AMA Pro Motocross Thunder Valley Insider

June 28, 2011
JC Hilderbrand
JC Hilderbrand
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Hilde is holding down the fort at MotoUSA's Southern Oregon HQ. With world-class dirt bike and ATV trails just minutes away, the hardest part is getting him to focus on the keyboard. Two wheels or four, it doesn't matter to our Off-Road Editor so long as it goes like hell in the dirt.

Kawasakis Blake Baggett swept both motos at Thunder Valley ahead of Dean Wilson.
Blake Baggett went 1-1 but is trailing his teammates in the championship.

Monster Pro Circuit Kawasaki is absolutely killing the 250 division. Early in the year it was hopeful that some of the other teams could give the perennial powerhouse a run for their money, but Mitch Payton continues to prove that he builds the best bikes and puts them under the best riders. The points chase is all about the PC squad as Dean Wilson (214), Tyla Rattray (206) and Blake Baggett (194) hold down the top three positions. They continue to scrap among themselves and at just under halfway in this championship their mechanics are probably pretty tired of swapping out red and black number plates.

Baggett put down an impressive 1-1 (opposed to his 7-7 last week), and he is clearly the fastest of the trio when it comes to sheer speed. However, he still trails. Wilson’s 2-2 was good enough to push him into the overall lead and Rattray salvaged his day with a 5-5 despite terrible starts. This is going to be a fight to the end.

Payton’s business plan calls for hiring the best riders more than cultivating them through the mini ranks. Pop onto the scene, log a kick-ass season and someone just might be getting a phone call from the Pro Circuit boss. If there’s anyone who’ll be getting courted after this summer we’d bet it’s Darryn Durham. The Eleven 10Mods Honda rider has been running up front a lot lately and even though he hasn’t held off the mighty Kawi riders, he’s been doing an amazing job as a privateer.

Darryn Durham continues to excel in the 250 class where he took another top-five finish at Thunder Valley behind Eli Tomac.Geico Hondas Justin Barcia took holeshots in both motos at Thunder Valley.
Darryn Durham (top) finished just behind Eli Tomac in the 250 class. Don’t bet against any red bikes on the starts this year.

Justin Barcia was riding with mono. More important than who he’s been smoochin’ (we’re just kidding, JB, there are other ways to contract this common illness) are the effects it has on a person. Mono can wipe out energy reserves and riders were already suffering from the altitude. He may not have lasted, but he jumped out hard and fast with a holeshot. The Geico Powersports Honda boys have been ruling the gate drop this season. Barcia went 9-12 while his teammate and Colorado native, Eli Tomac, enjoyed the mountain setting for 3-3 moto scores.

Lance Vincent got his 15 minutes of fame; actually it was more like 10 minutes, but the Honda privateer from Houma, Louisiana ran up front for five laps in Moto 2 before DNFing.

The story of factory superstars getting skunked off the start by red privateer bikes extends into the 450 division. Christian Craig is getting a reputation for nailing holeshots and he proved the Lucas Oil TLD Honda isn’t giving up many ponies despite the oxygen shortage with a first-place start in Moto 1. Reed pulled the holey in Moto 2 (what is with these CRF450R bikes?) and looked to be on his way to continuing his streak. He was a perfect 4-for-4 in the second races but unfortunately the Aussie wound up third. He still holds the championship lead.

Kevin Windham is a liar, liar, pants on fire. He said that Budds Creek was going to be his last race of the season, or at least for a bit while he takes summer vacation. The veteran Honda rider showed up in Colorado anyway. Apparently he’s having too damn much fun and it showed out on the track where K-Dub held off Mike Alessi in Moto 1 and scored 4-4-4.

“The fans have played a big role in my decision,” he said in a press release last week. The crowd support at each race has been kind of overwhelming. I can hear them cheering me on all around the track and so many people come by the transporter to see me and talk with me that I’m just amazed.”

Ok, so he’s not really a liar, but with Josh Grant injured we might see Windham stick around even longer. That’s right, JG is hurt again. In only his second race back the Honda pilot got twisted up. Considering he just spent a healthy chunk of a year rehabbing knee surgery, the type of injury from Colorado adds insult. It’s unclear exactly what happened, but somehow the Californian popped his knee out. There have been no statements as to whether he will continue racing of if he’ll have to sit out.

Kevin Windham: Ive had a great time riding Motocross this season  said Windham. Its been so much fun  Im going to race at least a few more rounds. The fans have played a big role in my decision. The crowd support at each race has been kind of overwhelming. I can hear them cheering me on all around the track and so many people come by the transporter to see me and talk with me that Im just amazed.
More Kevin Windham!! No more Josh Grant?

Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey finally got the monkey off his back with the overall win. His 2-1 finish edged out Ryan Villopoto (1-2), who finally has his outdoor speed on full display. RV was a full two seconds faster than anyone else in Moto 1. Dungey’s win put him over the 200-point mark before the season’s halfway mark and he closed to within 21 points of the championship leader.

“It means a lot to get this win,” said Dungey. “We’re five rounds in and I wish it could have come earlier, but that’s racing.”

This was Round 3 of the WMX series and Jessica Patterson came out with the intent of getting her points lead back. She didn’t leave any room for mistakes with a 1-1 on her DNA Shred Stix Star Racing Yamaha. Honda’s Ashley Fiolek holeshot and led Moto 1 for a lap but JP$ swept by and won going away with a 21-second gap. She averaged more than three seconds per lap faster than Fiolek. Moto 2 was a mirror image. Langston Motorsports Kawasaki rider Vicki Golden was finally having the type of day she needed. Climbing onto the podium in Moto 1, the Californian was looking for an overall spot on the box. She was running in fourth up until the last lap in Moto 2 when she lost her front end in a slick corner. Tarah Geiger held onto the third spot and took third overall. Golden remounted for 19th (10th OA).

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