Tony Cairoli put all doubts to rest in the Europe vs. America, 350 vs. 450 debates. The Italian was phenomenal as he stretched his points lead in the MX1 championship standings.
The speculation flew all week as to whether MX1 superstar Tony Cairoli would be able to produce wins in America aboard his new KTM 350. The Italian looked fast, but not necessarily trophy material, in qualifying, but the red plate holder put his game face on for Moto 1 and pushed his American counterpart, Mike Alessi, more than expected. Alessi was right on the Italian’s rear wheel, but Cairoli held on for the win by a margin of just over one second.
Cairoli led the first 12 laps before Alessi was able to get around for a couple circuits. The #222 bike went back around on Lap 14 and led to the finish. Cairoli’s Red Bull KTM teammate, Max Nagl, pushed his way forward into third place on his 450 machine with Ken de Dycker (who finished ninth last weekend at Hangtown) fourth and Clement Desalle fifth.
Josh Coppins was forced to pull out of Moto 1 with mechanical problems after crashing on the opening lap and charging back into the fray. Townley, who was running third off the start, found himself in the same boat as he crashed hard on Lap 5 at the bottom of a big hill, though there is some debate as to whether or not Alessi had anything to do with it. He too was forced to retire.
Apparently Red Bull gives you a little more energy in those long motos than Jagermeister. Alessi fough valiantly, but came up with second overall.
Nagl holeshot to start Moto 2. With temperatures in the low 90s, Alessi and Townley both strapped on hydration systems before the start, knowing full well what the heat and wind can take out of a rider. Something clicked for the Lucas Oil TLD Honda rider and the Kiwi announced to the world that he’s back in form with a dominant performance from the minute the gate dropped. Townley ran off to a massive lead of 16 seconds before backing down in the final moments and savoring the win.
It’s too bad, really, because the CRF rider missed one hell of a race behind him as Alessi, Cairoli and Desalle waged war over the runner-up position. It was the American who had the advantage early on, leading the trio for the first four Laps. Desalle made a move and was able to hold the position to the checkers, but not by any easy means. Once Alessi slipped to third, his battle for the overall got serious. With Townley untouchable out front, the California resident needed one other rider between himself and the other 350 in order to take the win for the day. Cairoli made the pass and Alessi looked to be finished, but he rallied back, passing Cairoli and eventually Desalle for a brief moment before slipping again. Once Cairoli got around him on Lap 12 he never relinquished it, posting 1-3 moto scores.
"It was nice to win here because it's been a long time since there was a USGP," said Cairoli. "I like to fight with Mike Alessi, one of the best riders over here in the USA. We can improve a lot more, also with the bike, we are working really well and we're very happy. Today everything went perfect, also in the long straight here at Glen Helen where I got the holeshot in the first moto and was in the top six in the second."
Alessi still scored second overall, a disappointment for American fans, perhaps, but the ridiculous racing that took place can’t leave any spectators unhappy. Imagine how KTM must feel? The Austrian company, which suffers in the American motocross market, has hit a grand slam with the new 350 machine. The orange factory could not have hoped for a better result with its top European and American riders claiming the top two positions.
"It was a great weekend. I had a lot of fun racing with Tony Cairoli and the rest of the top GP riders," Alessi said. "My KTM was working very well this weekend. It was very good in the corners and on the hills and I got a second place start in the first moto and a third place start in the second. I learned a lot and I had fun."
The Belgian, Desalle, was third with a 5-2 tally, easily finding the final podium step. Xavier Boog and Steve Ramon rounded the top-five overall positions for Kawasaki and Suzuki, respectively. Townley wound up eighth OA, right in front of Kyle Chisholm. The American Motoconcepts Yamaha rider was a solid 10-12 on the day. Nagl, after grabbing the start and running inside the top-five for most of the race, DNF’d on Lap 12.
Ben Townley (above) shocked everyone in Moto
2. He was untouchable. Clement Desalle (below)
held second in the final race to land on the
Ryan Hughes used his ridiculous physical fitness to offset his retirement speed and landed in 17th to start things off. A crash and subsequent 30th in Moto 2 left Ryno in 23rd overall. Considering he normally battles these days with guys who raced in the Veterans’ World Cup, that’s not too shabby.
USGP MX1 Overall Results:
1. Tony Cairoli, ITA, KTM (1-3)
2. Mike Alessi, USA, KTM (2-4)
3. Clement Desalle, BEL, Suzuki (5-2)
4. Xavier Boog, FRA, Kawasaki (6-5)
5. Steve Ramon, BEL, Suzuki (7-6)
6. Ken de Dycker, BEL, Yamaha (4-10)
7. Davide Guarneri, ITA, Honda (8-7)
8. Ben Townley, NZL, Honda (33-1)
9. Kyle Chisholm, USA, Yamaha (10-12)
10. Max Nagl, GER, KTM (3-34)
11. Kevin Strijbos, BEL, Suzuki (13-13)
12. Rui Goncalves, POR, KTM (16-11)
13. Anthony Boissiere, FRA, TM (34-8)
14. Nicolas Aubin, FRA, Kawasaki (15-14)
15. David Philippaerts, ITA, Yamaha (11-18)
MX1 Overall Point Standings:
1. Tony Cairoli, ITA, 259
2. Max Nagl. GER, 218
3. Clement Desalle, BEL, 196
4. David Philippaerts, ITA, 184
5. Ken de Dycker, BEL, 174
6. Steve Ramon, BEL, 173
7. Xavier Boog, FRA, 167
8. Tanel Leok, EST, 135
9. Evgeny Bobryshev, RUS, 115
10. Davide Guarneri, ITA, 111