Roczen Soars To Thunder Valley Glory
The start of the first 250 Class moto featured a surprise early leader as Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil Honda’s Jessy Nelson captured the Motosport.com Holeshot Award and proceeded to open a multi-second gap over the field, with GEICO Honda’s Justin Bogle and the Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha duo of Cooper Webb and Jeremy Martin in chase.
Nelson maintained a comfortable gap until Martin and Webb took over second and third, respectively, on Lap 4 and closed down the deficit to the lead. Nelson paced the field for the first 20 minutes of the moto but went off the track, allowing Martin to take first on Lap 8. Webb then took over second from Nelson on Lap 9.
The battle for victory appeared it would come down to the Star Yamaha duo as they were separated by mere bike lengths, but as he pushed for the lead Webb crashed and lost several positions. With his teammate no longer a threat, Martin rode comfortably out front for the remainder of the moto to keep his undefeated streak intact.
Nelson held on for a career-best second-place finish, while Bogle secured the third spot. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett was fourth with Rockstar Energy Racing KTM’s Jason Anderson in fifth. Webb dropped to ninth following his crash.
As the second moto got underway, all eyes were on Martin to see if he could continue his unbeaten start to the season. Out of the first corner Martin had his work cut out for him as GEICO Honda’s Zach Bell claimed the Motosport.com Holeshot Award, with Anderson and Valli Motorsports Yamaha’s Christophe Pourcel alongside. Martin started outside the top five.
Bell’s time out front didn’t last long as Pourcel took over the lead on the opening lap. On the ensuing lap Baggett began his push towards the front, eventually taking over second and setting his sights on Pourcel out front. After a couple laps of pressure Baggett made the pass and never looked back, leaving Pourcel to battle with a hard-charging Bogle.
As Baggett pulled away, Martin tracked down Pourcel and Bogle, needing a podium finish to secure his third straight overall win. At the halfway point Martin crashed while chasing third place and fell deep inside the top 10. That misfortune allowed Baggett to solidify the overall with a win in the second moto. Bogle fought to finish second, while Pourcel finished third. Martin rebounded to finish sixth.
Baggett’s 4-1 results gave him a one-point edge on Bogle (3-2) for the overall win, while Martin’s resiliency after his crash ensured third overall (1-6).