Charlie Mullins and Ryan Villopoto have been impressive in their respective genres of off-road racing this year. This past weekend, Villopoto wrapped up the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series championship with one race on the books after taking an exciting win in Salt Lake City. Meanwhile, Mullins extended his lead in the Rekluse AMA National Enduro Series to 20 points after claiming his fourth win of the season at round five of the series in Tennessee. Now sit back as Dirt Rider looks back at both races in this installment of What Really Happened.
Charlie Mullins claimed his second win in a row and fourth of the season at this weekend’s Rad Dad National Enduro in Westpoint, Tennessee, round five of the Rekluse AMA National Enduro Series. Heavy rain on Friday and Saturday left a lot of water standing on the Rad Dad course as the first rider took to the course at 9:01 on Sunday morning. At 9:21, Mullins blasted off and finished the opening test 18 seconds faster than anyone else, apparently not adversely affected by the slippery conditions. The FMF/KTM rider went on to win three of the six tests and finished the race one minute and 42 seconds faster then runner-up finisher Nick Fahringer, leaving Mullins with a 20 point lead in the series standings with five rounds remaining.
“I’m happy with how I rode today and I’m glad to get another win,” said Mullins. “It was slick out there, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be after all the rain we got.”
Nick Fahringer equaled his best finish of the year with a second place finish in Tennessee, winning two tests and finishing second in two others. The AirGroup Racing Husaberg rider got off to his customary slow start in the opening test of the day (finishing fifth), which kept him from realistically challenging for the win.
“The first section was tough and I pumped up,” said Fahringer. “Once I got the first test out of the way, though, I felt like I finally got that flow back that I had in 2011 when I was knocking out wins. I won sections two and three and I felt like I was back on track, but then in section four I blew a turn and lost a bunch of time; I think I was a little too excited. I kind of worked my way back in test five but then I got tired in the last test. Charlie killed it in that section anyway, so I’m happy with second.”
Like Fahringer, Russell Bobbitt also got off to a slow start, the factory Husaberg rider finishing fourth in the first test. For sure, the traction available in the sand/clay mixture threw a lot of riders off at first.
“I got off to a mediocre start, I think I was surprised at how much traction there was and how well you could turn and brake considering how wet it was,” said Bobbitt. “I struggled finding that limit early on, so I was a bit tentative. We ended up making a few changes with the shock and slowed it up a bit because it was a little too reactive beneath me and I started picking up time after that. I had a really good fourth test, and that was probably the only test where I felt comfortable and hit my groove. The rest of the time I was a little too busy on the bike and just missing all my points.”
Andrew DeLong was in the hunt early on, and wqas second after the first test. The FAR Husqvarna rider struggled in the third test, however, finishing sixth fastest, which most likely cost him a podium position.
“I like to push hard from the start, which lets me get a little jump on the competition and that’s what I did in the first test,” said DeLong. “It was kind of slippery and I just kind of lugged the bike in fourth and fifth gears and that was the way to ride that slick stuff. I was just in a groove in that first test, and I just didn’t make any mistakes. In the third test, I nearly crashed a couple of times and I just backed it down a bit after that. I wanted to makes sure I stayed on two wheels, because you just lose so much time when you fall. I thought I had a good shot at getting Russell for third, but then in the last test I fell about a mile from the finish and that pretty much cost me a podium.”
Mike Lafferty was solid all day, but felt like he rode better at the beginning of the race than he did at the end.
“I got off to a good start, but it kind of went downhill from there,” said Lafferty. “I just wasn’t gelling with the course, and the harder I tried the worse my times got. For me, it was harder to ride at the end of the day as it was at the beginning.”
1. Charlie Mullins (KTM)
2. Nick Fahringer (Hsb)
3. Russell Bobbitt (Hsb)
4. Andrew DeLong (Hsq)
5. Mike Lafferty (Hsb)
6. Grant Baylor (KTM)
7. Jesse Groemm (Yam)
8. Brad Bakken (Yam)
9. Ian Blythe (KTM)
10. Jordan Ashburn (Yam)
Ryan Villopoto etched his name in the history books at this weekend’s Monster Energy AMA Supercross round in Salt Lake City when he came out on top of a crazy, three-way battle with Ryan Dungey and Davi Millsaps to win his third consecutive championship. And by doing so, the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider became the fifth rider in Monster Energy Supercross history to win three championships, joining Bob Hannah, Jeff Stanton, Jeremy McGrath, and Ricky Carmichael. He also joined Hannah, McGrath, and Carmichael as the only riders to win three titles consecutively.
“It’s unreal,” said Villopoto. “It was a crazy race and the track was really technical. Any little mistake would make it anyone’s game. We started the season off really rough and had a lot of stepping stones to overcome, but we did it as a team and we did it well.”
Davi Millsaps came from outside the top five to finish second in Salt Lake City. The Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki rider was impressive all evening, having posted the fastest posted the fastest time in qualifying and then winning his heat race over Villopoto. In the main, Millsaps passed Dungey on lap two and then set his sights on Villopoto. The Georgia rider eventually closed on Villopoto and at one point appeared to have an opening, but the Kawasaki rider closed the door, forcing Millsaps to settle for second. As usual, Millsaps was uber fast in the whoops, especially in the heat race, but Villopoto was able to match that speed in the main.
There’s no doubt that Ryan Dungey has picked up the pace in the second half of the series after a couple of sub-par finishes midway into the year. The Red Bull KTM rider came into SLC needing a win to keep his title hopes alive and he put up a tough fight in the main event in hopes of doing so. The Minnesota rider took the lead in the main event after grabbing the holeshot, but quickly gave way to Villopoto when the Kawasaki rider forced his way by on the opening lap. On lap three, Millsaps also went around Dungey, leaving Dungey in third, however, Dungey remained in striking distance for the rest of the race.
After struggling at the start of practice, Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki’s Jason Anderson came out of qualifying with the third-fastest time behind Ken Roczen and Martin Davalos. In the main, Anderson passed GEICO Honda’s Zach Osborne to take the lead on lap two and never looked back, the rookie pro ending the day with the first AMA Supercross win of his career.
To say the least, Eli Tomac struggled in Salt Lake City, having a particularly rough time in the whoops. The GEICO Honda rider had a chance to come out of the race with the 250 West points lead after Roczen failed to make the main, however, after being as high as second place at the start of the main, the Honda rider went backwards, ultimately finishing sixth after being as far back as ninth at one time. On the positive side, Tomac gained 15 points on Roczen from where he was before SLC.
Salt Lake City 450 SX Class Results
1. Ryan Villopoto (Kaw)
2. Davi Millsaps (Suz)
3. Ryan Dungey (KTM)
4. Trey Canard (Hon)
5. Justin Barcia (Hon)
6. Justin Brayton (Yam)
7. Josh Hill (Suz)
8. Andrew Short (KTM)
9. Weston Peick (Suz)
10. Chad Reed (Hon)
Salt Lake City Western Regional 250SX Class Results
1. Jason Anderson (Suz)
2. Cole Seely (Hon)
3. Martin Davalos (Kaw)
4. Malcolm Stewart (KTM)
5. Christian Craig (Hon)
6. Eli Tomac (Hon)
7. Ryan Sipes (Suz)
8. Tyla Rattray (Kaw)
9. Joey Savatgy (KTM)
10. Travis Baker (Yam)