Share This Article
Written By: Anthony Picchione
Round 3 of the 2023 Pro Motocross series is complete. This weekend saw an abnormally rough track for Thunder Valley. According to Broc Glover in the press conference, the crew at Thunder Valley added a good amount of wood chips and horse manure. I think this added material made for a great race track. Although most hated the track last weekend, I think it’s great to have variety in track composition from round to round. It really does even out the playing field and makes every rider have to adapt to the conditions. The Lawrence brothers seemed to have no problem adapting this weekend, where they claimed the top spots in their respective classes for the third week in a row. Although the winners haven’t changed, the action throughout the field was still exciting through all 4 motos. Could’ve been the track, the elevation, or the atmosphere but most riders seemed to have a little extra grit and determination this weekend. Let’s get into some of my thoughts on the race as well as a few things I picked up on watching from the couch.
Ty Materpool was perhaps the story of the weekend. After the first round at Fox Raceway, I had figured this move to the 450 class was coming for Ty. For somebody in his position, why wouldn’t you want to move up and get top 10 results quite easily as well as be able to have a much more competitive bike at a lower cost. It all made sense, so I wasn’t super surprised to see him move up to the 450 class after the first race. In his 450 debut at Hangtown, he finished right about where I expected him too. Moving into Thunder Valley, I figured he would finish about the same. Boy was I wrong. This weekend compared to last weekend, Ty looked like a completely different rider. Even from timed practice, he looked spicy. When the first moto started and he had that unfortunate tip over, I was expecting him to work his way back up to the top 10 but I certainly didn’t have him catching and passing AP at one point and working his way all the way back to fifth. I was already impressed at the end of the first moto. Then we moved into the second moto. As the second moto was happening, and I was witnessing Ty pass and drop Webb and Ferrandis, my jaw was on the floor. I almost couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Obviously, during the broadcast JS7 was discussing how he believed Masterpool’s bike would be better set up for this race compared to the factory riders and I’d have to say I agree. It was a noticeable difference on the track. Around the longer, sweeping turns, Ty was able to carry so much more speed into the corner compared to the factory guys. Besides the suspension, Masterpool’s aggressive riding style seemed to play a large part in his success this weekend. If you watch closely, it almost looked like Ty was riding his 450 more like a 250. He was further off the back of the bike compared to the factory guys he was battling with, scrubbing at every chance possible, and was willing to get off the brakes and power further and deeper into the turns. He really looked like he wanted that podium in the second moto. Sad to see after all that work, he only ended up 4th place, but you have to think he and his team are extremely proud and happy with that. Hopefully the trend continues moving onto the east coast swing of the series, especially Red Bud. Having Ty mixing it up with these factory 450 guys is a much needed addition to a very depleted premier class field.
That first moto was much needed for AC. It certainly hasn’t been a season to write home about for him. For him to be able to last the whole first moto and snag a podium has to be a big confidence booster. That second moto was a struggle though. You have to think with how rough the track was and the elevation, it only heightens the problems he’s dealing with in terms of the nerves in his arm. It’s really unfortunate to see because you can tell how aggressive Adam is before his arm starts to hinder him. There was a clear moment in the second moto where you could tell the anchor was about to come. He started looking back, seeing who was behind him, and not pushing at all into the turns. I also noticed he seemed to start to change his line choice. The track was insanely rough this weekend and there wasn’t really a smooth line, but it looked like Adam was looking for the smoothest line possible just to survive through the end of the moto. The combination of track roughness as well as the elevation, surely didn’t help the #9 in terms of being able to push to the end in that second moto. As most do, I really hope the Kawasaki rider can get this arm issue under control. Not only does Adam seem like a great human being, he surely has the pace and puts in the work during the week to be able to finish both motos strong.
I’m not gonna sit here and say that the last two week’s first turn crashes are the fault of grates, but you have to admit there’s some sort of correlation. This weekend’s first moto crash in the 250 class was not good. Farres seemed to get the short end of the stick there, but still a bummer for everybody involved. Before the grates were added to the series, there were so many variables to separate riders going into the first turn. You had to think about the rut behind the gate, the rut in front of the gate, and the position for the first turn. Now with the grates, there’s almost zero separation going into the first turn. Everybody behind that gate has an even chance of getting a good start. So when you get to the first turn, instead of having some distance from rider to rider, you end up with 20-30 of the guys dead even. When you have 30 guys headed into a space that only fits 10 guys, it’s a recipe for disaster, especially when these guys turn their brains off and hold it on. Like I said at the beginning, you can’t totally blame the grates, because we’ve seen first turn crashes forever, but you have to admit that this decrease in separation has some sort of impact on the violence and the amount of riders involved in these first turn crashes.
Obviously the Lawrence brothers are dominating the sport right now. You don’t win the first 3 races of the year without having an insane amount of talent and speed.There is something that I think may be helping the Lawrences on the opening laps however, that hasn’t been discussed much. Now that the brothers are racing in their own class, they have the ability to discuss the track with each other between the motos. Last year when they were both on the 250, they were kind of figuring out the track is at came to them in the motos. Now that they are in different classes, they can relay how the track is between motos at the rig. The ability to discuss which lines are fast and which to avoid is a bigger advantage than most people would realize. When Jett or Hunter go out for their moto, while it may not be perfect, they already have on idea of where they should be going. Especially with this added 30 minutes halftime, it leaves even more time for discussion between races. Keep an eye as the season rolls on to see if Jett or Hunter pick up on any lines the other one was taking early in the race.
Although the result in the second moto doesn’t show it, it was a much improved Justin Cooper at Thunder Valley. Compared to Hangtown, Justin looked much more aggressive with his riding. He seemed like he was willing to ride on the edge a little more especially in the second moto. It’s been brought up over the past few weeks how start dependent J-Coop’s career has been. After that first lap fall, I figured we would see him sail it home not far in front of where he got up. But after the fall, he seemed to get up poised to get back up front. He moved past riders with ease coming from 11th on the first lap to finish 4th. At Fox Raceway, He came around the first lap in 8th and was only able to put together a 5th place. I’m sure Justin is aware enough to know that coming through the pack is something that he struggles with. It’s cool as a fan, when you can see a rider struggle with something and actually work and make improvements from one week to the next.