Good, Bad, 'n Ugly: Thunder Valley 1

Much like the Rocky Mountains, the racing at Thunder Valley always provides plenty of highs and lows. Who were Grant's picks this week?

Good, Bad, 'n Ugly: Thunder Valley

250 Class
The Good: Michael Mosiman | 3rd Place Overall

In my opinion, this was a make or break year for Michael Mosiman. He didn't get a full year in during 2018 due to a couple of concussions that kept him out of Supercross for the first part of the season, but amateur riders in this sport generally don't get a ton of time to prove themselves once they turn pro. It doesn't seem to matter how long the team supported them in the amateur ranks; they tend to get a two-year contract with the team and if they haven't produced eye-catching results by the end of that contract they're let go. Personally, I think one more full year tacked onto that standard would be ideal, but there's a constant revolving door of talent in this sport so I do understand why a lot of teams do it the way they do. Anyway, I bring this up because if Michael had another year of hanging around 10th at every race I wouldn't be surprised if he ended up getting let go at the end of this year. However, he has made some notable progress in both Supercross and motocross. His racecraft is far better, he looks more confident on the bike, and even though not every result in Supercross was great he did get two top fives towards the end of the season. Now, the first two rounds of the outdoor season weren't exactly eye-opening, but he rode steadily to seventh overall at Hangtown and put in some solid charges to finish eighth overall at Fox Raceway after getting bad starts in both motos. I guess something clicked at Thunder Valley, because he qualified very well and put together two great motos to finish third overall. He was looking pretty racey in the first moto and he was actually putting pressure on Dylan Ferrandis for quite a while. Dylan eventually started to gap him when the rain started to fall, but to see him stay on the rear wheel of one of the title contenders for over 20 minutes was very impressive. He had to work a little more in the second moto as Chase Sexton and Colt Nichols were around him for a while, but Chase eventually made a mistake on his own and Michael put a rather aggressive pass on Colt to get into third place. Adam Cianciarulo and Justin Cooper were too far gone at that point, but it is worth noting that Michael matched Justin's lap times all the way to the checkered flag. Overall, it was awesome to see Michael land the first podium of his career. He seemed absolutely stoked about it. Also, I'd bet that he has now done enough to secure another year with the team if he hadn't already. 

Michael Mosiman.

The Bad: Chase Sexton | 5th Place Overall

Chase has started out the season with two fifth-place finishes and one fourth-place finish. That's not bad at all, and it is commendable that he has remained consistent regardless of his starts and/or the track conditions. However, I was expecting for him to be more of a podium threat through the first few rounds of this championship. Is that partially because he'd just won a Supercross title? Sure, but I also took into account that he was fifth-ish place guy for most of the series last year, and I figured he'd take another step forward this year. So far, though, he hasn't done that and judging by his post-race interviews it sounds like he's starting to get a little frustrated about it. Luckily for him, we still have nine rounds for him to figure some things out and make that next leap. If he's still hovering around the same spot by the time we reach round 10 or 11, though, I'm gonna be left scratching my head. 

Chase Sexton.

The Ugly: Martin Davalos | 19th Place Overall

Oof, this was not a good day for Mr. Davalos. He got a mediocre start (10th place) in the first moto and straight up went backwards to 19th place from there. It does appear that he lost a good chunk of spots after the rain started to fall, and maybe he did have some vision issues or mistakes brought on by the change in weather, but in the end he still faded back to 19th which is just not good. In the second moto, he had a crash earlier on which I'm sure hampered him, but he didn't make a whole lot of progress throughout the remainder of the race and ended up 18th. I understand that he seems to be approaching this outdoor season as if it could be his last, but if he is holding out any hope that he could end up with a 450 ride next year I'd bet he's not very happy with how things have gone so far. Most of the 450 rides are already locked up, and I don't think one of the teams is going to look at his overall year so far and decide he's worth signing over someone else. He should be looking to make some strides in his program during this short break, and then put in a better result at High Point.

Martin Davalos.

450 Class
The Good: Dean Ferris | 8th Place Overall

While this isn't the type of result that would usually stand out, it is a sign that Dean is starting to make meaningful progress with the bike and should start to find himself in the sixth-to-ninth place range more often. After all, it has been a weird year for Dean. He parted ways with the CDR Yamaha team after winning multiple titles in Australia because he believed he'd be racing a Suzuki in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. The Suzuki deal eventually fell apart, and he ended up taking a fill-in ride to race a couple of round of the MXGP series with the Monster Energy Yamaha team. He got hurt at his first GP with the team, and that led to him going back to Australia once again. From there, he decided to race a round of the Australian Motocross Championship on a KTM and went 1-1, and then he eventually got a call to fill in for Aaron Plessinger at Monster Energy Yamaha in, you guessed it, the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. Talk about a long-winded process to end up where he wanted to be all along... The point I'm getting at here is that he underwent a lot of changes and dealt with several unexpected situations over the last few months, and as a result he ended up only having a couple of days to test with the team before the series started. So, to me, it's not a surprise that he started the series a little slower than some people might have expected. Now, I don't think we're going to see him get a moto podium this year like he did at High Point in 2017, but I bet at the end of the year Yamaha will feel like they made the right choice by choosing him as their fill-in rider. 

Dean Ferris.

The Bad: Justin Bogle | 10th Place Overall

If I'm Justin right now, I'd be pretty bummed about that because while the start of the outdoor season hasn't been horrible, it hasn't been that great. He has basically been Mr. 10th-to-12th Place. I'm sure riding a KTM outdoors for the first time is part of that, but at the end of the day this is his shot at showing what he can do outside and I don't think he has done himself any real favors so far. We'll see what he ends up doing for the rest of the season, and ultimately, who he ends up riding for in 2020. 

Justin Bogle (19).

The Ugly: Marvin Musquin | 5th Place Overall

Marvin's day was looking pretty dire about 15 seconds into the first moto, as he got cleaned out and had to come back from dead last. He made it back to eighth place by the end of it, which in the grand scheme of things wasn't bad at all, but combine that with a third place finish in the second moto and it was another day of losing points for Marvin. He now sits 29 points behind Ken Roczen, and unless things drastically improve at High Point his title chances may already be slipping away. I don't see Marvin as the kind of rider to chop down a 30-plus point lead unless Ken Roczen and Eli Tomac have serious issues. I'm really starting to think that Marvin may end up as one of those riders that is extremely talented and always in contention, but never wins a 450 title...and I think that's pretty wild.

 Marvin Musquin.

Words by Grant Dawson
Photos by Steve Giberson

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