Ryan Dungey (shown) nearly captured the opening moto victory from home-crowd favorite, Ryan Villopoto.
Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross came to Washougal MX Park for Round 8 of the championship and everyone was wondering just how it was going to shake down after the crazy events of last weekend. Chad Reed held onto his points lead by a thread after separating from his TwoTwo Motorsports Honda in dramatic fashion at Millville. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto and Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey could sense that their nemesis was shaken and were eager to claim the top spot. FUEL TV caught all the action and aired it live. Noticeably absent was Kevin Windham who has once again decided to pull out of the series as a replacement rider for factory Honda.
Moto 1 started with RV blasting to the holeshot. Dungey tried to put the front wheel of his RM-Z450 past the green bike but Villopoto wasn’t about to let a non-native steal the show at his home track. Villopoto ripped off the fastest lap time of the session by breaking into the 2:05s. Dungey clocked a 2:06.2 but Reed could only muster a 2:12.9, obviously feeling the effects of his big get-off last weekend. Reed rounded the first lap in 14th after a bad start and was also slowed up by a crashed rider in front of him. He would eventually work his way into seventh.
Dungey slipped off the rear wheel in the first half of the race but was closing quickly on Villopoto in the final stages. With a few laps to go, the Suzuki rider blazed around the outside of a right hander but RV was savvy enough to cut him off. The block move forced Dungey wide into the next left hander and he gave the RM-Z a big dose of throttle that spun the rear end and left him momentarily on the ground, eliminating the battle and relegating him to the runner-up position.
“Once I got behind him I was trying different lines and it was tough to get by,” admitted Dungey. “I thought I had the pass squeaked but he ended up shutting me off. I went around the outside of the turn and I lost my rear.”
“The track is always a little bit tough here, a little bit slippery, so when you do catch up to the lappers it makes it hard to get around them,” said Villopoto of the late battle and win in front of his fans.
In just his second race back from a broken femur, Honda’s Trey Canard slotted into the third position and kept a podium pace throughout the 30+2. Justin Brayton ran fourth early on followed by Brett Metcalfe with Andrew Short in fifth. None could make enough time on the CRF pilot and Canard pulled off an impressive third place. However, he finished 46 seconds behind the leaders which shows just how familiar and fast Villopoto is with the Washington track.
Moto 2 ripped off the gate with live coverage on SPEED channel as Villopoto holeshot again with Dungey in tow. Mike Alessi jumped through for second right away and proceeded to hold off the reigning champion until catastrophe struck.
Trey Canard (top) was strong in the opening moto but had a major crash in Moto 2 which caused a restart. Chad Reed (above) was obviously not his normal self following his big crash in Millville.
Canard wasn’t satisfied with his podium place in the first moto and was pushing hard to improve on that third-place finish. His aggression caught up to him as he crested the first plateau heading up Horsepower Hill. Scrubbing his factory Honda over the lip, his CRF450R’s front wheel tapped the Washington soil and changed his trajectory. He smacked his chest into the handlebars violently and was then spit onto the left-hand side of the track. His crash forced a red flag as he was strapped onto a backer board and loaded into the Asterisk Medical Mule. He reported pain in his recently healed left femur.
With 3:39 removed from the race clock, the 450 class lined up again for the third time. It was a charm for Dungey who finally nailed the holeshot. RV was right behind with Justin Brayton and Reed in third and fourth. This was trouble for the overall with Dungey holding the tiebreaker and Villopoto went crazy in the opening lap to get back into the lead. He couldn’t make it happen and with 15 minutes left Dungey held a two-second lead. For all of his success, Villopoto had never won at Washougal, and today wasn’t the day to break his unlucky streak as the Suzuki rider stretched his advantage to more than 10 seconds en route to lapping over half the field.
Dungey would go on to claim the overall with 2-1 moto scores ahead of RV’s 1-2. This was Dungey’s fourth consecutive victory at Washougal but it’s the Kawasaki rider who leaves with the coveted red plate. Regardless, Dungey is obviously feeling the momentum because despite trailing Villopoto by a single point in the championship, he stated after the race that it was RV and Reed who would be on his heels for the rest of the season.
“It means a lot,” he said of the victory. “We need to keep winning these races. That’s the goal each and every weekend out. After that restart I got out to a good start and put the laps down. Had a couple mishaps but was able to come out with the overall which was cool.”
Reed, Brayton and Alessi finished bang-bang-bang in fourth through sixth respectively. The Australian Honda rider was as high as third before slipping one position behind his fellow countryman, Brett Metcalfe. The Rockstar Makita Suzuki rider held on for the final podium spot and his 4-3 results netted the final overall rostrum.
“Every year I come here and get better and better,” said Metcalfe. “I just had fun today. I tried to take a little pressure off of my shoulders and just go out there and enjoy it. I love being here and had a great time.”
Ryan Villopoto was denied a victory at Washougal, but he didn’t lose any ground on Dungey and took over the title chase.
Meanwhile, Reed seemed pretty happy simply to have survived without incident. Despite losing the title lead, the rider/team owner knows there’s more racing to come and is using a pause in the series schedule to get fully recovered and back in the groove. Today he clearly did not have the ability or willingness to ride on that ragged edge needed to win, something he has been a master at all season. Instead he scored 32 points and kept himself in the points chase.
“I need it,” said Reed of the upcoming two-week break. “Last week took it out of me. I didn’t have a lot to give today. To get a bad start in the first one and come back to seventh, I’ll take that. I really wanted to try to get a podium there in the second one but I just couldn’t hold off Metty. He was riding well today so we’ll regroup and try to come back and bridge that gap. It sucks to lose the red plate but for what it could have been after a crash like that I think we’re sitting not too bad.”
Instead of battling from the runner-up position, Alessi was forced to start from outside the top-10 after the restart – not what the Red Bull KTM rider was hoping for. He would work his way from 12th all the way to sixth before the checkers waved on the abbreviated session. There was an awesome battle between KTM 350-mounted Andrew Short and Monster Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer over eighth and ninth. The scuffle lasted right until the end when Shorty dropped two positions in the penultimate lap.
2011 AMA Motocross Washougal 450 Results:
1. Ryan Dungey (Suzuki) 2-1
2. Ryan Villopoto (Kawasaki) 1-2
MIke Alessi was forced to give up a good position in Moto 2 with the restart. He finished sixth overall.
3. Brett Metcalfe (Suzuki) 4-3
4. Chad Reed (Honda) 7-4
5. Justin Brayton (Yamaha) 6-5
6. Mike Alessi (KTM) 9-6
7. Tommy Hahn (Yamaha) 8-7
8. Andrew Short (KTM) 5-10
9. Jimmy Albertson (Yamaha) 11-9
10. Michael Byrne (Suzuki) 10-12
2011 AMA Motocross 450 Championship Points:
1. Ryan Villopoto, 341
2. Ryan Dungey, 340
3. Chad Reed, 332
4. Brett Metcalfe, 247
5. Kevin Windham, 193
6. Andrew Short, 183
7. Mike Alessi, 178
8. Davi Millsaps, 173
9. Jake Weimer, 159
10. Tommy Hahn, 140
For directions to Washougal Motocross Park or simply to rate this MX track then check out our Ride Guide entry.