Dungey perfect, Tomac comes from behind, Stewart a second moto DNS
Words and photos by Shan Moore of Motocross.com
If you were excited when James Stewart tweeted that he was racing at High Point this past week, then you were surely disappointed to see that he wasn’t able to line up for the second moto after finishing fifth in moto one.
However, even though Stewart was unable to challenge Dungey at the latest round of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship in Pennsylvania, the race was far from boring, with Mike Alessi posing a series threat to the Red Bull KTM rider in both motos. And there were serious fireworks in the 250 class, as well, with Eli Tomac making an unbelievable charge from way outside the top five in moto two to take a last lap win over Ken Roczen. The race was a nail biter and quite possibly the best of the year so far – in either class!
Here’s the scoop on the High Point MX.
After starting the season with four-straight moto wins, James Stewart has now had to sit out three of the last four motos after injuring his hand in his first-moto crash at Lakewood.
And while he posted the fastest time in morning qualifying at High Point, Stewart got pinched off in the first turn of moto one and came out of the fray in about 10th, while Alessi and Dungey went at it out front.
Stewart worked his way up to fifth by lap seven, but that’s where his charge ended. In fact, on the final lap, he was almost passed by Monster Energy Pro Circuit’s Broc Tickle.
When moto two rolled around, Stewart was still in his motor home, and his team issued the following response from him: “Halfway through the first moto I could barely hold on,” said Stewart. “I was struggling a bit because I got a bad start, but I was working my way up. I was trying to do my best to hold on and I almost fell over a few times. At this point, I came out here and I tried. I knew I wasn’t 100 percent and I felt like I at least needed to try and do that, but I couldn’t. I was still going to try and give it another shot for the second moto, but the team knew about my riding. We’ll see what we can do maybe next weekend or in a few weeks.”
According to team manager Mike Webb, Stewart’s hand started to tingle on lap three, and by lap seven he had no feeling at all, so he elected to sit out the final moto.
Look for Stewart tweets this week as the series heads to Budds Creek.
Ryan Dungey may seem like a “goody two-shoes” to some out there, but hard work, consistency and, above all, patience have paid off big time for the Red Bull KTM rider, and he’s one of the few to remain healthy though all of the devastation that’s currently going on throughout the sport. In fact, I expect the well-mannered and hard-working Minnesotan to “goody two-shoe-it” all the way to the 2012 title. His resolve to ride conservatively at times and not push the envelope has garnered him plenty of criticism on Internet forums, but Dungey seems to be the one coming out on top of things right now.
At High Point, “The Dunge” took his time getting around Mike Alessi, who had jumped into the lead in both motos. But once around, Dungey pulled a comfortable gap each time and only once, when he ran off the track late in moto two, did Dungey look out of control on the uncharacteristically hard-packed and rough High Point course.
At the end of the day, Dungey added to his massive points lead and now sits 42 points ahead of Alessi after just four rounds of the series.
Mike Alessi seems to be returning to the form that made him a series frontrunner a few years ago, when he beat his Suzuki teammate Chad Reed by over 30 seconds in Texas. Alessi is one of the most fit riders on the circuit and now that he’s getting his speed back to where it needs to be, he could certainly challenge Dungey for a win or two this year. Alessi wants nothing more than to get a win, and I think he’ll work hard until that happens. You have to give props to MotoConcepts Suzuki, as well, for giving Alessi a bike that’s competive with the factory bikes on a satellite team’s budget.
It’s worthy to note that Mike’s mechanic is Chris Laredo, and Chris’ wife, Holly, gave birth to a baby boy at 3am on the morning of the race. Congrats to Chris and Holly.
Jake Weimer was mister consistency at High Point, although, perhaps a bit too conservative, by his won admission. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider had a good race with Andrew Short in moto one, passing the Chaparral Honda rider on lap four to take over third position and leading him all the way to the checkers. In the second moto, Weimer started near the front of the pack and pretty much rode a solitary third for the entire distance. “In the second moto, we made a few changes to the bike and I got a good start. I almost had the holeshot but I just faded way too wide. After that, I just rode my own race, really. Mike and Ryan were doing their thing up front, and I was trying the best that I could. Nevertheless, it was a good day, and a lot better than last week. Last week was tough for me,” said Weimer.
Davi Millsaps made his return to racing at High Point after missing the last two rounds due to a training crash, which left the JGRMX/Yamaha rider with a bruised abdomen. Millsaps was a bit rusty in the first moto, but came on strong in moto two, ,oving up the pack to fifth and then passing Brett Metcalfe on the final lap to take fourth. His 9-4 tally was good enough for fifth overall. “I’ve only had one good day of riding in the last three weeks and I’ve got a few cob webs,” said Millsaps. “But I think I’m getting better each time I ride and I’m anxious to get on to Budds Breek.”
Brett Metcalfe struggled in the first moto with High Point’s slippery surface, however, in moto two, when the track dried out and became more hard-packed, the Yoshimura Suzuki rider came on strong, running in fourth for much of the race before giving way to Millsaps on the final lap. “In the first moto, I wasn’t aggressive early on; I didn’t feel it, and I got eaten up in the first couple of laps. The track started to dry out, though, and I got going at the end of the moto. It wasn’t anything spectacular, it was just one of those motos where you ride from start to finish and take a result. We came back and changed a few things, including our Dunlop tire setup, and that was just killer for the second moto, we really got it right. Plus we did a couple of small adjustments to the suspension and it was a much better bike for the second moto. I rode better in the second moto, got a better start and ran fourth for most of the race, and then Millsaps caught up on me at the end of the moto. I was losing a lot of time on this double section and I know he had something good going on down there. I was really good everywhere else, but I made a mistake on the last lap and gave up the spot to Davi and got fifth for the moto.”
Broc Tickle was sixth overall, via 6-9 moto scores. The Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider was running as high as fifth in moto two, before a slip in a turn cost him valuable time. “The first practice was horrible, I was 26th fastest, but the second practice I was seventh, and things started looking up,” said Tickle. “I got two good starts and Me and Metcalfe had a good battle going and I passed him to move into fifth in the first moto and then Stewart got me and I ended up sixth. At the end I almost got Stewart back but I think he was having trouble with his hand again. In the second moto, I had a big get off. I was running fifth behind Metcalfe again and I high-sided coming down the hill and lost about 30 seconds, but I’m riding better and we’ll work on it for next week.”
Eli Tomac became the first repeat winner of the series with a strong come-from-behind performance in moto two, which gave him a 2-1 tally for first overall. Tomac started in seventh and passed Blake Baggett when Baggett slipped down in a turn; he then passed his GEICO Powersports Honda teammate Justin Barcia with an aggressive pass with three laps to go; and then caught up to leader Ken Roczen when the Red Bull KTM rider slid out, and then passed him on the final lap to take the win. “That second moto, it was a lot of work,” said Tomac. “I just never gave up and kept fighting and Ken made that little mistake there at the end and gave the me the chance to win and I capitalized on it. I didn’t see him go down and then I looked up out of a corner and he was there, and I though, ‘man, I can win this thing.”
Justin Barcia broke away from the pack and led all 16 laps of the opening 250 moto. However, the reigning East Lites SX champ struggled in moto two when the track got hard. “I felt the first moto was really good for me,” said Barcia. “The second moto was a little tough for me, however, and I struggled with the track. The track dried out in the second moto, and it was a little slick and bumpy and I usually struggle with that sort of stuff. I wanted to finishes stronger, but I was glad to keep it on the podium and go to Budds Creek, which is one of my favorite tracks.”
Four rounds and four third-place finishes! That’s Ken Roczen’s storyline for the season. In the second moto, Roczen led every lap except the one that counted, and that one went to Tomac. A silly little tip-over on the final lap may have kept Roczen from getting his first moto win of the year. “I was able to pull out a good lead and on the second to last lap, there was absolutely no reason to crash, but I guess I lost a bit of concentration and just bobbled and slid out,” said Roczen.
High Point Notes:
Despite finishing fourth overall, Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett retained the Red Plate and holds a seven point lead in the series standings over Barica, with Tomac another 11 points back.
In the Women’s Motocross Championship, Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki’s Jessica Patterson took the win following a tough battle with Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil Honda’s Tarah Gieger. After finishing second in the opening moto, Patterson came together with Gieger while battling for the lead in Moto two, as the two riders went down. However, Patterson rebounded to reclaim the top spot and secure the overall victory (2-1). Gieger overcame the incident to finish second (1-5), while Japanese rider Sayaka Kaneshiro posted a career best third-place finish (5-2) on her Team Honda Muscle Milk Honda.
Ashley Fiolek came to High Point prepared to race, but failed the mandatory concussion test required when a rider has suffered a concussion, which she did at the precious race in Colorado. Fiolek was forced to miss the race due to her failing the concussion test, losing considerable ground in the WMX standings.