Having never lost an AMA National Championship in three tries in the 250cc class, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto was widely considered the favorite coming into his 450cc motocross debut at the 2009 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship opener at Glen Helen Raceway. However, after two qualifying sessions, it was two-time AMA Supercross champ Chad Reed of the Rockstar/Makita Suzuki squad who held the top spot.
When the gate dropped for moto one, holeshot hero Mike Alessi grabbed the holeshot over JGR/Toyota Yamaha’s Josh Grant, Honda Red Bull Racing’s Andrew Short, Villopoto, Mike Brown and the rest of the field. Reed sat a dismal 12th at the end of the first lap.
On the second lap, Alessi got stuck in a mud hole at the base of Mount St. Helens, allowing both Grant and Villopoto by. Villopoto had trouble with Grant, and for the next eight laps, he pressured Grant to no avail. However, on the 10th circuit, Villopoto finally made his pass for the lead, relegating Grant to second. Villopoto finished out the race out front while Grant finished second, Alessi finished third, Reed caught up to fourth, and Short finished fifth.
Alessi again grabbed the start in moto two, but this time he pulled away from Grant in second, Short in third, Reed in fourth, Millsaps in fifth and Villopoto in sixth. While Alessi ran away with the lead, Villopoto and Reed both went around short and went to work on Grant. Villopoto passed Reed then went to work on Grant, only for Reed to begin pressuring him again from behind.
Villopoto made Grant crack first and moved into second while Reed was still stuck in fourth for the next couple laps. When Villopoto moved into second, Alessi had about a 15-second lead. Only five laps later, Villopoto was all over Alessi, and a lap later, he was by his former amateur rival to take the second-moto 450 win. Alessi held on for second while Reed hung on for third, Grant was fourth and Millsaps was fifth.
GEICO Powersports Honda’s Trey Canard got the start in the first 250cc moto before it was red-flagged because of a downed Michael Hall. On the re-start, though, it was again Canard with the start, although his teammate and rookie Justin Barcia went by for the lead on the first lap. With pressure from behind from his teammate Canard, Muscle Milk KTM’s Tommy Searle, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Christophe Pourcel, Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey and the rest of the field, Barcia held strong out front for seven laps before he dropped anchor, and when he dropped anchor, he really dropped anchor. On lap eight, Barcia lost three spots – to Pourcel out front, Dungey for second, and Canard for third. By the finish, Barcia sat ninth.
From that point on, though, the top three were set, with Pourcel taking the win over Dungey and Canard, with Searle and Tyla Rattray rounding out the top five.
Martin Davalos got the holeshot in moto two, but Barcia was quickly into the lead again, followed by Searle, Rattray, Canard, Brett Metcalfe, Pourcel, and then Davalos in seventh. This time, though, Barcia wasn’t to be denied a top finish. He stretched out to a very large lead in the early laps as Rattray and Dungey moved into second and third. On lap nine, Dungey got Rattray for second just as they caught up to Barcia. Barcia held the lead for another couple of laps before first Dungey and then Rattray made it by, but Barcia held on for third, behind Dungey – who took the overall with a 2-1 score – and Rattray.