2018 Thunder Valley National Motocross 450 Class Photo Finish
Tomac began his day by clocking the fastest lap times in both practice sessions. In moto one, unlike previous rounds this season, the Colorado native did not have to work hard to get to the front, as he shot out of the gate in third and quickly moved into second place. With a little over 10 minutes completed, a red flag was drawn due to a crash, forcing the riders to line up for a restart with 19:36 set back on the race clock.
Fortunately, Tomac got off to another great start in fourth and once again made his way to the front where he battled for the lead for several laps. Eventually making his move with 10 minutes remaining, he took charge and set the fastest lap of the race and went on to take the win with a victory margin of nearly five seconds.
In moto two, Tomac grabbed another top-three position right out of the gate. Just as he made his move for second, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing’s Justin Barcia went down right in front of him, forcing him to hit the brakes and fall back to third.
Recovering quickly, Tomac made his way back to second and gain on the leader, eventually passing him. Once out front, Tomac seemed to catch a second wind as he rode with pure aggression to pull away from the competition and take the checkered flag, this time by more than 11 seconds. The 1-1 moto score gave Tomac his first 450 overall victory in front of his home crowd.
“After a couple of years with bad results at Thunder Valley, it feels really good to bring home a win,” Tomac said. “My team set me up with an awesome bike that allowed me to just get out there and attack the track. We’re rolling and looking forward to the next one.”
Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen carded his best result so far this season with second-place finishes in both motos and second overall as well. Roczen got off to a seventh-place start in moto one but moved up to fifth by the green flag. He had advanced to third before the red flag, but on the restart Roczen got the holeshot. After briefly surrendering the front spot, he regained it later in the opening lap and maintained it for more than half the race. Coming under severe pressure from Tomac, Roczen was able to evade the subsequent advances for several laps before relinquishing the lead on lap 10 and finished the race in second place.
In moto two, Roczen got off to a fourth-place start but blitzed the downhill to quickly move into second. He closed in on the leader, and a three-way battle for the top position ensued, with Roczen falling to third in the battle. The top two riders tangled on the next lap, which gave him the opportunity to take the lead. He stayed smooth and consistent up front before once again coming under fire, and after fighting tooth and nail for several laps, he slipped to second with 10 minutes remaining.
“Being in the battle up front and being in the mix today is awesome,” Roczen said. “Hangtown was honestly kind of miserable just because I didn’t know what to expect, didn’t have a lot of time on the bike, and everything just felt so foreign. Here, I basically rode the same bike that I rode at Glen Helen, and though it wasn’t totally ideal, I knew what the bike was going to do and how it would react to things. We got good starts and rode up front. It’s great to have the racing butterflies again and to be doing good. It’s just amazing and the greatest feeling ever and so much better than sitting on the couch.
“I could have one day or six months of preparation and I’m still going to want to go out there and do what I did today. I want to be up front, I want to battle, and if I don’t win, that’s fine. I can’t expect myself to go out there right away and go 1-1, but to be up front, go 2-2, and be on the podium is beyond amazing. I’m having a blast right now.”