Photography by Larry Lawrence
Ryan Villopoto went 1-1 en route to his third AMA 450 Motocross National victory of the season. While the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider dominated the first moto, he faced a little more of a challenge in the second and from some unexpected quarters.
At the start of the second moto Villopoto got a poor start and was in a dangerous position in the middle of the pack with riders jockeying for position all around him. The surprising rider emerging to take the lead on the first lap was none other than James Stewart, the same James Stewart who struggled to 16th in the first moto.
The High Point fans cheered wildly to see the Stewart of old build a fairly big gap over Josh Grant, Ryan Dungey and Villopoto. Stewart led for six laps, but then made a couple of errors allowing Villopoto to catch up and pass, but Stewart fought back and regained the lead, bringing the fans to a fever pitch.
Unfortunately the battle would not continue. In a bizarre incident, Stewart hit his bike’s front brake lever on a pole at speed and the force of the impact somehow broke the front caliper of his Yoshimura Suzuki. He was out of the race, but not before showing that Stewart still has blazing speed, in spite of riding with an injured right knee.
Villopoto moved to the lead and then gradually pulled away to victory, but a few laps earlier he’d made a forceful pass on rival Dungey.
When asked if he thought his pass was a bit too aggressive Villopoto replied, “Yes and no. I was jumping into the inside; Ryan went to the left I went to the right. He banked off the berm and I was coming across to the berm. It depends on what angle you might look at it. I know it was close, but it wasn’t like I was necessarily going straight at him. It’s one of those deals, one of those racing things. It was close, but it was clean.”
From Dungey’s perspective, you could tell by his remarks that he thought the pass was a bit over the line. “It was a little ballsy; I’ll remember that for sure.”
Dungey hung tough with Villopoto for a few laps, but gradually lost touch and at the flag the margin of victory was 9.675 seconds. In spite of finishing second overall with a 2-2, Dungey was upbeat about his prospects of closing the gap on Villopoto.
“We’re definitely moving in the right direction that’s for sure,” Dungey said. “It will be good to have a weekend off to give us a chance to work on a few things and fine tune a little bit, but also have a little down time, so I’ll take advantage of that. Things are good, we’re moving forward and I’ll be excited when we come back.”
Another big story on Saturday was the debut 450 podium for Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Tyla Rattray. The South African had a consistent day, running 4-4 to earn third overall. He admits moving up to the 450 class presented new challenges.
“It’s a different animal out there,” Rattray said of racing the bigger 450s versus 250s. “Especially with physical fitness and you’ve got a lot more power under you, it’s definitely a lot harder than people think.”
Honda’s Justin Barcia (3-7) was fourth overall followed by Smartop/MotoConcepts Suzuki’s Mike Alessi (10-3).
Round 2 of the Women's Motocross Triple Crown took place at High Point, where six-time WMX Champion Jessica Patterson secured her first overall win of the season, sweeping both motos of the day. Japanese rider Sayaka Kaneshiro rode a consistent day, taking a pair of second place finishes for second overall. WMX Class rookie Taylor Higgins grabbed a podium finish with a moto score of (5-3) for the day. The WMX Triple Crown heads to the Moto-X 338 National in Southwick, Mass. for the third and final round on Saturday, June 29.
The series has a week off before moving to Mechanicsville, Md. for the Red Bull Budds Creek National on Saturday, June 22.
High Point 450 National results – June 8, 2013
1 2 Ryan Villopoto Poulsbo, WA Kawasaki KX 450F 1-1
2 1 Ryan Dungey Waconia, MN KTM 450 SX-F FE 2-2
3 28 Tyla Rattray South Africa Kawasaki KX 450F 4-4
4 51 Justin Barcia Monroe, NY Honda CRF450R 3-7
5 800 Mike Alessi Hilliard, FL Suzuki RMZ 450 10-3
6 41 Trey Canard Oklahoma City, OK Honda CRF450R 7-5
7 35 Ryan Sipes Vine Grove, KY Suzuki RMZ 450 6-6
8 33 Josh Grant Riverside, CA Yamaha YZ 450F 5-8
9 12 Jake Weimer Twin Falls, ID Kawasaki KX 450F 8-9
10 20 Broc Tickle Holly, MI Suzuki RMZ 450 11-11
450 Class Championship Standings
1. Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki, 193
2. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM, 177
3. Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., Honda, 148
4. Trey Canard, Oklahoma City, Okla., Honda, 120
5. Mike Alessi, Victorville, Calif., Suzuki,116