The biggest hype this weekend was Stewart’s return to competition after being laid up for seven months with a broken hand. Media surrounded his motor home and pit area all day like Los Angeles paparazzi. Discussions in the pits always ended up on the subject of JS7 vs. Ryan Dungey.
During qualifying the returning Yamaha rider posted the fastest lap around the ‘Dilla, but he really didn’t look comfortable and rode tight. Moto 1 saw Stewart run in second for a while, and then drop back to third after some big mistakes allowed Clemente Desalle to get around him. Then in the second moto Bubba got a mid-pack start and stayed there, for only four laps. The 2008 motocross champ pulled off the track and disappeared from sight for the rest of the day, leaving the fans and media wondering. On his Twitter Stewart wrote, “Sry if I let u down but I tried and that’s all I can ask from myself. Just wasn’t quite ready YET.” Hopefully another weekend off will give Bubba enough time to get his speed up to race with Dungey; it’s what everyone has been waiting for.
Dungey continued to dominate winning both motos with room to breathe. His fitness and confidence is at level that is reminiscent of the GOAT, Rickey Carmichael. Could this season be the start of the “Dungey Era? We’ll have to wait until the whole cast of players is healthy and up to speed, but right now RD5 is the fastest and most consistent racer on the gate. And that’s what champions are made of. Expect to see Dungey clinch the championship in the sand of Southwick.
Belgian MX1 racer Clemente Desalle decided to come over and try his hand at racing the ‘Dilla on his way to Brazil for the next round of the Grand Prix, and what a surprise to the US fans and racers! Moto 1 saw the temporary Rockstar Makita Suzuki racer battling with Stewart before pulling away for second place. In Moto 2 Desalle made a move to the front and kept Dungey at bay for a handful of laps, finishing second overall for the day. When posed the question of if he wanted to race in the US, Desalle said he has thinking about it, and that we might see him here full-time in the future.
In the 250-class the action was intense and held some of the best racing so far this season. Justin Barcia and Dean Wilson went at for the lead early in the first moto with some seriously close racing. On Lap 7, the Wild Child came into a left-hander hot like a cruise missile and blew his Canadian competition off the track. Wilson remounted and finished sixth, while Barcia gave up two positions to his teammates Trey Canard and Blake Wharton. At the end of the day Wilson was able to salvage third overall, while Barcia took second. The rivalry between these two has been brewing for a long time and it looks like there is no end in sight. Both riders took shots at each other in the post race press conference, and threw shoulders while passing on the way to and from the podium. It’s clear the two have a serious dislike for each other, and there is sure to be more rough racing between them for years to come.
The GEICO Powersports crew couldn’t be happier with the way Moto 1 ended up. Red riders swept the podium and actually finished first through fourth with Canard, Wharton, Barcia and Eli Tomac crossing the line in that order. Unfortunately for Wharton, he was caught up in a first turn pileup that ruined his chances of a podium. The Texan rider still put in an impressive ride charging from 21st to 9th by the time the checkers flew.
Christophe Pourcel’s comfortable lead in the points went down the tubes on the second lap of Moto 1 when he slammed to the ground just before the Skyshot jump. The Frenchman’s bike was so thrashed the Pro Circuit team had to basically rebuild a complete bike before the second moto. With a DNF and Canard’s win in Moto 1, Pourcel’s lead shrunk to 13 points. In Moto 2, Pourcel fought back to take the win and add three points to his lead which now totals just 16 over Ice-Trey. With six motos remaining the 250cc championship just became too close to call.