Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey will defend a commanding points lead at Budds Creek this weekend. Round 5 of the AMA Motocross series sees the 2010 Motocross champion with a commanding points lead, as Dungey rider looks to fend off the advances of Yoshimura Suzuki rival James Stewart. Dungey came out of the gates in both motos at the preceding High Point round with ground to cover. Once Dungey had passed holeshot specialist Mike Alessi for the lead he could not be caught, coming in 19 seconds ahead in Moto 1 and over 20 in Moto 2. With 16 career premier-class victories, Dungey is now tied with Jeff Emig for sixth on the all-time wins list. Over 40 points ahead in points after just four rounds, the KTM wunderkind is well on his way to 450 MX title number two.
That is unless Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart can heal fast enough to regain his competitive edge. Stewart opened the season with four moto wins in a row and consistently outpaced Dungey, though the gap was small between the two. Stewart tested the waters at High Point, competing in Moto 1 just a week after falling at Thunder Valley and injuring his wrist. While JS7 battled back after an abysmal start set him outside the top 20, he failed to move past fifth by the checkers and appeared off his game. After the moto, Stewart confirmed that his injury made it difficult to hang onto the bars of his Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450. He did not return to compete in Moto 2 and it remains to be seen whether he will line up at Budds Creek.
Mike Alessi is second overall heading into Budds Creek and hopes to finally turn a holeshot into a win.
In Stewart’s absence, other riders have been racking up the points. Alessi, now second overall went 2-2 at High Point and 4-9 at Thunder Valley. The privateer has been a holeshot master, getting out front early and holding to take podiums in four of the eight motos so far this season. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer fell behind with a poor performance at Hangtown, but since has been on the overall podium twice. Alessi went 5-5 at Budds Creek in 2011 and Weimer went 10-7. Both have improved as the season’s matured and will no doubt be looking to keep Dungey from running too far ahead of the pack.
Team Chaparral Honda’s Andrew Short has been in the top five more often than not this season, but has earned just one podium with his second-place finish in Moto 2 at Thunder Valley. JGRMX Yamaha’s Davi Millsaps will also be one to watch at Budds Creek. Millsaps missed two rounds due to injury, coming back to the fray at High Point where he went 9-4. The Yamaha rider took second in Moto 1 at Hangtown and appeared to be transferring some of his Supercross momentum outdoors. The hope was short lived though as he went on to score 14th in Moto 2.
In the 250 class, Monster Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett continues to hold the overall points lead, but is slowly losing ground to Geico Honda riders Justin Barcia and Eli Tomac. Baggett has been the come-back kid in nearly every moto of the season; plagued by terrible starts he has given fans a number of heroic charges through the field to make this a memorable season whether he wins or not. Barcia has been consistently up front, taking podiums in all rounds beside Freestone. Tomac took a page out of Baggett’s book and has logged some fantastic runs, earning three first-place finishes, two of which came as a result of late race passes for the lead.
Ken Roczen (70) and Blake Baggett (12) will have to hold Honda riders Barcia and Tomac back at Budds Creek.
Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen is resolute in fourth overall, just 17 points off the lead. It looked like the German would earn his first moto win of the season at High Point but, after holding the lead for most of the race, he fell in the final lap and gave Tomac the opening he needed to get out front. Roczen’s teammate Marvin Musquin is fifth in overall points, but lags considerably, 41 behind Roczen and 58 off the lead.
Last year’s Budds Creek winner Tyla Rattray moved up to 450’s and is currently out with injury. Monster Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Dean Wilson took second overall in 2011, but he too is out due to injury.