Alessi and Pourcel Get it Done

Jean Turner | May 30, 2009
The second motos at the Dirt Diggers Hangtown Motocross Classic saw plenty of bar-to-bar racing that had the crowd on its feet in both the 250 and 450 divisions, but unfortunately, what determined the outcome of the final races of the day were flags and penalties. Although the overall winners on the day would have remained the same regardless, plenty of riders, teams, points and podium positions were affected by decisions made by the officials following the racing.

In both the 250 and 450 classes, the issue surrounded the yellow and red flag – new this year, the red on yellow tells racers not to jump due to medics being on the track. As a penalty for jumping despite the new flag, Josh Grant, winner of the second 450 moto, was docked a position, giving the moto win to Mike Alessi. Alessi would have captured the overall regardless, but he now leaves Hangtown with 50 points and a 1-1 victory. Consequences were more dire for Grant, who was originally told that his 9-1 score gave him third overall – his first moto win and first premier class podium. The bump to second place moved him to fifth for the day, and moved Chad Reed onto the overall podium in third with a 6-3 finish. 

In the 250 class, moto one winner Christophe Pourcel was docked a position from second to third in the second moto, but he still retains the overall win with a 1-3 score over Trey Canard (3-2) and Ryan Dungey who won the second moto and claimed third overall with a 7-1 score.


In the 450 class, it was the first time in a long time fans didn’t see Alessi grab the holeshot. This time it was JGR’s Josh Grant who led the charge from the first turn, and then fought tooth and nail against Alessi to hang onto it. Early in the race, Alessi and Red Bull Honda’s Ivan Tedesco diced it up for control of second, but soon, Alessi had secured the position and had his sights set on Grant.

An opportunity came for Alessi when Grant fumbled, and found himself running alongside his YZ450F as he struggled to keep it upright in a rut. Grant kept it upright, and even managed to protect his line, not letting Alessi take over the lead. But at that point, the two broke into a side-by-side charge through the rest of the lap, and it was clear to all that Grant wasn’t about to surrender his position. He regained the lead as Alessi dropped back behind him. It was then that the red and yellow flag came out, which Grant didn’t see in time. Alessi and Reed, who had closed in on the two, both rolled the jump, letting Grant stretch his lead by a few precious seconds. Although Alessi closed back up on Grant by the end of the race, he never found a way around him. Nonetheless, Alessi celebrated his overall win, sharing the podium with Tedesco who claimed second overall (after the penalty) with a 2-4 finish, and Reed, who took third with a 6-3. Red Bull Honda’s Andrew Short claimed fourth with a 3-6 on the day.


Fortunately, Ryan Dungey was able to rebound from a disappointing first moto to win the second one with a flag-to-flag victory. Unlike the first moto where Dungey crashed after tangling with another rider on the first lap, the Makita Suzuki rider got clear of the pack on the first lap, and then never looked back.

GEICO Powersports Honda’s Blake Wharton moved into an early second ahead of Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Christophe Pourcel, but Wharton went down just before the finish line and slipped back to fifth. Pourcel move into second where he would stay until the finish ahead of Wharton’s Honda teammate, Trey Canard. 

Rookie sensation Justin Barcia didn’t get off to one of his signature holeshot starts, but was buried in the pack heading into the first lap. For that reason, Barcia wasn’t able to stay out of trouble, and he ended up ending his day with a crash after the finish line jump. The bad situation quickly turned worse because before he could react, Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Austin Stroupe was descending on the downed rider. Stroupe collided with Barcia’s CRF250R and hit the ground hard. Stroupe had a hard time getting up due to an injured hand and right hip (inspection at the Asterisk Mobile Medical Unit showed no broken bones).

Brett Metcalfe was credited with fourth in the moto, and fourth on the day followed by Tyla Rattray who collected fifth overall with a 4-7 score. Star Yamaha’s Broc Tickle finished sixth followed by Blake Wharton, Jake Weimer and PJ Larsen. Barcia was still credited with a top-ten finish after carding a 2-29 finish at Hangtown.


Although Ashley Fiolek collected another overall win, Honda of Houston’s Jessica Patterson was able to stop the Red Bull Honda rider’s moto win streak. Patterson collected the win with a wire-to-wire charge in the second moto claiming second for the day with a 3-1 finish. 

Fiolek rode steady to a second place finish in the second moto, taking another overall victory and retaining the red plate. Third overall went to rookie rider Vicki Golden who ended up with a pair of threes after besting Cernics Suzuki’s Sherri Cruse and Team Green Kawasaki’s Sarah Price in an exciting battle for third in the second moto.

Jean Turner | Contributor

A former staffer at Cycle News, Turner continues to contribute to the website and magazine as a columnist and someone we can count on to whip up a few thousand words on an off-road race when needed.