BUCHANAN, Mich. (July 7, 2008) -- The 4th of July weekend ended with a bang as the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship Presented by FMF reached the halfway point of the 2008 season. A boisterous legion of motocross faithful welcomed the world's best...
BUCHANAN, Mich. (July 7, 2008) -- The 4th of July weekend ended with a bang as the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship Presented by FMF reached the halfway point of the 2008 season. A boisterous legion of motocross faithful welcomed the world's best riders to RedBud Motocross USA for the 35th Annual Monster Energy/Kawasaki Motocross National Presented by Scott USA. Kawasaki's James Stewart and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto continued their respective dominance in each class.
The first moto of AMA Motocross Lites saw Ryan Sipes of the MDK/Muscle Milk/KTM team grab his second BTO Sports.com Holeshot Award followed by Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto and Sipes' teammate Martin Davalos. Geico Powersports Honda's Trey Canard and Rockstar/Makita Suzuki's Nico Izzi were in close tow. Rockstar/Makita Suzuki's Ryan Dungey, currently second in the points, would fall on the first lap and had to come through the pack. Boost Mobile/Yamaha of Troy's Mike Brown was way back off the start. Cycra/K&C Cycle Yamaha's Michael Willard dropped out of the race at this point, the victim of a crash. Sipes would go on to lead on the first lap but series leader Villopoto would make the pass on Sipes after the ski jump. Izzi got by Davalos on the back section of the track and, coming off his career-best moto finish of second last weekend, was moving forward. Dungey passed four riders just on the second lap alone and ended up going from 20th to eighth. Izzi got by Sipes and moved into third. Canard kept Villopoto in sight and Izzi was looking strong. Sipes got a second wind and worked his way past Izzi and into the third spot, where he would remain for the rest of the race. Canard finished a career best second and once again, Ryan Villopoto won the moto.
For the seventh time in a row, Rockstar/Makita Suzuki's Mike Alessi grabbed the BTOSports.com Holeshot Award in the opening AMA Motocross moto, followed by series points leader, Monster Energy Kawasaki's James Stewart. Alessi's teammate Michael Byrne was off to his best start of the year in third and was receiving pressure from Red Bull Honda's Andrew Short and Davi Millsaps. Moto XXX Honda's Antonio Balbi was also enjoying his best start of the season in sixth, with Riley MX Racing Honda's Michael Blose sitting in seventh. Alessi led the first lap but soon after that, Stewart went around the outside of Alessi in a sweeper and took the lead. It was a lead that Stewart wouldn't relinquish. Short and Millsaps would pass Byrne and engaged in their own battle. Monster Energy Kawasaki's Tim Ferry moved into fifth, but would later drop his Kawasaki in a turn and fell back to 10th. Ferry would charge up through the field and pass Balbi and MDK KTM's Nick Wey on the same lap to move into fifth again. It was on the sixth lap that Millsaps would go over the bars on a downhill and hurt his shoulder, knocking him out for the day. Short would secure third with his teammate's crash. Ferry tipped over again and had trouble starting his motorcycle, eventually restarting in 29th. Balbi swapped coming out of a corner and fell, dropping back to 15th. North Racing Inc./Factory Connection Honda's Jimmy Albertson had the best race of his career riding in eighth. Suzuki City Biloxi MS/OTSFF Suzuki's Cody Cooper worked his way into ninth and was looking strong until running out of fuel on the last lap. He would be credited with 16th. Stewart dominated the moto and took the win with Alessi second and Short third.
As the AMA Motocross Lites class blasted out of the gates in its final moto, an orange bike was out front for the second moto in a row. Davalos grabbed his second BTO Sports.com Holeshot Award and shot out to the early lead. He was soon passed by Villopoto on the first lap, who quickly opened up a sizeable lead. Yamaha Motor Corp/Toyota Yamaha's Jake Moss would run strong in fifth early on. Dungey was in the lead group along with Canard. Geico Powersports Honda's Josh Grant made some moves early on and worked his way into fourth. Dungey and Grant engaged in a battle until Dungey claimed fourth for himself and began to work on Davalos. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Brett Metcalfe passed Yamaha Motor Corp/Toyota Yamaha's Matt Lemoine in the sand whoops to move into 10th. Dungey was proving to be the second fastest rider on the track when he got by Davalos in the "wall" turn for third. Canard was keeping Villopoto within sight when he tipped over on lap nine and allowed Dungey to pull right behind him. These two would go on to have a great race until the very last lap, when Dungey's Suzuki stopped with apparent engine trouble, ending his moto. First moto podium finisher Sipes crashed early on and would eventually pull out of the moto. The moto winner and overall champion on the day was Villopoto, followed by Canard in second and Davalos in third, who picked up third overall with his second moto performance.
Stewart shot to the early lead off the start the second moto in AMA Motocross, momentarily breaking Alessi's streak of seven consecutive holeshots. But Alessi's bad luck would only get worse as four turns into the race he crashed hard after the ski jump and laid on the ground for several minutes, causing AMA Officials to red flag the race. Alessi was carted off the track by the Asterisk Medical Crew to a standing ovation from the RedBud crowd. The second moto restart saw Stewart grab the BTOSports.com Holeshot Award. Short was in second and was pulling away from Ferry, who was running in third. Albertson was running in fourth before getting passed by Wey, Cooper and Byrne. Cooper dropped back and left the battle between Wey and Byrne, which would also determine the final podium position. Byrne would get the best of this battle after going around the outside of Wey before the end of lap nine. MDK KTM's Billy Laninovich pulled out of the moto at the beginning of lap 10. Ferry took advantage of a mistake by Short and closed the gap. These two riders battled the next three laps, with Ferry trying several different lines to get by him. Eventually Ferry got the inside from Short and captured second place. Factory Yamaha's Josh Hill had to pull out of moto two when he injured himself in a crash on lap seven. His teammate Sean Hamblin, riding with an injured shoulder, gritted out an 11th-place finish. The finishing order of the moto was Stewart, who won his 12th-consecutive moto, Ferry and Short. The overall podium was Stewart, Short, and Byrne with a season-best result.
SPEED will air the action from the AMA Motocross class on July 12 at 10 p.m. ET and the AMA Motocross Lites on July 15 at 2 p.m. ET.
Michael Byrne, Rockstar/Makita Suzuki, AMA Motocross, Third Overall
"I wasn't expecting to be on the podium. I was just trying to carry the momentum from last weekend. I got a pretty bad start in the second moto so I just knew I had to beat Nick (Wey) top get on the podium. I really enjoy this track. I've always enjoyed the layout. I feel like I'm starting to come around with my strength now. Since I've had so much time off I'm a lot more enthusiastic about riding now and having a lot more fun."
Andrew Short, Red Bull Honda, AMA Motocross, Second Overall
"I got a really good start. That's helped with the consistency (today). There is one really fast line and the faster guys get sucked into a faster pace and gap the field. (Having four riders on the team) may create more pressure on me down the road. It took a while for everything to come together and for us to get our bikes working. I just hope Honda gets a healthy team and we can get four guys back out there. I've always had a hard time starting a series strong. In a long series like this it seems to be a battle of attrition and everything separates itself as the season goes on. It's a long, hard season and I think that helps me."
James Stewart, Monster Energy Kawasaki, AMA Motocross, Overall Winner
"My starts have been pretty good. I got the holeshot today. It was hot and I think that separated (the competition) a little bit. I knew I needed to get a good start because Mike (Alessi) was definitely going to. (A perfect season) hasn't crossed my mind. It's not my goal. My goal is to win a championship. I just want to give myself the best opportunity to win. As long as I continue to get good starts and good gate picks I think that will help. Every year this track offers something different. There are a lot of good lines out there and it's really wide. When it gets rough I think it's actually safer."
Martin Davalos, MDK/KTM, AMA Motocross Lites, Third Overall
"I couldn't find my rhythm the first moto. I was trying to find lines by following guys so after that I just kind of rode my race. It's been hard to recover from (my) injury. Luckily it wasn't that bad and here I am working as hard as I can to catch up to these guys. The only way to get back the time I lost was by racing. I put some laps out there with the guys in race mode and the weekend off before Colorado helped me even more. All I want (from my team) is the best they can give me because I give my best when I'm out there. I knew I was in fourth (in the second moto) but then I saw Ryan (Dungey) off to the side and they told me I finished third. It's really exciting."
Trey Canard, Geico Powersports Honda, AMA Motocross Lites, Second Overall
"I came into the season wanting to win. I think I put too much emphasis on that instead of doing my best. My style is 200% and I lost track of some of the other elements of that. My speed is my strength and you can't take advantage of that with bad starts. I think m starts are coming together now. I've been practicing on them an hour a day. Hopefully I keep getting good starts and keep riding my best. For me that's all I can do and I'm happy with that. Ryan (Villopoto) is on. He's pretty unreal. In the second moto I crashed, which was a bummer, but I was happy to stay in front of (Ryan) Dungey. I've never gotten second at a national so that's pretty cool."
Ryan Villopoto, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki, AMA Motocross Lites, Overall Winner
"I've won some of the Triple Crown's before and I've never won three in a row so it'd be nice to go to Steel City and wrap it up there. Once I saw how close Trey (Canard) was, I just put my head down and put in some quick laps. Three or four laps later I was about 19 seconds ahead. I figured he fell. Line selection is important. Some of the ruts are tricky. I probably ride the outside more than other people and it works for me. There is no chance I will ride a 450cc. I don't think I'd want to jump up and not have any idea of how well I could do. I'm sure I'd be a little off the pace and unable to ride two motos."