justin Barcia and Blake Baggett. Barcia narrowly got the holeshot, while Baggett settled into fourth place. In between them were Ken Roczen (second) and Eli Tomac (third), who linked up with Barcia to produce a three-way battle for the lead.

Tomac initially passed Roczen for second place but just in front of him, Barcia went down. Barcia had fallen outside the top five by the time he remounted, and Tomac was slowed down enough by the incident that he had seen both Roczen and Baggett go by him.

About 10 minutes into the moto, Tomac caught a break when Baggett went off the track. That mistake allowed Tomac to cruise by and retake second place without having to put up any more of a fight. From there, Tomac faced about a two-second deficit behind Roczen, with their impending battle for the moto victory also set to determine the day's overall winner.

Roczen's lead had been sliced in half by the midpoint of the race, and a few minutes later, Tomac was all over the Honda rider. While this was going on, Tomac appeared to be having issues with his goggles, making his challenge all the more impressive.

The pass for the lead finally came with just over 10 minutes left on the clock. After coming across the finish line jump, Tomac rounded the first turn and then charged through the rollers, which gave him the ability to get inside of Roczen as they hit the next turn. That was enough to get Tomac comfortably into the lead, and from that point on, he amassed a large advantage and won the race by 11 seconds.

Tomac (1-1) leaves Thunder Valley with his third consecutive sweep. His streak of six moto wins to start the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season eclipses his streak from 2015. That year, Tomac began the season 5-0 but then injured himself in a crash at Thunder Valley and was out for the rest of the year.

Roczen (2-2) took second overall as he continues to improve at a rapid pace after coming back from some major injuries. With two weeks until High Point, he could potentially be even better at the next round.

Baggett (3-3) earned the final spot on the overall podium.

After his latest victory, Tomac's championship lead is now up to 28 points over Marvin Musquin, who went 4-4 for fourth overall at Thunder Valley and later conceded that it was "a difficult track" for him in a post-race interview.

450 Moto 2 Results
1. Eli Tomac
2. Ken Roczen
3. Blake Baggett
4. Marvin Musquin
5. Benny Bloss
6. Justin Barcia
7. Weston Peick
8. Phil Nicoletti
9. Brandon Scharer
10. Dylan Merriam
11. Cody Cooper
12. Cade Autenrieth
13. Jake Masterpool
14. Lorenzo Locurcio
15. Toshiki Tomita
16. Henry Miller
17. Felix Lopez
18. Brandan Leith
19. Chase Marquier
20. Bradley Lionnet
Full Results

MOTO 2 HIGHLIGHT: BARCIA GOES DOWN, TOMAC GETS HELD UP, ROCZEN TAKES LEAD

MOTO 2 HIGHLIGHT: TOMAC, ROCZEN BATTLE FOR THE LEAD ONCE AGAIN

MOTO 2 RACE RECAP

450 OVERALL RESULTS

1. Eli Tomac (1-1)
2. Ken Roczen (2-2)
3. Blake Baggett (3-3)
4. Marvin Musquin (4-4)
5. Benny Bloss (6-5)
6. Justin Barcia (5-6)
7. Weston Peick (7-7)
8. Phil Nicoletti (8-8)
9. Dylan Merriam (9-10)
10. Brandon Scharer (14-9)
11. Jake Masterpool (11-13)
12. Lorenzo Locurcio (10-14)
13. Cade Autenrieth (13-12)
14. Cody Cooper (17-11)
15. Alex Ray (12-35)
16. Brandan Leith (16-18)
17. Henry Miller (19-16)
18. Toshiki Tomita (21-15)
19. Ben LaMay (15-37)
20. Felix Lopez (22-17)
Full Results

450 POINT STANDINGS

1. Eli Tomac, 150
2. Marvin Musquin, 122
3. Justin Barcia, 104
4. Blake Baggett, 100
5. Ken Roczen, 97
6. Weston Peick, 88
7. Phil Nicoletti, 75
8. Jason Anderson, 73
9. Benny Bloss, 73
10. Dylan Merriam, 49