Villopoto Gets It Done

Kit Palmer | April 19, 2009

Ryan Villopoto became the only person other than Ricky Carmichael to claim three-straight 250 motocross titles and then win his 450-class debut by completing a 1-1 sweep of the opening round of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championships at Glen Helen Raceway, while, Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey made a late-race pass on Geico Powersports Honda’s Justin Barcia to take the second-moto win in the 250cc division, giving him the overall victory with a 2-1 total.

Like he did in the first moto, Makita Rockstar Suzuki’s Mike Alessi grabbed the holeshot to start the second 450-class moto, leading JGR Yamaha’s Josh Grant and Honda’s Andrew Short through the opening lap. Alessi’s teammate Chad Reed followed in fourth, while Villopoto circulated his Monster Energy Kawasaki just inside the top 10 after suffering a poor start.

Alessi would go on to stretch his lead to an amazing 16-seconds by the halfway point in the race, while Grant ran a solid second ahead of a two-way battle for third which featured Reed and Villopoto. After battling for several laps, Villopoto finally passed Reed and set out after Grant, passing him with 13 minutes left in the moto. At that point, Villopoto was still 15 seconds down from Alessi but put on a charge in the late stages of the moto which saw him taking huge chunks out of Alessi’s lead in a matter of just a few laps.

Villopoto would eventually make a mid-air pass on Alessi to take the lead just before the 2-lap board came out, and go on to finish the moto with 2.6 seconds to spare over his former amateur-class rival while Reed took third ahead of Grant and Honda rider Davi Millsaps.

Villopoto’s second moto win gave him a perfect sweep of the opening round of the outdoor series, while Alessi claimed second overall with a 3-2 performance, just edging out Grant who finished the day with a 2-4.”This win means a lot to me,” said Villopoto. “This was probably the roughest track we’ve ridden in a couple of years to to win like this was awesome. It was definitely a man’s track.”Much like the second 450cc moto, Barcia took the early lead in the second 250cc moto and pulled away to an eight second advantage. However, Dungey picked up the pace in the late stages and pass the 250cc rookie with three laps to go to take the lead and ultimately the win. KTM’s Tyla Rattray passed Barcia with two laps to go to finish second, with Barcia holding on to third ahead of British KTM rider Tommy Searle and Kawasaki’s Austin Stroupe.

Kawasaki’s Christophe Pourcel finished seventh in the moto, giving him second overall with a 1-7 performance behind Dungey’s 2-1. Third overall went to Rattray with a 5-2 day.

Kit Palmer | Off-Road Editor

Kit Palmer started his career at Cycle News in 1984 and he’s been testing dirt and streetbikes every since – plus covering any event that uses some form of a knobby tire. He’s also our resident motorcycle mileage man with a commute of 120 miles a day.