|Tim Ferry shakes his first bottle of first-place champagne since Glen Helen in 2001--it has been that kind of year. |
Just when you think things were about to settle down in the
AMA/Toyota Motocross Championship, the series produces another dramatic weekend,
blowing minds and breaking hearts as the championship picture in each class
changes dramatically after each moto.
the Unbound Energy National at Washougal, round eight of the series, looked
like it would be a yawner. The first motos were simple, as Ryan Villopoto and
James Stewart showed a big edge in speed over their competition and opened up
big leads. They looked like the big men on the motocross campus for the
weekend, but it didn’t work out that way.
first Lites moto, Villopoto quickly passed Racer X Holeshot Award winner Ryan
Dungey and started pulling away quickly. RV’s Monster Energy/Pro
Circuit/Kawasaki teammate Ben Townley moved into second quickly but had no
answers for Villo, who had his home state fans cheering him as he went on to
win by a whopping 18 seconds.
|Stewart looked stronger than he did in Colorado, but he continues to be snake bit. |
grabbed the MotoTees Holeshot in the first Motocross moto, but made it
interesting when he fell in an ess-turn section on the first lap. He got up
quickly in fourth place, and had to work his way past Kevin Windham
, Tim Ferry
and Andrew Short
to get back into the lead. From there Stewart rode smart,
pulling a gap of about eight seconds on Short and then just holding it to the
end instead of pushing the pace.
point it was clear that Villopoto and Stewart had their competition covered and
only a major disaster could keep them from the winner’s circle. For Villopoto
such a disaster came with a first turn crash in the second moto, as he got
bottled up and stopped in turn one and then tipped over in the sand. Dungey had
grabbed another holeshot but was quickly passed by Yamaha’s Broc Hepler and
Townley. Hepler looked strong in the lead holding off Townley, but BT101 got
past him after a few laps, although Hepler and Dungey kept him honest for most
of the race.
|RV1's charge through the pack in the second moto was unreal, and he might have gone from worst to first if not for a second crash. |
up front was intense, but it paled in comparison to Villopoto’s unbelievable
charge from the back. He was well outside the top 35 after his fall, but was
soon into the top ten and putting in laps three seconds faster than the
leaders. Finally, amazingly, he caught the Dungey and Hepler battle for second
and even passed Hepler, but then disaster struck again for RV when he swapped
hard off of a downhill jump and crashed. It was a full yard sale crash that could
have broken bikes and bones, but somehow Villopoto bounced right back up and
even kept his bike running!Unhurt, RV got on the gas one more time. Hepler’s
Yamaha let go, ending his day, and then Villopoto caught Dungey on the last lap
but could not make a pass. Still and all, it was one of the all-time great
a 2-1 won the overall, which edged out Villo’s 1-3. It also breaks the tie on
top of the standings and Townely now owns a two point gap over his teammate.
|Townley controlled the second moto like he has for much of the year, and he's finally alone on top of the series standings. |
"Of all the weekends this year, trying to learn new tracks, I think this one was the toughest," said Townley. "I think they did a great job with the track considering what they have to work with."
see Ben after I got to Hepler and Dungey,” said Villopoto. “I was thinking
maybe I could catch him, but then I fell, so you’ll never know.” Indeed,
Villopoto seemed to show a larger edge on speed on the same day when he lost
the points lead. Stewart’s story in moto two would be similar.
In fact, it
started out almost exactly the same as Villopoto when Stewart crashed early and
found himself way back. Windham
had the early lead but was quickly passed by Grant Langston, who was absolutely
flying on his 2008 YZ450F. Stewart put on a Villopoto-esque charge from the
back, passing nearly 20 riders in the first lap (!) and then working his way
all the way past his Monster Kawasaki teammate Tim Ferry to take third. That
would have given Stewart a 1-3 overall win, topping Langston, who would have
gone 4-1. Stewart has been through a lot lately and wisely seemed to back it
down and not go after Langston or Windham.
It was all set, until the very end of the race when all heck broke loose.
|Langston has been asking for the '08 YZ450F, and he delivered a moto win in his first ride on it. |
crashed in a routine corner, catching a rock and popping his knee out. He was
trapped under his bike and in pain, unable to continue and suddenly seeing the
championship picture grow very shaky.
Langston was set to win the race with his 4-1, until even more crazy happenings
on the last lap, when Windham somehow thought the moto was over and slowed
down, allowing Ferry to slip past into second, giving him a 2-2 situation and
enough points for the overall.
It was another wild and crazy day. For good measure, Langston even nailed himself in the face with the cork on his champagne bottle on the podium, giving himself a fat lip. "That was probably the second dumbest move of the day, after Kevin's mistake," joked Langston.
Grant deserved the overall today,” said Ferry. “But I threw it away at the last
two races, so it looks like my luck has turned around.”
Ferry now sits just seven points behind Stewart in the championship standings,
and at this time Stewart’s condition isn’t fully known. Word is his knee went
back in place and the pain subsided, but pending an MRI, anything can happen.
than ever, that’s the motto for this series.
|Windham accidentally handed Ferry the overall when he mistook the white flag for the checkered and slowed down. |