Ryan Dungey made history when he secured KTM its first AMA Motocross title with a 1-1 finish at Unadilla.
The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship heads to Steal City Raceway in Delmont, Pennsylvania for the penultimate round of the 2012 season. Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey will look to score his ninth consecutive overall win as he continues to dominate the 450 field.
Dungey etched his name in the history books by securing the first 450 class title for KTM in AMA motocross with his 1-1 finish at Unadilla, despite giving Team Orange fans a scare in Moto 1 after bobbling early and falling back to seventh. He arrives in Pennsylvania having lost just two motos since Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart crashed out in Round 3, one to MotoConcepts’ Mike Alessi at Washougal and the other to Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Tyla Rattray at Southwick. Stewart’s season is now officially over after he fractured his finger in a crash at Unadilla which later required him to undergo surgery.
Alessi had been one of the most consistent riders on track all season behind Dungey, until Moto 1 at Unadilla when the chaos of roost finally exacted a toll on his machine. Early on, a rock blasted a hole in the radiator of his RMZ-450 and took him out of the contest. He returned in Moto 2 and was back to form, taking second, but his misfortune earlier in the day was a fatal blow to any hopes he had to challenge for the title.
Ryan Dungey (5), Andrew Short (29) and James Stewart (7) coming off the start at Unadilla. Stewart is out for the season and Short will have to post better than Jake Weimer and Broc Tickle in the coming rounds to hold to third in overall points.
L&MC’s Andrew Short has earned points in every moto this season and sits third in overall points. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer is just 18 back in fourth though and if he’s able to regain the pace he showed mid-season, where a string of podium finishes had him in sight of second overall, he could easily overtake the Honda rider before the year is through. Lately though, Weimer has had tough luck, with one of the most disastrous instances coming in Moto 1 at Unadilla when he crashed out of the contest just after gaining the lead. The Kawasaki rider dug his front tire into the mud after coming down hard, flipped over the bike and was slow to recover. He had a difficult time bouncing back in Moto 2 and finished in 18th. Short moved up the points ranking as a result with his solid, 4-3 finish.
JGRMX Yamaha’s Davi Millsaps missed a big chunk of the season but returned at Soutwick and has been a contender in the top ten ever since. His 3-5 result at Unadilla put him fourth overall and, though not a threat in points to Alessi, Short, Weimer, or Monster Pro Circuit Kawaski’s Broc Tickle (who is mathematically tied with Weimer at 293) Millsaps could easily be a contender for a top three finish in the motos to come.
Jeff Ward Racing’s Josh Grant is still chasing his first moto podium of the season, as is Star Valli Yamaha Rockstar’s Nico Izzi. Grant came close in Round 2 at Freestone, taking fourth in Moto 2 and has since been relatively consistent in the top ten, though a few incidents along the way have left him finishing outside points range. Izzi was finally able to get back in the mix at Unadilla after missing the majority of the season due to injury. He too has one fourth-place finish to his credit, Moto 1 at Freestone, and went 6-8 at ‘Dilla.
Rattray lost a big portion of his season as well due to injury and he still seems to be ironing out the feel of the premier class, but moments of excellence, like his moto win at Southwick, make him a possible top-three finisher if he gets a good start and can remain steady on the bike.
Getting to the front first hasn’t always worked in the 250 class, as Blake Baggett, Justin Barcia and Eli Tomac have all staged come-from-behind moto wins this season.
There’s still plenty of drama to come in the 250 class as the title is by no means decided. Currently Monster Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett holds the top spot by 24 over Geico Honda’s Justin Barcia in second and 28 over Eli Tomac who sits in third. Motos in the 250 class have been down to the wire in a number of cases, with impressive come-from-behind wins staged by the likes of Baggett, Barcia and Tomac. Also in the mix are Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen and Marvin Musquin who are coming off their best race weekend all season at Unadilla. Roczen scored his first moto win in the United States and Musquin clinched his first overall with a consistent 2-3 finish.
Geico Honda’s Wil Hahn is sixth in points and will likely finish there unless Rockstar Energy Racing’s Blake Wharton can make up 40 points in the next two rounds. Wharton had a lopsided weekend at Unadilla, taking fourth in Moto 1 and then 33rd in Moto 2, whereas Hahn was able to stay within the top ten, going 9-8. Wharton’s teammate Jason Anderson trails in eighth overall by just nine points, and could easily move up the ranks with a solid performance at Steel City.
Troy Lee Designs rookie Jessy Nelson is ninth overall and has earned a number of holeshots this year, but has been unable to maintain his opening pace through to the end. Two other fresh faces, Geico Honda’s Zach Bell and Honda of Houston’s Vann Martin, both coming up from the amateur ranks after the 2012 Loretta Lynn’s tournament, will be riders to watch in the final two rounds of the season. Martin kept within the top 20 at Unadilla in Moto 2 earning his best result so far, and Bell took eighth in Moto 1 at the same event. He is pushing hard to contend with the class veterans out front, even if it means crashing out, which he’s done twice in four motos.
The Women’s class won’t be hitting the track at Steel City but will shore up their season in the final round at Lake Elsinore in Southern California.