Eli Tomac has been here before.
Four dominating wins to start the season while riding on rails. A growing points lead. And now he heads home to Colorado and Thunder Valley which hardly rolls out the welcome mat for its native son. Tomac last won an overall here five years ago in the 250 class. He did win a Moto three years ago but we all know how that round ended.
But it feels a bit different today. No serious talk, yet, of an undefeated season like last time because things happen and always seem to happen to Tomac. And it wasn't exactly a walk in the park for Tomac's Championship season last year either after an opening round sweep. But if he can pull off his third straight sweep on Saturday for Round 3 of the 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship series then we just might have something.
No rider has come within 10 seconds of Tomac's four wins this year. Even Jason Anderson who led 12 laps of Moto 2 last week crossed the checkers 16 seconds behind Tomac who passed him just a few laps before. Marvin Musquin rolled by in third nearly 50 seconds back. However, with all the good news for Tomac signs loom on the horizon that he might have his hands full quite soon.
Eli Tomac is undefeated and mostly unchallenged so far this year
Anderson did hold off Tomac for 12 laps and the reigning Supercross Champion got on the podium for the first time this season effectively showing some mid-season form after his indoor title run ended just a few weeks ago. Musquin shows no signs of letting up taking second overall, again, though arguably showed less fight than the opening round. Tomac, Musquin and Anderson made up the podium six times during the Supercross season. And, two-time Motocross Champion Ken Roczen led half of Moto 1 before settling on third for his first Moto podium since 2016. He also pulled off in Moto 2 because of a rock interfering with the chain but managed to finish eighth and fifth overall losing fourth on the tie-breaker to Justin Barcia. Roczen clearly remains affected by the broken hand suffered in February during Supercross, but by all indications appears well ahead of schedule in his return to racing form. Roczen swept Thunder Valley in 2016 and won the overall in 2014 en route to the Outdoor Championship those years.
Is Ken Roczen ready to start competing for podiums?
Speaking of Barcia, he slipped some from his opening day third-place falling to fourth and now fourth in the standings, tied with Anderson. He brings decent history to Thunder Valley but nothing monstrous and actually has regressed in past years taking sixth, seventh and eighth from 2015-17, respectively. Conversely, Blake Baggett took third overall in 2015 and got his first 450 class win and overall last year at Thunder Valley before turning into a legitimate threat for the Championship until he injured his thumb at Red Bud. So far Baggett has mediocre results but pretty similar from past years.
Marvin Musquin is riding well but needs a bit more to take the checkers
The 250 class received the biggest shake-up heading into Colorado as Aaron Plessinger swept last week, tying Zach Osborne for the points lead. Osborne, the defending Champion who swept the opening round rather decisively, had bit of an off-day taking fourth overall (2-5) and losing the tie-breaker for a podium spot to Jeremy Martin (5-2). Osborne won Glen Helen last year with similar results (4-2) but it was hardly enough to overcome Plessinger's solid ride and past results at Thunder Valley don't bode well for him this weekend. He last landed on the podium with a second-place finish in 2015 behind a dominating Martin who went (1-1) that day. In fact, Martin has landed on the podium four straight years at Thunder Valley.
Aaron Plessinger rode like a defending Champion last week and is now tied for first-place
Elsewhere, Alex Martin finished third, twice, for second overall for his first podium of the year at Glen Helen. He has three straight third-place finishes and brings solid success into Colorado, landing on the podium the last two years. Martin ran second to Osborne last year before a mid-year practice crash ended his run.
The 250 class already looks bunched up with Osborne and Plessinger tied, Jeremy Martin behind them by six points and Alex in fourth, eight points behind his brother. Thunder Valley helped shake things up in 2017 as Joey Savatgy took the overall (he won in 2016, too) and he sits in similar position now as he did after Glen Helen in 2017 - sixth-place after a fifth overall last week.
Our Podium Picks for Thunder Valley:
- Eli Tomac
- Ken Roczen
- Marvin Musquin
- Jeremy Martin
- Joey Savatgy
- Zach Osborne
Check out the track map for Round 3:
The 250 class Moto 1 gates drop just after 2 p.m. (MST) on Saturday at Thunder Valley. Live race day coverage begins on MAVTV for Moto 1 of both classes then switches to NBCSN for Moto 2. Sunny and about 80 degrees expected.
2018 Motocross Season Standings
- Eli Tomac (100)
- Marvin Musquin (86)
- Jason Anderson (73)
- Justin Barcia (73)
- Blake Baggett (60)
- Weston Peick (60)
- Ken Roczen (53)
- Phil Nicoletti (49)
- Benny Bloss (42)
- Kyle Chisholm (39)
- Zach Osborne (88)
- Aaron Plessinger (88)
- Jeremy Martin (82)
- Alex Martin (74)
- Justin Cooper (60)
- Joey Savatgy (59)
- Chase Sexton (50)
- RJ Hampshire (50)
- Garrett Marchbanks (49)
- Jordon Smith (43)