When the starting gate dropped for the first 450 moto at Southwick on Saturday afternoon a little after 1 p.m., we all might have been expecting to see another Ryan-vs.-Ryan duel. But within seven or eight seconds of the drop, all hell broke loose. A near-pileup on the outside involving Mike Alessi and Justin Brayton turned into a true pileup on the inside featuring Villopoto and Dungey. The two clear frontrunners were in the back, with RV getting the worst of it—Dungey's #1 Red Bull KTM was on top of his #2 Monster Energy Kawasaki.
What followed over the course of the next thirty-plus-two was the moto of the season so far. While the Ryans scrambled, a seemingly revitalized James Stewart led the way, and for a few moments it seemed like the old Bubba was back. That ended with a frightening crash, but the Yoshimura Suzuki rider did get back up and ride off. (Stewart's second-moto fourth was a valiant effort, given how brutal that crash looked and certainly felt.)
A near pile-up on the outside turned into a...
In the reset, BTOSports.com KTM's Andrew Short found himself out front and battling with the visiting veteran Brett Metcalfe, and suddenly it was like Southwick 2006 and the Lites class out front! Surely the crowd was split between two sentimental favorites, both of whom had won here before.
But like a freight train, here came Dungey, and here came Villopoto, with Justin Barcia in there as well. Over the course of the last few laps we saw a frantic sprint involving all five until Metcalfe slipped back, and then the last lap unfolded with four different guys with a shot at the moto win—when was the last time a 450 national moto ended like that?
As you know by now, Dungey won, followed by Shorty, then Barcia, and then the absolutely flying Villopoto. They all flashed across the line in a span shorter than what it probably took you to read this sentence.
True pile-up on the inside with both championship contenders on the ground.
What did we learn from it? Not much that we didn't already know. Andrew Short still has game and the BTOSports.com team is becoming more and more of a factor. Brett Metcalfe should have been hired by someone to stay here in America, and hopefully he will be back soon. Justin Barcia is positioning himself as a versatile, driven 450 rider who will challenge for both MX and SX titles in the future, and the Ryans are the two fastest, most driven men in American motocross right now, with #2 holding the slight edge on #1.
Six races down, six to go, it's still up for grabs—so long as your name is Ryan.