The Unbound Energy National at Washougal MX Park Presented by FMF, round eight of the 12-event series, is one of the favorite stops in the championship among fans and riders alike. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s James Stewart is the defending winner of the race and a victory this weekend would put the rider from Haines City, Fla., on rare ground. Rick Johnson (1983-84) and Ricky Carmichael (2004-05) are the only riders in Washougal history to win back-to-back AMA Motocross events. Stewart hopes to join that list to become only the third rider ever to win at Washougal in consecutive years.
Stewart is coming off one of the hardest fought victories in his racing career. Last week in Lakewood, Colo., Stewart returned to action, and in spite of riding in pain from a bad crash suffered the week before in New Berlin, N.Y., he was able to earn the overall victory – his first of the season. So exhausted from riding in the heat and elevation with his injuries, Stewart collapsed and fell to the ground after taking the checkered flag on Sunday. In a rarity, three riders, Stewart, Mike Alessi and Andrew Short, all tied in points after two motos in Colorado, but it was Stewart taking the overall win by scoring the highest in the second moto.
“I’m excited about going to Washougal,” said Stewart, who took the series lead with last week’s victory. “I’ve won there every year I’ve been there and I like the track. I have a lot of confidence now that I’ve fought through this injury and I know I’ll be better this weekend. I want to get back to how I was riding earlier this season so we’ll see what happens.”
Stewart certainly knows the beautiful Washougal track as he won the AMA Lites class three straight years from 2002 to 2004. He missed the 2005 race with injury and returned to beat Ricky Carmichael last year in an epic race.
Stewart’s biggest challenge is likely to come from within his own team. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Tim Ferry is coming off a confidence inspiring second moto win in Lakewood – his first moto victory in four years - and is hoping to pull an upset this weekend.
Honda’s Andrew Short is just two points behind Ferry in the series standings. Short, a Colorado native, was third last week in his home race. Last year’s Washougal Lites class winner will be looking to keep that momentum at Washougal. Another rider to watch is Red Bull KTM’s Mike Alessi, who was runner up to Stewart last week. Alessi has been steadily improving his results this year.
Washougal will be a homecoming for defending AMA Motocross Lites Champion Ryan Villopoto, of Poulsbo, Wash. Washington fans will be behind their home state hero, who is locked in a thrilling championship race with Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki teammate Ben Townley. The two riders are tied with 310 points apiece coming into this Sunday’s race and while both riders respect one another, neither has given an inch when racing together so far this season.
“Last year was great racing close to home and it should be even better this year,” said Villopoto, who finished sixth overall with a 40-2 moto finish in last year’s race after his bike broke in the first moto. “I won the championship last year and now the fans up there are expecting me to win in front of them.”
Townley, a former world champion from New Zealand, will be paying his first visit to Washougal.
“I’m sure Ryan’s going to enjoy the support he gets from his fans,” said Townley. “But once you get to the starting gate all of that goes out of your mind. You’re here to do a job and you put in the same effort no matter where the track is. I’m looking forward to racing Washougal. I’ve heard good things about it and it’s always fun to learn new tracks.”
Washougal is considered one of the most picturesque motocross circuits in the world and fans of the Pacific Northwest have long made the race one of the consistently top attended races on the AMA calendar. It has hosted AMA nationals since 1980.
The AMA Motocross race from Washougal will air on SPEED on Saturday, August 4, at 6:00 pm Eastern. The Lites class can be seen on Tuesday, Aug. 7 at 3:00 pm.
WHAT: The Unbound Energy National at Washougal MX Park Presented by FMF, round eight of the 12-round AMA Toyota Motocross Championship presented by FMF.
WHERE: Take I-5 to 205 to Hwy 14, go east to Washougal, 15th St, turn left, go 8 miles, turn left on Alder Rd/412th, left on Borin Rd.
WHEN: July 28-29, 2007
COURSE: 1.4 miles (approx), hard pack and soft loam through pine forested hills.
2006 WINNERS: AMA Motocross: James Stewart (Kawasaki). AMA Motocross Lites: Andrew Short (Honda).
SCHEDULE: Saturday - Pro timed qualifying, 1:00-4:35 pm., Lites Consolation Race 4:45 pm; Sunday - Pro Motocross Consolation Race 9:15 am. Qualifying 10:00 am. Opening Ceremonies begin at 12:30 pm with final events beginning at 1 pm.