Ryan Dungey is on pace to bring KTM its first AMA Motocross Championship title in the United States.
Round 7 of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, the Bob’s Cycle Supply Spring Creek National in Millville, Minnesota, marks the second half of the 2012 season. Spring Creek has been host to numerous legendary motos throughout the years; Ricky Carmichael lapping the entire field in Moto 2 in 2006 after heavy rain left the track a veritable mud pit, as well as Bob Hannah and Jeff Emig taking their final career wins in 1985 and 1998 respectively. This year, Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey comes into his home round with a 72-point lead in the championship, four consecutive overall wins and a pace which may make him the first rider ever to bring KTM a 450 motocross championship title in the U.S.
At RedBud, Dungey annihilated the competition, coming in over 45 seconds ahead of the closest competition in Moto 1 and over 34 seconds ahead in Moto 2. The Minnesota native has been undefeated in overall results at Spring Creek since 2008, then a competitor in the 250 class. In the opening two rounds of this season, it appeared that Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart would be sitting in Dungey’s current position after earning back-to-back overall wins, but the crash JS7 suffered at Thundery Valley cut his championship pace short.
Stewart attempted to return in the subsequent round at High Point, but dropped out after the first moto due to the injury he’d sustained. After missing Budds Creek and getting an extra two weeks rest, Stewart returned to compete at RedBud and ended third overall after going 6-3 on the day. He lags behind Dungey in points by over 100 and sits sixth overall. If he’s able to recover the form he showed early in the season, he could contend with the KTM rider out front and even notch a few more wins.
MotoConcepts Suzuki’s Mike Alessi has been impressively consistent (minus the early pile-up he encountered in Moto 1 at RedBud which set him way behind in the field), getting out front early and holding pace to take overall podium finishes in all but two rounds so far. Alessi enjoys a 12-point advantage over third place rider Jake Weimer of Monster Energy Kawasaki and will be pushing hard to disrupt Dungey’s streak of moto wins.
Weimer, now in his sophomore 450 season, had a fantastic showing in Moto 1 at RedBud, taking second at the checkers but went down twice in Moto 2 and fell to the back of the pack. He was only able to recover for 20th by the finish. Weimer’s teammate, Tyla Rattray, returned to the field after missing nearly half the season after fracturing his hand at Hangtown. Filling in for defending champion Ryan Villopoto, Rattray had yet to show his chops in the 450 class but came out at RedBud and went 4-5 on the day, putting him fourth overall. The premier class rookie took second overall in the 250 class in 2011 behind Monster Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Dean Wilson and is looking to earn his first podium of the current season at Spring Creek.
Another rider gaining steam is Muscle Milk Honda’s Justin Brayton. Early in the season Brayton finished outside the top-10 in a number of motos, but has steadily improved. At RedBud, Brayton earned his first podium of 2012, going 3-4 and taking second overall.
Blake Baggett has been a come-from-behind master this season and will look to extend his points lead at Spring Creek
In 250 action, Monster Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett has been riding like a man possessed. He’s effectively made this a season of come-from-behind spectacles where, after getting starts that often leave him dwindling just inside the top-10, he finds an heroic pace that vaults him back for the win. In Moto 1 at RedBud, Baggett came from seventh place to second before half the moto had elapsed, but then had trouble getting past the 2012 Supercross champion Justin Barcia of Geico Honda. With just one minute remaining before the final two laps, Baggett finally got past and then opened the throttle, gapping Barcia by more than 10 seconds in the last laps. Baggett went 3-3 at Spring Creek in 2011, but the two riders ahead of him at the time, Wilson and Rattray, will not contend against BB this year.
Barcia has shown he’s no slouch though and only trails in points by 19 behind Baggett. Geico Honda teammate Eli Tomac, third overall, will also be contending for podium position. Both CRF250R riders have taken overall wins in the class this season, Barcia at Thunder Valley and Tomac at High Point and Freestone.
Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen is another consummate frontrunner, and though he’s finished on the podium a number of times, is still chasing his first moto win in the U.S. Teammate Marvin Musquin is pursuing his similarly elusive first-podium finish, going into the round at Spring Creek with five straight fourth-place finishes to his credit. The French rider has gained speed as the season’s progressed and will likely be contending out front once again come Saturday.
Women’s motocross breaks for Round 7 and will return to battle it out in Washington State at Washougal in Round 8.