NEW BERLIN, N.Y. – official release — Simon Cudby photo —
The stretch run of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship got underway on Saturday with the series’ annual visit to Central New York’s iconic Unadilla MX.
The Red Bull Unadilla National signified the 10th stop of the 12-round season and was a showcase of dominance for Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey, who earned his series-leading fifth overall win of the season with a 1-1 effort and inched one step closer to a third Edison Dye Cup.
In the 250 Class, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Joey Savatgy (2-2) emerged triumphant despite not winning a moto, relying on unmatched consistency to prevail with his first-ever professional victory in underdog fashion.
Competition in the 450 Class began with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Christophe Pourcel securing the Bud Light Fastest Qualifier, but the Frenchman was hit with misfortune off the start in the first moto. Pourcel and defending champion Ken Roczen collided in the first turn, sending the top qualifier and the RCH Soaring Eagle/Jimmy Johns/Suzuki Factory Racing rider to the ground. Both competitors eventually returned to action. Out front, BTOSports.com KTM’s Justin Brayton surged to the Motosport.com Holeshot Award just ahead of Dungey.
Starting ahead of his closest competitors in the title fight, Dungey seized the opportunity to take control of the moto early and passed Brayton for the lead on the first lap. By the time he came around to complete lap one, Dungey had already opened a multiple second lead over Autotrader.com/Toyota/Yamaha’s Justin Barcia, his main rival over the last month of competition. Although Barcia saw his seven-moto holeshot streak come to an end, he still had Dungey in his sights as the field settled in.
The points leader continued to extend his advantage over the field, leaving Barcia to briefly deal with a hard charging Trey Canard aboard his Team Honda HRC machine. Barcia soon pulled away and Canard then fell into the clutches of GEICO Honda’s Justin Bogle, who made his 450 Class debut at Unadilla. The battle for third provided the most excitement of the moto, as Bogle gained the upper hand through the middle of the race. Canard was persistent and eventually reclaimed the position on Lap 11. Not long after, Bogle went down and eventually dropped to the tail end of the top 10.
Dungey led every lap to take the moto win by 13.860 seconds ahead of Barcia, with Canard third.
In the second moto Bogle put his Honda in the mix again, earning his first Motosport.com Holeshot Award just ahead of Dungey. As was the case in the first moto, Dungey wasted little time in putting his KTM in front and took the lead on the first lap, with Barcia again following into second. After a tough first moto, Roczen bounced back to put himself at the front of the field in third.
Dungey’s early pace gave him a comfortable margin over his two title contenders, who began a heated battle for second that ultimately fell into Roczen’s favor. Once in second, Roczen pushed to close in on Dungey and was able to consistently sit about a second behind the leader throughout the moto. While he was unable to put any serious pressure on the lead, Roczen kept Dungey honest through to the finish.
Dungey crossed the line 1.604 seconds ahead of Roczen, with Barcia following in third.
Dungey’s 1-1 effort was his second sweep of the season and his fourth 450 Class win at Unadilla. Barcia finished in the runner-up spot (2-4) while Canard earned his first overall podium of the 2015 season in third (3-6), in just his second start since returning from injury.
“I got a great start in both motos and could put myself into the lead early. That allowed me to really ride my own race and work on building a gap,” explained Dungey. “Ken [Roczen] was really strong in that last moto and it kind of caught me off guard, so I really had to put my head down and focus on hitting all my marks. We kept him behind us and finished the day with a 1-1 effort, which feels great.”
With two rounds remaining, Dungey has put himself in position to win the championship next weekend, currently holding a 79-point lead over Barcia, who took over sole possession of second. If he completes the next round with at least a 50-point advantage, Dungey will clinch his third Edison Dye Cup in six seasons. Roczen sits third, 92 points behind Dungey and 13 points back of Barcia for second.
The battle for the win in the 250 Class began with Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin making the first statement as the Bud Light Fastest Qualifier. That allowed Musquin to earn a start inside the top five in Moto 1, while Savatgy took the Motosport.com Holeshot Award and the control of the early lead. GEICO Honda’s Christian Craig pursued Savatgy on the opening lap in second, while Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Chris Alldredge slotted into third. Musquin was initially in this battle in fourth, but after almost going down in a turn he lost a couple valuable positions, including one to his championship rival Jeremy Martin, who moved into fourth aboard his Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha.
Savatgy’s holeshot put him in a position to set a torrid pace early and he extended his advantage over the field. It wasn’t long before Martin started his march to the front, passing both Alldredge and Craig on Lap 3 to set his sights on the lead. Alldredge followed Martin into third, and from there the top three riders started to pull away. Savatgy was able to fend off the pressure from both Martin and Alldredge, but as the lead trio continued their fight it allowed Musquin to start closing in after he passed Craig to take over fourth.
Martin mounted another charge as the moto started to wind down, forcing a bobble out of Savatgy that allowed Martin to take over the top spot. As this was taking place, Musquin looked to make a pass on Alldredge for third but an apparent issue with his goggles forced him to back off the pace briefly and start the push again. Once in the lead, Martin pulled away and took the moto win by 2.754 seconds over Savatgy. Alldredge was forced to fend off a major charge from Musquin in the final corners, but held on to finish third.
The second moto was a wild one, and it kicked off with RJ Hampshire edging out Savatgy for the MotoSport.com Holeshot Award. By the end of the first lap, Savatgy had retaken the lead and was in position to win the overall if he could hold on for the moto win.
Meanwhile Musquin was able to capitalize on a litany of mistakes from his competitors to move his way to the front.
On Lap 5, Hampshire had caught back up to Savatgy and was battling for the lead until he went down and lost several spots. That moved his GEICO Honda teammate Jordon Smith into second and Alex Martin into third, but on the very next lap, Alex Martin crashed and dropped back to 8th. Then Smith had a hard crash of his own while running in second place and dropped out of the top 15.
As a result of all the chaos, Musquin inherited second place, with Cooper Webb right behind him in third. The two had a heated battle a week ago at Washougal that resulted in Webb in calling out Musquin on national television after the first moto. Although Webb apologized after the race, there was no love lost out on the track. At one point during this moto, Webb plowed into Musquin while attempting to make a pass on the inside. The maneuver wasn’t enough, as Musquin held on to the position and then appeared to turn up the speed in an effort to leave Webb in the dust.
On Lap 10, Musquin overtook Savatgy for the lead, and one lap later, Webb also passed Savatgy for second place. At that point in the race, Musquin would have both won the overall ahead of Savatgy and moved into a tie with Martin for the championship lead. But then the unthinkable happened – another hard crash, this one from Cooper Webb, who looked to be in some pain afterwards. (Webb also crashed in the first moto, leaving him saddled with 18-23 moto finishes.) That allowed Savatgy to retake second place and move back into position for an overall win.
“Marvin and Cooper were going faster than I could go, so I can’t take anything away from them – they were ripping,” Savatgy, who led 19 out of 30 laps overall between both motos, recalled after the race. “I knew my only hope was for Cooper to catch Marvin and get in front of him. But then I saw Cooper went down and I had to do a math stop in the air and figure out where everyone was. At that point I was like ‘Oh man, I think I’m gonna win.’ It’s a crazy feeling. I’m pumped.”
Musquin and Savatgy finished the moto 1-2, while rookie Aaron Plessinger set a new career high with a third-place moto finish. Jessy Nelson took fourth, and Jeremy Martin bounced back from a poor start to finish fifth in the moto.
Behind Savatgy, Musquin (4-1) and Jeremy Martin (1-5) landed on the podium in second and third, respectively. Martin will hold the red plate for a fourth consecutive round next weekend at Utah, but Musquin successfully chipped away at his championship lead today. What was a four-point deficit entering today has been sliced in half. Martin and Musquin are now separated by just two points with two rounds remaining in the 2015 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship.
CREDIT: Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship