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2024 AMA Pro Motocross Recap - Thunder Valley

Out of California and now eastward in Colorado, Red Bull KTM's Chase Sexton has been the talk of the better part of the last week. His Moto 2 outing in Hangtown was one of the best single race efforts ever, and on the back of a 1-1, he's your 450 points leader through four Motos. Not too far behind that headline was the rough crash that led Jett Lawrence to lose his then 24 Moto win streak, and despite that crash, which led to a leg and shoulder injury, he came back with a vengeance in qualifying, scorching his way to the top of the chart over his brother Hunter. On top of Haiden Deegan having a near-perfect start to the year, the over two-minute long course just outside of Denver added some extra twists and turns into this early season stretch with a lightning delay to kick off the day and a brief rain shower before 250 Moto 2.

Daytime Program/Injury Notes: 

- I get why they swap the class order for the NBC broadcasts, but it will never feel right, not once.

- 250 Fastest Qualifier: No. 29 Ty Masterpool (2:16.262)

- 450 Fastest Qualifier: No. 1 Jett Lawrence (2:10.342) (Was over a full second faster than Hunter Lawrence, who in turn was nearly a full second faster than anyone else)

450 Class Recap

1st - No. 1 Jett Lawrence (Honda HRC) (2-1)

Not that it was in question, but never think that Jett lacks in the toughness department. Pulling out that Moto 2 surge in the final minutes to beat his brother for the Overall win was pure grit; perhaps a Championship level performance on the level with any of his wins from a year ago, simply because it showed a lot. Not even getting to the fact he was clearly laboring walking off the podium or that he lost a side panel mid-Moto, which I can only imagine didn't help in the comfort department.

2nd - No. 96 Hunter Lawrence (Honda HRC) (1-2)

That first National win was in his grasp, but it wasn't meant to be for Hunter this weekend. Now the series points leader, however, it's fair to say he will most likely be a player in this title fight through the summer. The race pace is there; we know for a fact he can keep up and beat Jett and Chase Sexton straight up, and his sheer consistency from the 250 class has seamlessly transitioned to the big bike class as well.

Although there's no true guarantee he stays mistake-free all summer, Hunter has been excellent, and I mean excellent off the gate drop through six Motos, and the worst he's finished in six Motos is fourth, being a week ago in Hangtown. The middle of the season has been a trouble spot the last couple of years, so keep an eye out from, say, rounds 5-7, but neither Hunter nor Honda HRC could've asked for a better start to the season.

3rd - No. 32 Justin Cooper (Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha) (3-3)

While JCoop did not have the long-term speed that either Lawrence brother did yesterday, he was able to spend a lot of time out in clean air at 5,500-plus feet up. He admitted as much in his podium interview, but I don't view that as a drawback of his excellent day. Getting as much time out front as possible will only lead to good things, and he's been doing that better than just about anyone else. Only Jett Lawrence has more laps led through six Motos.

5th - No. 4 Chase Sexton (Red Bull KTM) (6-5)

Sexton was pretty lucky to rebound off two sketchy mistakes as well as he did because he could've left Colorado in a significantly worse standing than he is right now. Still, those 7-12 points the former Supercross Champion left on the table could prove pivotal by the time we get to Round 11. Sticking with the second crash, I understand why he was trying to force the issue and get by JCoop as quickly as possible, but that was about the worst possible place to make a closeout pass like that. There was still an eternity to go too.

450 Class Thunder Valley Top 10

1st No. 1 Jett Lawrence (2-1)

2nd No. 96 Hunter Lawrence (1-2)

3rd No. 32 Justin Cooper (3-3)

4th No. 51 Justin Barcia (4-6)

5th No. 4 Chase Sexton (6-5)

6th No. 7 Aaron Plessinger (5-8)

7th No. 21 Jason Anderson (10-4)

8th No. 27 Malcolm Stewart (7-7)

9th No. 14 Dylan Ferrandis (8-9)

10th No. 28 Christian Craig (9-10)

450 Class Points After Thunder Valley

1st No. 96 Hunter Lawrence (129 Points) (New Points Leader)

2nd No. 4 Chase Sexton (123 Points)

3rd No. 1 Jett Lawrence (113 Points)

4th No. 32 Justin Cooper (109 Points)

5th No. 7 Aaron Plessinger (100 Points)

6th No. 21 Jason Anderson (97 Points)

7th No. 51 Justin Barcia (95 Points)

8th No. 14 Dylan Ferrandis (89 Points)

9th No. 27 Malcolm Stewart (87 Points)

10th No. 22 Freddie Noren (68 Points)

250 Class Recap

1st - No. 38 Haiden Deegan (Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha) (1-2)

Another mail delivery performance by Deegan has made this 250 Championship a bit lackluster just three rounds in. Thanks to his spectacular start, the Star Yamaha ace is already 20-plus points up on the competition, and at this rate, that snowball might be a bit too hard to stop. Guys like Vialle, Kitchen, and Hymas will surely keep him honest, but at this rate, we're already at the point where the rest of the field can't allow him to stack up 45-50 points a weekend, which says a lot.

2nd - No. 48 Chance Hymas (Honda HRC) (4-1)

Despite coming up short of what would've been his first National win, Hymas was maybe the story of the weekend with his Moto 2 outing. Spectacular would be an understatement to describe things; "Superchunk" was in complete control the entire way, only running one lap with a gap of less than three seconds at the line to play with, and looked loose and fast on the bike. Being down 23 points already has got to sting a bit, but this kid is for real; simply an elite performance out of Hymas on Saturday, that's all there was to it.

3rd - No. 16 Tom Vialle (Red Bull KTM) (2-4)

Not that it would've gotten him the Overall win, but the combination of letting Deegan free up the inside and the failed pass-back attempt was a gut punch for Vialle at this stage of the season. Just to get a Moto win to build off of when Deegan now has four to his name would've been gigantic, and who knows how that would've helped out in Moto 2 from a confidence standpoint. The speed and technique are there, but it's on Vialle to take the fight to Deegan and everyone else at this matter to get back in this points hunt.

5th - No. 47 Levi Kitchen (Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki) (3-7)

Kitchen is another guy leaving Lakewood asking what if due to a second lap crash in Moto 2. In line for a podium at the minimum, he ran north of a 2:30.000 that go around, and despite some good pace after the fact, he never came close to seeing a top five spot, never mind a top three—just one misfortune after another for the Master Chef so far. But if for nothing else, he's only 25 points back, which, if you think about everything that has gone wrong so far, feels like a win in and of itself.

250 Class Thunder Valley Top 10

1st No. 38 Haiden Deegan (1-2)

2nd No. 48 Chance Hymas (4-1)

3rd No. 16 Tom Vialle (2-4)

4th No. 30 Jo Shimoda (5-3)

5th No. 47 Levi Kitchen (3-7)

6th No. 33 Jalek Swoll (7-5)

7th No. 29 Ty Masterpool (8-6)

8th No. 39 Pierce Brown (6-9)

9th No. 929 Julien Beaumer (9-10)

10th No. 31 Jordon Smith (11-11)

250 Class Points After Thunder Valley

1st No. 38 Haiden Deegan (144 Points)

2nd No. 48 Chance Hymas (121 Points)

3rd No. 16 Tom Vialle (121 Points)

4th No. 47 Levi Kitchen (119 Points)

5th No. 30 Jo Shimoda (99 Points)

6th No. 33 Jalek Swoll (93 Points)

7th No. 39 Pierce Brown (84 Points)

8th No. 929 Julien Beaumer (73 Points)

9th No. 29 Ty Masterpool (69 Points)

10th No. 17 Joey Savatgy (60 Points)

Thunder Valley Lit Kit: Jo Shimoda (Fox, Slide 7 of 8)

Main Image via Honda HRC


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