The Moment: Hangtown

The Moment Hangtown

May 23, 2012 10:30am
After James Stewart led every lap of moto one at Hangtown, fans were hoping to see a better battle in the second 450 moto. With Ryan Dungey getting a much-improved start and Mike Alessi putting in a much-improved ride, there was indeed a better race brewing. Stewart had to work his way past both Dungey and Alessi to get the lead, and then Dungey hung with him for most of the moto, potentially setting up a fight to the finish.

Dungey stayed within about two seconds of Stewart, but any chances of launching an attack ended when he caught lapped traffic. Stewart sliced right past a battling Les Smith and Jason Thomas, but Dungey caught them in a bad spot—in a tight ess-turn section—and couldn’t get past them.

“He [Stewart] got around them and I did the best I could,” says Dungey. “It’s one of those things where sometimes it works out well for you and sometimes it works out bad for you. I think sometimes they need to pay more attention that there is a race coming to them from behind.”

Dungey (rear) gets caught behind lapper Jason Thomas (near) as he tries to chase down Stewart in moto 2.
BrownDogWilson photo

Thomas, deep into a battle with Smith, didn’t realize Dungey was there. “Les honestly had no idea, no clue, he was there,” says Thomas. “Myself and Les Smith were battling the whole race. And if you look, we were still side-by-side when Dungey comes up on us. For me it was a 100 percent surprise when he passed us. I didn’t know he was there, and I wasn’t trying to mess anything up for anybody. The last thing I want to do is mess up anything for anyone. If anyone thinks I was doing anything on purpose, it’s not true. It’s never my intention to mess up someone else’s race—I have too much respect for everyone out here, especially someone who is going fast to put me a lap down. I never knew he was there until he passed me.”

The damage was done, as Dungey logged a 2:10.6 on lap 13, while Stewart went 2:08.1.

Dungey was going to have to hustle to catch back up, and he logged a 2:07.0 the next time around. But, to Stewart’s credit, he knew the storm was coming and countered with an incredible 2.06.4 to make sure Dungey couldn’t close in. From there, the win was on ice.

No doubt the lapped rider incident changed the race strategy for both Stewart and Dungey. But did it change the outcome? Probably not, considering the pace Stewart had. Still, Dungey surely wishes he could have that lap back to let see if things would have played out differently.