James Stewart and Ryan Dungey reeled off the quickest lap times in today's practice for tomorrow's ninth round of the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship in Washougal, Washington.
In ideal weather conditions, Stewart, on the Monster Energy Kawasaki KX450F, circulated the fast and hilly (not to mention scenic) course significantly quicker than anyone else in his class. In the second and final practice session, Stewart's best lap time of 2:17.030 was a full four seconds quicker than the next best time of 2:21.058 set by Yamaha's Josh Hill. Three riders are tied in the 21-second bracket: Hill, Honda Red Bull's Andrew Short (2:21.106) and Makita/Rockstar Suzuki's Michael Byrne (2:21.750). Just under a second off their pace is the only rider in the 22-second bracket, Ohio's Jimmy Albertson aboard a Honda. Justin Sipes, Sean Hamblin, Antonio Balbi, Sean Collier and Kyle Partridge fill out the top 10 quickest riders in the MX (450) class.
In the first practice session, however, on a smoother and faster track, Stewart recorded a 2:16.263 (technically the quickest time of the day), which was over two seconds quicker than Short, Byrne, Albertson and Hill, all posting lap times in the 18s.
Things are a little tighter in the MX Lites class. Kawasaki/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto turned in the overall best time with a 2:16.868 (which, again, came in the first session on the smoother track), but in the second session on the rougher track, Dungey was the quickest with a 2:19.561, which was a little under a second quicker than Villopoto's time of 2:20.225. Two other riders finished off the second session in the 20s - Geico Powersports/Honda's Trey Canard and Josh Grant. Other fast riders in the Lites class are Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Brett Metcalfe and Makita/Rockstar Suzuki's Nicco Izzi, both posting times in the 21s.
The big news of the day involves Monster Energy/Kawasaki's Tim Ferry who did not ride today. The official word out of the Kawasaki camp is that Ferry, who is currently second in the MX-class points standings, told his team this morning that he did not "feel well" and wanted to rest. Kawasaki did not define what "feel well" meant, but they do expect him to ride tomorrow.
Stewart can clinch the MX-class title tomorrow if he wins both motos and Ferry earns just 19 points or less tomorrow. The bottom line is that if Stewart comes away 150 points clear of second place at the end of the day tomorrow, the title will be his.
Many riders are still sidelined and won't be racing tomorrow, including Honda's Ivan Tedesco (ankle) and Davi Millsaps (shoulder), and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Austin Stroupe (mono). As expected, Grant Langston, Broc Hepler, and Mike Alessi are all also still mending from various injuries. Factory riders David Vuillemin and Ben Townley are out for the season.