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Roczen crushes them at Thunder Valley

The second round of the 2021 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, featured one of the toughest challenges of the season with the series’ annual visit to the mile-high elevation of Thunder Valley Motocross Park. As the early title fights continued to take shape, another dramatic afternoon of action made for added intrigue as Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen captured his first 450 Class victory since 2019 and Monster Energy/Star/Yamaha Racing’s Justin Cooper prevailed for his first 250 Class win of the season, and his second straight in Colorado.
Ken Roczen made his return to the top step of the podium.
Photo: Align Media
The stars of the 450 Class charged up the hill to start the first 450 Class moto and as they exited the first turn it was Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo who came away with the Holeshot ahead of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Cooper Webb, Monster Energy/Star/Yamaha Racing’s Dylan Ferrandis, and Roczen. Cianciarulo asserted himself out front, but it was Roczen who was on a torrid charge forward. The German moved into third, made the pass on Ferrandis for second, and then stormed past Cianciarulo to seize control of the lead before the completion of the opening lap.
After a highly competitive early phase of the moto Roczen, Cianciarulo, and Ferrandis then settled into their positions and put a little distance over the rest of the field. Roczen and Cianciarulo exchanged fast laps at the front of the pack, but just past the 10-minute mark of the moto Cianciarulo edged closer and closer to Roczen’s rear fender. The Kawasaki rider looked for a spot to make a move and pulled the trigger just past the finish line, with a dive under Roczen that resulted in slight contact that pushed Roczen off his line, which allowed Cianciarulo to move into the lead.
The top three were separated by less than three seconds halfway through the moto and as time continued to elapse that gap only tightened. With less than 10 minutes remaining Ferrandis took advantage of an opening to slip by Roczen for second. The Frenchman continued to push the pace and closed in on Cianciarulo, who left an inside line open for Ferrandis to slide under and capture the lead with six minutes to go. Cianciarulo responded and got back under Ferrandis, but the point leader fended him off and sprinted away. Roczen then took advantage of this battle and made the pass for second, which dropped Cianciarulo to third.
Ferrandis and Roczen soon pulled away from Cianciarulo, which made it a head-to-head battle for the moto win. The international duo carved through lapped traffic with ease and Roczen found alternate lines to keep the pressure on Ferrandis. With just over two laps to go, Roczen made a pass attempt that caught Ferrandis off guard and forced the Frenchman into a miscue that took him off track. The German assumed the lead and pushed hard for the final two circuits to prevent another late push by Ferrandis. Roczen earned his second moto win of the season by 3.7 seconds over Ferrandis, with Cianciarulo third, Team Honda HRC’s Chase Sexton fourth, and Monster Energy/Star/Yamaha Racing’s Aaron Plessinger fifth.
Dylan Ferrandis followed up his win from a week ago with a runner-up effort.
Photo: Align Media
The final 450 Class moto began as Webb surged to the Holeshot over his Red Bull KTM Factory Racing teammate Marvin Musquin, but behind them Roczen was heavy on the throttle again. The Honda rider quickly got by Musquin for second and set his sights on Webb. The rivals briefly battled for the top spot, but Roczen was relentless and fought his way into the lead. Behind this battle, Cianciarulo fell from third place but remounted quickly while Ferrandis was mired deep inside the top 10 off the start. Back near the front, the jockey for position changed again as Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GASGAS Factory Racing’s Justin Barcia moved into second and Plessinger fought his way into third.
With a wide-open track ahead of him Roczen put the hammer down and built a lead approaching 10 seconds less than 10 minutes into the moto. That left Barcia, Plessinger, and Cianciarulo to duke it out for the remaining spots on the podium. As Roczen’s lead grew to double digits, Barcia and Plessinger remained in a tense battle for second throughout the moto, often separated by no more than a second. Behind that battle Ferrandis slowly made his march forward as he moved into the top five and then caught and passed Cianciarulo for fourth with just over 10 minutes left in the moto.
As the moto wound down, Ferrandis made quick work of Plessinger and took over fourth. He then looked to close the deficit to Barcia and make a push for second. As the clock ran out on the 30-minute-plus-two-laps moto Ferrandis found himself within striking distance of Barcia. The Frenchman was patient and with two laps to go he made his move into second. Out front, Roczen was in a class of his own en route to his third straight moto win. He completed his 1-1 outing 8.9 seconds ahead of Ferrandis, followed by Barcia in third.
Adam Cianciarulo earned his first podium finish of the season.
Photo: Align Media
Roczen’s impressive outing marked his first sweep of the motos since the 2019 Unadilla National. The 19th win of his career has moved the German to within one victory of tying James Stewart for sixth on the all-time 450 Class wins list. With his runner-up effort, Ferrandis (2-2) has opened his 450 Class career with a victory and a second-place effort. Cianciarulo rounded out the top three (3-6) with his seventh career podium finish.
“It seems like (I’m back),” exclaimed Roczen. “What a perfect day. I can’t believe it, especially after last weekend getting back into the swing of things. It seems like I’m back to my old self. I’m super happy with how everything turned out today.”
The win allowed Roczen to move atop the 450 Class point standings. He and Ferrandis are separated by just one point, with Plessinger third, 16 points out of the lead.
Justin Cooper captured his second straight win at Thunder Valley.
Photo: Align Media
The first 250 Class moto of the afternoon began when co-point leaders Jeremy Martin and Jett Lawrence emerged at the front of the field. However, a red flag came out for a downed rider before the completion of the opening lap, which necessitated a restart. When the 40-rider field stormed out the start gate a second time it was Cooper who grabbed the Holeshot over KTM rider Josh Varize and Monster Energy/Star/Yamaha Racing’s Martin. It quickly became a battle between teammates as Martin moved into second and gave chase to Cooper. Behind them, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s RJ Hampshire and the Team Honda HRC duo of Jett and Hunter Lawrence battled for third.
The lead group settled into their positions through the first 10 minutes of the moto, with about a second between the top two and another short gap to Hampshire in third. As the race neared its halfway point Martin picked up the pace and started to apply pressure on Cooper for the lead. Cooper was able to fend off an initial pass attempt, but Martin didn’t let up and took control of the moto with just over 15 minutes remaining.
The clear track allowed Martin to open up a lead of just over two seconds, but both Cooper and Hampshire kept him within reach. As Martin approached heavy lapped traffic in the final 10 minutes of the moto it allowed Cooper to get a run, which helped him pull away from Hampshire in third and close the gap to Martin. However, the late push from Cooper was short lived and Martin built a comfortable multi-second advantage that he carried through to the finish for his second moto win of the season. He crossed the line three seconds ahead of Cooper, with Hampshire third, Jett Lawrence fourth, and Hunter Lawrence fifth.
Jett Lawrence took sole control of the points lead with a runner-up finish.
Photo: Align Media
The second and deciding 250 Class moto saw Cooper sweep the Holeshots for the day, with Jett Lawrence right behind. The two riders immediately engaged in an exciting battle for the lead and swapped positions several times before Cooper got a firm hold of the top spot. Behind them, Martin had to battle back from a bad start after he completed the first lap in 17th place. Out front, Cooper and Lawrence were pursued by Hunter Lawrence in third and Hampshire in fourth, but an early crash took the Husqvarna rider out of contention.
While Cooper and Lawrence controlled the pace of the moto out front, Martin continued his climb through the field and sat just outside the top 10 when he crashed and was eventually forced to retire from the race. With the first moto winner out of contention, the focus shifted to Cooper and Lawrence’s battle. With just under 20 minutes to go Lawrence saw an opening and made his move with a pass that nearly put Cooper on the ground. Once out front, Lawrence put his head down and laid down some fast laps to open a gap of nearly three seconds.
The lead duo checked out on the rest of the field and built an advantage of more than 20 seconds over Hunter Lawrence in third. Jett Lawrence continued to charge ahead and was able to consistently add to his gap over Cooper as the moto continued. The young Australian was never challenged the rest of the way and carried on to his second moto win of the season, 15.6 seconds ahead of Cooper while Hunter Lawrence completed the top three.
Hunter Lawrence secured his first podium result of the season in third.
Photo: Align Media
The consistent effort from Cooper meant his two runner-up finishes were enough to secure the third overall win of his career, which narrowly beat out Jett Lawrence (4-1) by a single point. Hunter Lawrence joined his brother with his first overall podium result of the season, and the third of his career, in third (5-3). The Lawrences became just the second siblings to ever share a Pro Motocross podium, joining Alex and Jeremy Martin, who first accomplished the historic feat at the 2016 Glen Helen National.

“I had no idea I won. I’m happy, but not happy,” said Cooper. “Going 2-2 for the win is awesome, but I should have won one (of the motos). Jett (Lawrence) tested me and it took all my strength to keep that battle going (in Moto 2). We’re definitely getting better and I’m getting a little closer, but we’ve still got some work to do. It’s been a good start to the year, but let’s keep it going and try to get some moto wins.”

With his DNF in the second moto, Jeremy Martin finished eighth overall (1-40).

Lawrence and Martin entered the afternoon tied atop the 250 Class point standings, but by virtue of Martin’s misfortune Lawrence moved into sole possession of the red plate with a lead of 10 points over Cooper, who moved into second. Martin dropped from first to third, 18 points out of the lead.

“I was hoping the track would get rougher and that I could get the start (in the second moto),” said Lawrence. “I executed on that and it was fun going at it with Cooper. He was really going and I had to do all I could to keep up. I didn’t intend for the pass (for the lead) to be that aggressive, but I knew I needed to take advantage of the moment and make it happen.”
Jeremy Martin’s crash in the second moto resulted in a DNF and eighth overall.
Photo: Align Media
The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship will enjoy its first off weekend of the 2021 season before returning to action on June 19 with the GEICO Motorcycle High Point National. The third round signifies an anticipated return to Pennsylvania’s High Point Raceway for American motocross’ Father’s Day tradition. Broadcast coverage will begin with a live telecast of the opening motos on MAVTV Motorsports Network, beginning at 10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET. Second moto coverage will air via tape delay on NBC Sports Network at 7 p.m. PT / 10 p.m. ET. Action from High Point will also stream live all day long on Peacock, beginning with exclusive qualifying coverage at 7 a.m. PT / 10 a.m. ET, followed by four consecutive hours of moto coverage beginning at 10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET.
Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship
Toyota Thunder Valley National
Thunder Valley Motocross Park – Lakewood, Colo.
June 5, 2021
450 Class Overall Results (Moto Finish)Ken Roczen, Germany, Honda (1-1)Dylan Ferrandis, France, Yamaha (2-2)Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, Fla., Kawasaki (3-6)Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., GASGAS (7-3)Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, Yamaha (5-4)Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda (4-5)Christian Craig, El Cajon, Calif., Yamaha (6-7)Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., KTM (8-8)Marvin Musquin, France, KTM (9-9)Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki (11-10)450 Class Championship Standings (Round 2 of 12)Ken Roczen, Germany, Honda – 90Dylan Ferrandis, France, Yamaha – 89Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, Yamaha – 74Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., GASGAS – 69Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda – 67Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, Fla., Kawasaki – 58Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., KTM – 52Christian Craig, El Cajon, Calif., Yamaha – 51Marvin Musquin, France, KTM – 51Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki – 46250 Class Overall Results (Moto Finish)Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha (2-2)Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda (4-1)Hunter Lawrence, Australia, Honda (5-3)Jo Shimoda, Japan, Kawasaki (6-4)Colt Nichols, Muskogee, Okla., Yamaha (9-5)Garrett Marchbanks, Coalville, Utah, Yamaha (7-7)Jalek Swoll, Belleview, Fla., Husqvarna (10-6)Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Yamaha (1-40)Dilan Schwartz, Alpine, Calif., Suzuki (8-12)RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Husqvarna (3-19)250 Class Championship Standings (Round 2 of 12)Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda – 90Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha – 80Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Yamaha – 72Hunter Lawrence, Australia, Honda – 67Garrett Marchbanks, Coalville, Utah, Yamaha – 56RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Husqvarna – 54Jo Shimoda, Japan, Kawasaki – 50Colt Nichols, Muskogee, Okla., Yamaha – 49Austin Forkner, Richards, Mo., Kawasaki – 48Michael Mosiman, Sebastopol, Calif., GASGAS – 46