Southwick always dishes out its share of wild moments, but the 2011 edition of the event may have eclipsed all previous standards for drama. A wash of bad weather and a rash of bike troubles changed the complexion of the race almost lap by lap, and ultimately a rider who has had so much taken from him in the past at this track, Brett Metcalfe, came out on top with his first career overall win in the 450 class. No surprise in the 250 division, as Tyla Rattray delivered the Southwick overall for the second-straight year. But there was drama there, too.
First, the 450s. Ryan Dungey grabbed the first moto win by virtue of a holeshot, and even though Ryan Villopoto closed in on him late, Dungey held on for a big win. Villopoto was second and Metcalfe third, while bike problems ruined the day for Honda riders Justin Barcia and Chad Reed. Barcia was holding third in the moto until his bike quit, and then Reed's went moments later. That would loom large for the overall, as all heck broke loose in moto two.
Dungey came down to the line with the first gate pick, but his bike died, and the team had to push it back to the pits for changes. They swapped out a motor, and still couldn't get it started, and Dungey then had his gate yanked from him. Then, the gate dropped, and Dungey was left standing there. As he walked away from the start, he saw his mechanic Mike Gosselaar riding the bike back down to the line, and Dungey grabbed the bike and took off nearly a lap down--he was literally just a few seconds in front of the early leader, Barcia.
And Barcia rode well with that early lead, holding on to it all the way to the end to take a moto win. Reed, meanwhile, crashed in the first turn and ran into more bike problems and had to drop from the moto again. With Dungey way back, it was down to Villopoto and Metcalfe for the overall, and Metcalfe made a pass on Villopoto to take over third, which would have been enough to win it. For good measure, he got around second-place rider Justin Brayton, and his 3-2 scores gave him the overall. Brayton held on for third in the moto, and Villopoto was second overall with 2-4 scores.
Incredibly, Dungey worked his way all the way up to seventh, which was enough to salvage third overall and only lose one point in the championship to Villopoto.
In the 250s, Gareth Swanepoel led early, but Tyla Rattray took over the lead early until he stalled his engine. Swanepoel retook the lead and kept charging, and actually pulled away from Rattray down the stretch to win his first-ever moto in the U.S., and the first moto win of the year by a non-Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider.
Rattray and his series' leader Dean Wilson took second and third.
In moto two, Alex Martin pulled the holeshot and rode strong for the first few laps, even pulling from Rattray a little bit. Eventually Rattray got out front again and this time never ran into troubles, pulling away to take the overall with 2-1 scores. Swanepoel was fifth early by had a fall set him back. Martin rode really well for second most of the way, until Wilson got by him. Then Wilson's bike started to steam, and he slowed the pace to try to conserve his engine. The bike held on, Wilson took second, and Martin scored his first career moto podium with a third. Swanepoel was third overall.
Racing is still going on in the WMX class. Look for a full race report and photos later tonight.