Good, Bad, 'n Ugly: Thunder Valley

250 Class

The Good: Jett Lawrence | 2nd Place Overall

Jett Lawrence didn't seem to have it in the first moto when he cruised around in fourth place for the majority of the moto, so I thought his time with the red plate might be short-lived given how dominant Jeremy Martin looked. Alas, Martin got a bad start and eventually crashed out of the second moto, while Lawrence made quick work of Justin Cooper and went on to win by over 15 seconds! I'm not sure if it was bike setup or just the adjustment these guys have to make to the altitude that lead to his struggles in the first moto, but he had it dialed in for the second race, and now he has a 10 point cushion in the points standings. With Martin likely to miss the remainder of the season, we have to hope that Cooper will step up his game over the next few rounds and challenge Lawrence for wins. As cool as it would be to see the 17-year-old Lawrence win this title, I don't want the championship to be over by the midpoint of the series essentially.

Jett Lawrence.

The Bad: RJ Hampshire | 10th Place Overall

The story of RJ's career has been that he's incredibly fast, but he crashes every other time he's out on track...and he often crashes hard enough to injure himself. That statement has remained true during his stint with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna, which is a shame considering this is probably the fastest and most in shape RJ has ever been in his career. I think he could podium nearly every moto in this series and even win a few overalls, setting him up to be in the title fight at the end of the season...but then he has a big crash like he did in the second moto of Thunder Valley. It once again killed any hope that he has figured out how to stay off of the ground. I'm not sure exactly what Rockstar Husky has told RJ that he needs to do to keep his ride for 2022, but I'd imagine finishing the series in one piece is one of the requirements. Hopefully, he can compile some solid finishes and stay healthy.

RJ Hampshire.

The Ugly: The Martin Brothers

The day didn't start out well for the Martin family after Alex had a hard crash during qualifying that left him with a broken arm. Alex was already frustrated with the season coming into Thunder Valley after how poorly his day went at Fox Raceway. Still, I'd imagine he'd take another 19-16 finish over a broken arm that will require surgery. This most likely is the end of his 2021 season, but I hope Alex can put together another competitive racing package for the 2022 season. The races are better when Alex is behind the gate. 

Jeremy put on a fantastic performance in the first moto that saw him pass Justin Cooper for the lead and then put it on cruise control for the rest of the moto. He didn't get a great start in the second moto, but he started making some moves quickly and was up to 12th after starting around 20th...until the camera cut to him standing on the side of the track. He had crashed hard, and it was clear he was not in a hurry to rejoin the race. He would eventually ride back to the mechanics' area and then attempt to rejoin the action, but he then pulled off. It was known that Jeremy was still dealing with a shoulder injury coming into the outdoor series, but it had also been mentioned that he was dealing with another injury as well. It really seemed like one of those deals where as long as he didn't crash, the injuries wouldn't affect him too much, but it only took four motos for him to crash hard. On Sunday, he posted an update on Instagram, and it sounds like he'll be out for a while. It was looking like we were set to watch a great championship battle between Jeremy Martin and Jett Lawrence, but now it's up to someone else, like Justin Cooper, to step up and make it interesting.

Alex Martin.

Jeremy Martin.

450 Class

The Good: Ken Roczen | 1st Place Overall

Is Kenny back?! It sure does seem like it. I don't think many of us had "Ken Roczen and Dylan Ferrandis battling for the championship" written down as our preseason prediction, but here we are. Kenny may have said that he has had a rough time adjusting to the outdoors after not racing it for so long, but it sure doesn't look like it! He looks like the Ken Roczen that has won two outdoor titles right now, but the only question is whether or not he'll be able to maintain this form. We've seen him jump out to these hot starts before and then fade out of title contention. I hope that this outdoor season is different, but we'll have to wait and see how he's performing by the time we get to round six or seven. 

Ken Roczen.

The Bad: Eli Tomac | 10th Place Overall

Alright, I think many of us were willing to give Eli Tomac a pass last week. It was the first round of the season, and Tomac having a bad first round is not really a surprise to any of us. I think Thunder Valley officially showed the kind of season we can expect from Tomac, though. He's done with Kawasaki at the end of this season, and it's clear he doesn't have his head in the game this year. He's going through the motions to fulfill the rest of his contract, and then he'll get on the blue bike and hope that the change in scenery will light a fire under him again. I have no doubt that we'll see Tomac on the podium at some point this season, and he may even win a couple of rounds, but he's already out of title contention. I mean...he's 44 points down after four motos. He has his eyes set on 2022, and because of that, I think he'll take any opportunities that are given to him this season, but he won't go out of his way to create them. 

Eli Tomac.

The Ugly: Zach Osborne | 16th Overall

Zacho was still recovering from an injury when this season started, so I don't think he ever expected to successfully defend his title. He knew where he was physically, and he didn't keep it a secret from the media, either. Unfortunately, it sounds like he re-aggravated the injury he has been dealing with during qualifying, and that pretty much sent him into salvage mode for the rest of the day. He powered through for a 12th-place finish in moto one, but he eventually pulled out of moto two. It always sucks when the defending champ can't put forward a full effort to defend his title, but the injury bug is one unforgiving son of a gun. Heal up, Zacho. 

Zach Osborne (1).

Words by Grant Dawson
Photos by Steve Giberson

Show More Comment(s) / Leave a Comment