The 2011 AMA Pro Motocross Championship is heading east this week as it hits up the Rockstar Energy High Point National in Mt. Morris, Pennsylvania. A staple in the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross schedule, High Point Raceway is the debut east coast round of the series and is a favorite among many riders. Unique to the area are its many elevation changes, which naturally blend into the track through uphill doubles and triples. While heat threatened to undo riders in the last round, rain may pay a visit in the upcoming contest as there currently stands a sixty-percent chance of showers this weekend.
Only two rounds have transpired so far but already there’s been some hard-hitting plot lines developing. TwoTwo Motorsports’ Chad Reed has been cleaning up house in the series after taking a 21-point lead at Freestone two weeks ago. With back-to-back wins under his belt, the Aussie has been sticking it to his rivals with speed and consistency. The championship is still young, however, and Reed’s biggest threat has emerged in none other than defending MX champ, Ryan Dungey.
If Dungey’s performance two weeks ago under Texas’ hot sun is any indicator of things to come, Reed’s lead in the series won’t be enough to keep the 21-year-old Rockstar Makita Suzuki rider at bay. After finishing
behind Reed in the first moto, Dungey let loose with unmatched speed and ferocity over the Freestone circuit. The stud was amazingly more than 25 seconds ahead of his rivals when his bike simply couldn’t keep up. Dungey proved that he’s more than capable of outpacing Reed, but there’s more to racing than just speed folks. Requiring a delicate balance between performance, equipment and sheer luck, Dungey’s mishap in the last round underscores how anything can happen in a 30-minute moto. It truly boggles the mind how GOAT Ricky Carmichael was ever able to win all 24 motos in a season, MULTIPLE TIMES.
Despite Dungey’s misfortune which would have left any ordinary being cursing the gods, RD5 took it in stride and pointed out the positives.
“We have a lot of racing left, so we have a lot to be thankful for,” Dungey said. “It’s a great track [High Point]; it’s got some hills and elevation and the dirt’s awesome there. It’s a fun track and I was able to get a win there last year, so I’m really looking forward to it.”
The closest competitor to Reed in the standings is 2011 SX champ, Ryan Villopoto. Still struggling to find his outdoor feet, Villopoto has posted consecutive podium finishes but has yet to take a win. Unlike his dominance in Supercross, RV appears somewhat timid in the outdoor scene. You have to keep in mind that the last time he was competitively riding 30-minute motos was in the first few rounds of the 2009 season, so it’s been awhile.
Look for RV to have a breakthrough performance in the next few rounds as he gets comfortable outdoors.
Muscle Milk/Toyota/JGR’s Davi Millsaps had a memorable performance in the last round at Freestone. Taking 4-2 moto scores for second overall, Millsaps is currently third in the series just four points behind Villopoto. The 23-year-old has yet to finish outside the top-10 in a moto, giving him consistency heading into Round 3.
Many riders can attest to the importance of a good start for each moto. With competition being so high and each class as stacked as it is, the only way to earn a podium finish is to not get swallowed in the first turn. Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Brett Metcalfe is one rider who’s been demonstrating excellent drive out of the gates in the first two rounds. The Aussie is routinely in the top-five exiting the first turn, allowing him to focus on what’s in front rather than who’s crashing into him. Metcalfe is currently fifth in overall standings and trails Dungey in the series by five points.
In the 250 class in-house tension is developing between Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki teammates Dean Wilson and Tyla Rattray. In the last round the South African chased down his first win of the season while grabbing the overall, but Wilson put up a fight the whole way. Coupled with teammate Blake Baggett’s mistakes in Round 2, the series was taken over by Wilson as Rattray moved within five points of the Scotsman.
If the weather takes a turn at High Point Tyla Rattray’s mud skills may give him the advantage in the championship.
“Going into High Point I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing, work on my starts, and do whatever it takes to stay on top of the leaderboard,” said Wilson.
This is the first time that Wison has been at the top of the motocross standings, so you can bet he’ll be putting up a strong fight in future rounds.
So far the only bikes to record wins in the 250 class have come from Mitch Payton’s Pro Circuit garage, but Honda has been getting close with riders Justin Barcia and Eli Tomac. Barcia experienced both success and failure in the last round after crashing in the opening lap of the first moto and grabbing runner-up in the second. The only thing which appeared to stand in Bam Bam’s way was Rattray’s dogged determination and fitness. As usual it’s shaping up to be a battle between the two powerhouses of Kawasaki and Honda, but KTM’s developing a secret weapon of their own with Marvin Musquin.