Autotrader / Yoshimura / Suzuki Factory Racing Team Report: Thunder Valley National

Photos Courtesy of Brown Dog Wilson

The Autotrader/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing team is following the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship circuit back east, making a stop at Thunder Valley Raceway in Lakewood, Colorado for round three of the series. The oxygen-thin altitude and grueling track didn’t stop Suzuki RM-Z450 riders Weston Peick and Phil Nicoletti from posting ultra-consistent results in route to top-ten finishes. Suzuki RM-Z250 mounted Enzo Lopes continues to make progress during his rookie campaign, logging a career-best moto result and overall finish. Teammate Justin Hill dug deep, nearly salvaging a top-ten finish in the second moto after getting caught up in a first-turn crash on his RM-Z250.

A strained hand would sideline most riders, but Weston Peick refuses to back down from the challenge of outdoor motocross. The Menifee, California resident seemingly laughs in the face of danger, pushing beyond the pain in search of a coveted win. Peick nearly met his match in the arduous Thunder Valley circuit, which was rife with chop, ruts and unending bumps. The Suzuki RM-Z450 rider gritted his teeth and logged consistent 7-7 moto scores for seventh overall. Peick unswerving dedication has him sitting sixth in the point standings.

Results don’t lie–Phil Nicoletti continues to hone his race craft on the all-new Suzuki RM-Z450. Nicoletti’s legion of loyal fans were ecstatic when “Filthy” came close to nabbing his second holeshot of the series during the second moto. The New Yorker stayed strong, running a blistering pace for most of the moto before settling into eighth. His 8-8 moto scores netted him eighth overall. Nicoletti has finished inside the top ten at every round as a fill-in rider for the injured Justin Bogle. Nicoletti’s #54 machine has moved up to seventh in the point standings after his strong effort this weekend. With each passing lap in the series, Autotrader/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing Team’s Enzo Lopes takes one step closer to a top-ten finish. The Brazilian has embraced the pressure cooker that is professional racing. Lopes qualified 13th quickest

in combined times, and followed that up with a hard-fought 12 th place score in the first moto. It has been his best moto finish to date. He backed that up with a strong 14 th place score in the second moto for 13 th overall. The 18-year-old is quickly adapting to life in the fast lane, and now sits 16 th in the standings.

Winners never quit, and when Suzuki RM-Z250 mounted Justin Hill was collected in a massive first-turn crash in the second moto, the veteran put his head down and charged to the front. Hill passed over 20 riders to finish 13 th , which left him 14 th overall on the day. The Yoncalla, Oregon native is currently situated 13 th in the point standings.

Weston Peick [450 Class, 7-7 for 7 th Place] – “Thunder Valley didn’t go as planned. I struggled to find a flow around the track in both motos. I’ve never been able to get the results I feel that I should be getting at that track. It had a lot of medium-sized bumps that wrecked my injured hand. I can do better than 7-7 for seventh overall. I did learn where we can make some changes with the Suzuki RM-Z450 that will help me late in the motos. We should be looking a lot better for High Point. I’ll ride a little bit less this week leading up to the weekend off, and then I’m traveling to JGRMX in North Carolina, where I’ll stay for a month and do quite a bit of testing.”

Phil Nicoletti [450 Class, 8-8 for 8 th Place] – “Thunder Valley has always proven to be a fast and technical track. I feel like I’m making progress in this outdoor series, and am finding more speed as the motos wear on. I’m always up for a challenge, and I know I can make big steps toward the front as I get more time on the Suzuki RM-Z450. Eighth overall isn’t too bad, but I expect more from myself. I’ll take this break to work on the areas where I’m struggling and come out swinging at High Point, which is the first East coast race of the series. I like that.”

Enzo Lopes [250 Class, 12-14 for 13 th Place] – “Qualifying went well. I felt solid on the track, and also with the bike. I was close to the top ten in qualifying, so I was happy. I didn’t get the best start in the first moto, but I put in solid laps and was close to 11 th at the end. I was happy with my speed. I was around 10 th off the start in the final moto, but I couldn’t find a good rhythm. As for the track, it was decent in the first moto. The ruts became really long and gnarly for the second moto, which made things challenging. This upcoming weekend off will be spent testing some different settings, training, and preparing for High Point.”

Justin Hill [250 Class, 15-13 for 14 th Place] – “I’m learning every weekend. Man, that second moto was crazy! It was pure carnage. I rebounded as best as I could. Given the situation, I was happy to earn points. The speed is there; I just need to make a few minor tweaks and I think I’ll be up where I need to be. Thanks to the team for the support.”

Jeremy Albrecht [Team Manager] – “Justin Hill has proven to be stronger in the second moto. He had a good start, but got tangled up. He worked his way up, and is improving each week. Peick was having difficulty with his hand, but he had two consistent motos. Nicoletti also had two reasonably good motos. He was running great in the first moto, but then there was a red flag from a rider crashing. Lopes rode the best I’ve seen him ride, but the competition is tough in the 250 class.”

“The track wasn’t as deep as usual, but everyone talked about how difficult it was. It was really high speed, because the ruts didn’t develop like they normally would. I thought they did a good job with it. Lopes said that he had to hit every jump wide open, because the air is so thin at the track.”

The 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship will take a one-week break before returning to action in Saturday, June 16th. That’s when the Autotrader/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing Team will take on southern Pennsylvania’s famed High Point Raceway for the fourth round of the series.

About Suzuki: Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. (SMAI) distributes Motorcycles, ATVs, Scooters, Outboard Motors and Automotive Parts and Accessories via an extensive dealer network throughout 49 states. Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC), based in Hamamatsu, Japan, is a diversified worldwide manufacturer of Motorcycles, ATVs, Scooters, Automobiles, Outboard Motors and related products. Founded in 1909 and incorporated in 1920, SMC has business relations with 201 countries/regions. For more information, visit www.suzuki.com.

About Autotrader: Autotrader is the most visited third-party car shopping site, with the most engaged audience of in-market shoppers. As the foremost authority on automotive consumer insights and expert in online and mobile marketing, Autotrader makes the car shopping experience easy and fun for today's empowered consumer looking to find or sell the perfect new, used or Certified Pre-Owned car. Using technology, shopper insights and local market guidance, Autotrader's comprehensive marketing solutions guide dealers to personalized digital marketing strategies that grow brand, drive traffic and connect the online and in-store shopping experience. Autotrader is a Cox Automotive™ brand. Cox Automotive is a subsidiary of Cox Enterprises. For more information, please visit http://press.autotrader.com.

About JGRMX: Joe Gibbs Racing Motocross (JGRMX), based in Huntersville, NC, was founded in 2007 by Coy Gibbs, son of NFL Hall of Fame head coach and multi-time NASCAR Championship winning team owner Joe Gibbs. JGRMX competes in both the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship series as well as the Monster Energy Supercross series with support from Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. aboard Suzuki RM-Z250 and RM-Z450 race machines.

About Yoshimura R&D of America: Yoshimura is “The Leader in Performance” and has been for more than 55 years. With unmatched skills, knowledge, and passion for racing, Yoshimura is on the forefront of the aftermarket exhaust industry. Yoshimura pipes are race bred and feature the same legendary performance, fit and quality that has been their trademark for more than five decades. To learn more about Yoshimura and view their wide variety of performance products, visit www.yoshimura-rd.com.