Kawasaki ace Ryan Villopoto cemented his spot at the top of the motocross standings in the United States at the weekend in resounding style.
Villopoto scored back-to-back wins in the 450cc class at the Unadilla Valley Sports Centre facility near New York to stretch his championship lead out from one point to seven over defending champion Ryan Dungey (Suzuki).
It was Villopoto’s second outright win of the season and puts him on target to add the motocross crown to the national supercross title he collected earlier this season.
Meanwhile, it was further celebration for the men in the green Kawasaki camp as Scotland’s Dean Wilson raced his Kawasaki KX250F to back-to-back wins in the 250cc class.
After taking over the top spot in the championship for the first time this season at the previous round, Villopoto entered the day with a scant one-point lead over Minnesota’s Ryan Dungey.
With the Unadilla round falling on his birthday, Villopoto was looking to make a statement, and began the day by topping the time sheet in practice. In race one, he relied on a strong start to move into second behind American Honda’s Justin Barcia. After pacing his rookie counterpart for nearly half the moto, Villopoto made the move for the lead on lap seven and never looked back.
The second race presented a similar situation for Villopoto, slotting into second place after another top-five start, this time behind Red Bull KTM’s Mike Alessi.
Villopoto made short work of Alessi, passing him on lap three and finishing off the day with a convincing 1-1 score-line.
“It was definitely a good day,” said Villopoto. “The team and I made the decision to go to 2012 Kawasaki for this weekend, and it was definitely the right move. Knowing what we had was a lot better, I felt like we were in a great position to win today. I got good starts and was able to work my way through the field. It seemed easy to get by guys. I don’t know if it was the bike, or my confidence, but it’s put us in good position for the championship.”
Dungey battled with Barcia throughout both motos, prevailing each time to earn 2-2 for the day and finish second overall, minimising the damage in the point standings.
“I fought it a bit today,” said Dungey. “I didn’t get the start I needed in either moto. I had to battle through guys, and once I got into second, I couldn’t make the time up on Ryan (Villopoto). We’re looking forward to the next three races, and battling for this championship.”
Barcia, making his 450 class debut in a fill-in ride for American Honda, finished third (with 3-3 race scores).
Through eight rounds in the 250 class, Wilson had captured five race wins to amass the most points in the entire series, as well as the best finishing average of any rider. Despite that, the points leader had yet to claim an overall win in the series.
On Saturday, Wilson left little doubt as to who the top rider was at Unadilla. After posting the fastest lap in practice, Wilson took over the lead early in both motos to pull away from the field and go 1-1 on the day, extending his double-digit points lead.
“It was a great day,” said Wilson. “I was just having fun out there. I feel like when I’m out there having fun, I definitely ride my best. I’ve been angry to not get an overall yet this season, but now I feel relieved. I just felt good and refreshed and excited to race again. I couldn’t sleep last night I was so excited.”
Wilson’s Kawasaki team-mate, California’s Blake Baggett, finished in the runner-up spot (with 2-3 race scores), while Colorado’s Eli Tomac (Honda) rounded out the overall podium in third (5-2).
Wilson now holds a 25-point advantage over Baggett in the 250 class standings. The Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team remains undefeated in 2011, posting 18 race wins and nine overall victories.
The Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship takes a week off, before returning to action on August 27 at Southwick, Massachusetts.
Results from round 9 of 12 at the Unadilla Valley Sports Center – New Berlin, N.Y.
450 Class (Moto Finish)
1. Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki (1-1)
2. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., Suzuki (2-2)
3. Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., Honda (3-3)
4. Chad Reed, Kurri Kurri, Australia, Honda (4-5)
5. Mike Alessi, Victorville, Calif., KTM (7-4)
6. Jake Weimer, Rupert, Idaho, Kawasaki (5-6)
7. Justin Brayton, Fort Dodge, Iowa, Yamaha (8-7)
8. Kyle Regal, Howell, Mich., Suzuki (10-9)
9. Jimmy Albertson, San Diego, Calif., Yamaha (12-11)
10. Jake Canada, Corona, Calif., Yamaha (11-14)
450 Class Championship Standings
1. Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki – 391
2. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., Suzuki – 384
3. Chad Reed, Kurri Kurri, Australia, Honda – 366
4. Brett Metcalfe, Mannum, Australia, Suzuki – 262
5. Mike Alessi, Victorville, Calif., KTM – 210
6. Andrew Short, Colorado Springs, Colo., KTM – 196
7. Kevin Windham, Baton Rouge, La., Honda – 193
8. Jake Weimer, Rupert, Idaho, Kawasaki – 190
9. Davi Millsaps, Murrieta, Calif., Yamaha – 173
10. Tommy Hahn, Great Bend, Kan., Yamaha – 140
250 Class (Moto Finish)
1. Dean Wilson, Glasgow, Scotland, Kawasaki (1-1)
2. Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., Kawasaki (2-3)
3. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Honda (5-2)
4. Kyle Cunningham, Aledo, Texas, Yamaha (8-4)
5. Justin Bogle, Cushing, Okla., Honda (6-6)
6. Marvin Musquin, La Reole, France, KTM (7-8)
7. Martin Davalos, Quito, Ecudaor, Suzuki (14-5)
8. Gareth Swanepoel, Johannesburg, South Africa, Yamaha (4-16)
9. Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Honda (10-10)
10. Cole Seely, Newbury Park, Calif., Honda (9-11)
250 Class Championship Standings
1. Dean Wilson, Glasgow, Scotland, Kawasaki – 396
2. Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., Kawasaki – 371
3. Tyla Rattray, Durban, South Africa, Kawasaki – 353
4. Kyle Cunningham, Aledo, Texas, Yamaha – 264
5. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Honda – 239
6. Gareth Swanepoel, Johannesburg, South Africa, Yamaha – 200
7. Broc Tickle, Holly, Mich., Kawasaki – 195
8. Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., Honda – 181
9. Martin Davalos, Quito, Ecuador, Suzuki – 175
10. Darryn Durham, Butler, Pa., Honda – 148
© Photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com