Reminiscent of the 2011 Supercross Champion that Ryan Villopoto wrapped up at the final race, the Monster Energy Kawasaki team rider held on at the final round of the Lucas Oil AMA Motocross Championship to win his first 450 outdoor title after putting in a hard-earned 1-3 moto performance at Pala Raceway in Pala, California.
The only rider who had a chance of preventing Villopoto from taking the '11 title was Ryan Dungey, who came into the final race of the year 14 points behind the Kawasaki rider. But bad starts (for both riders, in fact) pretty much ended any chance the 2010 champ had of retaining the number-one plate. Villopoto's first-moto win and Dungey's second-place finish padded Villo's lead by another three points going into the final moto of the year.
Ryan Villopoto shows off his first 450 outdoor number-one plate.
Both Villopoto and Dungey got knocked around the first few turns of the second moto, but both came through on two wheels, which is pretty much all that Villopoto needed to do to wrap things up. Dungey went on to take the moto win and overall for the day, while Villopoto was completely content with a third, which was more than enough to give him the prestigious title and second overall for the day.
"I didn't want to just go out there and ride today," said Villopoto. "I felt good in the first moto, and I went into the second just looking to stay out of trouble. We started off outdoors not very good, but we finally came around. It's been a tough year. If it weren't for [Dungey's] DNF at Texas, I would have come up a little shy [of the title]. But, things like that happen. The turning point was at Unadilla, when we brought out our new bike. We made a lot of progress there."
Villopoto finished out the season with 526 points to Dungey's 514.
"It was a great day," said Dungey. "It's been a long, hard-fought season. I'm bummed I couldn't come out on top, but there is a sense of happiness along with it. Every race, you had to be on top of your game. Every single week, just trying to get more out of yourself. This is definitely the toughest season of my career. I know I gave it my all, and did everything I can, so I can walk away happy knowing that."
Third in the championship went to TwoTwo Motorsport/Honda's Chad Reed who fell in both motos and ended the day at Pala seventh overall with a 12-4.
Ryan Dungey came away with the overall win but it was too little too late to keep his number-one plate.
Fourth in the championship went to Dungey's Rockstar/Makita Suzuki teammate Brett Metcalfe, who finished just eight points behind Reed.
Honda fill-in Justin Barcia nearly came away with the overall win but had to settle for third overall with a 3-2. He led most of the second moto but could not hold off Dungey all the way. If he had, his 3-1 would have outscored a Dungey 2-2 for his first 450 win.
Metcalfe finished fourth overall with a 5-5, followed by KTM's Mike Alessi with a 4-7.
The final 250 race of the year was pretty much just a formality, since Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki's Dean Wilson had already clinched the championship last weekend at Steel City. But that didn't mean he didn't want to win and finish out the year with a victory, which is exactly what he did.
Wilson won both motos, holding off teammate Blake Baggett and GEICO Honda's Justin Bogle in the process.
Baggett pushed Wilson hard in the first moto but couldn't pull the trigger and make the pass, while Bogle led much of the second moto before giving way to Wilson. Baggett ended up second overall with a 2-3, while KTM's Marvin Musquin made it two podiums in row, going 4-4 for third overall.
Wilson and Baggett's teammate Tyla Rattray took fourth overall with a 3-5, while Bogle rounded out the top five overall with a 10-2.
Officially, Wilson closed out the year with 538 points, followed by Rattray with 472 and Baggett with 469, making it an all Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki year-end podium. GEICO Honda's Ely Tomac finished out the year in fourth, just three points ahead of DNA Shred Stix/Star Racing Yamaha's Kyle Cunningham.
Not only did the Pro Circuit team sweep the 2011 podium in the 250 class, it also won every moto of the championship except one.
Honda's Ashley Fiolek wrapped up the Women's National MX title.
In the final round of the WMX Championship, DNA Shred Stix/Star Racing Yamaha's Jessica Patterson came away with the overall win with a 1-1 performance, but it was Honda's Ashley Fiolek wrapping up the championship with a 2-3 for third overall on the day.
Fiolek took the number-one plate with 14 points over the defending champ, Patterson.
Second overall on the day went to Tara Geiger (3-2) on the Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil Honda. Geiger also finished third in the championship.
Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship
Traxxas Pala National
Pala Raceway - Pala, Calif.
September 10, 2011
Round 12 of 12
450 Class (Moto Finish)
1. Ryan Dungey Suzuki (2-1)
2. Ryan Villopoto Kawasaki (1-3)
3. Justin Barcia Honda (3-2)
4.Brett Metcalfe Suzuki (5-5)
5. Mike Alessi KTM (4-7)
6. Kyle Regal Suzuki (6-8)
7. Chad Reed Honda (12-4)
8. Justin Brayton Yamaha (9-6)
9. Jake Weimer Kawasaki (10-12)
10. Les Smith Yamaha (14-9)
450 Class Championship Standings
1. Ryan Villopoto Kawasaki - 526
2. Ryan Dungey Suzuki - 514
3. Chad Reed Honda - 429
4. Brett Metcalfe Suzuki - 374
5. Mike Alessi KTM - 304
6. Jake Weimer Kawasaki - 271
7. Justin Brayton Yamaha - 218
8. Andrew Short KTM - 196
9. Kevin Windham Honda - 193
10. Davi Millsaps Yamaha - 173
250 Class (Moto Finish)
1. Dean Wilson Kawasaki (1-1)
2. Blake Baggett Kawasaki (2-3)
3. Marvin Musquin KTM (4-4)
4. Tyla Rattray Kawasaki (3-5)
5. Justin Bogle Honda (10-2)
6. Gareth Swanepoel Yamaha (5-7)
7. Kyle Cunningham Yamaha (6-8)
8. Jason Anderson Suzuki (8-9)
9. Eli Tomac Honda (7-11)
10. Alex Martin Honda (14-10)
250 Class Championship Standings
1. Dean Wilson Kawasaki - 538
2. Tyla Rattray Kawasaki - 472
3. Blake Baggett Kawasaki - 469
4. Eli Tomac Honda - 314
5. Kyle Cunningham Yamaha - 311
6. Gareth Swanepoel Yamaha - 300
7. Broc Tickle Kawasaki - 253
8. Alex Martin Honda - 213
9. Martin Davalos Suzuki - 213
10. Darryn Durham Honda - 195
WMX Class (Moto Finish)
1. Jessica Patterson Yamaha (1-1)
2. Tarah Gieger Honda (3-2)
3. Ashley Fiolek Honda (2-3)
4. Vicki Golden Kawasaki (4-4)
5. Steffi Laier KTM (6-5)
6. Sayaka Kaneshiro Suzuki (5-6)
7. Mariana Balbi Yamaha (11-7)
8. Sarah Whitmore KTM (10-9)
9. Marissa Markelon Yamaha (12-11)
10. Tatum Sik Honda (9-14)
WMX Class Standings
1. Ashley Fiolek Honda - 363
2. Jessica Patterson Yamaha - 349
3. Tarah Gieger Honda - 310
4. Jacqueline Strong KTM - 209
5. Vicki Golden Kawasaki - 207
6. Marissa Markelon Yamaha - 187
7. Kasie Creson Honda - 180
8. Alexah Pearson KTM - 176
9. Sayaka Kaneshiro Suzuki - 171
10. Lindsey Palmer Honda - 155