Every season there seems to be one race that flips everything upside down – and I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there – that results in a changing of the tide and a switch in momentum and power. I think I’m right in saying that we saw such as race occur this past weekend in Indianapolis.
If I were tasked with the challenge of describing the circuit and its conditions on Saturday in a singular sentence I think I would offer an answer along the lines of; ‘it was a very Kevin Windham-ish type track and conditions.’ With the hope of you Dirt Bike hooligans being able to catch on to what I’m trying to say.
And by a Kevin Windham-ish type track I of course mean that the circuit was in a particularly treacherous and tricky state. A condition in which I’m sure – as he has done many times before – everyone’s favourite transfer making, retired-but-yet-still-badass, former supercross Main Event winner would have excelled in!
However the ‘Windham-ish’ conditions we saw on Saturday certainly did not sit too well with a lot riders, as evidenced in the 450 Main – and even the 250!
The drama began early, and I mean very early on in this race. Before the pack was able to reach the first corner, before the pack was even able to reach the halfway point of the start straight, the pandemonium commenced!
As the dust cleared and the majority of the field raced away along the first rhythm section of the Indianapolis circuit, a scene of devastation was revealed. With both Ken Roczen and Ryan Villopoto – the number one and number two placed riders in the 2014 AMA SX points chase – were to be found in a heap of bodies and bikes on the Indy start straight.
A glance slightly further down the track to the first turn saw a second pile of riders dotted with multiple Suzuki machines, one of which belonged to James Stewart – the third place rider in the 2014 AMA SX points chase!
So with the usual proceedings and the typical race win suspects literally turned on their heads, an eager bunch of riders leaped at the chance to capitalise on the misfortune of the championship protagonists.
Mike Alessi lead the way with Ryan Dungey, Eli Tomac and Cole Seely (filling in for the injured Muscle Milk Honda riders) close behind. A list of riders that we haven’t seen towards the front end of the field overly often so far this season, despite the level of expectation we had for some of the riders coming into the season (*cough* Dungey *cough* Tomac* cough).
As the race progressed it was clear that the smoothest and most consistent rider would be the one with the advantage on the night… it was at this point when a sudden grin was to be found beneath Dungey’s helmet (well I imagine anyway).
Throughout his career RD5 has been known as Mr. Consistent, Mr. Smooth and it’s races like Indianapolis where that really pays off for the Minnesota native. As he made the move around Alessi to take the lead the race was Dungey’s to loose…
At the same point in time our championship leader and three-time reigning champion lead an all-out assault on behalf on himself, Ken Roczen and James Stewart as he battled hard in what must’ve seemed like an unending war towards the front end of the pack after each of their respective disastrous starts. Almost surprisingly, but not really that surprisingly, these three riders were moving up through the positions thick and fast in the process giving us all a lesson in damage control.
Back at the front of the field Dungey had started the stretch away with the lead as Mike Alessi successfully fended off attacks from the surging rookie Eli Tomac.
However, the viscous Indy conditions decided to claim even more riders, as almost simultaneously Mike Alessi crashed out of second position – handing the position to the rookie Eli Tomac and therefore the final podium spot to Honda fill-in rider Cole Seely – and Ken Roczen crashed out of the race completely after a hard fought fight through the field.
Ken didn’t appear to be too badly injured but it certainly seemed as though he had rung his bell somewhat as he didn’t look too ‘with it’ during his interview with the Fox sports pit reporter!
As the race proceeded and began to come to a close Ryan Villopoto moved into fourth place, meaning that he had passed 18 of the 22 riders that had started the race. This was a champion’s ride from RV.
A ride that proved just why he is the three time and reigning champion. A ride that showed just why he will most likely be the four-time reigning champion come May.
Even on a bad night the champ was able to salvage a top four position. Both of his closest championship rivals started the race in the same way with the same disadvantages and the same mountain to climb. But these rivals were unable to reach the summit like RV. They were unable to salvage the points and reduce the damage in the way in which Ryan Villopoto was able to… ultimately this meant that RV was yet again able to increase his points lead!
Dungey eventually crossed the finish line to take his first win of the 2014 season (about time) in what could be the beginning of the Dungey resurgence. Eli Tomac was able to put the first half of the season behind him with a second and by far his best 450 result to date. And finally Cole Seely was able to put a Factory Muscle Milk Honda on the 450 podium for only the second time this season, in his first attempt – and only his third ever 450 start!
Now the craziness of Indianapolis is all said and done do not expect things to go all back to ‘normal’ next weekend, as we head to what is traditionally the most unpredictable and unruly race of the AMA Supercross campaign….. Bring on Daytona!