Like it was at Hangtown, the winners’s story from Budds Creek doesn’t center around the actual results, but the way those results were generated. Ryan Dungey and Blake Baggett didn’t only win at Budds, they earn it the hard way with straight-up speed. Dungey was even fast enough to make up some ground on Ryan Villopoto in the first moto, although he later lost that ground as they weaved through lapped traffic, and then Villopoto found his groove and got away. Still, it’s the first time this season that anyone has been able to erase a serious deficit on Villopoto. In the second moto, Dungey got out to the early lead while Villopoto was buried a few positions back. The series’ leader eventually weaved his way into second place, but Dungey continued to pull a gap on him. Villopoto also admitted after the race that he was digging after Dungey, because no rider ever just hands over a win. When Dungey won in Tennessee, Villopoto crashed in the second moto and they never got to have a showdown for the win. On this day, Dungey was just plain fast enough to get it done, no matter what.
Dungey credited some bike changes for the help in moto two, as he stiffened the forks to deal with Budds Creek’s many choppy downhill sections. Meanwhile, Villopoto thought his setup was a little off on the hills.
Credit to Villopoto, though, came from Dungey, who after the race said the pace this year is much, much faster than last year, thanks to RV coming back into the series. The two Ryans pretty much always show full respect to each other.
Wil Hahn (19) came back to racing with not one, but two holeshots. Amazingly, he leads the $15,000 Motorcycle-Superstore.com Holeshot standings after just one race!
Mike Alessi had a third in the first 450 moto, and was running third again in moto two before a crash ended it.
We're going to throw a picture of Joey Savatgy in here because he's been going very fast lately. He was eighth in moto one on the FMF Orange Brigade KTM.
Simon Cudby photos
As for Baggett, he won the first 250 moto the way he won races in 2011 and 2012—by coming from behind in the second half of the race. Around the halfway mark, he was in fourth place, but then he turned it up and went around Jason Anderson, and caught the fleeing Marvin Musquin and Ken Roczen. He caught and passed both Red Bull KTM riders to snag his first moto win of the season. Baggett rode well, but not as well, in moto two and finished second. He spent most of the race pressing his teammate Darryn Durham for the lead. But Eli Tomac put in a mind-blowing charge from the back and was eventually able to get them both. Baggett finished second. He was suffering from stomach issues in the second moto and wasn’t even able to stick around for post-race interviews.
Tomac’s crazy second moto run, where he was around 13th a few laps in and yet somehow came all the way back to win, was as impressive as it gets. He was in a similar spot off the start of the first moto, but could only come back to fourth. What’s the difference? Listen carefully, because it could be a major factor in the sport going forward. At Budds Creek, like most of the races this year, all four motos ran back to back due to live TV coverage. Tomac says the field seems much more tired in the second motos, and that’s why he’s able to charge through so much more effectively. “Now I just need to work on my first motos,” he said. As far as the second moto, Tomac just said he was in the zone.
Another impressive ride: Darryn Durham. He crashed while running toward the front of the first 250 moto, and ended up ninth. But in moto two he snagged the early lead and rode superbly, holding his teammate Baggett back for a long time. Then Tomac came from seemingly nowhere to get him—Durham was completely taken by surprise because he only thought Baggett was back there. Durham admitted he was getting tired by the 20-minute mark, since he hasn’t led a race in two years and has missed nearly a year of racing with injury. So, he let his teammate Baggett past him for second to free him to chase Tomac. Durham would later go down in the moto but still finish third. A crash in moto one left him 13th and ruined his chances for an overall podium.
There was a lot of chaos in both classes, with plenty of charges from the back, big crashes and good battles. Under the radar of all of that sat Trey Canard, who stacked up solid (6-4) scores to take third in the 450 class, his first podium of the year.
You can contrast Canard’s podium overall with the third-place finishers in both motos. Mike Alessi snagged the Motorcycle-Superstore.com Holeshot Award in moto one and finished third. He was third again in moto two before crashing out. Malcolm Stewart logged the best race of his pro career in moto two, taking third. But he was ninth in moto one, leaving him fourth overall.
It was a heck of a day at Budds Creek.
We thought this was a cool photo of Villopoto.
Phil Nicoletti is turning a lot of heads this year. He had his best finish yet with a sixth in moto two.
What a return to racing for Wil Hahn. The GEICO Honda ride missed the first four races of the season with a broken hand, and came back at Budds to nail two Motorcycle-Superstore.com Holeshots and card solid (6-5) moto finishes for fifth overall. It looked like Wilbur hadn’t missed a beat.
Crashes soured Adam Cianciarulo’s pro debut. He started well in the first moto, battling Hahn for the holeshot, and eventually settled in around eighth, looking for a top-ten finish. Then he crashed and went back to 14th. In moto two, he was down early and in dead last. He fought back to 18th.
Zach Osborne’s run of top-five finishes to start the season came to an end courtesy of a first-turn crash in moto one. He finished 17th. He came back for 4th in moto two.
Ken Roczen, points leader in the 250 class, had his worse day of the year thus far with (3-6) scores and fourth overall. Roczen says he’s been suffering from an illness for two weeks and was just trying to survive the weekend.