Features 11 Jul 2013

The US Report: 27

PulpMX's Steve Matthes checks in direct from the US every Thursday, presented by Fox.

That’s it, round seven of the American motocross series is in the books and we got some clarity in one class and more confusion in the other.

Thanks to Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey’s stall and subsequent DNF in the first moto at the famed RedBud facility (the KTM 450 just wouldn’t fire for Ryan once he stalled it. According to team manager Roger Decoster the bike did fire right back up once back in the pits) Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto was able to put 30 points on Dungey in the title chase with five rounds to go in the 450MX series. And in the 250s, nothing was decided.

Before we get too much into that, first a primer for the series. There’s no doubt that the Redbud track, atmosphere and fans are second to none in the American series. Held around America’s Independence Day holiday weekend, the track attracts people that seem to be there for two things- the racing and the drinking. And not necessarily in that order.

The teams and riders all like going there and although there are plenty of great races in the 12 that grace the series, RedBud is right up there no matter who you ask.

Although some changes to the track were met with indifference by some riders, there was still the famed Larocco’s Leap triple jump up the hill, the sand rollers were there as was “the wall” which is a spectacular high berm at the end of an uphill where the riders are on it. The dirt was churned up nice, watered and I imagine practice was exactly like riding on a chewy chocolate chip cookie.

Ryan Villopoto now holds a commanding lead over Ryan Dungey in the 450 Class. Image: Simon Cudby.

Ryan Villopoto now holds a commanding lead over Ryan Dungey in the 450 Class. Image: Simon Cudby.

So yeah, back to the 450MX class- after two losses in a row to Dungey, Villopoto was looking to re-establish himself as the top guy in the class. Some suspension testing at his home in Florida before last week’s race in Southwick seemed to do the trick and propel the Kawasaki kid to yet another win.

In the first moto RV didn’t get the start he needed (he didn’t get the start in either moto, perhaps the only thing that didn’t go his way) but quickly sliced through the pack passing both Dungey and leader Josh Grant on the JGR Yamaha.

At one point in the moto Villopoto was lapping three seconds faster than anyone else out on the track. These were the world’s best riders and he was making them look silly. It was a runaway win for Villopoto, second was James Stewart and third was the impressive-if-only-for-this-weekend Josh Grant. And there was Dungey, on the side of the track with a KTM that wouldn’t start.

In the second moto Villopoto once again passed Dungey and early leader Stewart to grab the lead around halfway. Only this time, he didn’t turn the jet packs on and take off. No Dungey did have an answer for him and Stewart as well. All three riders got into a train and took off. Stewart was having his best race in a long time, much to the relief of his Yoshimura Suzuki team.

The three riders were putting on a show when late in the race Dungey inexplicitly dropped his front end into a rut and went over the bars while going up a hill. He was bruised and battered but managed to hold onto third in the moto and 11th overall on the day.

But it was Villopoto going 1-1 and Stewart going 2-2 that were the big winners at Redbud. Villopoto’s been the fastest rider from start to finish this summer and now with an almost two moto lead in the points, he looks to be able to bring it home for his second career 450MX title.

Ken Roczen was all smiles at RedBud after securing the overall 250 Class win. Image: Simon Cudby.

Ken Roczen was all smiles at RedBud after securing the overall 250 Class win. Image: Simon Cudby.

In the 250MX class it was Red Bull KTM’s Kenny Roczen trading moto scores with GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac but Roczen’s second moto first was enough to get the overall. As we’ve been writing in this space before, the series is coming down to whether or not Tomac can get a start or not. We’re not saying he can beat Roczen if he does but at least there would be a battle.

For all their moto wins this summer, both Roczen and Tomac haven’t really fought it out so far. One rider gets out front and takes off while the other sorts out his problems.

Roczen’s been incredibly consistent this summer, always out front and always able to position himself to be in a good spot to win. If he has a rough moto he makes sure it stays at one. Tomac has been up and down but sooner or later the charging through the pack is going to cost him. It’s a tough edge to balance on no doubt about it.

At one point in the series it seemed to be up for grabs as Roczen’s teammate Marvin Musquin rattled off a couple of wins and there was always defending champion Blake Baggett in the mix. However, the last two races have seen Tomac and Roczen rise up and the others have failed to match. Musquin is forty-five points off Tomac after seven races, Baggett even further back.

It seems that although it’s taken a bit of time to sort out, the German world champion and the American 250SX champion are going to fight this out with each and no interference from anyone else.

So it’s a much-needed week off for the series and then the scenic Washougal track, the hot and humid Millville followed by rough and tough Unadilla before another break and the final two rounds. For Villopoto he gets to play it safe right now and have the points situation in the back of his mind if push comes to shove and in the 250’s, well it’s all-out war right now.