Chad Reed is licking his chops at the thought of extending his lead at Budds Creek. He will have to contend with Ryan Villopoto who is finally coming on strong.
One rider who finally looks ready is Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto. RV sure as hell knows his way around Budds Creek, too. He decimated the entire motocross world there on a 250 during the 2007 Motocross des Nations. He’s on the big bikes now and finally seems to be in the outdoor mode after a rough start to the season. His Supercross championship is fully behind him now and the KX450F is getting dialed in along with his mindset and physical fitness. The Washington native proved that last weekend by smoking the 450 competition in Moto 1 and then chasing Chad Reed for second in Moto 2. It was his first moto and overall victory of the season and if there’s one man who can start to steamroll the series it’s Villopoto.
“It was definitely good to get the monkey off my back and get the win,” said Villopoto. “Now I want to keep that going and hopefully put some more wins together. I’ve always liked Budds Creek, and I’m really looking forward to going there for the first time on a 450cc bike.”
RV’s teammate, Jake Weimer, had a decent showing at High Point as well. He scrapped with Reed in the first moto before making a slight bobble. He’s steadily improving and should be cracking the top-five any time now.
Reed controls the championship lead with 138 points. The Aussie has some piss and vinegar mixed with that Honda’s roost and it stings the competition. He’s won at least one moto in each round so far and 4-of-6 to date. A fifth-place at High Point is his low point after getting rocked, literally.
Ryan Dungey is second in the title chase and he won Budds Creek last year on his Rockstar Makita Suzuki. He definitely looks better than he did in the Supercross season and it looks like only a matter of time before the series’ nice guy picks up an overall win. Suzuki has won five of the last six races at Budds Creek, so the RM-Z450 is definitely geared for this track.
It’s good to have Mike Alessi back. He’s obviously chomping at the bit to prove his speed, evident by the gate he ripped out in Moto 1 at Mt. Morris. Alessi was the fastest qualifier at Hangtown before crashing his brains out. A 4-4-4 last weekend after sitting out to give his concussed noggin a rest is pretty solid. Watch for him to improve on that even further. He’s the holeshot master and a good jump could see him finally grab a moto victory. The KTM 450 SX-F has proven to be a much better fit than the 350.
Monster Pro Circuit Kawasaki has control of the points chase in the 250 class but it’s turning into a tough intra-squad battle with three of Mitch Payton’s riders vying for the lead. Tyla Rattray has the top position for the first time in his career.
“I’m not thinking too much about the points right now since so much can change in nine races, but I do want to stay consistent,” said Rattray. “Consistency has been a big part of championships, and I know that if I’m up on the podium, it will help me stay on track for the goal of going after the title.”
Tyla Rattray (top) is now leading the 250 championship which means Dean Wilson (above) had to give up the red numberplate.
The South African is known for his grit and staying power late in the race, but if there’s one rider who is beating him at his own game it’s Blake Baggett. The young KX250F rider can run down anyone in the final laps like they’re riding Super Minis. Not only is he capable of charging late, but he revels in it.
“I waited until halfway and put on a late charge,” he said about the first High Point moto. “In the second moto, it was muddy, and I had a brain fade and just went down. After that, I just went for it.”
Baggett went 1-1 for the overall last weekend at High Point and he’s the favorite coming into Budds. However, Dean Wilson is the third wheel in this green party and is currently second in the championship points. Wilson has also shown run-away speed but inconsistent finishes have held him back. The rock-solid Rattray has been using his steady approach to hold a two-point advantage. Baggett is nine points behind Wilson.
Where is the Honda crew this year? Eli Tomac has been the biggest threat for the Geico Powersports Honda team, but he’s losing touch with the top three, nearly a full moto’s worth down on Rattray. Justin Barcia is further back in sixth overall. Both riders have the talent to win races but they have yet to show it this season.
Unfortunately there will not be a Motorcycle-Superstore.com WMX race at this round. The ladies will resume next week at Thunder Valley.