Chad Reed nailed the start in Moto 1 of 450 Motocross action from Round 4 in Maryland. The TwoTwo Motorsports Honda rider blasted through the revised start and set off to check out the 1.3-mile, jump-laden circuit. He wouldn’t have a clear view for more than a couple turns as Mike Alessi went by on his Red Bull KTM 450 SX-F. In only his second race of the season, Alessi held down the front position before coming under attack from Ryan Villopoto who had moved past Reed without issue.
Villopoto looked like his former self as he raged into the lead at the bottom of the downhill triple and put down blistering laps. RV won the individual title at the 2007 Motocross des Nations, beating everyone at Budds Creek on his KX250F. The big hills and bigger jumps are even easier on his Monster Energy Kawasaki 450 machine and it looked like a long day in the making for everyone else.
Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey passed Reed over the uphill triple on Lap 4, despite losing his entire supply of tear-offs on his Oakley goggles. He went past Alessi on the next lap and started chasing RV as best he could.
Tommy Hahn blazed his MotoConcepts Yamaha up to fifth place and was running two-seconds faster than Alessi. He pulled right up on the KTM’s white rear fender but tipped over at the bottom of Henry Hill put him out of touch. He hopped right back on and gave chase but quickly pulled off, holding his stomach. He took a handlebar to the stomach and feared broken ribs.
The Ryans (Villopoto top, Dungey above) went 1-2 in Moto 1 and commanded the pace for much of the day.
At roughly halfway through, Villopoto continued to push to over a 10-second lead in front of Dungey. That all disappeared with about four laps to go when RV stalled his KX450F in a right-hander. Dungey was able to get the Kawi in his sights and it breathed some motivation in to his pace. The Suzuki rider was looking for a pass when a lapped rider cost him some time. He wouldn’t be able to get within striking distance and followed Villopoto across the finish line. The win was Villopoto’s ninth consecutive moto victory at Budds Creek.
Reed cruised to third, checking out lines for Moto 2 and wondering just what it would take to get back in touch with the duo of Ryans. “I just had no rhythm,” he said from the podium. Behind him was factory Honda replacement rider, Kevin Windham, who moved by Alessi on Lap 14. Windham was putting in his final efforts for the Honda squad as Josh Grant returned to action in Maryland. K-Dub will take time off from the series, possibly returning later in the season. Grant was eighth in Moto 1, his first ride after recovering from an ACL replacement.
Heading into Moto 2, things were looking bleak for the #22 of Reed. His Honda wasn’t able to run the lead pace in the first session and his championship lead suffered as a result. There was little reason to worry, however, as Reed proved he’s not backing down from Villopoto’s surging momentum.
Again it was the KTM of Alessi that led early on. He stayed out front for twice as long this time around before Reed moved by on Lap 5 with Dungey in tow. They would hold those positions for the remainder of the race despite Dungey’s best efforts. Reed held steady, refusing to buckle under the pressure and reclaiming the points lost in Moto 1.
“I was bummed after the first moto,” said Reed. “I just didn’t have the pace. The Ryans showed me what’s up. I came out in the second and gave it all I had. I’m pumped. We made some changes to the bike and it paid off. I’m excited to come out and win that second moto. These guys are on their game this season and it hasn’t been easy.”
Alessi battled with his lifetime nemesis, Villopoto, for three laps before giving way. He would give chase for another four laps before Windham took over the fourth position. Brett Metcalfe methodically worked his Rockstar Makita Suzuki up to sixth but was unable to crack the top-five.
Mike Alessi led the first two laps in Moto 1 and the first four laps in Moto 2. It’s only a matter of time before the KTM rider develops staying power.
“I felt good today,” said Villopoto after losing the first moto at Budds Creek in his career. “I just needed to pick some better lines in that second moto. It was a good day overall. There’s still a lot of racing left this season.”
Reed walks away from the nation’s capital with a 15-point lead over RV. Dungey trails the Kawasaki rider by an additional 13 points as the series is now one-third complete.
“It was a good day, I just couldn’t make it happen,” said Dungey. “I felt like I needed to make a move (on Reed), but it never happened. I had to come from behind a couple times. It’s what racing is all about. It’s a man’s sport and it’s challenging. We’ll just keep moving forward.”
2011 AMA Motocross 450 Budds Creek Results:
1. Chad Reed (Honda) 3-1
2. Ryan Villopoto (Kawasaki) 1-3
3. Ryan Dungey (Suzuki) 2-2
4. Kevin Windham (Honda) 4-4
5. Mike Alessi (KTM) 5-5
6. Brett Metcalfe (Suzuki) 6-6
7. Davi Millsaps (Yamaha) 7-9
8. Jake Weimer (Kawasaki) 10-7
9. Andrew Short (KTM) 9-8
10. Josh Grant (Honda) 8-10
2011 AMA Motocross 450 Championship Points:
1. Chad Reed, 183
2. Ryan Villopoto, 168
3. Ryan Dungey, 155
4. Davi Millsaps, 130
5. Brett Metcalfe, 118
6. Kevin Windham, 112
7. Jake Weimer, 93
8. Ricky Dietrich, 92
9. Christian Craig, 76
10. Andrew Short, 75