KTM secured its first AMA Motocross title when Ryan Dungey beat out the competition with two rounds remaining.
Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey took the Red Bull Unadilla National Moto 1 win in one of the most dramatic contests so far this season. Monster Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Broc Tickle trailed just under one second behind and JGRMX Yamaha’s Davi Millsaps rounded out the podium. The extremely difficult track, deep with ruts and still muddy in places from rains earlier in the week, got the best of a number of top-tier riders before the finish.
Coming off the start, BTO Sports’ Michael Byrne and Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart broke away from the pack and battled for the lead, with Stewart getting to the front into the second lap. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer held strong in third, but noticeably absent from the front was current points leader Dungey, who had been pushed back to seventh and his closest rival, Mike Alessi of MotoConcepts Suzuki, who was in ninth. Dungey had bobbled a bit, coming off the bike in the opening minutes, but was able to quickly remount and remain within the top ten.
Stewart was in prime form, putting a gap on Byrne and the rest of the field until he caught his front end coming into a turn and went over his bike, off track. JS7 got up quickly but struggled to get his RMZ-450 started again and had to watch almost the entire field pass by before rejoining the competition.
All the while, Byrne and Weimer had been in a fierce battle for second, with Weimer gaining the upper hand and taking the lead once Stewart went down. Minutes after taking the lead though, Weimer came hard down a hill and dug his front tire into the soft, muddy track, flipping over the front end and landing with the bike right on top of him. He was slow to get up and officials had to rush out to help. Weimer was able to stand, but the front end had dug into the ground so much that it took a significant effort to get off the track.
Byrne then took over the lead and was steady out front for a number of laps, building a gap over 12 seconds into the second half of the moto. The privateer also fell victim to a hard fall though, coming off track and injuring his leg.
Behind all the drama out front, Dungey had been threading through the pack and was up to third, battling with Tickle for position. Tickle assumed the lead when Byrne went down and held until the final two laps when Dungey finally made the move for the lead. Tickle held strong though and finished almost on Dungey’s rear tire.
Alessi suffered his own stroke of bad luck, falling completely out of competition after a rock put a hole in his radiator, almost certainly taking him out of the running for the championship title.
Stewart showed some grit after his misfortune, battling back into the top 20, going down once again, remounting and finally getting to ninth before the finish.
Dungey took the Moto 2 win and secured the 2012 championship title by just over one second ahead of Alessi. The win marks Dungey’s second career motocross title, but it the first for the KTM squad in American Motocross. Short trailed by over 34 seconds behind Alessi to round out the podium.
“It was a pretty amazing day,” said Dungey. “To be honest, I knew we could wrap (the championship) up today, but my focus was putting on a solid performance and moving forward. Mike (Alessi) has been riding well, but unfortunately there was a DNF. In the second moto, I just wanted to put in a solid ride and wrap up this championship. It’s amazing to see everything that’s gone in to making this moment happen. It’s pretty special.”
Moto 2 was much less treacherous for riders, despite the fact that the track had dried out and the ruts were even more gnarly and difficult to manage. Dungey, Alessi and Stewart blasted to the front early on and were running in close quarters though the opening laps. Stewart was holding steady in third, looking to put the pressure on Alessi for second, but then went down and pulled out of the moto. Alessi kept within sight of Dungey, closing in during the final minutes but was unable to find an opportunity to pass.
Tickle pushed up to fourth by the checkers, followed by Millsaps in fifth and Jeff Ward Racing’s Josh Grant in sixth. Grant’s teammate Kyle Chisholm took seventh and Star Valli Yamaha’s Nico Izzi, back for the first time since RedBud, finished in eighth. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Tyla Rattray held to ninth despite pressure from Muscle Milk Honda’s Justin Brayton, who rounded out the top ten.
With the 2012 all wrapped up, the remaining rounds will be a battle for second between Alessi, who holds steady in position with 367 and Short who trails in third with 311. Weimer slipped to fourth overall and Tickle remained steady in fifth, though both are mathematically tied at 293.
Unadilla 450 Motocross Results:
1. Ryan Dungey (KTM) 1-1
2. Broc Tickle (Kawasaki) 2-4
3. Andrew Short (Honda) 4-3
4. Davi Millsaps (Yamaha) 3-5
5. Josh Grant (Kawasaki) 5-6
6. Nico Izzi (Yamaha) 6-8
7. Tyla Rattray (Kawasaki) 8-9
8. Phil Nicoletti (Honda) 7-11
9. Kyle Chisholm (Kawasaki) 12-7
10. Mike Alessi (Suzuki) 39-2
11. Robert Kiniry (Yamaha) 10-12
12. Justin Brayton (Honda) 15-10
13. Vince Friese (Suzuki) 11-16
14. Austin Howell (Suzuki) 14-14
15. James Stewart (Suzuki) 9-35
450 Motocross Championship Points:
1. Ryan Dungey, 480
2. Mike Alessi, 367
3. Andrew Short, 311
4. Jake Weimer, 293
5. Broc Tickle, 293
6. Josh Grant, 226
7. Justin Brayton, 202
8. Kyle Chisholm, 182
9. James Stewart, 163
10. Davi Millsaps, 150