Gearing Up For Pala MX Finale

Kit Palmer | September 9, 2011

Pala Raceway will host the final round of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship tomorrow, which will decide this year’s 450 title. The championship has come down to a two-rider showdown between defending champ Ryan Dungey and Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto, who has the edge thanks to a 14-point lead over Dungey.

A 3-4 moto tally will wrap it up for Villopoto, no matter what Dungey does. But the Monster Energy Kawasaki team is more concerned about not having a “bad” moto, such as a first-turn get-off or a mechanical issue which could really turn things around – like what happened last year to Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Christophe Pourcel, who enjoyed a comfortable points lead in the 250 class coming into the race, only to fall and break his shoulder, thus handing the title to Honda’s Trey Canard.

“We’ve been here before not long ago,” said Monster Energy Kawasaki team manager Mike Fisher. “This is a lot like the Supercross Championship, so we know what to do. Villopoto is going to go out there and try to win, but if it gets a little crazy…”

The top three riders in the 250, 450 and Women’s divisions got a chance to spin a few laps around the Pala course yesterday, and they all agreed that the course if very fast right now. The track features many big-air jumps and one very long whoop section, and overall looks a lot like a very large and spread out Supercross track.

No real new news was revealed in the pre-race press conference, as it is already pretty obvious what the two title contenders have to do tomorrow – Dungey must win and Villopoto must finish in the top four in both motos, but most importantly, stay out of trouble.

One of the biggest topics yesterday, however, had nothing to do with racing but with traffic. Last year, Pala’s first National, was marred by a horrific traffic jam getting into the facility. It was so bad that many fans simply turned around and went back home after sitting in line for hours in their cars. However, a lot has been done to hopefully prevent this from happening again. This year, the track owners hired a professional parking service (rather than doing it themselves) and will not be stopping vehicles at the entry gate, but instead will be directing cars directly to the parking lot, then fans will be able to walk up to another gate where they will deal with purchasing tickets and so forth. Overall, the traffic situation should be much better this year.

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.