Chad Reed and Ryan Dungey proved that their quickest times earlier in the day in qualifying were no fluke, as the two Rockstar Makita Suzuki stars each came away with wins after the first rounds of motos at the Washougal.
Dungey fought with GEICO Powersport Honda's Blake Wharton, who took the holeshot, for the first six laps of moto before pulling away and grabbing the win on the same track that he won his first AMA National one year ago. For Dungey, the win was especially gratifying because he finished well ahead of rival Christophe Pourcel, who got off to a midpack start after falling. Pourcel, on the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki, ended up eighth.
Dungey nearly threw the win away when he fell on the second-to-last lap but he had built up enough of a cushion to keep his Suzuki in front. Dungey now leads the series by nine points.
Unfortunately for Wharton, the Honda rider could not hold off a hard-charging Kyle Cunningham and ended up finishing third.
"That was my first holeshot of the season and rode a little tight," Wharton said. "I haven't ridden up front like that very much. It was good to get a good start."
Cunningham, on the Canidae/Motosport.com Kawasaki, ran third for most of the race, before picking up the pace after the halfway point and reeling in Wharton.
"I didn't really get the best of starts, but I made a bunch of quick passes," Cunningham said. "After that, I put my head down and rode as hard as I could. I really helps to get up front early."
GEICO Powersport Honda's Brett Metcalfe finished fourth, followed by Star Racing Yamaha's Darryn Durham, Muscle Milk/MDK KTM's Tommy Searle and Star Racing Yamaha's Broc Tickle. Pourcel was eighth and KTM rider Max Anstie ninth.
Rounding out the top 10 was Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki's Jake Weimer who fell on the first lap.
GEICO Powersport Honda's Justin Barcia also fell - twice - and finished well down in the field.
In the 450 class, Reed pulled the holeshot and ran off with the win; however, he felt pressure the whole way thanks to Canidae/Motosport.com Kawasaki's Tommy Hahn.
Hahn pushed Reed fairly hard for a while and eventually settled into a comfortable pace a couple of seconds behind the Australian. Hahn finished a close second for his best finish of the year.
"I got a good start and settled in behind Chad," Hahn said. "I want to watch him and learn, because he's such a good rider. I just wanted to learn the pace of those guys and didn't want to do anything stupid like last time (when he fell at Red Bud)."
"My hat's off to Tommy," Reed said. "He rode a great race."
Holding down third the whole way was the Belgian, Desalle Clement who traveled to Washington during the four-week break in the MX GP series. Clement is currently fourth in the MX1 class and certainly showed why. He kept Reed and Hahn in his sight for most of the race before cooling off a bit and finishing a distant third.
Matt Goerke, on the Suzuki City/RG3 RM-Z450, was also very fast, at times clicking off the fastest lap times of the moto. He was rewarded with fourth place.
Fifth went to JGR/Toyota Yamaha's Josh Grant who couldn't build much on his sixth-place start.
Jake Moss, on the Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil/PPG Honda, finished a strong sixth, followed by Honda Red Bull's Andrew Short, who seemed to struggle to find his rhythm on the fast and rough Washougal track. He was pressured by Vali Motorsports/FMF Yamaha's at the end.
Muscle Milk/MDK KTM's Justin Brayton finished ninth, and Boost Mobile/ampm/Monster Energy's Jason Lawrence rounded out the top 10.
For Honda, the first moto did not go well. On top of Short's disappointed seventh, the team's other two riders - Ivan Tedesco and Davi Millsaps - both went down in the first turn. Tedesco recovered best by working his way up to 11th. Millsaps finish much farther back.
The factory rookies for the day - Scott Champion (Yamaha) and Ryan Beat (Kawasaki) - finished well back in the pack.
As predicted, temperatures are quite warm and humid, making it difficult for some of the racers.