There is a reoccurring theme at Hangtown, and it’s one of confusion; the series often leaves the season opener in Northern California with more questions created than answered. But this year the respective winners left no questions as to their intentions and their abilities to see them through.
The first 450 moto started much like it did last year, with James Stewart getting out to the early lead. Ryan Villopoto was close behind, followed by Josh Grant and Ryan Dungey. The stage was set for an epic clash of the titans, but with a blatant disregard for theatrics, Villopoto quickly displaced Stewart for the lead and immediately started sprinting away. Just a few laps later, Dungey would follow suit by getting Stewart. The crowd waited to see if Dungey had the speed to reel Villopoto in, but RV was just too strong and his already large gap grew with every lap.
Behind the lead trio, which got pretty spaced out, Trey Canard was chugging along in a lonely fourth, while Justin Barcia did the same in fifth. The scene behind them was a little more chaotic. Malcolm Stewart had charged up to seventh after starting well outside the top ten. He was pressuring Dean Wilson, who ended up stalling in a corner. Minutes later, insult was added to injury when Weston Peick put a very hard move on Wilson that sent him briefly off the track. Wilson didn’t crash, but the damage was done, and he lost a ton of positions.
Stewart's on the inside grabbing the holeshot, with Dungey and Villopoto right there.
Villopoto had the lead before long.
Dungey would also pass Stewart but couldn't match Villopoto's pace.
A fantastic battle for sixth was the one to watch. Malcolm Stewart looked to have it until he suffered bike problems.
Dean Wilson was in that battle but stalled.
Andrew Short stayed in the hunt the whole way and ended up with the sixth-place spot.
As the race was drawing to a close, Malcolm Stewart’s engine let go. He attempted to get going again, and even pushed his bike to the top of a jump and attempted to bump-start it on the way down, but the engine, and Malcolm’s outstanding ride, had breathed it’s last breath with just two laps remaining. Mike Alessi also had some bad luck. He was battling inside the top ten but went down after running into the back of a lapper in the racing line, who apparently didn’t know Alessi was there.
Villopoto won the moto by a huge margin, followed by Dungey, Stewart, Canard and Barcia. Chad Reed was never a factor in this race. He got a lousy start and was never able make things happen after that.
In the second 450 moto, Stewart pulled another MotorcycleSuperstore.com holeshot with the Ryans in tow. But instead of getting passed right away, this time Stewart seemed determined to hang onto the lead, which he did, despite relentless hounding from Dungey. For the first ten minutes of the moto Dungey was all over Stewart, showing him a wheel in every corner and even running into the back of him at one point. Meanwhile, Villopoto was just watching the show in third. After unsuccessfully trying to make things happen early, he decided to wait for an opening, which came when a pass attempt from Dungey on Stewart caused Dungey to bobble and fall back. Villopoto grabbed second, and then immediately went on the attack and passed Stewart within a few turns and just like in the first moto, checked out for the win. Dungey soon passed Stewart as well and took second, followed by Stewart.
Canard rode to another lonely fourth in front of Barcia, who charged up to fifth after a bad start. Alessi would come across the line a ways behind him in sixth.
There wasn’t a whole lot going on late in the race, except for an outstanding battle between Weston Peick and Ryan Sipes. Peick had caught Sipes for seventh and the two proceeded to duel hard for several laps. Peick was finally able to make a move stick and opened up a little gap, making it look as though the position was Peick’s for good. But when the two-lap board came out, Sipes dug deep and found a little something extra. With just over a lap remaining, he took the position back and motored away from Peick.
The battle that everyone wanted to see materialized in moto two.
Dungey threw everything he had at Stewart but couldn't get by him in the first half.
Trey Canard was in the mix, staying close to the top three early and finishing fourth.
Villopoto eventually shook Canard, took advantage of a Dungey bobble and sailed past Stewart.
Justin Barcia was fifth in both motos.
250 Report by Jordan Roberts
There were and are plenty of storylines coming into and out of the opening round of the 250 class. There were a handful of rookies making their pro motocross debuts, some riders coming back from injury and a select group hunting for a 2013 championship. Rookie Cooper Webb showed front-runner speed. Darryn Durham showed top five potential. Zach Bell even nailed another patented holeshot. However, at the end of the day, the racing boiled down to three of the expected contenders: Ken Roczen, Blake Baggett and Eli Tomac.
Baggett was the first heavy-hitter in the 250 class to steal the show at Hangtown, and even though the Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider isn’t exactly known for his early-race charges, he didn’t waste any time in the first moto getting his #1 red plate back where he wants it: up front. Webb was a close second place off the start and his teammate Jeremy Martin and Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin weren’t far of his mark. Musquin moved into second and then started going after Baggett. The Frenchman would then put his Red Bull KTM into the lead.
Then Tomac and Roczen suddenly emerged from the pack and into the top five and even passed Baggett in the process! Roczen wasn’t done at third, though. He passed both Tomac and Musquin in a single lap for the lead. Tomac eventually followed Roczen to move by Musquin, as did Baggett, pushing Musquin from the lead to fourth in a short time. Darryn Durham moved into the fifth around the halfway mark and a generous cushion formed between the top five.
The cushion didn’t last when two riders decided to make late-race charges toward the front. Sixth-place Webb surged to challenge Durham for a top-five spot and was able to gain the position before the checkered flag. To no surprise, Baggett was the other rider to make a late-race charge on Tomac, but it never panned out. Roczen won the first moto while Tomac and Baggett filled the remaining steps of the podium. Musquin and Webb rounded out the top five.
Not known for his starts, Blake Baggett grabbed the first moto holeshot.
Marvin Musquin got around Baggett to take the lead.
Then Ken Roczen caught fire and blazed past everyone to take the lead and moto win.
Eli Tomac came through for second.
Rookie Cooper Webb was fifth in his pro debut moto.
As stated earlier, Bell nailed the holeshot in the second moto. The GEICO Honda rider pulled the lead over the field as they disappeared over the hill, but Bell was nowhere to be seen as they roared back into sight. Baggett once again found himself in the lead.
Baggett was only able to enjoy the lead for half of a lap until Roczen’s Red Bull KTM machine started to show its front wheel. Roczen went back and forth with Baggett for several corners until Roczen secured the lead just before the end of the lap.
Tomac wasn’t initially in the mix; he was hovering right outside of the top ten off the start. The GEICO Honda rider was able to gain some easy positions after Musquin and Zach Osborne came together and went down before the finish line. Tomac then moved up to battle with Rockstar Energy Racing’s Jason Anderson and eventually took third place from him.
Tomac may have moved into third, but Roczen and Baggett were already running their own race. As the two riders moved into the second half of the 30 minutes, they kicked up the intensity and moved further into lapped traffic. Roczen found the smooth lines with good flow while Baggett chose the quickest line from point A to B—regardless of track condition. Baggett hammered down and latched onto Roczen’s pace, but a slight mistake from Baggett cost him valuable time toward the close of the race.
Roczen held strong until the finish to earn perfect marks on the season thus far. Baggett and Tomac rode the second moto out for second and third, while Musquin and Anderson rounded out the top five.
There's a new star in WMX. Meet Courtney Duncan (on a YZ125!)
In WMX action, the day’s trend of dominance continued when New Zealand ripper Courtney Duncan got out to an early lead. She kept her YZ125 (you read that right, she’s on a two-stroke) pinned up and down Hangtown’s hills and completely destroyed the field by a huge margin. Sayaka Kaneshiro took second all herself, while Mackenzie Tricker took third. Jessica Patterson got a bad start but had worked up into third only to have a mechanical failure ruin her day.
In the second moto it was all Duncan yet again. Patterson kept her honest early on, but Duncan was just too strong and she streaked to a perfect 1-1 in her first ever race as a pro.