Ryan Dungey now leads the series standings by a whopping 80 points!
With the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Series moving this week to his backyard in Minnesota, Ryan Dungey made full use of the home field advantage and posted a dominating performance in front of a highly partisan “hometown” crowd. Easily running away to a perfect 1-1 moto score, the Red Bull KTM rider now holds a whopping 80-point lead in the title chase, as well as an impressive 10-moto win streak for the 2012 season.
In the first moto, Dungey had to make his way around Mike Alessi, and according to Dungey, the privateer Suzuki rider tried to park him in the back whoops section. Dungey finally dropped Alessi on lap seven and steadily built on his lead until it stood at over 23 seconds by the end of the 16-lap moto.
In the second moto, Dungey took no chances and grabbed the lead from the get go, nailing the holeshot and leading the 40-rider field into the soft and loamy Millville course to start the opening lap. This time, Dungey built his advantage to over 48 seconds by the end of the race, much to the delight of hundreds of screaming Dungey fans.
“The fan support is amazing here, all the kids wanting autographs and goggles,” said Dungey. “I was a little kid here once, too, asking all the riders for jerseys and plastic and I’m sure I was a pain in the butt. So it’s cool to be able to come here once a year now that I’m grown up a bit and be in this position, to see all the young riders coming out to cheer the riders on.”
Dungey had “higher ups” to impress, as well, as some of KTM’s Austrian brass, including Pit Beirer, KTM’s World wide Off-Road Manager, attended the race to see if their money was being put to good use.
After finishing third overall at last week’s RedBud round, Dungey’s chief rival, James Stewart, was a no-show at Millville. On Thursday, Stewart’s Yoshimura Suzuki team manager Mike Webb announced that Stewart would be taking more time to heal up his injured wrist and would return to the series for Southwick in mid-August.
“At this point in time it doesn’t make sense to push it,” said Webb. “From a safety standpoint, for both James and the other riders, we just don’t want to take the chance. The injury is a little more than we thought and will simply require a bit more rehab. The plan is to stay off the bike for a couple weeks and then ride and test and come back strong for Southwick.”
In the meantime, Mike Alessi continues to be the only rider seemingly capable of taking any kind of fight to Dungey, even if it’s for only a few laps. In all, the MotoConcepts Suzuki rider led a total of six laps at Spring Creek, which might be impressive if it weren’t for the massive gaps that Dungey is winning these races by. However, Alessi seems to be doing everything in his power to stay competitive, despite giving up a “factory advantage” to everyone else in the top five.
Alessi admitted that he and his team were at a disadvantage at Millville when it came to setup. “We never rode the yellow bike at this track so we didn’t have any notes from the past to go by,” said Alessi. “The two years I rode for Suzuki, I was injured when we came to this track, so we had no data that would could pull from. So we had to learn the hard way to find those settings. And every motorcycle is different and going from the KTM last year, we’ve had to go from scratch at all the tracks this year.”
Alessi parlayed a 3-2 performance into second overall, and reinforced his runner-up status in the series points, which stands at 80 points behind Dungey and 16 ahead of Jake Weimer.
Speaking of Weimer, the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider continues his rollercoaster ride through the 2012 outdoor season, and at Millville he was solid en route to a first moto runner-up finish. However, even he admitted that his second moto ride left something to be desired, after getting off the line outside the top five. By the time he made it into third, Weimer admitted that Dungey and Alessi were “long gone”. Weimer also openly admitted that he did not like Millville’s whoops and dreaded that part of the track on every lap. Weimer went 2-3 for third overall, losing out on a tiebreaker to Alessi.
“The whoops gave me problems all day,” said Weimer. “I wasn’t comfortable all day, I would come around and dread that part of the track. I wouldn’t say I was terrible in the whoops, but I definitely didn’t feel good there.”
Fourth overall went to Muscle Milk Honda’s Justin Brayton, who turned in consistent 4-4 moto finishes. Brayton came from way outside the top 10 in the opening moto to finish fourth, battling past Andrew Short and Tyla Rattray at the end of the race to do so. In the second moto, Brayton got off to a top-five start, but tangled on lap four with Kyle Regal when Regal bobbled on a step-up jump. Brayton didn’t lost as much ground as Regal did, however, and held on for another solid fourth place finish, while Shorty was fifth overall on his Chaparral L&Mc Honda with a 5-6 tally.
Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Broc Tickle was sixth overall, despite taking a hard fall in the first moto.
“In the first moto, I took a big one,” said Tickle. “I haven’t really done that in a while and it took me a minute to get back up. It’s kind of a bummer because I was running fourth at the time and I was feeling pretty solid. We only had 50 minutes to get ready for the second moto, so I just cooled off the best I could and came back and got a good start, but I tangled with some guys in the first turn, but I still managed to work my way up to fifth. I was right on Brayton and I tried to get around him, but he was pretty solid there at the end.”
A couple of guys relatively new to the top 10, Les Smith and Cole Thompson, had great rides in Minnesota, with Smith taking seventh overall on his Grant Langston/Witt Racing KTM after taking an 11th in moto one and an impressive ninth in moto two. Thompson, riding a privateer Honda, was eighth overall after going 15-7.
“We’ve been working really hard, the team and I,” said Smith. “Last week at REdBud, we had a top-10 going but then we had a little problem, but today we put it up there for seventh overall. In the first moto, I started about 17th and I was able to work my way up to 11th. In the second moto, I actually got a great start, I was top five, but I got pushed out in the mud and dropped back to 17th or 18 and just put my head down and worked my way back up to ninth.”
Thompson, a privateer from Canada, spent last year racing the Amateur B class, and decided in the fall to turn Pro, racing the Lites class during Supercross. Thompson switched to the 450 class for the outdoor series, which turned out to be a good decision.
Throughout the series, the 250 class has produced some of the most entertaining racing of the series, and Millville was no exception. In the opening moto, GEICO Powersports Honda’s Justin Barcia took the lead early and led the first 12 laps of the race with Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen hot on his heals. However, Blake Baggett, who was knocked off the track in the first turn, put on another late-race charge from the rear to overhaul Roczen, Eli Tomac, and Barcia to take the lead on lap 13 and ultimately win the race. Baggett was absolutely amazing on the sandy Millville course, and simply put down a charge that no one could stop. Barcia ended the moto in second, about six seconds behind Baggett, while Tomac was third on his GEICO Powersports Honda, and Roczen was fourth.
In the second moto, Tomac took the early lead ahead of Barcia, however, Baggett moved ahead of Barcia on lap four and took out after Tomac. On lap six, Baggett was able to pass Tomac for the lead, but it was short-lived, as the series points leader soon went down over a jump and lost considerable time returning to the race.
This put Tomac at the front again and the Colorado rider maintained the position until the end, taking his third overall win of the season with a 3-1 tally.
Barcia was a distant second and his 2-2 score was good enough for second overall, with Baggett rebounding for fourth in the moto and third overall. Roczen, who always seems to be on the outside looking in when moto scores are added up, finished fourth overall with a 4-3 tally.
After seven rounds, Baggett still holds the 250 class points lead with 315 points, compared to 297 for Barcia and 281 for Tomac.
GEICO Powersports Honda’s Justin Bogle returned to the series after sitting out considerable time with a knee injury suffered at this year’s San Francisco Supercross. The Oklahoma rider went 10-8 for eighth overall.
Mike Brown got a bit of help from the factory KTM motocross team, getting the use of one of Ryan Dungey’s spare engines and full factory suspension. Brownie is in pursuit of enough points to keep his national number three, and he went 18-12 for 15th overall.
Gareth Swanepoel had a great race going in the opening moto of the 250 class, moving into 10th after a poor start. However, the Star Valli Yamaha rider went down near the end of the race and broke his leg. “I just jumped into a lapper and put my leg out and fractured my leg,” said Swanepoel. “I’m planning on having it pinned and plated on Monday.”