Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship Notes:
Rockstar Energy Unadilla National
Rockstar Energy Unadilla National
MORGANTOWN, W.Va.- After a two-weekend break, the 2011 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship returns to action tomorrow with the Rockstar Energy Unadilla National. The world's best riders will resume their battle for the coveted 450- and 250-class titles from one of the most historic venues in American Motocross, as the Unadilla Valley Sports Center, located in New Berlin, N.Y., will host the ninth round of the summer.
Currently, just nine points separate the top three riders in 450 Class standings, with Monster Energy Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto holding a one-point advantage over Rockstar/Makita Suzuki's Ryan Dungey, and a nine-point lead over TwoTwo Motorsports/Bel-Ray Racing's Chad Reed. In the 250 Class, the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki trio of Dean Wilson, Tyla Rattray and Blake Baggett sit within 17 points of one another.
Monster Energy Kawasaki
For the first time in 2011, Ryan Villopoto sits atop the 450 Class standings, making him the third rider this season to earn the distinction. He will bring the red number plate into Unadilla looking to add to his overall win total, and maintain the consistency that has put him in this position. At the previous round in Washougal, Villopoto finished in the runner-up spot, vaulting him into the points lead. Now, he'll look to take advantage of the opportunity before him and celebrate his birthday at Unadilla.
"We had some great testing days during the break, and I think we can keep our momentum out front," said Villopoto. "It would be nice to get a win on my birthday. I feel like I've been close several times to getting my second overall, so I just need to break through, and I think we can do that at Unadilla."
Jake Weimer showed tenacity in his efforts at Washougal. Following a tough first moto in which he battled from the back of the field to finish 15th, Weimer posted a strong top-10 effort in Moto 2, finishing eighth. As a result, Weimer finished 12th overall, and currently sits ninth in the standings.
"It's been a little frustrating because I know I have some good speed," said Weimer. "But, it seems like something always happens that pushes me to the back. If I get some good starts and run fast opening laps, I know I can be there at the end."
Ryan Dungey raced to his second straight victory at Washougal, marking his third overall win of the 2011 season. By virtue of his effort, Dungey joined Villopoto in surpassing Reed in the standings, and sits just a single point behind in rival heading into Unadilla. After sharing the points lead after the opening round, Dungey now has another opportunity to control his own destiny en route to defending his title, heading to a track at which he won at one year ago.
"The weekend was good at Washougal," said Dungey. "The track was tough, slippery and challenging, so you had to be really patient with throttle control. Now we've had some time off to get ready for Unadilla. I like that track. It takes a lot of finesse and throttle control, it gets really rough and choppy, and I always look forward to going back there."
Brett Metcalfe has shown a consistent upward progression throughout the 2011 season. At Washougal, Metcalfe posted a season-best effort, landing on the overall podium for the first time this summer. Metcalfe now sits fourth in the 450 Class standings, and will look to capitalize on the momentum from the previous round.
"That first podium felt awesome," said Metcalfe. "I want to thank everyone at Rockstar/Makita Suzuki, and especially Yoshimura. The RM-Z450 was really fast at Washougal. Now, I'm really looking forward to Unadilla. I love racing there. It's a really good track, and I've done well there. We've got the Suzuki figured out. I'm comfortable, and I can start to attack and be aggressive, trying to push and battle for some wins now."
TwoTwo Motorsports/Bel-Ray Racing
Despite dropping out of the points lead for the first time this season, Chad Reed is still well within reach of his second American Motocross title. Coming off a frightening crash at the Spring Creek round, Reed didn't let the pain and soreness of the incident get in the way of putting forth a solid effort at Washougal. His 7-4 moto scores landed him fourth overall, his first finish off the overall podium, but Reed comes into Unadilla rested, looking to get back into his winning ways.
After losing Trey Canard to injury at Washougal, the American Honda team was without a rider coming into Unadilla. However, the team will welcome a new face under the tent on Saturday as a recent announcement confirmed that Justin Barcia will make his 450 Class debut in his home state of New York, and compete for the team throughout the remainder of the season.
"I'm so grateful to have this opportunity to ride the Honda CRF450R in the 450 Class," said Barcia. "I raced the CRF450R to the overall win at the Bercy Supercross last year, and I felt great competing on the bike, so I'm excited to now get the chance to race several rounds outdoors on it. I'm also really looking forward to working with the Factory Honda team. I feel I've grown a lot as a professional racer over the past three years, and this whole experience is only going to help me develop my skills even more."
Red Bull KTM
Andrew Short gained another spot in the 450 Class standings following Washougal. The veteran rider rode to solid top-10 finishes in each moto, finishing eighth overall. As a result, Short moved into sixth in the 450 Class standings, and with another strong outing at Unadilla, will likely move into the top five.
"It was nice having a break," said Short. "I got to spend some time with my family, and also attend the WPS dealer show and Loretta Lynn's Amateur National. It was great to mingle with dealers and young riders, and be the one to watch the riding for a couple days. Now, it's back to business, and I am ready to get back to the racing this weekend."
Mike Alessi rebounded from a tough start in the opening moto from Washougal, overcoming adversity to finish inside the top 10. He carried that momentum into the second moto, battling for a top-five finish. In the end, Alessi posted 9-6 moto scores to finish sixth overall.
Davi Millsaps was forced to miss another round of action at Washougal, following an injury he suffered at RedBud. With two additional weekends to heal, Millsaps should be back in action at Unadilla. Despite his time away from competition, Millsaps still maintains eight-place in the championship.
As the lone Joe Gibbs Racing rider at Unadilla, Justin Brayton put forth his most impressive outing of the season since making his summer debut at Thunder Valley. Brayton battled around the top five in each moto, ultimately finishing sixth in the first moto, and fifth in Moto 2 to land sixth overall. After just four rounds of competition, Brayton already sits 15th in the 450 Class standings.
Tommy Hahn has put forth several strong rides in 2011, but misfortune has struck the veteran on numerous occasions, hindering his efforts. At Washougal, Hahn rode consistently in both motos, ultimately posting 8-7 moto scores to finish seventh overall. The ride helped move Hahn into the top 10 in the championship.
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
Following eight rounds and 16 motos, the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki remains undefeated in the 2011 season. At Washougal, Blake Baggett and Dean Wilson helped keep the moto streak intact, while Baggett went on to claim his series-leading fifth win of the summer.
Wilson currently has the more points than any rider in the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, and also boasts the best finishing average in the series. Despite that, Wilson has yet to claim an overall victory. After spending the break in Florida to get some addition training alongside Chad Reed, Wilson will eagerly be looking to break into the win column on Saturday.
"It's been good to go out and ride in different weather and tracks outside of California," said Wilson. "I think it's helped me become (more) confident for the tough tracks we have coming up on the schedule. I'm going to go out there and do my best to get back on the podium."
Tyla Rattray has also been extremely consistent throughout the 2011 season. He posted a pair of second-place finishes at Washougal to claim the runner-up spot overall, and will look to chip away at the 13-point deficit he faces to Wilson at Unadilla.
"I got a few points last race, but it could have been more if I had passed Dean," said Rattray. "Unadilla isn't that easy of a track, and I know it will be challenging. I have been keeping up with my training and hopefully I can move closer in the points."
Baggett has proven to be arguably the fastest rider in the 250 Class, as evidenced by his five wins. He'll look to maintain the momentum at Unadilla and continue his drive towards the top of the standings, currently sitting 17 points behind Wilson.
"Unadilla is one of the few tracks I've actually been to since turning pro, and I'm really looking forward to get back out there racing," said Baggett. "It's a little boring when we get so much down time between races, so I'm definitely ready to get back on the track."
DNA Shred Stix/Star Racing Yamaha
Kyle Cunningham has been the most consistent non-Pro Circuit rider all season, and that continued at Washougal. The veteran rider finished on the podium following the opening moto, but was forced to battle a bit of adversity in Moto 2, ultimately finishing seventh. Despite that, his pair of moto scores helped him finish fourth overall, and solidify fourth in the championship standings.
On the heels of one of his best outings of the season, Gareth Swanepoel vaulted from eighth to fifth in the 250 Class standings. His 7-4 moto scores left him just shy of his teammate for the day, finishing fifth overall.
With the move of Justin Barcia into the 450 Class, Eli Tomac and Wil Hahn will lead the way for the GEICO Honda stable. Tomac experienced a rough outing at Washougal, finishing 17th overall, but still sits solidly in fifth in the championship standings. Hahn followed one position behind in 18th overall. Both riders will look to bounce back at Unadilla.
Coming off a strong final appearance at the AMA Amateur Motocross Championship, Justin Bogle will make his professional debut at Unadilla as the third and newest member of GEICO Honda. Aspirations are high for the up-and-coming rider, and many will be watching how he fares on Saturday.
Rockstar Energy Suzuki
Martin Davalos maintained his hold on ninth in the 250 Class standings at Washougal, following 13-5 moto scores that landed him eighth overall. Davalos likes competing on the natural-terrain layout at Unadilla, and will look to post a strong outing on Saturday.
"My weekend at Washougal was pretty good," said Davalos. "Now, we're coming off a break, and we've worked on a couple of things to try and get on the podium before the season is over. After our performance at Washougal, we definitely had something to build on for Unadilla."
Television coverage for Saturday's Rockstar Energy Unadilla National begins with a live broadcast of the opening motos for both the 450 and 250 classes on FUEL TV, beginning at 12:30 p.m. EST. NBC Sports will present exclusive live final-moto coverage of the 450 Class at 3 p.m. EST. SPEED will round out the day's action with coverage of the 250 Class at 11:30 p.m. EST.
Tickets for the upcoming Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship are on sale now at www.allisports.com. Special discounts and incentives are available for advance ticket purchasers.
For more information on the 2011 tour, please log on to www.allisports.com/motocross.
For media information about the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, please contact Media Manager Brandon Short, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 949-365-5750.
MX Sports Pro Racing
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AMA Pro Racing is the premier professional motorcycle racing sanctioning body in the United States, operating a full schedule of events and championships for a variety of motorcycle disciplines. From its Daytona Beach headquarters, the organization sanctions professional motorcycle racing competition, which includes, AMA Pro Motocross, AMA Pro Road Racing, and AMA Pro Flat Track. Visit www.amaproracing.com.