It didn’t take Ryan Dungey long to go from 450-class newbie to 450-class favorite. That’s now the moniker the Rockstar Makita Suzuki rider will carry into next week’s race at Anaheim 2, after taking a wire-to-wire win at tonight’s round at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona – the second stop of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series.
Last week Dungey looked every bit the equal of defending series champ James Stewart, en route to a second-place finish. And with Stewart mired back in the pack in tonight’s final on his Yamaha (in his own race with Chad Reed), Dungey turned in a dominating performance out front, fending off an early charge by Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto before settling into a comfortable lead by the halfway mark of the race.
It was Dungey’s first career 450-class win and it was an emotional one for everyone in the pits wearing yellow – especially Dungey.
“It’s really hard to put this into words,” said Dungey. “It’s a big step in my career and it’s a pretty amazing feeling. The team worked really hard and we put ourselves in good position and it paid off. I’m glad to get this out of the way and I’ll never forget it.”
Villopoto looked much more inspired than he did last week at A1 and he pushed Dungey early in the race after turning back a determined Austin Stroupe. And while the Suzuki-mounted Stroupe eventually faded to seventh, Villopoto continued his strong pace and out-distanced third-place finisher Josh Hill by several seconds.
“I gained a little on Dungey during the early part of the race, but I just couldn’t do anything with it,” said Villopoto.
“I gained a little on Dungey during the early part of the race, but I just couldn’t do anything with it,” said Villopoto. “This track is typically slippery and I just had to ride really smooth and not make any mistakes, which made it hard to catch up.”
Hill’s third-place finish was his first podium in quite some time and the San Manuel Yamaha rider was relieved to finally be back where he felt he belonged.
“It’s been a little while since I’ve been in this position and it feels good,” said Hill. “My team and I are working 100% and the bike is great. I feel I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in and I’m looking forward to the rest of the year.”
After posting the fastest time in practice, Stewart’s night went downhill in a hurry during the evening program. In his heat race, Stewart crashed hard after clipping another rider over a jump and the San Manuel Yamaha rider was carted off the track holding his side. He returned in time to ride the LCQ, which he won, however, come main event time things didn’t go much better. Stewart started from the outside gate and was mid-pack after the first turn. While working his way through the pack, Stewart caught up with Kawasaki’s Reed, who didn’t get the best of starts either. Stewart attempted to pass the Aussie on lap five, the two riders going down in the process. Stewart eventually rejoined the race, finishing 15th, while Reed rode back to the pits with an unconfirmed injury, collecting his second DNF in as many weeks.
Josh Hill is faster than ever, and this year he has the fitness to match. The San Manuel Yamaha rider finished on the podium.
Valli Motorsport’s Ivan Tedesco rode a strong race to finish fourth, while Honda riders Andrew Short and Kevin Windham rounded out the top-five.
Dungey now holds a nine-point lead over Villopoto in the series standings (47 to 38), with Hill in third at 35 points. Stewarts sits seventh overall with 31 points.
Phoenix SX Results:
1. Ryan Dungey (Suzuki)
2. Ryan Villopoto (Kawasaki)
3. Josh Hill (Yamaha)
4. Ivan Tedesco (Yamaha)
5. Andrew Short (Honda)
6. Kevin Windham (Honda)
7. Austin Stroupe (Suzuki)
8. Justin Brayton (Yamaha)
9. Davi Millsaps (Honda)
10. Thomas Hahn (Suzuki)
In the SX Lites heats, Monster Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer finished in a solid first place in Heat 1 ahead of Wil Hahn and Cole Seely. During Heat 2, Weimer’s teammate, Josh Hansen, took the checkered flag with Ryan Morais placing second.
The 250 West SX Lites main started with Hansen and Blake Wharton vying for first. Wharton inherited the lead when Hansen hit the hay bales in Turn 2. Behind the duo it was Trey Canard, Morais, and Seely. In the final minutes of the main, Weimer took the lead on his KX250F and the stole the win with less than a second separating him from Morais. Wharton grabbed the final podium spot ahead of Hahn and Broc Tickle.
“I struggled a bit for some reason,” said Weimer. “I got my first win (in Phoenix) and I love it here, but I always struggle in the sand (section) every year. I made some mistakes in the beginning and never thought I’d be up here. This is kind of a surprise but it’s great.”
Phoenix 250 West SX Results:
1. Jake Weimer (Kawasaki)
2. Ryan Morais (Suzuki)
3. Blake Wharton (Honda)
4. Wil Hahn (Honda)
5. Brock Tickle (Yamaha)
6. Cole Seely (Honda)
7. Trey Canard (Honda)
8. Tommy Searle (KTM)
9. Robert Kiniry (Suzuki)
10. Phil Nicoletti (KTM)