In one of the wildest AMA Toyota Motocross Championship Presented by FMF races in recent memory, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s James Stewart, of Haines City, Fla., and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto, of Poulsbo, Wash., endured extreme conditions and close competition to come out on top and keep their spectacular seasons intact at the Monster Energy National at Unadilla Presented by Renegade Haulers.
The day began with two relatively uneventful first motos in which both competitors cruised to victory by over 10 seconds, but Mother Nature attempted to steal the show as the AMA Motocross Lites class began its final moto of the day.
Skies opened up and lightning threatened the safety of fans and riders alike, forcing the AMA officials to red flag the second moto of AMA Motocross Lites after nine minutes of racing. Action was put on hold for nearly 20 minutes as the storm cell and lightning passed through the Unadilla Valley Sports Center, allowing the AMA Motocross Lites competitors to reenter the starting gate.
As the rain continued to fall, Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey, of Belle Plaine, Minn., took his second BTOSports.com Holeshot Award and opened an early lead over a hard-charging Villopoto. The Suzuki rider held the defending champion at bay for two laps until a fall relegated him to second as the two continued to pull away from the rest of the field. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Brett Metcalfe brought home third in the second moto and third overall on the day after a sixth-place finish in moto one.
Even with a red flag, Ryan Villopoto put his Monster Pro Circuit Kawasaki to the front of both motos and has extended his championship lead to over 100 points.
“This weekend was one of the toughest with the rain coming in,” said Villopoto. “You didn’t know what to expect. The track was good before the red flag. (The rain) blew in really quick and next thing we know the red flag was out. When we restarted, I just tried to get out front and make a break for it. The biggest problem with restarting is having the ball rolling (before the restart) and then having to stop and do that all over again in different conditions.”
Stewart was able to sweep the BTOSports.com Holeshot Award for the second week in a row as the AMA Motocross began their final moto. Track conditions continued to deteriorate with consistent rain. Suzuki City Biloxi, MS/OTSFF Suzuki’s Cody Cooper, of Tallahassee, Fla., capitalized on a great start to grab second and battled with Stewart for the top spot. A native of New Zealand, Cooper excelled in the conditions and kept Stewart in sight the entire moto. A mid-moto fall by Stewart brought Cooper within striking distance, but the Kawasaki rider kept his head down and prevailed to improve to 16-0 in motos and 8-0 in overall victories.
“This track has always been tough for me, especially the last three years,” explained Stewart. “This is the first moto I’ve finished since 2004. I stuck with it in the second moto, so you have no idea how excited I am right now. I had to pull my goggles off like five laps into the moto. I got roost in my face and then spun (my tire) off the face of a jump and went down.
“I had to spin the mud off (my tires) and as soon as I got going I knew I needed to push because Cody (Cooper) was going to be right there. I just need to keep going race by race. If I keep that mindset I’ll be better off (towards the championship).”
Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Michael Byrne, of Newnan, Ga., continued his recent run of strong performances to finish third. Combined with a third place in the first moto, he finished second overall. Cooper’s impressive showing helped him reach his first career podium in third after a fifth-place finish in the opening moto.
Stewart currently holds a 120-point lead over teammate Ferry in the AMA Motocross standings. In AMA Motocross Lites, Villopoto has a 109-point advantage over Dungey.
Television coverage of the AMA Motocross class can be seen on July 26 at 10 p.m. ET on SPEED with a AMA Motocross Lites show on Tuesday, July 29 at 2 p.m. ET. The AMA Toyota Motocross Championship Presented by FMF travels to the West Coast next weekend with The Motorsport.com Washougal Motocross Park National Presented by Yamaha and Scott USA from Washougal, Wash.
1. James Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Kawasaki, 1-1
2. Michael Byrne, Newnan, Ga., Suzuki, 2-3
3. Cody Cooper, Tallahassee, Fla., Suzuki, 5-2
4. Timmy Ferry, Largo, Fla., Kawasaki, 3-6
5. Antonio Balbi, Riverside, Calif., Honda, 8-4
6. Sean Hamblin, Murrieta, Calif., Yamaha, 7-7
7. Andrew Short, Smithville, Texas, Honda, 4-14
8. Josh Hill, Yoncalla, Ore., Yamaha, 14-5
9. Jimmy Albertson, Ozark, Mo., Honda, 12-10
10. Nick Wey, Dewitt, Mich., KTM, 10-12
Motocross Overall Standings:
1. James Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Kawasaki, 400
2. Timmy Ferry, Largo, Fla., Kawasaki, 280
3. Andrew Short, Smithville, Teas., Honda, 246
4. Michael Byrne, Newman, Ga., Suzuki, 240
5. Mike Alessi, Victorville, Calif., Suzuki, 221
Motocross Lites Results:
1. Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki, 1-1
2. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., Suzuki, 2-2
3. Brett Metcalfe, Murrieta, Calif., Kawasaki, 6-4
4. Nico Izzi, Saint Clair, Mich., Suzuki, 8-5
5. Josh Grant, Riverside, Calif., Honda, 3-12
6. Matt Goerke, Lake Helen, Fla., KTM, 7-9
7. Jake Moss, Temecula, Calif., Yamaha, 10-8
8. Trey Canard, Elk City, Okla., Honda, 5-13
9. Ryan Sipes, Vine Grove, Ky., KTM, 13-6
10. Martin Davalos, Cairo, Ga., KTM, 39-3
Motocross Lites Overall Standings:
1. Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki, 391
2. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., Suzuki, 282
3. Brett Metcalfe, Murrieta, Calif., Kawasaki, 231
4. Jake Weimer, Rupert, Idaho, Honda, 199
5. Nico Izzi, Saint Clair, Mich., Suzuki, 183