The 10th round of 12 in the 2011 United States national motocross championships at Southwick, New England, signified a memorable day for Suzuki’s Brett Metcalfe.
The Australian broke through for his first career victory, outlasting his rivals in a consistent effort aboard his Suzuki.
It’s a good omen for Team Australia, ahead of the Motocross of Nations in France in a fortnights’ time, although one of his MXoN team-mate, Chad Reed, had a few problems at the weekend.
Meanwhile, in the 250 class, Kawasaki’s Tyla Rattray, of South Africa, rode to his fourth win of the season.
As the gate dropped on the opening 450 class moto, defending champion Ryan Dungey (Suzuki) took control early, grabbing the holeshot and leading all 17 laps of the race.
The strong start to the day put Dungey in position for his third win in four races, in addition to closing in on his points deficit to Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto.
Australia’s Reed (Honda) experienced bike problems and failed to score a point.
As the bikes lined up on the gates for moto two, Dungey’s Suzuki was nowhere to be found, still sitting in the pits. As his crew worked feverishly to get the bike prepared, Dungey was forced to watch his competitors start without him. Moments later, Dungey’s bike arrived and he tore out onto the track, nearly a full lap behind.
Out front, American Honda’s Justin Barcia looked to overcome a DNF in the first moto, moving into the lead early, and checking out on the field. Behind him, Metcalfe, Villopoto, and Justin Brayton battled for the remaining podium spots.
Barcia rode convincingly to his first moto win in the 450 class, while Metcalfe’s runner-up effort in the moto solidified his position atop the overall standings for the day, on the heels of 3-2 results.
“I’m a winner now,” exclaimed Metcalfe. “This career has been a roller coaster. After everything I’ve been through, to finally get a win after eight years just feels good. The first moto was the worst I’ve ever rode at Southwick, but I still got third. We prepared my bike for the mud in the second moto and it rode like butter. It was perfect. I knew I had to beat Villopoto for the overall. I saw him ahead of me, dug deep, and passed him.”
Villopoto’s fourth-place effort in the final moto, combined with his second-place finish in Moto 1, landed him second overall. With the win out of his grasp, Dungey battled through the field in tricky conditions to fight his way to seventh in the moto, and third overall (1-7).
“My parents always told me to never quit,” said Dungey. “I wanted to, and I almost did, but then I saw the bike come down the hill. I just went out there and rode as hard as I could. I can’t take all the credit though. The Suzuki team made it happen. It was the difference between starting late, or not starting at all. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have been out there.”
Even with Dungey’s misfortune, Villopoto gained just one point on his rival, and enters the penultimate round of the season next weekend with an eight-point lead.
Reed, the series’ points leader just a few rounds ago, experienced misfortune in both motos, failing to score points on the day. He now sits 65 points out of the lead.
After his toughest outing of the 250 class season at the previous round, Rattray looked to bounce back at a track in which he was able to take the win one year ago. While leading in the late stages of the first moto, Rattray experienced misfortune, stalling his engine and ultimately losing the lead and win to Yamaha’s Gareth Swanepoel, of South Africa. In moto two, Rattray rebounded and took over the lead on lap 4, gradually pulling away from the field (2-1).
“This track has been good to me,” said Rattray. “I’ve ridden in the sand a lot in my career, so it means a little more to win here. I settled for second in the first moto and knew the track was going to be tough in the second moto, so I pressured myself to get a good start, which I did. I was able to get into the lead, and then I just put my head down.”
Rattray’s Kawasaki team-mate Dean Wilson, of Scotland, finished in the runner-up spot (2-3), to maintain his points lead, while Swanepoel garnered his first career podium in third (5-2).
Wilson now holds a 38-point advantage over Rattray in the 250 class standings.
The Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship continues next weekend, on Saturday, September 3, from Delmont, Pa. Steel City Raceway will host the 11th of 12 rounds this season.
Rockstar Energy Southwick National – Moto-X 338 – Southwick, Mass – Round 10 of 12
450 Class (Moto Finish)
1. Brett Metcalfe, Mannum, Australia, Suzuki (3-2)
2. Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki (2-4)
3. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., Suzuki (1-7)
4. Justin Brayton, Fort Dodge, Iowa, Yamaha (7-3)
5. Mike Alessi, Victorville, Calif., KTM (4-6)
6. Jake Weimer, Rupert, Idaho, Kawasaki (6-5)
7. Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., Honda (36-1)
8. John Dowd, Holyoke, Mass., Kawasaki (9-8)
9. Les Smith, York, S.C., Yamaha (8-9)
10. Kyle Chisholm, Clearwater, Fla., Yamaha (11-10)
450 Class Championship Standings
1. Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki – 431
2. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., Suzuki – 423
3. Chad Reed, Kurri Kurri, Australia, Honda – 366
4. Brett Metcalfe, Mannum, Australia, Suzuki – 304
5. Mike Alessi, Victorville, Calif., KTM – 243
6. Jake Weimer, Rupert, Idaho, Kawasaki – 221
7. Andrew Short, Colorado Springs, Colo., KTM – 196
8. Kevin Windham, Baton Rouge, La., Honda – 193
9. Davi Millsaps, Murrieta, Calif., Yamaha – 173
10. Justin Brayton, Fort Dodge, Iowa, Yamaha – 163
250 Class (Moto Finish)
1. Tyla Rattray, Durban, South Africa, Kawasaki (2-1)
2. Dean Wilson, Glasgow, Scotland, Kawasaki (3-2)
3. Gareth Swanepoel, Johannesburg, South Africa, Yamaha (1-5)
4. Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Honda (10-3)
5. Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., Kawasaki (9-6)
6. Marvin Musquin, La Reole, France, KTM (7-8)
7. Broc Tickle, Holly, Mich., Kawasaki (5-12)
8. Gannon Audette, Minneapolis, Minn., Yamaha (4-16)
9. Justin Bogle, Cushing, Okla., Honda (18-4)
10. Darryn Durham, Butler, Pa., Honda (8-13)
250 Class Championship Standings
1. Dean Wilson, Glasgow, Scotland, Kawasaki – 438
2. Tyla Rattray, Durban, South Africa, Kawasaki – 400
3. Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., Kawasaki – 398
4. Kyle Cunningham, Aledo, Texas, Yamaha – 264
5. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Honda – 246
6. Gareth Swanepoel, Johannesburg, South Africa, Yamaha – 241
7. Broc Tickle, Holly, Mich., Kawasaki – 220
8. Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., Honda – 181
9. Martin Davalos, Quito, Ecuador, Suzuki – 175
10. Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Honda – 170
Photo courtesy Suzuki