News 11 Jun 2024

How Deegan and Vialle viewed their Thunder Valley tussle

The closest fight for a 250 moto win yet this year saw Deegan prevail.

For the first time in AMA Pro Motocross this season, Haiden Deegan and Tom Vialle found themselves in a close battle for a moto win. After Deegan fell while leading the first moto at Thunder Valley, Vialle pounced to pass him and the two exchanged the lead a few times with Deegan pulling out the win. Both riders spoke at the end of the day about the pass attempts and battle, suggesting they each were fine with the close quarters racing.

Deegan lost the lead initially with four laps to go when he slid out on an off-camber section. When he picked the bike up, Vialle was suddenly right on him, and the Red Bull KTM rider snuck into the lead. Deegan’s Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing machine was undamaged in the fall, and he was immediately back on the attack.

“I saw Haiden crash in the corner, and he actually picked up the bike really fast,” said Vialle. “I was not far behind, and he got up in front of me and then I passed him in the corner right after. I was leading for maybe three laps and then he passed me with a lap to go and I almost passed him back. It was really a good fight. All moto, we were riding together and were way faster than the other guys. We were pushing until the last lap, and it was a good fight.”

Image: Octopi Media.

Eventually, Deegan made the pass by taking advantage of Vialle swinging too wide in the corner before the finish and the two nearly came together, with Vialle going off the track.

“I just Hail Maryed it,” said Deegan. “I was like, ‘Either we’re both going to come together and go down or I’m going to make the pass.’ I just Hail Maryed that jump. It’s white flag, and same with Tom, when it’s white flag and the last lap, you’re going to do almost anything to try to get to the lead. It’s kind of a quick, ‘Let’s do this real quick and see if it works,’ and it worked.”

Rather peculiarly, Vialle left the door wide open two laps in a row when Deegan had gotten close on a prior lap, which Deegan took full advantage of. But as Vialle revealed after the race, he was aware of the need to cover off the inside line and completely forgot until it was too late.

“When I went to the outside, I was like, ‘Oh, he’s going to pass me,’” said Vialle. “I was like, ‘Why am I doing that?’ I kind of forgot because the lap before he came close to me and then I was like, ‘Okay, next lap I have to go inside.’ Then I came [to the corner] and forgot it.”

Image: Octopi Media.

As Vialle jumped back on the track right behind Deegan, the white flag was waving right in front of them, and the duel continued. Vialle tried to change up his lines, but nothing was working until he nearly pulled alongside Deegan with three turns to go.

Both riders were headed towards the same line and Deegan went to close the door as Vialle came in on the inside. Contact was made as Vialle slid into the side of Deegan and low-sided entering the rut, causing him to go down.

Deegan bounced out of the rut and stayed upright to continue on, crossing the line to win the moto just moments later. Vialle would remount for second behind him. While Deegan and Vialle wouldn’t see each other in the second moto with Deegan finishing P2 to secure the overall win while Vialle was P4, both riders felt that first moto battle was the type of racing they expect to see moving forward.

“When you get up and you guys are right there, going at it, crossing each other up in the turns, that’s fun,” said Deegan. “That’s old-fashioned racing right there when back in the day, guys like [James] Stewart and [Ricky] Carmichael were going at it outdoors. That type of racing is fun. If you can keep it pretty clean, obviously on the last lap you might do something gnarly, but that was a good battle.”

Image: Octopi Media.

When asked whether both riders were okay with that type of racing, Vialle nodded his head in agreement. Deegan then explained he was also okay with the contact from Vialle on the final lap.

“No, I don’t care,” said Deegan of Vialle hitting him on the last lap. “I’d do the same thing.”

Thanks to three consecutive wins on the trot to start off 2024, Deegan holds a large 23-point lead in the championship over Vialle and Team Honda HRC’s Chance Hymas who are both tied for second. But Vialle believed Thunder Valley was closer to his normal self than the first two rounds and good things could be right around the corner.

These two just battled to the end for the 250SX East title in Monster Energy Supercross and it appears we may be in store for a rerun in Pro Motocross, this time with Vialle doing the chasing.

Image: Octopi Media.