Thousands of fans were on hand to see Kawasaki’s Ryan Villipoto win his first 450cc class title at the final round of the United States motocross nationals at Pala Raceway, in southern California, at the weekend.
In the 250 class, new champion Dean Wilson, from Scotland, took his Kawasaki KX250F to cap off his season with another win.
In the opening race of the 450 class, all eyes were on Villopoto and the defending champion, his main rival, Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey, who were separated by just 14 points.
Out of the gates, the two riders positioned themselves within the top 10, and immediately began working on moving forward. Out front, KTM’s Mike Alessi looked to pull away, with Honda’s Justin Barcia in pursuit.
After just three laps, Barcia took over the top spot, but it was only a matter of time before the series’ perennial front-runners were battling for the lead. Both Villopoto and Dungey followed nose to tail throughout the moto, and on Lap 12, Villopoto slipped past Barcia and never looked back. Dungey followed suit two laps later, finishing second, and also losing an additional three points in the standings.
In race two, the championship leaders found themselves in similar positions off the start, while Honda-mounted Australian Chad Reed took over the early lead.
While leading, Reed went down, allowing a closely-pursuing Barcia to assume the position. Upon remounting, Reed was forced to deal with a hard-charging Dungey and Villopoto. Dungey worked his way past quickly, and set his sights on Barcia, and the overall win. Villopoto took his time getting around Reed, using his healthy points lead to his advantage, but eventually settled into third, where he would finish the moto. At the front of the field, Barcia and Dungey brought the fans to their feet, battling for the win over the final two laps, with Dungey prevailing to secure his fourth win of the year.
“It was a great day,” said Dungey. “It’s been a long, hard-fought season. I’m bummed I couldn’t come out on top, but there is a sense of happiness along with it. Every race, you had to be on top of your game. Every single week, just trying to get more out of yourself. This is definitely the toughest season of my career. I know I gave it my all, and did everything I can, so I can walk away happy knowing that.”
Villopoto’s 1-3 moto results placed him second overall for the day, but with 12 points to his credit over Dungey, was able to claim the season championship – his fourth career AMA Pro Motocross title. With the AMA Supercross Championship to his credit earlier this season, Villopoto becomes the 12th rider in AMA Pro Racing history to win the title in both disciplines in the same year.
“I didn’t want to just go out there and ride today,” said Villopoto. “I felt good in the first moto, and I went into the second just looking to stay out of trouble. We started off outdoors not very good, but we finally came around. It’s been a tough year. If it weren’t for (Dungey’s) DNF at Texas, I would have come up a little shy (of the title). But, things like that happen. The turning point was at Unadilla, when we brought out our new bike. We made a lot of progress there.”
Barcia finished third (2-3), giving him his second overall podium finish in four rounds of 450 class competition.
Meanwhile, in the 250cc class, Kawasaki’s Dean Wilson, of Scotland, capped off his championship season by sweeping the day’s motos for his third win of the season.
“To win both motos today was a great feeling,” said Wilson. “It feels so good to finish the season that way. I fought for it hard. I’m not sure why I do so well here. The track just maybe suits my style. We just gel together.”
His Kawasaki team-mate, Blake Baggett, finished 2-3 to give him second overall for the day, while KTM’s Marvin Musquin, of France, grabbed his second straight podium finish in third (4-4).
In the 250 class standings, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki finished 1-2-3, with South African Tyla Rattray and Baggett finishing behind Wilson, respectively.
450 class (moto finish)
1. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., Suzuki (2-1)
2. Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki (1-3)
3. Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., Honda (3-2)
4. Brett Metcalfe, Mannum, Australia, Suzuki (5-5)
5. Mike Alessi, Victorville, Calif., KTM (4-7)
6. Kyle Regal, Howell, Mich., Suzuki (6-8)
7. Chad Reed, Kurri Kurri, Australia, Honda (12-4)
8. Justin Brayton, Fort Dodge, Iowa, Yamaha (9-6)
9. Jake Weimer, Rupert, Idaho, Kawasaki (10-12)
10. Les Smith, York, S.C., Yamaha (14-9)
450 class final championship standings
1. Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki – 526
2. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., Suzuki – 514
3. Chad Reed, Kurri Kurri, Australia, Honda – 429
4. Brett Metcalfe, Mannum, Australia, Suzuki – 374
5. Mike Alessi, Victorville, Calif., KTM – 304
6. Jake Weimer, Rupert, Idaho, Kawasaki – 271
7. Justin Brayton, Fort Dodge, Iowa, Yamaha – 218
8. Andrew Short, Colorado Springs, Colo., KTM – 196
9. Kevin Windham, Baton Rouge, La., Honda – 193
10. Davi Millsaps, Murrieta, Calif., Yamaha – 173
250 class (moto finish)
1. Dean Wilson, Glasgow, Scotland, Kawasaki (1-1)
2. Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., Kawasaki (2-3)
3. Marvin Musquin, La Reole, France, KTM (4-4)
4. Tyla Rattray, Durban, South Africa, Kawasaki (3-5)
5. Justin Bogle, Cushing, Okla., Honda (10-2)
6. Gareth Swanepoel, Johannesburg, South Africa, Yamaha (5-7)
7. Kyle Cunningham, Aledo, Texas, Yamaha (6-8)
8. Jason Anderson, Las Cruces, N.M., Suzuki (8-9)
9. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Honda (7-11)
10. Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Honda (14-10)
250 class final championship standings
1. Dean Wilson, Glasgow, Scotland, Kawasaki – 538
2. Tyla Rattray, Durban, South Africa, Kawasaki – 472
3. Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., Kawasaki – 469
4. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Honda – 314
5. Kyle Cunningham, Aledo, Texas, Yamaha – 311
6. Gareth Swanepoel, Johannesburg, South Africa, Yamaha – 300
7. Broc Tickle, Holly, Mich., Kawasaki – 253
8. Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Honda – 213
9. Martin Davalos, Quito, Ecuador, Suzuki – 213
10. Darryn Durham, Butler, Pa., Honda – 195
© Photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com