The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, will make its highly-anticipated return to Central New York on Saturday, as New Berlin’s legendary Unadilla will host the 10th round of the 2012 season with the Red Bull Unadilla National.
Last weekend at Southwick’s Moto-X 338, Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey needed a late pit stop in the second moto in order to secure his seventh consecutive victory, while Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett made his return to the top of the podium with his fourth win of the summer.
Red Bull KTM
There was little doubt that Dungey was the rider to beat at Southwick, and following a convincing win in the opening moto, he positioned himself out front early in Moto 2, only to suffer a crash while leading. In the incident, Dungey lost valuable amounts of fuel that leaked out of the gas tank. Dungey continued on, battling his way back into the lead and opening up a big lead. Thanks to replays on television, the KTM crew determined Dungey needed additional fuel and brought him in for quick service. While he ultimately settled for second in the moto behind Tyla Rattray, Dungey still walked away from Moto-X 338 victorious, overcoming the adversity that presented itself, and extending his points lead to 85 points coming into Unadilla, where he will have a chance to capture his second career 450 Class title at a track he was the runner-up at a year ago.
A title-clinching weekend is not in the cards for Dungey without some misfortune for Mike Alessi. As he has been all summer, Alessi was exceptionally consistent at Southwick and by virtue of his efforts, kept Dungey honest throughout both motos, finishing in the runner-up spot (2-3). Alessi has a firm grasp on second in the championship and would like nothing more than to break through with an overall win before the season is completed. Based on his previous performances this season, a win is very well within reach for the veteran rider.
Monster Energy Kawasaki
Jake Weimer did not have the day he was hoping for at Moto-X 338. The second-year 450 Class rider has shown the speed to run up front all season long, but misfortune plagued him throughout both motos at Southwick, posting 13-19 moto scores to finish 18th overall. Despite that, Weimer has compiled a strong enough season to currently sit third in the championship, heading to the site of one of his best outings of the season one year ago.
“It was rough at Southwick,” said Weimer. “My starts were pretty terrible and I couldn’t stay off the ground all day. I crashed once in the first moto and twice in the second moto and there’s not much you can do when you’re lying on the ground. It’s just frustrating because I’ve never really done well at Southwick and I really hoped to change that last weekend, but things just didn’t go my way. I’m ready to put that race behind me and head to the next round at Unadilla and try to pull it together there.”
Tyla Rattray’s comeback from injury reached a high point last weekend as the South African native captured his first career moto win in the premier class en route to fifth overall (20-1). Rattray’s success at Southwick is well documented, and after a tough opening moto, it wasn’t a surprise to see him bounce back with some success. Now that he knows the speed is there to compete with the front-runners, it will be interesting to see what Rattray does with the momentum this weekend.
“Jake (Weimer) and I were able to get some good testing in over the break and came to Southwick feeling much more comfortable on the bike,” said Rattray. “Now, I think we’re in a good place with the bike. I’m really happy with the team and all their hard work; I really can’t thank them enough. (In) the second moto, I really felt like my old self again out there. I really expect to be out front fighting for the podium every moto and now I feel like we have the ball rolling again. To be able to earn a win for the team at Southwick felt awesome. It’s great to be back on the box and hopefully we can do it again next weekend at Unadilla.”
Team Chaparral Honda
Andrew Short has always been known for his solid and consistent efforts and this season, the veteran has proven that despite being one of the oldest riders in the series, he still has what it takes to be competitive. The first year effort for L&Mc Racing has been one to be proud of thanks to a pair of overall podium finishes for Short. Last weekend, he finished eighth overall after posting 5-11 moto results.
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
After claiming his first career overall podium earlier this season, Broc Tickle has been determined to make his way back onto the box. After battling up front throughout the summer, Tickle finally returned to the podium, following Dungey and Alessi in third overall (6-4). To add to the successful weekend, Tickle also claimed his first Oakley Bomb Award of the season as the fastest qualifier and is looking to carry the momentum into Unadilla on Saturday.
“Practice went really great at Moto-X 338,” said Tickle. “I’m pretty happy to get on the podium again. Now we’re going to head back home and put in some more hard work before we head to Unadilla and try to repeat. I haven’t had the best finishes in the past at Unadilla, but it’s a new year and I’m on a new bike, so I’m hoping to change that record.”
Jeff Ward Racing Kawasaki
Josh Grant led the way for Jeff Ward Racing at Southwick, making his return to the top 10 with a seventh-place finish (8-8). Grant has been solid all summer long for the first-year team and his fixture as a presence inside the top 10 nearly every week has led to a consistent climb up the 450 Class standings. Currently, Grant sits sixth in points, assuming the position this past weekend.
Kyle Chisholm wasn’t far behind his teammate, posting a top-10 finish of his own. Chisholm’s 11-9 moto scores landed him ninth overall, which helped him jump to eighth in the 450 Class standings coming into Unadilla this weekend.
Team Honda Muscle Milk
Justin Brayton would like to forget about Southwick and make more positive memories this weekend at Unadilla. The veteran rider experienced misfortune in each of the motos at Moto-X 338, getting caught in a first-turn crash both times. Despite his hard-fought efforts to work through the field, Brayton finished 25th overall (19-33), which also dropped him to seventh in the championship standings.
With his teammate suffering heartbreak, Tommy Hahn looked to give American Honda a strong outing at Moto-X 338 and started things off with a season-best third-place effort in the opening moto. Hahn looked to put himself in the mix yet again in Moto 2, but did not complete the race, dropping him to 10th overall (3-35).
Team Yoshimura Suzuki
Despite difficult seasons for each of its riders, Yoshimura Suzuki still holds the ninth- and 10th-place spots in the 450 Class standings. Currently, James Stewart has possession of ninth and has his sights set on a return to action this weekend. Brett Metcalfe, however, will not be back on the track in 2012 after suffering a season-ending injury.
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
Following impressive back-to-back wins at the midway point of the season, Blake Baggett experienced some slight misfortune at the seventh and eighth rounds of the championship, hurting his overall results and losing valuable ground to his championship rivals. Last weekend, Baggett was determined to get back on top of the podium and did so with his trademark hard-charging style. After starting the afternoon off with a third-place finish, Baggett made a late pass for the second moto win on Ken Roczen to give himself the overall tiebreak with Eli Tomac and extend his points lead with a fourth victory this summer. He holds a 24-point lead over Justin Barcia coming into Unadilla.
“I gave it everything I had at Southwick,” said Baggett. “In the second moto, I was trying different lines and feeling out every possible place I could to get around Ken (Roczen). I was tired, but dug deep and was able to get the pass to stick to take the win. I’m happy I was able to stretch my points lead and want to keep earning as many points as possible to cushion myself as we head into the last rounds of the season. I’m looking forward to the next round at Unadilla; the track out there is pretty sweet. It’s a fun track that is fast with big jumps and a lot of elevation changes.”
Justin Barcia had high hopes at Southwick, but suffered from misfortune in each of the day’s motos. After taking a win at the previous round, Barcia headed to what might be his best track in the championship at Moto-X 338. A first-turn crash in the opening moto hindered the Honda riders ability to take the overall win, but he battled to finish seventh. In Moto 2, Barcia was in a better position and despite a fall, still managed to finish fourth, which helped land him fifth overall. With a deficit at over 20 points coming into Unadilla, the New York native will be looking to turn things around in front of his hometown crowd.
Eli Tomac had the results to make it a winning day at Southwick, but just missed out on his fourth win of the season by virtue of the second moto tiebreaker. Nevertheless, the second-place effort (1-3) was a good momentum builder for Tomac, who has his sights set on his teammate in the championship standings, where he currently sits third.
Wil Hahn’s day at Moto-X 338 wasn’t quite what he was hoping for after a season full of consistent results. Hahn was one of several riders involved in a crash in the first corner of the opening moto, which unfortunately led to a 21st-place finish. However, Hahn bounced back in Moto 2 to claim ninth and land 13th overall. Despite his difficult day, Hahn still sits sixth in the 250 Class standings, ready to turn things around on Saturday.
Red Bull KTM
After starting the season off with a string of overall podium finishes, Ken Roczen was unable to replicate his efforts despite being in the thick of the battle each and every week. At Southwick, Roczen made his return to the box after a pair of strong and consistent motos. Following a fourth-place finish to start the day, Roczen was in position to claim his first moto win, leading the majority of the final moto. Unfortunately, after getting late pressure from Blake Baggett, Roczen settled for second, which ultimately landed him third overall, leaving the German rookie happy about his efforts and looking forward to this weekend’s round at Unadilla.
Marvin Musquin put himself in the mix at Moto-X 338 as well. The Frenchman capitalized on a strong start in the opening moto to post one of his best finishes of the season in second and give him a chance at his first overall podium finish of the season. In Moto 2, Musquin was solid again, ultimately finishing fifth which landed him fourth overall, just off the podium. He’ll look to keep the forward progression going at Unadilla.
Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki
It wasn’t the type of outing the Rockstar Suzuki squad was looking for at Southwick, but despite some misfortune, its resilient riders still battled to finish just outside the top 10.
Jason Anderson led the way for the team, finishing 12th overall after posting 37-8 moto scores. As for Blake Wharton, he followed just a couple positions behind in 14th, thanks to 9-28 moto finishes.
Despite missing out on the top 10, both riders still sit seventh and eighth in the 250 Class standings and will look to bounce back at Unadilla.
Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil Honda
Both Jessy Nelson and Travis Baker fought their way to solid top-10 finishes at Moto-X 338, resulting in a strong day all around for the Troy Lee Honda squad.
Nelson’s 5-11 moto scores landed him ninth overall for one of his best outings of the 2012 season, while Baker followed just behind him in ninth after back-to-back 10th-place finishes. The duo occupies ninth and 10th in the 250 Class standings, solidifying their position with continued efforts inside the top-10.