Chad Reed knew what he needed to do at Red Bud and accomplished it while under pressure from Dungey and Villopoto.
Things are moving along quite nicely in the 2011 AMA Pro Motocross Championship – that is of course if you’re Chad Reed. While last week at Thunder Valley it appeared the Aussie was gradually succumbing to the pressure of his rivals, the TwoTwo Motorsports’ rider put those suspicions to doubt with a calculated win at Red Bud over Fourth of July weekend. In triple-digit heat the activities at Red Bud were escalated by advanced team scouting for 2012, with managers already on the prowl for future prospects. Ultimately, there was a bit of irony in Michigan as the one rider not in need of impressing a team manager stood on the top step of the podium. The same couldn’t be said for Ryan Dungey, however, as the 21-year-old’s contract with Rockstar Makita Suzuki expires at the end of the season. Fortunately, the Rockstar Makita Suzuki rider is nailing solid resluts one after the next and is definitely going to be a hot item during the silly season.
“I felt good today,” said Dungey. “It was just a little unfortunate. I wanted to run in contention with Villopoto, but I wasn’t making it happen. Now we’ve got a week to work on things and get better. We’ll just keep plugging away. At this point, points are valuable. We’re halfway now. I can’t get stuck behind like that. I need to get up and go.”
Anyone who was watching Round 6 was treated to an amazing race during the final laps of Moto 1. So far this season Reed and Dungey have been knocking on each other’s door nearly every week, and Red Bud was no exception. A true edge-of-the-seat moment took place on the final lap when Dungey attempted a pass on Reed through the sand whoops. The lead was down to milliseconds as Reed barely managed to scrape by on the inside of a corner for the win.
“I actually learned a lot today,” Reed said. “I got my butt kicked last week, and we worked on suspension. Each time I went out on the track today, it was different. I learned a lot about my bike, and a lot about myself as a person about the decisions I need to make on race days.”
It wasn’t speed that won motos at Red Bud, it was line choice. Throughout every moto riders faced a barrage of carved-out track sections and tricky ruts, all of which could spell ruin for riders not paying attention. Just ask 250 rider Justin Barcia, who gave up yet another lead this season when he hit the deck after getting cross-rutted on the face of a jump.
Speaking of Barcia, many may have wondered where the Geico Honda rider was in Moto 2. After lining up at the gates for the second moto, the 19-year-old had problems with his bike and was forced to pull out, adding even more upset to his Michigan visit.
Line choice also paid major dividends for riders who were brave enough to experiment while battling their competition. Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett was a prime example of this as he took advantage of cleaner lines to the outside while his rivals became bogged-down on the inside.
“Going 1-1 is a pretty good day I’d say,” Baggett said. “The championship is still really far out. Neither of my teammates has had a bad race yet, but if they do, I want to be there to capitalize. I just want to be there in the end, and if it happens, it happens. No matter what, I’m going to give it my all.”
Red Bud was brimming with storylines in the 450 class, one of the biggest being Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto. The Seattle-native’s crash in the first few turns with MotoConcepts Yamaha’s Tommy Hahn and Joshua Lichtle left him on the ground and in pain. The incident also left RV in dead last and
Ryan Villopoto’s speed at Red Bud was unmatched and likely the fastest we’ve seen from him all year long.
without a helmet visor, all of which didn’t seem to phase him as took off like banshee in an attempt to salvage some points. From 37th up to ninth, RV proved that if it wasn’t for his crash, he could have easily had his way with his competition. But perhaps more amazing than his charge through the field in Moto 1 was RV2’s greased-lightning pace in the afternoon. Riding more aggressively than I’ve seen him all year long, including in Supercross, Villopoto wasn’t taking anything less than total domination.
Geico Honda’s Eli Tomac was left out of Red Bud’s festivities after a hard crash during practice. Tomac suffered a brutal crash on one of Red Bud’s most iconic sections – LaRocco’s Leap. Luckily, Tomac’s x-rays came back negative and he is expected back during the next round at Spring Creek.
Red Bull KTM’s Mike Alessi has been both hot and cold so far this season, but at Red Bud he refused to back down to his competition. In an interview with Reed the Aussie mentioned that, besides obvious rivals like Villopoto
and Dungey, Alessi stood on his radar as a potential threat. The prediction partly came true in Moto 2 as Alessi controlled third place from Reed for the first half of the race. As Alessi blocked Reed’s attempts to get by, RV and Dungey gradually pulled ahead of the field. In the end it proved a perfect example of how riders outside the top-five in the championship come to influence the chase for the crown.
While it appeared Honda’s Josh Grant was out after tearing his ACL at Thunder Valley, he decided to tough it out at Red Bud. The Metal Mulisha rider pocketed a solid top-10 finish in Moto 1, but his day ended in grief after he couldn’t finish the final race of the day. There’s no official word yet if he plans to return at Spring Creek, though he did mention gritting out the rest of the year during a very emotional and obviously distressed on-camera interview following his Moto 2 DNF.