Roczen Is The King Of Thunder Valley

Ken Roczen soars through the air en route to victory in Saturday's True Value Thunder Valley National. (Rich Shepherd Photo)
The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross championship has confirmed a 12-round schedule for 2020. (Rich Shepherd Photo)

LAKEWOOD, Colo. – Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen conquered the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship True Value Thunder Valley National Saturday afternoon at Thunder Valley Motocross Park.

The opening 450 Class moto followed a brief thunderstorm at the track and it presented riders with a much different racing surface than what they’d previously been competing on.

When the gate dropped, rookie Zach Osborne grabbed his first holeshot over Roczen and Cooper Webb. As Osborne looked to assert himself in the lead for the first time in his 450 class career he came under fire from Roczen, who let it fly on the track’s biggest and longest downhill descent to surge into the top spot.

With the clear track, Roczen upped his pace and was able to establish a multi-second gap over field at the completion of the opening lap. Behind this battle, entering point leader and reigning back-to-back champion Eli Tomac was forced to fight his way from outside the top 10 aboard his Monster Energy Kawasaki. The Colorado native was in the mix in the top five off the start, but a crash by Marvin Musuqin briefly held Tomac up and forced him to lose valuable track position.

Roczen was able to continue to add to his advantage, which left Osborne and Webb to settle into second and third, respectively. Without much action up front, the focus turned to Tomac and his quest to climb up the running order. He successfully broke into the top 10, but then encountered an issue with his goggles, which slowed his pace and saw him lose a position.

Tomac elected to make quick pit stop in the mechanics area to get new goggles and returned to the track in the thick off the battle for 10th place. He easily cleared Musquin and JGRMX/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing’s Justin Hill and made a push to gain more positions in the waning moments of the moto.

Roczen rode to a dominant and uneventful moto victory, his second of the season, by 35.4 seconds over Osborne. Webb rode to his best moto result of the season in third, with Anderson fourth and Tomac able to salvage a hard-fought fifth.

The deciding 450 class moto saw Webb edge out Blake Baggett for the holeshot and surge out to the early lead. Roczen, who started third, was able to get around Baggett and quickly attacked Webb for the lead. Webb withstood the initial pass attempt and carried on to lead the opening lap.

Behind them Musquin engaged in a fierce battle with Baggett for third, with the two riders swapping the position. The Frenchman gained the upper hand as they started the next lap, while their battle allowed Tomac to close in from fifth.

Roczen stalked Webb throughout the next lap and eventually made the pass happen. Just like in the first moto, Roczen took full advantage of the clear track to establish a multi-second lead. Tomac began a determined charge from fifth that carried him around Baggett, then around Musquin into third.

He was able to close in on Webb for second and made the pass for the position in the exact same spot where Roczen took the lead. Once Tomac found his way into the runner-up spot he and Roczen were separated by about four seconds. Webb continued to lose ground and gave up third to his teammate Musquin, and later dropped another spot to a hard-charging Osborne.

Tomac continued to chip away at the gap to Roczen, and a battle for the lead began with about 10 minutes left in the moto. Tomac easily got within a bike length of Roczen, but found it difficult to make the pass. Tomac was able to show a wheel to Roczen in a few turns, but the German was able to fend him off on numerous occasions. With the home crowd passionately cheering him on, Tomac finally found his way into the lead and quickly distanced himself from Roczen.

Tomac carried on to his fourth moto win of the season, 9.1 seconds ahead of Roczen. Musquin followed in a distant third.

Roczen’s 1-2 effort easily gave him his second overall victory and the 16th win of his career, which puts him into a tie for eighth on the all-time list. Tomac’s second-moto win vaulted him into the runner-up spot (5-1), while Osborne earned his first 450 Class podium result in third (2-4).

“I tried all the way through [to the second moto finish]. [Tomac] was just quicker in the end there. The good thing was I didn’t let him get away,” said Rozen. “I almost got together with a lapper there coming to the white flag. He crashed right in front of me. It definitely got rougher in the second moto, for sure, but we did exactly what we needed to do to get the overall [win].”

In the 250 class, point leader Adam Cianciarulo kept his hot start to the summer going. The Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider relied on yet another second-moto victory to carry him to the overall win, making it three in a row to start the season.