10 Things to Watch: Unadilla

10 Things To Watch: Unadilla

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By Aaron Hansel, Chase Stallo, and Jason Weigandt

Power Trio

We’ve got a unique situation up front with the trio of Eli Tomac, Ryan Dungey, and Ken Roczen. Tomac’s out of the points, but still has the potential to play a major role in the championship story—his presence at Washougal helped Dungey take 10 points out of Roczen’s lead. With just three rounds left and Roczen’s lead down to 14 points, Tomac’s finishing position is going to be of extreme importance to both riders in the weeks to come. –Aaron Hansel 

The Graduate

It’s that time of year again; Loretta Lynn’s just ended, which means we’ll see some new faces joining the ranks of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, most notably RJ Hampshire, who is coming off a perfect six-moto sweep at the Ranch. He talked about it in this interview conducted by our own Chase Stallo. It’s going to be interesting to see how he stacks up against the current pros of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross. —Hansel

Marvin is on moving in the right direction.  Photo: Simon Cudby
Marvin is on moving in the right direction.  Photo: Simon Cudby

Marvin Musquin

You could see Marvin Musquin getting better each week as the season wore on, and at Washougal he put in what was probably his best ever performance in America by simply dominating the competition to go 1-1. He’s got to be pumped about this weekend too—Unadilla was the sight of his first-ever national win in Lucas Oil Pro Motocross two years ago. Now that he’s back on point, will he go back to back? —Hansel

Holeshot Machines

Need help spotting the Toyota/JGR Yamahas? Just look at the first turn when the gate drops—they’ll be the blue bikes barreling into it before anyone else. Those things are seriously fast! So much so that if anyone else holeshots, THAT bike should be immediately black flagged for running a cheater engine, because that’s the only way someone is going to beat Josh Grant, Phil Nicoletti or Justin Brayton to the line. Should MX Sports just go ahead and hand over the Unadilla holeshot money right now? –Hansel

Dunge and Dilla

Millville and Washougal are two great tracks for Ryan Dungey, but Unadilla hasn't been his best. He's grabbed some wins there, but his battle with Clemente Desalle in 2010 might have been his stiffest challenge that season, and Justin Barcia's 450 debut put a scare into him in 2011. Ryan Villopoto was extra dominant over him here in '11 and '13. For whatever reason, Dungey is merely great, but not as superb as usual, at this place. Meanwhile, this old USGP track lends itself to European riding styles. Could it be a saving grace for Ken Roczen? —Jason Weigandt

Is the time right for CP? Photo: Simon Cudby
Is the time right for CP? Photo: Simon Cudby

CP's Place

It's been a good comeback season for Christophe Pourcel, but all that speed he shows in practice and all of those holeshots in the motos should surely have turned into a win by now. There's still a chance, because there's something absolutely magical about the way the crafty Frenchman carves up this track. His moto wins here in 2009 and 2010 were something to behold, as he worked the edges and found lines no one had in forty years. Like we said, Unadilla works for European riding styles. Does Pourcel still have the magic in him? —Weege

The Graduates, Part II

Horizon Award winner RJ Hampshire will be joined by recent Loretta Lynn graduates Luke Renzland (CycleTrader.com Rock River Yamaha) and Chris Alldredge (Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki). Renzland, who is from New Jersey, was first to take the track, getting in some laps at press day yesterday. Meanwhile, Alldredge, who many saw as a favorite heading to the Ranch, will look to rebound from a disappointing final amateur appearance. How will the rookies do in their first career start? – Chase Stallo

Welcome Back

Not only will GEICO Honda receive a boost from the debut of Hampshire, but the team will also get back Zach Osborne. The veteran is making his first appearance since tearing ligaments in his thumb at Glen Helen. "I'm really excited about racing this weekend," Osborne said in a team release. "It's been a long, tough recovery and rehab process to fix the ligament in my thumb. I'm more than ready to be back on the bike and with the GEICO Honda team to race this weekend." How will Osborne do in his return? – Stallo

RJ Hampshire makes his pro debut this weekend. Photo: Ken Hill
RJ Hampshire makes his pro debut this weekend. Photo: Ken Hill

Homecoming

Eighteen riders from the state of New York will compete in the Unadilla National tomorrow, with Toyota/JGR Yamaha’s Phil Nicoletti receiving most of the spotlight. This will be Nicoletti’s last race of the season—he was only contracted to race three, but has competed in more—but overall, he’s happy with how his limited program this year. He told us yesterday at press day he has around thirty family members and friends in town for the race, and hasn’t signed anything for 2015, so this a big race. Can Nicoletti get the Unadilla crowd in a frenzy on Saturday? –Stallo

Teammate

The last time we saw Michael Byrne line up for a Lucas Oil Pro Motocross race was a year ago. Byrne will be under the TwoTwo rig this weekend, but what should we expect from him in his first race in a year? —Stallo

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