A massive crowd lined the hillsides surrounding High Point Raceway on Saturday as the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship hosted its third round of the 2011 season.
The Rockstar Energy High Point National marked the first East Coast stop of the summer and after two challenging motos Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto took his first 450cc win of the season. In the 250cc class Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett captured his second win in three races after sweeping both motos.
Coming into the weekend, Villopoto had garnered back-to-back third-place results through the first two rounds. He started the day off at High Point with a dominating performance in the opening moto, finishing over eight seconds ahead of Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey.
Just prior to the start of moto two a rain shower moved through the area, leaving a muddy track for the riders to compete on. Red Bull KTM’s Mike Alessi grabbed the early lead, only to crash and hand the position to TwoTwo Motorsports/Bel-Ray Racing’s Chad Reed. From there Reed, the current championship points leader and winner of the previous two rounds, maintained the position to collect his fourth moto win of 2011. Villopoto followed in second to secure the overall while Dungey’s third-place finish in the moto landed him in the runner-up spot for the day. Reed (5-1) rounded out the overall podium in third.
“It’s nice to get my first win in a long time,” says Villopoto who’s only previous victory in the class came in his 450 division debut in 2009. “I didn’t feel good at Hangtown but I felt good at Texas – I just didn’t have it. We had a weekend off and the team did a lot of testing. Now I can ride my bike the way I need to ride it. I showed that in the first moto but obviously the second moto was a little different with the mud. I just tried to get a good start and ride decent. The track got better but it also got slippery. We had to be cautious the whole moto.”
Villopoto gained six points on Reed in the 450standings and now sits 15 points out of the lead.
After an impressive performance to open the season with a win at Hangtown, Baggett showed even more dominance at High Point. The second-year rider completed the first lap of moto one in ninth and worked his way through the field for the remainder of the 30-minute race. On Lap 13 he took over the lead from Eleven 10 Mods Honda’s Darryn Durham and carried it through to the finish.
In moto two Baggett capitalised on a good start to grab the top spot early. On Lap six he crashed, handing the lead to his team-mate Tyla Rattray and dropping to third. Despite his misfortune, Baggett refused to settle, fighting his way back into the lead with just three laps remaining to finish the day with perfect 1-1 moto scores.
“In the first moto I had my work cut out for me,” says Baggett. “I waited until halfway and put on a late charge. In the second moto it was muddy and I had a brain fade and just went down. After that I just went for it. I didn’t know what Tyla had done in the first moto so I just knew that a 1-1 would win. We actually had a battle there for a while but I ended up getting around him. I’m looking forward to next weekend.”
Rattray (3-2) followed in second for his third straight podium finish of the season while GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac finished third (6-3). By virtue of his finish, Rattray now moves into the 250 points lead, two points ahead of his team-mate Dean Wilson.
1 ChadReed 138
2 Ryan Villopoto 123
3 Ryan Dungey 111
4 Davi Millsaps 104
5 Brett Metcalfe 88
6 Kevin Windham 76
7 Ricky Dietrich 72
8 Jake Weimer 68
9 Tommy Hahn 65
10 Christian Craig 59
1 Tyla Rattray 127
2 Dean Wilson 125
3 Blake Baggett 116
4 Eli Tomac 104
5 Kyle Cunningham 90
6 Justin Barcia 79
7 Cole Seely 68
8 Broc Tickle 67
9 Gareth Swanepoel 61
10 Martin Davalos 53