Recap: Thunder Valley National Amateur Day

Tuesday, June 11, 2019 | 2:05 PM

2019 Thunder Valley Amateur Days Report
Amateur Racing Invades Thunder Valley Motocross Park

The 2019 Thunder Valley Amateur Motocross, held in conjunction with the Thunder Valley Pro Motocross National, round three of the 2019 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, took place on June 2 at Thunder Valley Motocross Park in Lakewood, Colorado. The race provided some of the fastest amateurs in the country an opportunity to compete on the same course as the top professionals in the world. The Thunder Valley course is different from any other on the circuit since it is situated at approximately 5,280 feet above sea level, putting a unique demand on both bike and rider. This year’s course offered up prime conditions. 

The racing on this year’s Amateur day was close and competitive, while the Open Pro A class was one of the most exciting of the day. Steven Neuscheler used a 1-3 finish to take the overall win ahead of fellow Kawasaki rider Andrew McNulty’s 4-1 performance. Wade Huffman (HQV) finished second and third to claim third overall.

Neuscheler’s victory was his first of the year.

“I didn’t get a good start in the first moto, I think I was fourth out of the first turn,” said Neuscheler. “I think I came up the hill in third, and then after the first lap I fought up to second. I made a pass on the third lap to take the lead and I just kind of held it from there, just trying to hang on.”

Kawasaki-mounted Ryan Munson was second and Huffman was third.

In the second moto, Neuscheler got pinched off on the start and was sixth exiting the first turn.

“I just ate a bunch of dirt the first two laps,” said Neuscheler. I was just trying to fight my way up. After a lap, first and second kind of took off ahead of the pack, so I had some catching up to do. I finally got into third after the second lap and I could see them up ahead of me, kind of battling in some corners. I knew that I didn’t have enough time to get them and I knew a third would give me the overall so I didn’t panic. I crossed the finish line and I was like, shoot, I can’t believe I’m in first. I pumped my fist. It was kind of like a reality came true. It definitely helped my confidence and made me want to push hard for the rest of the season.”

Raice Hernandez (HQV) won the highly competitive Supermini 12-16 division, going 1-1 to beat out Aiden Gray’s (KAW) 2-2.

Hernandez grabbed the holeshot to start moto 1 and led the race from start to finish. Hernandez was particularly fast in the sweeper after the triple step up jump and that’s where he felt he gained the most time.

“I had a pretty decent lead throughout the entire race,” said Hernandez. “The ruts didn’t get very deep at all. I enjoy Thunder. It’s my favorite track.”

Moto two was basically a repeat of the first moto, with Hernandez taking a comfortable win ahead of Gray.

“It was just an awesome experience to go out, and last race before my regional, and get the win,” said Hernandez. “It gave me some good confidence to go into our regional.

KTM-mounted David Harris Jr. finished third overall with 4-3 moto finishes.

Aiden Gray came back in the 85 (12-16) division to take a solid victory over Maddox Brown, his 1-1 moto finishes trumping Brown’s 2-2 performance. Both Gray and Maddox were riding Kawasaki’s. James Slife went 3-3 for third overall on a Yamaha.

Kyle Bennett was particularly fast up Thunder Valley’s big hill, and turned that speed into a pair of moto wins to claim the overall victory in the Collegeboy (17-24) class. Ryder Hernandez (KTM) had 2-2 finishes for second overall.

“Going up the hill and back down and headed towards the triple, I feel like that’s probably where I was the fastest,” said Bennett. “The track was perfect. It was prime. The ruts weren’t too bad, but they were still there, nice and decent. The track was nice.”

Bennett grabbed the holeshot to start both races and basically checked out.

“I feel pretty good,” added Bennett. “It was a big confidence boost; I haven’t won a race in a while, so it’s finally good to win.”

DJ Gritzmacher (KTM) swept both motos of the 250 A/B class in route to the overall win over Husqvarna-mounted Wade Huffmans’ 3-2 performance.

Rylan Munson (KAW) parlayed a 2-3 finish into third overall.

Gage Dunham swapped moto wins with fellow KTM rider Mason Brown, with Dunham’s 2-1 tally beating out Brown’s 1-2 performance. Yamaha rider Jenner Brooks turned in a consistent 3-3 day for third overall.

MX Sports Pro Racing’s expanded amateur racing program for the 2019 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship allows competitors from all over the country to race during a National weekend at all 12 rounds on the schedule, which will undoubtedly help the continued growth of the amateur racing component of the world’s most prestigious off-road motorcycle racing series. 

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