Ryan Dungey Continues Late Season Surge with Victory at Unadilla
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Following its final break in action for the 2014 season, the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, began its stretch run on Saturday with the 10th round of the summer from Central New York’s legendary Unadilla with the Red Bull Unadilla National. With just two rounds and four motos remaining, Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey made another major jump in the 450 Class title fight by earning his third win in the last four rounds and closing to within single digits of his teammate Ken Roczen atop the standings. In the 250 Class, Valli Motorsports Yamaha’s Christophe Pourcel became the fifth different winner this season in the division, signifying the Frenchman’s first victory on U.S. soil since the 2010 season.
For the third consecutive moto, Toyota/Yamaha/JGRMX’s Justin Brayton put himself out front of the start to earn the MotoSport.com Holeshot Award in the first 450 Class moto, bringing his JGRMX teammate Phil Nicoletti with him. Not far behind them was Dungey, who wasted little time in making his march to the front and passed both Yamaha riders to assume control of the lead on the opening lap. Roczen kept pace with his teammate and fought his way from a start outside the top five to move into second. From there it became a two-rider battle for the moto win between the KTM duo.
Dungey kept Roczen at bay throughout the entirety of the moto, with mere bike lengths separating the teammates for the bulk of the race. However, in the closing laps Dungey extended his advantage and ultimately posted a wire-to-wire victory to put him in the drivers seat for the overall. Behind this pair, GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac quietly rode to a solid and consistent third-place finish. Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Trey Canard, who was fastest in practice, fought his way forward from a start outside the top 10 to finish fourth. BTO Sports KTM’s Andrew Short rounded out the top five.
With all eyes on Dungey and Roczen in Moto 2, it was once again Brayton who emerged with the MotoSport.com Holeshot Award for the fourth straight time, but his time out front was short lived as both Tomac and Canard moved to the forefront and ultimately stole the spotlight. With the Honda duo out front, both Dungey and Roczen were forced to fight their way from starts outside the top five. When the jockeying was complete on the opening lap it was Tomac leading, followed by Canard, Dungey and Roczen.
Tomac and Roczen opened a significant gap over the rest of the field, but then started to engage in an exciting battle for the top spot that lasted several laps. The two riders traded positions multiple times on the track, which allowed Dungey to close the deficit to a matter of bike lengths and make it a three-rider fight for the win. Eventually Canard logged consistent laps to assert himself in the lead, leaving Tomac and Dungey to fight for second, with Roczen a distant fourth.
Dungey made his way past Tomac with four laps remaining and pushed to close in on Canard. About a second separated the two riders throughout the closing laps and Dungey moved within striking distance on the final lap, but the Honda rider held on to earn the first 450 Class moto win of his career. Tomac followed in third, with Roczen finishing off the podium for just the second time this season in fourth.
Dungey’s 1-2 results ensured him of the overall, his third at Unadilla. He now has four wins this season, tying him for the most in the division with Roczen.
“It was an awesome day. We just wanted to make the most of the day and not get sidetracked [with the championship],” said Dungey. “There’s a lot of racing left still with two rounds to go, but things are going good. It feels great to get another overall, but I made it hard on myself in the second moto and let those guys [Tomac and Canard] get away. Maybe a couple more laps we could have got Canard, but he was riding really good.”
Canard earned his best finish of the season in second (4-1) thanks to the moto win, with Tomac (3-3) edging out Roczen (2-4) for third overall via a tiebreaker. It marked the first time this season that Roczen failed to finish on the overall podium.
“I can’t tell you how good that feels,” said Canard after his moto win. “I’m not going to sit here and cry about what’s happened [in the past with injuries], but I am just so thankful to have the opportunity to be here [on top of the podium] again. I’m just so happy to be up here and I’m looking forward to the next two races.”
Dungey’s win marked another seven-point swing in his favor, bringing his deficit to Roczen atop the championship standings to just seven points. Dungey has gained 17 points on Roczen the past two rounds. Canard sits third, 74 points behind, with Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Brett Metcalfe fourth (-167) and Tomac jumping up all the way to fifth (-195) despite missing the first four rounds of the season with injury.
Throughout the 2014 season, Pourcel has proven to be one of the fastest riders in the 250 Class, consistently posting the fastest lap of practice and regularly earning the MotoSport.com Holeshot Award. At Unadilla, he earned his fifth straight holeshot to begin Moto 1 and used that to his advantage to pace the field for the entirety of the moto. While fellow Frenchman Marvin Musquin ultimately challenged him late aboard his Red Bull KTM, Pourcel was able to break through for his first moto win of the season with relative ease.
While the action up front was under Pourcel’s control, the battles behind him were captivating. The Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha duo of Cooper Webb and Jeremy Martin slotted in behind Pourcel early, but Musquin was on a mission, moving past both riders from his fourth-place starting spot before closing in on Pourcel. A late crash by Webb while battling his teammate for third dropped the sophomore rider several spots back, which allowed Martin to finish third. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Dean Wilson finished in fourth, with GEICO Honda’s Justin Bogle fifth. Webb dropped to seventh.
The start of the second moto resulted in more of the same for Pourcel, who captured his sixth consecutive MotoSport.com Holeshot Award to put himself in position to earn the overall. Martin began the moto in second with Bogle following in third. Musquin had to fight his way forward from a fifth-place start, while Webb was mired in ninth.
Pourcel dominated the first half of the moto but slowly began to lose ground to Martin. On Lap 7, the championship points leader took over the lead from the Frenchman and quickly pulled away. The pair maintained their large gap over the rest of the field, while Bogle maintained his hold on third for the whole moto.
In the end, Martin raced to his class-leading eighth moto win, with Pourcel second and Bogle third. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett was fourth just ahead of Musquin. Webb suffered an apparent bike issue and was forced to retire, finishing 36th.
After a three-year hiatus from full time competition in America, Pourcel was back on top of the podium thanks to his 1-2 moto results. It was the seventh win of his 250 Class career and his second at Unadilla.
“The first moto was good and we got a good start in the second moto,” said Pourcel. “I love the track here [at Unadilla] and it really works for my style. I’m just really grateful to be back up here [atop the podium] and want to thank everyone for the support they’ve given to me. Jeremy was riding great in that second moto, so I had to give it to him.”
Martin’s 3-1 results landed him second overall and extended his double-digit points lead to an even greater margin. Musquin rounded out the overall podium in third (2-5).
“I got off to a great start [in Moto 2] and battled with Christophe [Pourcel] for a while, then I chipped by tooth after getting hit by a rock,” said Martin. “After that I realized I needed to make my move. I haven’t won a moto in a while so it felt good to get back out front. I did make a few mistakes out there today, so I’ll do some work during the week to come back stronger next weekend.”
Martin moved to 66 points over Baggett, who jumped into second following Webb’s misfortune. Webb sits third, 74 points back. Musquin sits fourth (-93), while Pourcel rounds out the top five (-101)
The 2014 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship hosts the penultimate round of the championship next Saturday, August 16, with the 11th round of the season and the inaugural event from Ironman Raceway in Crawfordsville, Indiana. First motos for the Thor Indiana National begin at 1 p.m. ET.
Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship – Red Bull Unadilla National Unadilla – New Berlin, New York – August 9, 2014 – Round 10 of 12
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