Baggett makes it two in a row with the 250 Class sweep.
The fourth round of the 2014 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, took place on Saturday with the High Point National in Mt. Morris, Pennsylvania.
For the first time this season, a non-Red Bull KTM rider emerged victorious as Team Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart grabbed the 20th win of his 450 Class career with a dominant 1-1 performance. In the 250 Class, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett posted back-to-back victories by also sweeping the afternoon motos.
A welcomed name grabbed the Motosport.com Holeshot Award in the first 450 Class moto of the day as Discount Tire Racing/TwoTwo Motorsports’ Chad Reed put himself up front early on with Stewart right on his rear fender.
The duo was followed by the three most consistent riders in the series thus far in Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Trey Canard and the Red Bull KTM tandem of Ryan Dungey and Ken Roczen. Reed paced the field for one lap before Stewart made the pass and took control of the race.
As Stewart began to pull away, the battle for the remaining two spots on the podium took center stage. Reed did all he could to fend off his younger rivals, but Canard soon slipped by and eventually brought Dungey and Roczen with him.
This three-rider battle was captivating, with Dungey going off the track late in his quest to pass Canard, allowing Roczen to take over the position. Roczen fought his way around Canard with two laps to go and just a short time later Canard went down, allowing Dungey to assume the position. Stewart took the chequered flag by over four seconds, with Roczen in second and Dungey third. Canard finished fourth, while Reed held on for fifth.
It was more of the same from Reed to start the final 450 Class moto, racing to the Motosports.com Holeshot Award once again. However, Reed’s time out front was short-lived this time around as Stewart also got another great start and moved into the lead on the opening lap. A surging Canard, Dungey, and Roczen soon passed Reed, with each rider knowing they needed to track down Stewart.
Canard kept Stewart honest for several laps, bringing Dungey with him and setting up a three-rider battle out front. Roczen wasn’t far behind in fourth and soon began closing in on Dungey. As the leaders approached lappers, Stewart was able to open a little bit of a gap and the battle for second soon came down to Canard, Dungey, and Roczen yet again.
Canard stood tough against the KTM duo and Roczen eventually slipped past Dungey for third in the closing minutes, only to give the position back a short time later. As Dungey made a final push to catch Canard, he lost the front-end of his motorcycle and went down, handing third back to Roczen.
Stewart wasn’t able to pull away in the same manner in the first moto, but still wrapped up a 1-1 outing by winning just under a second over Canard, with Roczen third and Dungey fourth. Stewart’s perfect day resulted in his first overall win since the ninth round of the championship a year ago.
“I was excited about coming this weekend because we made some good improvements on the bike,” said Stewart, who has one career win at High Point. “It’s been a while since we’ve had this speed and pace in reserve and I felt comfortable doing it.
“This track is one of the ones that I’ve had to overcome, but it was nice to get a win. It’s actually the first time I’ve gone 1-1 in a while, so we’ll go back and keep on working and go from here.”
Roczen finished in the runner-up spot (2-3) and is the only rider in the class to finish on the podium at each round thus far, while Canard grabbed his third podium in four rounds (4-2). Dungey missed out on the top three for the first time this season in fourth (3-4) with Toyota/Yamaha/JGRMX’s Josh Grant in fifth (6-6).
Roczen extended his lead over Dungey in the 450 Class standings, which now sits at 16 points. Stewart moved into third and is just six points behind Dungey for second.
“I didn’t get a start both motos and that makes it tougher, but I felt like I was riding good,” said Roczen. “It’s about keeping it consistent. I think I’m going to work on some starts and in a couple weeks we’ll bounce back. I just need to get a jump and get up front. I think it will make it that much easier.”
Reed had his best overall of the season with 5-10 results to score eighth for the round, one position ahead of countryman Brett Metcalfe (Monster Energy Kawasaki), who went 9-7 to secure ninth.
The 250 Class kicked off the afternoon with Valli Motorsports Yamaha’s Christophe Pourcel racing to the Motosport.com Holeshot Award, only to be quickly passed by GEICO Honda’s Justin Bogle. Behind this duo, Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Jeremy Martin, Baggett, and Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin rounded out the top five.
As Bogle began to open a gap, Martin made his move on Pourcel and set his sights on the lead. After a couple laps of battling, a surging Baggett caught both Bogle and Martin off guard to assume the lead on lap five.
Once out front, Baggett controlled the moto from there on out while Martin and Bogle continued their battle for second. Baggett crossed the finish nearly 11 seconds ahead of Martin in second, while Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Cooper Webb made an impressive climb from eighth on the opening lap to pass Bogle late and finish third.
The final moto of the afternoon saw Pourcel sweep the Motosport.com Holeshot Awards, with the Frenchman able to maintain control of the race for the early stages over Rockstar Energy Racing’s Jason Anderson, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Justin Hill rounding out the top three.
Not far behind Baggett was Bogle making his push to the front in fourth, while Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil Honda’s Cole Seely rounded out the top five. After a strong opening moto, the Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha tandem of Martin and Webb in eighth and 10th, respectively.
Baggett took over second from Anderson early and sat in pursuit of Pourcel for three laps before eventually moving into first and beginning his march to victory. With Baggett pulling away, Pourcel and Anderson engaged in an exciting battle for second with Anderson ultimately getting the upper hand on the veteran.
While the action settled up front, Martin and Webb fought their way forward, but were never a factor. Baggett wrapped up his dominant ride with a 16-second margin over Anderson in second, with Pourcel third. Bogle finished fourth and Hill fifth, while Martin and Webb worked their way into sixth and seventh.
“The starts don’t come easy out there and we’re still working on that,” said Baggett. “I feel that I should be up front. Those guys are riding great, but I’m going to do what I can to go after the championship.”
Martin’s resiliency helped him finish second overall (2-6) and he remains the only rider in the division to finish on the podium in each of the first four rounds. Anderson secured the best finish of his career in third (7-2), edging out Bogle (4-4) by virtue of the second moto tiebreaker. Pourcel rounded out the top five (6-3).
Martin maintains control of the 250 Class standings, holding a 29-point lead over Webb. Baggett closed in to within 36 points in third.
The 2014 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship will take its first break of the season next weekend and will resume on 28 June for the fifth round at Muddy Creek Raceway in Blountville, Tennessee.
2014 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship
Round four – Mt. Morris, PA
450 Class overall results:
1. James Stewart
2. Ken Roczen
3. Trey Canard
4. Ryan Dungey
5. Josh Grant
6. Weston Peick
7. Andrew Short
8. Chad Reed (AUS)
9. Brett Metcalfe (AUS)
10. Phil Nicoletti
450 Class championship standings:
1. Ken Roczen 183
2. Ryan Dungey 167
3. James Stewart 161
4. Trey Canard 150
5. Brett Metcalfe (AUS) 115
6. Josh Grant 104
7. Weston Peick 104
8. Malcolm Stewart 90
9. Chad Reed (AUS) 88
10. Andrew Short 74
250 Class overall results:
1. Blake Baggett
2. Jeremy Martin
3. Jason Anderson
4. Justin Bogle
5. Christophe Pourcel
6. Cooper Webb
7. Marvin Musquin
8. Justin Hill
9. Cole Seely
10. Alex Martin
38. Jackson Richardson (AUS)
250 Class championship standings:
1. Jeremy Martin 177
2. Cooper Webb 148
3. Blake Baggett 141
4. Christophe Pourcel 128
5. Justin Bogle 126
6. Jason Anderson 117
7. Marvin Musquin 111
8. Justin Hill 93
9. Jessy Nelson 91
10. Cole Seely 87
18. Jackson Richardson (AUS) 26