Ryan Dungey Wins Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Opener at Glen Helen
Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey kicked off the season with a win after an impressive performance at Glen Helen Raceway this past weekend. After finishing third in the first 450cc moto, Dungey made a dramatic last-lap pass in moto two to earn the win at Glen Helen. Dungey’s Red Bull teammate, Ken Roczen of Germany, was in the mix all weekend for the win, as he was either leading or battling for the lead in both. Unfortunately Roczen would fail to win either one, but he still finished strong with an impressive second overall via 2-2 moto finishes.
But it was Dungey’s thrilling pass on Roczen just a few turns from the finish got the job done against in a stacked field, with all battling for the Lucas Oil Pro 450cc Motocross number one plate vacated by the injured Ryan Villopoto.
450cc - Moto 1
Dungey kicked off the weekend in good form by posting the fastest 450cc qualifying time in the morning, but when the gate dropped for the first 450cc moto it was a pair of JGR Yamahas that emerged from the massive 40-rider field, with Josh Grant grabbing the $500 Motosport.com holeshot award, followed by his teammate Phil Nicoletti. Roczen got away third, followed by Dungey, with Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Brett Metcalfe, Muscle Milk Honda’s Justin Barcia, with Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart in a tight bunch to lock down the first seven spots.
Grant pulled away early while Nicoletti was able to keep Roczen at bay for the first two laps, allowing Dungey to pull closer to both of them. Roczen finally got past Nicoletti just before the sand section to take over second place, about 6 seconds behind Grant.
Stewart had worked his way to fifth place by the halfway point in the moto, and he was dogging Barcia relentlessly for the fourth spot, but Barcia managed to keep Stewart at bay. Stewart finally made an aggressive pass stick through the track’s famous high-banked, high-speed Talladega turn.
Roczen worked hard to cut into Grant’s lead, which he had it whittled down to about 2 seconds, the pair’s torrid pace pushing them more than 6 seconds ahead of Dungey. Muscle Milk Honda’s Trey Canard was the real man on the move, however, passing Barcia and Stewart to take over fourth place.
Stewart went right back after Canard, though, and he ran into the back of Canard after Canard had to get on the brakes for a lapped rider at the end of the and section, forcing both riders to crash. Stewart remounted in 9th position, behind fellow former Lucas Oil 450cc Champion Chad Reed, with Canard 10th. Stewart was able to get past Reed for ninth place with just over 3 minutes left on the clock. Barcia dropped out of the moto while running fourth after losing a chain with just over two laps to go.
With Roczen trying to close in on the lead during the final lap, Grant nearly threw away his chances for the win with a huge bobble in one of the left-hand corners on he Mount St. Helens side of the course, but he managed to gather it back up and hold onto the lead. Roczen pulled to Grant’s rear wheel with two turns to go and took a fateful shot at the win by diving to the inside of Grant in the last corner, only to come up short. Credit Josh Grant with the first Lucas Oil Pro moto win of 2014 by .4 of a second.
“It has been since 2010 since I win a moto, and I really wanted here, you know,” Grant said. “This is my hometown race, and my family and everybody is here, so I put it out on the line or them, and that’s why I’m here.”
Roczen may have finished second, but he knew that he had still put himself in a good position to claim the overall win.
“That corner is a bit sketchy so there wasn’t really anything I could do, but overall it was a good race,” Roczen said. “I got off to a good start, and we’ve basically been together the whole time. The fans were awesome out there, I mean, so much fun to ride here. They’re cheering us on. Man, I’m pumped for that moto, and I can’t wait for the second one.”
Dungey, likewise, was pleased with his third-place finish in the first moto.
“Overall the moto went really well, you know,” Dungey said. “We got a good start, and Josh Grant getting that holeshot really helped. A big shout out to him, getting that win. That was really good. I’m really happy for him. That was a good ride. All in all, we kind of got behind a little bit, trying to catch second place. But we’ll take this and get ready for the next one.”
450cc - Moto 2
When moto two started, Dungey got off to what looked like a sure holeshot as the 450cc field rounded the Talladega turn to start moto two; however, Roczen snuck up the inside and stole away the lead before they hit the stripe that marks the Motosport.com Holeshot Award. Barcia, Nicoletti and RCH Soaring Eagle Suzuki’s Ivan Tedesco slotted into the top five. First-moto winner Grant was mired deep in the pack and would crash in the sand on the first lap. Grant would finish the moto in 15th place.
Canard was off to another solid start, and he quickly charged past Tedesco and Nicoletti to claim the fourth sport. Monster Energy Kawasaki teammates Jake Weimer and Brett Metcalfe were also running inside the top 10 early, along with TwoTwo Motorsports/Discount Tire Kawasaki’s Chad Reed and James Stewart, who got past Reed just before the finish line to run ninth.
Roczen tried to check out from the field, but Dungey was still within striking distance. Canard, meanwhile, passed Barcia to grab third place. Stewart passed Metcalfe just before the sand section to claim fifth place.
Lapped riders began to play a part in the battle for the lead, as Roczen appeared to have a more difficult time getting by them than Dungey did, and Dungey quickly cut Roczens lead two under two seconds, setting up a Red Bull KTM battle for the moto and overall win.
Meanwhile, reigning Canadian National Champion Metcalfe was having a stellar race as he powered past Stewart on the short hill before Mount St. Helens to snatch away the fifth position at the 20-minute mark. Stewart was clearly sticking to his pre-race plan of riding solid motos to give himself a solid start to the series.
Out front, Roczen was once again slowed by another lapper, Swedish rider Nicklas Gustavsson, and Dungey used it to pull closer to his German teammate. Dungey was clearly riding faster than Roczen at that point, but he was also taking wider lines through some of the sections, which made setting up Roczen for a pass difficult, especially when Roczen appeared to gain back a little advantage on the flatter infield sections of the course. Dungey clearly had Roczen in his sights, however, and a confrontation for the overall win seemed inevitable.
With just a few laps remaining, Dungey went on the attack, running side by side with Roczen as they climbed to the top of Mount St. Helens. Roczen gained a little more breathing room again just before the two-lap board was shown to the field, and it appeared that the race may have been decided, but Dungey once again gathered it up and mounted a challenge on the last lap of the race. Dungey passed Roczen by using the inside line in the left-hander that led up Mount St. Helens, but Roczen got the superior drive and retook the lead just as quickly.
Dungey knew that he would need to force the issue in the flatter section where Roczen was faster, and with the Glen Helen crowd urging him on, he crowded Roczen and forced the German rider wide to take the lead just three turns from the finish and steal the moto and overall win.
“From the gate drop all the way to the end, we were pushing each other,” Dungey said. “Ken came out of the gate pretty strong, you know, so I tried to maintain that. But, like five laps to go there, I tried to make a move and some lappers got in the way, and I didn’t think I was going to get back to him that last lap. I just pushed everything I had. I didn’t throw it all in there, but I definitely took a little bit of a chance, and it worked out. So, 3-1 on the day, I can’t thank the whole team enough. It was an awesome start to the season, but we’ll keep thing rolling. This track is nasty, but it was good to be back to Glen Helen, back to the roots.”
Roczen was a little frustrated to not come away with a moto win at Glen Helen, especially when the second-moto win would have meant the overall.
“I’m not happy,” Roczen said. “I don’t think my line choice was as good. It could’ve been better. But, leading, if you take a different line and he takes a different one it’s kind of a gamble. I’m really, really mad that he got me there towards the end. You know, all that suffering, and then he got me there. But I learned from that — take it as motivation. Overall, I think I did good today. I’m in a good position, and we’ll take it from here.”
In the end, Canard salvaged his day with a third-place finish in moto two, which landed him third overall via 7-3 moto finishes. The second moto left no question that the popular Honda rider has fully recovered from the injuries that sidelined him for most of the supercross season.
“That first moto wasn’t too fun,” Canard said. “It really was a bummer to crash with James [Stewart]. Starting the bike just wore me out, and I kind of gathered it up at the end, but… Kind of not an ideal day, but it was good to end up here on the podium. I’m grateful to leave Glen Helen, and looking forward to this long series. It should be good.”
250cc - Moto 1
It was GEICO Honda’s Zach Bell who pulled the holeshot at the start of the first 250cc moto of 2014, followed by Yamalube Star Racing Yamaha’s Jeremy Martin, with GEICO Honda’s Matt Bisceglia coming through in third place. Martin wasted no time in taking over the lead as he jumped past Bell over the Canyon Jump. Meanwhile, other major contenders such as Yamalube Star Racing Yamaha‘s teammate Cooper Webb and Rockstar Energy KTM’s Jason Anderson were outside the top 10. Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin and 250cc fast qualifier Christophe Pourcel on the Valli Motorsports Yamaha were outside the top five. Meanwhile, Troy Lee Designs Honda’s Cole Seely battled his way past Bell and Bisceglia to take over second place five laps into the moto.
While Martin streaked away from the field, Webb and Anderson began pushing their way toward the front from 11th and 12th place respectively. Webb caught up to GEICO Honda rider and newly crowned AMA 250cc East Supercross Champion Justin Bogle, who was running in fifth place, before the halfway point in the moto, and the pair diced for two laps. Their momentum then allowed them to catch the third- and fourth-running Bell and Biscegla, creating a four-rider freight train for third place. Bogle and Webb moved into third and fourth place, respectively, two thirds of the way into the moto.
Webb then passed Bogle for third place before Anderson caught Bogle and dropped him to fourth place over the Red Bull double jump. Webb and Anderson were still showing amazing speed as they both caught up to Seely and passed him just before the two-lap board was shown to the field.
No one was able to catch Martin, though, as he handily won the moto with a 15.4-second margin of victory over Webb, while Anderson was about 2.7 seconds behind Webb.
“It feels really good,” Martin said. “I’ve been struggling at the beginning of the supercross season—everyone knows that, and I was able to turn things around at the end of the year. We have one more moto, so I can’t celebrate just yet.”
Webb put together a fantastic ride from down in the field, as did Anderson.
“It was gnarly,” Webb said. “This is Glen Helen. The track is unreal, and it’s definitely a man’s track out there. It was kind of cool. Me and Jason [Anderson] came through the pack. We were, like, 20th in the first turn, so it was kind of cool to come through and make our way up front. I thought I was like, eighth—I didn’t know. So, second is good for me.”
Anderson’s third-place finish was a good way to start what may be his last season on a KTM, as it was announced late yesterday that his Rockstar Energy Racing team will receive full factory support from KTM’s sister brand, Husqvarna, in 2015.
“I’m really happy with that result,” Anderson said. “The start wasn’t what I wanted, but I made it through the pack, and I kind of followed Cooper and ended up working out being on the podium. We’ll see if we can come out swinging next moto and I a get a better start.”
250cc - Moto 2
Jeremy Martin picked up where he left off in moto one, and after grabbing the holeshot in the aborted start of moto two, he attacked the restart with same vengeance running second behind Justin Bogle through the first turn before the two traded the lead in the hilly sections of the track. Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett got a decent start and was running third ahead of Christophe Pourcel and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Dean Wilson. Martin quickly began to build another lead, while Pourcel passed Baggett for third place and Cooper Webb got underneath Wilson for fifth place.
Bogle unfortunately crashed early in the race and did not continue, handing second place to Baggett and third to Pourcel, though Webb was flying around the track and he quickly reeled-in Pourcel and passed him. Wilson then tagged onto the back of Pourcel, the two battling for fourth place. Jason Anderson quickly crept into the picture after having gotten off to a better start than he had in the first moto.
Martin was the fastest rider on the track, having amassed a 10-second lead by the halfway point in the moto. Baggett still sat in second, followed by Webb and Anderson. Webb eventually passed Baggett to put factory Yamahas in first and second place on the track, but by then Martin was over 21 seconds out in front of Webb. The finishing order appeared to be all set, except that Anderson crashed on the short uphill before Mount Saint Helens and he was unable to continue.
Martin slowed right at the finish, but it didn’t matter, as he easily crossed the line for the moto and overall win. Webb finished second overall with 2-2 finishes, while Cole Seely was third overall with 4-4 finishes. Afterward, Martin explained how he had prepared for Glen Helen.
“I had a really good break between St. Louis and New Jersey [supercross rounds], and I rode nothing but outdoors, and I felt really good,” Martin said. “I got a chance to go back to the Carmichael farm for a little bit and ride, and I was feeling really good. You know, I kind of flew in under the radar. No one really talked about me a whole lot, but I knew what I was capable of. I knew what I was going to do, and it feels good to do it.”
The series continues next weekend with the Hangtown Motocross Classic outside of Sacramento, California.