Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey rebounded big from his seventh-place finish in Seattle by taking the win at Salt Lake City from JGR Yamaha’s Davi Millsaps. DM took the holeshot and led the pack for 18 laps, but upon reaching backmarkers with two laps remaining, Dungey was able to speed past and steal the victory. Let’s take a look at how he got there.
The KTM rider began the day with a mix of highs and lows. During the afternoon qualifiers he scored the fastest lap time, but then had to skip out on part of a practice session after a collision with another rider damaged his bike. The KTM Team was able to make the repairs needed for the main event where Dungey eventually took home the win.
“It is an even greater accomplishment to take this win after recovering from my collar bone injury,” he said, “it solidifies that we made the right choice to come back to racing and finish out the Supercross series before heading to outdoors.”
Millsaps also started out the day well, posting the third fastest combined qualifying time. Coming into contact with lapped riders toward the end slowed his momentum enough to open the door to Dungey.
“I know it was close and honestly it was down to traffic,” said Millsaps. “But the good news is that, even though the championship hasn’t really ever been possible for me, I’m one round away from clinching second, which would be the best me or my team has ever done.”
Jake Weimer of Monster Energy Kawasaki posted some of the fastest times of the day in practice and secured a good gate pick for the main event. He was up to second place after Lap 1 but settled back to third to take his second consecutive podium finish.
“I put myself in the right position off the start,” said Weimer, “but I started worrying about the guys behind me and wasn’t focused on moving forward. I wanted to win tonight and felt like I had the speed, but I’m happy with third.”
Team Muscle Milk Honda’s Justin Brayton fell just short of the podium but remains in contention for second place overall just seven points behind Millsaps. After the race Bratyon commented that “in the main I got a bad start, which made it really tough to get to the front where I needed to be to battle with the leaders. With one more round I am hoping to make it all count and take the win in Vegas.”
Honda’s Andrew Short, winner of the Seattle round, rode with new L&Mc team sponsor Chaparral Motorsports in Salt Lake City. Chaparral has been a longtime contributor to Supercross in the past. It was the title sponsor of Jeremy McGrath during the height of his career with Yamaha, a team that was overseen by his now co-owner, Larry Brooks.
Monster Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Broc Tickle took his best finish of the season at Salt Lake City in sixth. During the afternoon he posted the fourth fastest combined qualifying time and seems to be gaining confidence as the season comes to a close. It’s been a tough learning curve for Tickle in the 450 class this year – the first for Mitch Payton to support a premier-class rider.
“All day I felt I rode really well,” Tickle said. “I need to get the start though. I think if I start at the front with those guys, I’ll be able to get close to the podium.”
The final stage of the Western Regional Supercross Lites Championship proved to be an exciting an unexpected finish to the title chase. Geico Honda’s Eli Tomac took the lead from Rockstar Energy Suzuki’s Jason Anderson after 10 laps, and rode to uncontested points victory after Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Dean Wilson went down late in the race. That makes for both Lites titles under the Geico Honda banner. When was the last time Monster Pro Circuit Kawasaki didn’t win a title?!
“It was huge to close out the night with a race win and a championship,” commented Tomac. “I did my best not to do anything stupid.
That was the best way to do it.”
Wilson had suffered a crash last week that injured his right shoulder and he did not ride leading up to Salt Lake City to concentrate on rehab and therapy. Coming into practice he posted the second fastest lap and then won his heat race, putting the pain aside and focusing on his championship hopes. With three laps remaining in the main event he swapped coming out of the whoops and piled into the face of a jump, immediately falling from third position and watching his championship slip away.
“My day started off well, but didn’t finish the way I wanted,” said Wilson. “I didn’t get the greatest jump in the main event, but was able to push up to second. I tightened up and started making mistakes, which ended with a crash.”
Second place finisher Jason Anderson started the night off with an unexpected collision during the parade lap with Star/Valli Yamaha’s Ryan Sipes. Anderson came up behind Sipes going into the first turn the two collided, bringing both riders to the ground and earning some unwanted attention from the commentators and fans. The embarrassment didn’t last long for the Rockstar Suzuki rider who raced to his best finish of the year in second. Anderson scored the holeshot and led the opening 10 laps before Tomac stole the lead while Sipes came across the finish line in 16th. A second place finish for Anderson and third place finish for teammate Martin Davalos made this the first double podium in SX Lites for Rockstar Energy Suzuki in 2012. It was also Davalos’ best finish of the season.