Over 20,000 fans mobbed the grounds of historic Muddy Creek Raceway for Round 3 of the 2013 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship and the first annual Built Ford Tough Tennessee National. The region hadn’t seen this caliber of motocross action since Gatorback in 1997 and the paddock didn’t disappoint. The track was what you’d expect from the region, deep, rutted, and hard-packed clay base.
In Moto 1, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto rocketed out to grab the holeshot over Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Justin Barcia and grab a point toward the Motorcycle-Superstore.com
Holeshot Championship. Not long after he almost slid out, Barcia was all over him and momentarily snatched the lead with both riders hitting “The Bomber” triple at the same time, sending the crowd into a frenzy. Mike Alessi got a strong start as well to nab the third position early on with Trey Canard hot on his heels and Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart in the mix as well. Defending Motocross champion, Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey, was back in the pack in 11th after a poor start.
Villopoto was riding on rails, but Barcia and the Honda 450 was keeping him honest. Meanwhile, ‘Bubba’ Stewart had Alessi in his sights and was trying to pass on the outside lines. Stewart kept the pressure on to finally make the pass after hounding him for a lap with Dungey making his move up the ranks, climbing quickly up to sixth.
After a great start, Canard soon went down, taking out Robbie Marshall in the meantime. Bam Bam was riding hard and putting up one of the strongest runs yet this year to stay on pace with Villopoto. Behind them, Dungey and Stewart were battling for the third spot, swapping positions back and forth until Dungey worked an inside rut to move into third.
After putting up a couple of 1:58 laps, RV pushed his lead to almost four seconds over Barcia as he sliced and diced through lap traffic. A little past the half-way point, the running order was Villopoto, Barcia, Dungey, J. Stewart, Mike Alessi, Clement Desalle, and Tyla Rattray.
In the second half of the race, Dungey stretched out his lead over Stewart while Alessi started to track Stewart down, too. Rattray was running a great moto sitting in 8th while battling with Brayton and Sipes.
Alessi eventually ran off the track while attempting to fend off a hard-charging Desalle, who moved up to fifth. Desalle now had his sights set on Stewart.
In the end though, it was all Villopoto, who ran a fantastic race to grab the checkers by nine seconds over Bam Bam Barcia, who finished a strong second. Dungey crossed the line in third while Stewart was able to hold off the challenge of Desalle to finish just off the podium in fourth.
“My Monster Energy Kawasaki got me off to a great start so I can’t thank them enough but I know we’ve got another moto,” Villopoto said post-race after running his perfect streak to five wins in five motos.
In Moto 2, it was Barcia on the Honda who took the inside line to beat Villopoto for the Motorcycle-Superstore.com Holeshot. A big pileup took out a yard sale of riders on the inside of the first turn, including Phil Nicoletti, Desalle and Rattray.
Villopoto immediately tried to track down Barcia but then made his first big mistake of the season, sliding out as Stewart, Dungey and a slew of riders blew past. By the time RV was up, he was back in 16th place.
Barcia continued to ride hard in the lead as James Stewart and Dungey battled for the two-three positions. With Villopoto back in the pack, Muscle Milk Honda’s Barcia had a perfect opportunity to end the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider’s win streak.
In the meantime, Mike Alessi was charging hard in Lap 2 and was battling fiercely with Malcolm Stewart, who was in sixth place. It was a tight race, with the top ten separated by only 11 seconds and Barcia still holding a 2.5-second lead over Dungey, but the KTM rider had just turned in the fastest lap time.
Meanwhile, Canard was running sixth after his bad get-off in Moto 1. Josh Grant started having issues with his Yamaha, a big disappointment after his great showing in qualifying where he finished first.
Having to fight through the pack for the first time this season, Villopoto was riding like a madman. Kevin Strijbos made a mistake on his Suzuki and RV blew by and before long was waging war with Bubba. The two swapped positions a couple times before Villopoto was able to make a move stick.
By this time, Barcia and Dungey were out in front with Alessi running his own race in third. Dungey was methodically stalking Barcia and had him firmly in his sights.
With 10 minutes and two laps to go, Honda Muscle Milk’s Canard and Villopoto were dueling it out, their spirited battle helping close the gap on Alessi. Dungey was close to overtaking Barcia with a shot at the overall on the line if he could. He would soon use an inside drive to get past Barcia. After the Red Bull KTM rider moved out in front, he continued to lay down some blistering laps for the victory, breaking Villopoto’s win streak and claiming Muddy Creek’s overall 450 title.
“About six laps to go, I was like, I need to go, I can’t waste any more time, so we were able to make the pass and kind of get a little bit of a lead, which was nice. I wanted that first win in the outdoor series, it feels good. I hate to win it with Villopoto going down but we gotta keep this up and keep things rolling,” Dungey said post-race.
Barcia would cross the line second for a strong 2-2 byline on the day. Canard barely held off a charging Villopoto for third place and the final spot on the Moto 2 podium with a little assistance from a lapped rider heading into the last turn. Suzuki’s Alessi would round up the Moto 2 top five.
Muddy Creek 450 Motocross Overall Results
1. Ryan Dungey (KTM) 3-1
2. Justin Barcia (Honda) 2-2
3. Ryan Villopoto (Kawasaki) 1-4
4. James Stewart (Suzuki) 4-6
5. Mike Alessi (Suzuki) 6-5
6. Clement Desalle(Suzuki) 5-9
7. Kevin Strijbos (Suzuki) 14-7
8. Trey Canard (Honda) 20-3
9. Andrew Short (KTM) 12-10
10. Broc Tickle (Suzuki) 13-11
450 Championship Points 2013
1. Ryan Villopoto, 143
2. Ryan Dungey, 133
3. Justin Barcia, 114
4. James Stewart, 99
5. Trey Canard, 90
6. Mike Alessi, 85
7. Tyla Rattray, 59
8. Clement Desalle, 58
9. Andrew Short, 54
10. Ryan Sipes, 49