Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship Notes: Rockstar Energy Unadilla National
MORGANTOWN, WV – August 12, 2011 – After a two-weekend break, the 2011 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship returns to action tomorrow with the Rockstar Energy Unadilla National. The world’s best riders will resume their battle for the coveted 450- and 250-class titles from one of the most historic venues in American Motocross, as the Unadilla Valley Sports Center, located in New Berlin, N.Y., will host the ninth round of the summer.
Currently, just nine points separate the top three riders in 450 Class standings, with Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto holding a one-point advantage over Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey, and a nine-point lead over TwoTwo Motorsports/Bel-Ray Racing’s Chad Reed. In the 250 Class, the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki trio of Dean Wilson, Tyla Rattray and Blake Baggett sit within 17 points of one another.
Monster Energy Kawasaki
For the first time in 2011, Ryan Villopoto sits atop the 450 Class standings, making him the third rider this season to earn the distinction. He will bring the red number plate into Unadilla looking to add to his overall win total, and maintain the consistency that has put him in this position. At the previous round in Washougal, Villopoto finished in the runner-up spot, vaulting him into the points lead. Now, he’ll look to take advantage of the opportunity before him and celebrate his birthday at Unadilla.
“We had some great testing days during the break, and I think we can keep our momentum out front,” said Villopoto. “It would be nice to get a win on my birthday. I feel like I’ve been close several times to getting my second overall, so I just need to break through, and I think we can do that at Unadilla.”
Jake Weimer showed tenacity in his efforts at Washougal. Following a tough first moto in which he battled from the back of the field to finish 15th, Weimer posted a strong top-10 effort in Moto 2, finishing eighth. As a result, Weimer finished 12th overall, and currently sits ninth in the standings.
“It’s been a little frustrating because I know I have some good speed,” said Weimer. “But, it seems like something always happens that pushes me to the back. If I get some good starts and run fast opening laps, I know I can be there at the end.”
Ryan Dungey raced to his second straight victory at Washougal, marking his third overall win of the 2011 season. By virtue of his effort, Dungey joined Villopoto in surpassing Reed in the standings, and sits just a single point behind in rival heading into Unadilla. After sharing the points lead after the opening round, Dungey now has another opportunity to control his own destiny en route to defending his title, heading to a track at which he won at one year ago.
“The weekend was good at Washougal,” said Dungey. “The track was tough, slippery and challenging, so you had to be really patient with throttle control. Now we’ve had some time off to get ready for Unadilla. I like that track. It takes a lot of finesse and throttle control, it gets really rough and choppy, and I always look forward to going back there.”
Brett Metcalfe has shown a consistent upward progression throughout the 2011 season. At Washougal, Metcalfe posted a season-best effort, landing on the overall podium for the first time this summer. Metcalfe now sits fourth in the 450 Class standings, and will look to capitalize on the momentum from the previous round.
“That first podium felt awesome,” said Metcalfe. “I want to thank everyone at Rockstar/Makita Suzuki, and especially Yoshimura. The RM-Z450 was really fast at Washougal. Now, I’m really looking forward to Unadilla. I love racing there. It’s a really good track, and I’ve done well there. We’ve got the Suzuki figured out. I’m comfortable, and I can start to attack and be aggressive, trying to push and battle for some wins now.”
TwoTwo Motorsports/Bel-Ray Racing
Despite dropping out of the points lead for the first time this season, Chad Reed is still well within reach of his second American Motocross title. Coming off a frightening crash at the Spring Creek round, Reed didn’t let the pain and soreness of the incident get in the way of putting forth a solid effort at Washougal. His 7-4 moto scores landed him fourth overall, his first finish off the overall podium, but Reed comes into Unadilla rested, looking to get back into his winning ways.
After losing Trey Canard to injury at Washougal, the American Honda team was without a rider coming into Unadilla. However, the team will welcome a new face under the tent on Saturday as a recent announcement confirmed that Justin Barcia will make his 450 Class debut in his home state of New York, and compete for the team throughout the remainder of the season.
“I’m so grateful to have this opportunity to ride the Honda CRF450R in the 450 Class,” said Barcia. “I raced the CRF450R to the overall win at the Bercy Supercross last year, and I felt great competing on the bike, so I’m excited to now get the chance to race several rounds outdoors on it. I’m also really looking forward to working with the Factory Honda team. I feel I’ve grown a lot as a professional racer over the past three years, and this whole experience is only going to help me develop my skills even more.”
Red Bull KTM
Andrew Short gained another spot in the 450 Class standings following Washougal. The veteran rider rode to solid top-10 finishes in each moto, finishing eighth overall. As a result, Short moved into sixth in the 450 Class standings, and with another strong outing at Unadilla, will likely move into the top five.
“It was nice having a break,” said Short. “I got to spend some time with my family, and also attend the WPS dealer show and Loretta Lynn’s Amateur National. It was great to mingle with dealers and young riders, and be the one to watch the riding for a couple days. Now, it’s back to business, and I am ready to get back to the racing this weekend.”
Mike Alessi rebounded from a tough start in the opening moto from Washougal, overcoming adversity to finish inside the top 10. He carried that momentum into the second moto, battling for a top-five finish. In the end, Alessi posted 9-6 moto scores to finish sixth overall.
Davi Millsaps was forced to miss another round of action at Washougal, following an injury he suffered at RedBud. With two additional weekends to heal, Millsaps should be back in action at Unadilla. Despite his time away from competition, Millsaps still maintains eight-place in the championship.
As the lone Joe Gibbs Racing rider at Unadilla, Justin Brayton put forth his most impressive outing of the season since making his summer debut at Thunder Valley. Brayton battled around the top five in each moto, ultimately finishing sixth in the first moto, and fifth in Moto 2 to land sixth overall. After just four rounds of competition, Brayton already sits 15th in the 450 Class standings.
Tommy Hahn has put forth several strong rides in 2011, but misfortune has struck the veteran on numerous occasions, hindering his efforts. At Washougal, Hahn rode consistently in both motos, ultimately posting 8-7 moto scores to finish seventh overall. The ride helped move Hahn into the top 10 in the championship.
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