This one was exceptional. With homestate boy Ryan Dungey going after the win, the nearly 50,000 fans on hand got crazy, and quite a few long-time industry folks say they can’t remember a crowd getting that loud at a supercross, ever. You might have to go back to Mike LaRocco’s home win at Indy in 2004 or Larry Ward’s Seattle SX triumphs in 1990 and 1999 to find a match, but even those races didn’t quite pack a 20-lap battle to the finish like this one did. It got so loud in fact that it nearly distracted Dungey, who said he had to remind himself to not focus on the cheers but stay focused on the track and the race!
Dungey rode a perfect, tactical race for the win, but he certainly had a formidable opponent in Villopoto. Villopoto quickly passed Mike Alessi, who grabbed the holeshot on his MotoConcepts bike, and even though Dungey was into second quickly, Villopoto actually pulled away early. At one point, RV got the gap up to about 2.2 seconds. Then Dungey started finding his stride, and about eight laps in, he started going after Villopoto. He made one mistake when he hit a rock in a corner, but was able to recover and go back after it. When he finally caught him, he found a good line near the finish line area to take the lead, but Villopoto fired right back repassed him in the first turn. Then Dungey got him at the end of the whoops, in the turn before the mechanic’s area. From there, it was a sprint to the finish, and Villopoto didn’t let up, keeping Dungey in sight the whole time hoping to capitalize on a mistake. Dungey never made one, soaring across the finish with a gap of .09 seconds, greeted by massive cheers.
Millsaps finished a quite third in Minneapolis.
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Villopoto gave Dungey full credit after the race, saying that he rode great. The champ said he didn’t really know what lines Dungey was using behind him, and he guessed wrong in a few spots. When Dungey made the final pass, in the mechanics’ area, it looked like Villopoto actually slowed up a bit. He said Dungey controlled the inside and would have gotten him in the next turn anyway, so there was no reason to push it, and he had also seen some aggressive passes in that turn and didn’t want to be on the receiving end of that.
Davi Millsaps rode a great race for third, but it was far overshadowed by the amazing rides ahead of him. But losing five points to Dungey drops the former series leader back to third in points.
Justin Barcia’s fourth was also lonely. Or, maybe it wasn’t, but all eyes were glued to the amazing Dungey/Villopoto battle ahead. Barcia’s been searching for starts, and they just aren’t coming lately.
Chad Reed’s return to the series following knee surgery was quite successful. He looked fast in practice, and finished second in his heat. A solid run in the main netted him a fifth—that’s impressive considering he wasn’t even sure if he’d be able to race the event at all.
Reed finished fifth in his return from knee surgery.
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Andrew Short has also been getting better and better and better weekly on his BTOSports.com KTM, and he was solid all day and night en route to sixth. We also hear Short hashed everything out with Broc Tickle in the RCH rig, to put an end to their brewing rivalry.
It was a special night for Dungey, but also a special one for Josh Hill. The Dodge/Sycuan RCH Suzuki rider, who won the last time SX stopped in this dome in 2008, won his heat race, an amazing accomplishment considering how far down to rock bottom he had gone. Hill jumped from fourth to first on the first lap of the heat, and then held Chad Reed at bay to win it (Villopoto had the best times in that race but had a bad start). In the main, he got a start, again, but looked to tighten up a bit running the lead pace and eventually went back to eighth. Still, massive, massive improvements in Hill in the last few weeks.
Marvin Musquin is simply the fastest 250 rider right now. He was on it in both practices, won his heat, and simply checked out in the main event. It helped a little that Blake Wharton’s aggressive pass attempts on Wil Hahn early slowed them up, but Hahn still lost ground to Musquin when he was alone in second. The Red Bull KTM rider is on fire right now, but he’ll still need some help to dig the title out in Vegas, since Hahn holds a five-point lead.
Another strong night from Josh Hill in Minneapolis.
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Hahn was a little disappointed in Wharton’s moves after the race, because he said he was so aggressive he put them both in danger, and it let Musquin pull away. But Wharton saved his most aggressive stuff for Tyler Bowers. Bowers motored past on his Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki, but then Wharton pretty much rammed him on the inside of a corner and sent Bowers flying. Bowers picked himself back up for fifth. The three-time Amsoil Arenacross Champion says he was trying to be nice and not interfere with riders battling for East SX points, but now he says he’s learned his lesson and is going to have to be more aggressive the next time.
Cole Thompson and Vince Friese ended up down and locked together on the last lap, again (they locked up at the finish line in Toronto). Friese had come from way, way back and had passed Thompson for sixth. Then Thompson tried to bomb up the inside and both went down. Friese was seventh, Thompson tenth.
James Stewart was leading his heat race when he went too far wide and tagged a tough block, sending him flying off a double jump without his bike. He hurt his wrist a little in that crash, but made it back for the LCQ, which he won. In the main, he was battling with Hill for fourth when he cased a jump, hurting the wrist again. Stewart then pulled off and headed up the tunnel into the pits. He’ll have the wrist checked out on Monday, but he doesn’t think it’s that bad.
Stewart pulled out early with a wrist injury.
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