Despite having 27 overall motocross victories and the 2011 outdoor title to his credit, Ryan Villopoto came into this year’s Washington round of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship with a winless record at his hometown track at Washougal. To complicate matters, the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider’s chief rival in the title chase, Ryan Dungey, came into the race riding a five-race win streak at the facility, which made for an interesting clash of the two titans at this year’s race. After finishing second to Dungey in moto one, Villopoto came on strong in moto two, passing the Red Bull KTM rider on lap five of the 17-lap race to take the moto win and ultimately the overall victory. “It definitely feels good to finally get an overall win here,” said Villopoto. “I’ve had a lot of moto wins and I’ve traded moto wins with a lot of riders and ended up on the short end of the stick. I traded wins here again today with Ryan Dungey and I ended up with the long stick this time and I’m pleased,” said Villopoto.
As he has done in the past, Ryan Dungey gets stronger as the year progresses, and his Washougal performance was a good example. Overall, Dungey turned in an impressive performance, taking a strong win in moto one and then grabbing the holeshot to start moto two. The Minnesota native could not match the strong pace that Villopoto was running in the second moto, however, and eventually had to settle for second. For sure, Dungey’s DNF in the first moto at Red Bud hurt his chances for another title, but Dungey and crew have not given up the fight, realizing that anything can happen in this series.
James Stewart gave Villopoto a good battle at the start of the first moto, but eventually gave way to the Kawasaki rider and lost ground, finishing nearly 30 seconds behind the two front-runners in third. In moto two, the Yoshimura Suzuki rider ran in third for pretty much the entire race, this time finishing over 40 seconds behind Dungey. Afterwards, Stewart admitted the Washougal track was not one of his favorites. “The conditions are difficult to adapt to and they change as the day goes by,” said Stewart. “The first moto it was still misty, and it was kind of slippery, but then the last moto was dry. To be honest, this is one of the worst tracks for me so I have to be pleased to get a third.”
Jake Weimer came away with one of his best finishes of the outdoor season, going 10-4 for fourth overall. “Compared to the kind of days I’ve been having, this was a hole in one for me,” said Weimer. “I’ve been struggling all year and haven’t been able to put anything together. My first moto wasn’t stellar; I rode all right but I had a poor start. I’m the second moto, I got a lot better start and fought real hard on the first few laps and got myself in real good position and just maintained. Really, it’s been a struggle for me all year, mentally not feeling good about my riding. I did have a couple of decent rides during supercross and I’ve had a couple of decent motos in outdoors, it’s just nice to finally put two of them together.”
When Eli Tomac is on, he’s simply unbeatable. At Washougal, the GEICO Honda rider was definitely on, getting out to the early lead in both motos and then pulling away for an easy win. After going 1-1 on the day, Tomac closed to within one point of Ken Roczen in the 250 point standings. Tomac’s win was not without drama as he nearly threw it away in the second moto. “That was about as close as you can get to crashing without actually doing so,” said Tomac. “I have to blame it on the shadows,” said Tomac. “It was up those rollers and I was trying to keep my rear wheel on the ground through those and I must have just set my rear wheel down kind of early and kind of let off and it was just like holding on to a bull after that. It was close.” Despite the scare, Tomac finished the race with 20 seconds to spare over Roczen.
Ken Roczen watched his lead in the 250 title chase shrink to just one point after finishing second in both motos to Tomac. Roczen struggled with starts at Washougal on his Red Bull KTM, especially in the first moto, and just couldn’t match the pace that Tomac was turning. “This track is tricky and it got rough,” said Roczen. “I feel like everyone was taking basically the same line, I call it “slope style” where you go from outside to inside, taking the inside line in the corners. So it’s hard to make up time here and the roost hurts quite a bit so you want to try to switch up the lines. But you put in a lot of effort to catch up to someone and then if you switch up your line and it’s not a good line then you lose ground again, which is frustrating. For sure, it’s a challenging track.”
During the Washougal race, a controversy arose involving reports by several riders after the first 450 moto that someone off to the side of the starting line was pointing a laser pointer in the eyes of the riders just before the drop of the gate. This was reported to MX Sports and AMA officials and before the start of the second moto, several MX Sports officials, in addition to a few team members, positioned themselves along the track in an effort to spot someone using a laser pointer. According to MX Sports’ Davey Coombs, Jeff Alessi was pointed out as being in possession of a green laser pointer as well as having his father’s hard card credential, although Alessi maintained that he found the pointer on the ground. According to Coombs, the pointer and credential were confiscated and the matter was turned over to the AMA. An official release is expected on Monday. Could this get any crazier?
At Red Bud, two weeks before, Villopoto tried to pass Stewart on an outside line and Stewart ended up forcing Villopoto off the track. In the post-race press conference after that race, Stewart made the comment that, “no one passes me on the outside.” At Washougal, Villopoto seemed to make an obvious attempt to force his way around Stewart on an outside line and this time he was successful in making the pass. It was an obvious “statement pass” in regards to Stewart’s comment after Red Bud. “I was in the press conference at Red Bud and I heard Stewart’s comments,” said Villopoto. “That’s risk you take when you try a pass on the outside and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. At Red Bud, it was no big deal, I just got shoved off the track. But here the outside line worked and I made it stick and it felt good to pass him on the outside.”
After being absent from racing for three rounds because of illness, Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Martin Davalos turned in a impressive race at Washougal. In the opening moto, Davalos got out to a great start in the top-five and was able to hold on to finish seventh. He followed up with a ninth in moto two for eighth overall.
The conditions at Washougal are quite a bit different from most of the racetracks on the circuit, and for an example, Andrew Short revealed some of the setting changes his BTO Sports KTM team make in preparation for the race. “We change several things on the forks, we backed off on the preload on the spring, which allowed the fork to move a little more and follow the ground because of the hard-packed conditions. It just let the front end settle a little. We also softened the shock a bit on high speed and low speed settings, we just made some adjustments to try to get more traction and control the rear wheel,” said Short.
In only his fourth professional start, Adam Cianciarulo continued to show improvement as he gets a feel for the single-day event. The first moto saw the Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider jump out to a great start and end up with his best moto finish of the year in sixth. The second moto was a bit tough with the track’s infamous shadows from its tall trees coming into play, and Cianciarulo would eventually score 16th for a season-high 10th overall.
After the race, Josh Grant talked about one of the problems that is typical at Washougal. “In the morning it was kind of misty and the conditions were very good and it was overcast so you didn’t have to worry about the shadows. But then later in the day it got really bright and it was difficult to see with the shadows, which is a common problem here,” said Grant.
1. Ryan Villopoto (Kaw) 2-1
2. Ryan Dungey (KTM) 1-2
3. James Stewart (Suz) 3-3
4. Jake Weimer (Kaw) 10-4
5. Mike Alessi (Suz) 7-6
6. Josh Grant (Yam) 5-10
7. Andrew Short (KTM) 6-9
8. Chad Reed (Hon) 9-7
9. Broc Tickle (Suz) 13-5
10. Justin Barcia (Hon) 4-17
1. Eli Tomac (Hon) 1-1
2. Ken Roczen (KTM) 2-2
3. Marvin Musquin (KTM) 3-4
4. Justin Bogle (Hon) 4-6
5. Justin Hill (Kaw) 5-7
6. Zach Osborne (Hon) 14-3
7. Jason Anderson (Suz) 11-5
8. Martin Davalos (Kaw) 7-9
9. Cole Seely (Hon) 9-10
10. Adam Cianciarulo (Kaw) 6-16