The AMA SX circus rolled into New Orleans at the weekend where newly-crowned 450cc champ Ryan Villopoto made it look easy in the Big Easy with his ninth win out of the 14 rounds run so far this season. And down in the Lites East division defending champ Justin Barcia retained his title with a fourth-placed finish.
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s RV took the holeshot at the start of the 20-lap Main Event and led from gate to flag. Josh Grant and Mike Alessi bashed bars for second for much of the race before Alessi clashed with a back-marker and took a soil sample on lap 16, handing third to Justin Brayton.
“The track was tough, so the bike was a big key,” says Villopoto. “The track was breaking down and it had a lot of ruts so it was easy to get caught off guard. You had to stay on your toes and try to log consistent laps.”
In the Lites Darryn Durham took a career-first victory after taking the lead from holeshotter Alex Martin on lap two. Malcolm Stewart moved through into second but crashed on lap six leaving a three-way fight between Barcia, Ken Roczen and Blake Baggett. And it was Baggett who won out and went on to unsuccessfully challenge Durham for the lead. Justin Bogle fought his way through to take the final spot on the podium.
“This is at the top of the list,” says Durham. “I’m speechless. It was a great race and I couldn’t have done it without my team. I’m super-excited but just don’t know what to say. I had a rough practice and heat race but got a great start [in the Main]. I think I led all the laps but I don’t even know.”
Knowing fourth or better was good enough for the title, GEICO Honda’s Barcia hit cruise control to bring it home safely.
“Tonight is mind-blowing,” he says. “To win two championships feels amazing. It was a tough season at times but it took a lot of hard work and dedication to get here. I couldn’t have done it without everyone on my team. This is an awesome feeling.”