Ricky Carmichael got back into the swing of things with an exciting win at the opening round of the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship Series today at the 39th Annual Honda Hangtown MX Classic in Sacramento, California. The win was Carmichael's 91st career outdoor victory, his seventh at Hangtown and the 147th of his career.
Carmichael spent most of the first moto leading Monster Kawasaki’s James Stewart around the fast, rough and hilly Hangtown track. Early on, Carmichael kept Stewart about two seconds off his tail until he slipped in a turn, making it an all-out duel for the lead. The two battled hard, with Stewart making a clean pass on Carmichael in a sweeping turn a few laps from the end. Carmichael stayed with Stewart and put on an extra charge on the last lap, but just couldn't quite make the pass. Stewart took the win about a second ahead of Carmichael, followed by Tim Ferry, who crossed the finish line about a minute behind the two front runners.
Kevin Windham finished fourth, while Davi Millsaps rounded out the top five.
The race for the overall win was on the line in the second moto, which started out much like the first - though Millsaps led for a lap before getting passed by both Carmichael and Stewart.
Once again, Carmichael and Stewart led the way, with Carmichael seemingly getting the upper hand early on, by opening up a small lead on Stewart. That lead suddenly grew to about 10 seconds when Stewart crashed in a fast, rutted, right-hand sweeper. Stewart would crash again later in the race, giving second to Millsaps. Stewart picked up right in front of his Monster Kawasaki teammate, Ferry, but gave way to him as well shortly after tossing his goggles aside when they got splattered with sweat as a result from the crash.
Carmichael ended up cruising to victory, his 2-1 giving him the overall victory on his Makita Suzuki RM-Z450.
Millspas finish second but it wasn't good enough to get him on the podium, as Stewart's 1-4 gave him second and Ferry's 3-3 third. Millsaps ended up fourth overall with a 5-2.
Yamaha's Grant Langston finished fifth overall with a 6-5, and SoBe No Fear/Samsung Mobile/Honda's Kevin Windham ended up sixth with 4-9.
In the Lites class, East Coast Lites Supercross Champion Ben Townley took the overall victory after trading moto wins with his Monster/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki teammate Ryan Villopoto.
Villopoto won the first moto after putting in an impressive ride. He worked his way into the lead early on, only having to do it all over again after crashing and having to pass Josh Grant, Ryan Dungey and Townley.
In the second moto, Townley turned things around and flat out beat Villopoto. Townley got out in front early and simply pulled away from Villopoto, riding a flawless race to the checkered flag. Villopoto finished a distant second.
Third overall went to Makita Suzuki's Dungey who also rode well and consistent, going 3-3 on the day. Grant ended up going 4-6 for fourth, while Monster/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Brett Metcalfe rounded out the top five overall with a 7-4.
In the Lites class, Townley and Villopoto are tied for the series lead with 47 points each, and Dungey is third with 40 points.
Carmichael leads the MX class with 47 points, followed by Stewart with 43 and Ferry with 40. Carmichael, however, is scheduled to compete in just the first five races of the series, before officially calling it quits at Millville.