In many ways, Millville was the most exciting race that we have seen this year; there was no shortage of on-track action! Usually, Millville is a circuit that the toughest riders thrive at; so it isn’t a surprise that Ricky Carmichael and Ryan Dungey have been quite dominant there in the past. But the track was different to usual this past weekend, to the surprise of most.
Surprisingly, a couple of guys stressed that the track was not great this year. Usually, Millville is quite sandy. However, there seemed to be a much harder base on Saturday; it seemed like it was not ripped as deep. It turns out that they were anticipating some rain. So, they elected to keep the track more hard-pack than usual, so that the rain would run off – if it arrived. But the scheduled showers never happened; as a result the track did not soften up like most had expected.
Despite the difficult track surface, Millville still hosted the usual poignant features that seem to have a place in motocross history, including the sand whoops and the ‘Chadapult’. Part of the reason that Millville is so popular amongst the riders is that it offers some diversity in its design, which could be why it always hosts great racing. There are always going to be places to pass at Millville – the sand whoops are an option for the riders every lap. The Martins do a great job at the facility that they actually live on, no doubt about it.
It is always great to see some parity in the 450MX class, as it has been all about the Ryans for the most part. Fortunately, there were a few different faces up front at the weekend, as Trey Canard and James Stewart were in contention for the victory, for the first time this season. It is still quite strange to consider a JS7 win “a surprise” – but that is the world that we live in at the moment. In moto one, the battle that the two guys engaged in was great to watch, as we rarely get to see a fight to the finish like that nowadays. Although it was quite peculiar to see a sudden change of pace from Trey, it made more sense, the more that I thought about it.
Millville has been quite kind to Trey Canard in the past. Although he hasn’t raced there much (because of injuries), when he has done, he has enjoyed success, including a win in 250MX in 2010 and his first career 450MX podium in 2011. Sure there are a few tracks that Canard has bad memories of, but Millville is one that has been good to him. In the past, we’ve seen how beneficial this mental edge can be. Although JS7 took his first win of the season on Saturday, I would argue that he was not really much faster than he was at the previous rounds. But the cards fell his way at Millville, thanks to the misfortune that the Ryans encountered.
Although a fifth in moto one seemed like a lackluster finish for Ryan Dungey, he was actually quite lucky to finish in that position. In fact his home event could have been quite disastrous for him. Remarkably, Ryan Dungey had to put his chain on his bike on the side of the track in race one; it had derailed earlier in the second set of whoops. Surprisingly his chain stayed on for the rest of the moto, which seemed unlikely at first. Rarely, do we see something like this happen. But I thought that it was quite cool; it showed just how desperate Ryan is to capture the title for a third time.
Ryan Villopoto was very lucky at Millville as well, as his fall on lap one of the first moto could have had disastrous consequences. I am surprised that he managed to jump up, as quickly as he did, as it was quite a hard crash – one that most riders would not have rebounded from. It was certainly an odd day for him, as he fell countless times in the two races, which we aren’t used to seeing from him. But he too salvaged some reasonable results, as Ryan lost just eight points to Dungey on the day – it could have been a lot worse.
Although the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series has a week break now, the American motocross scene is still quite busy, as most professional riders will head down to Loretta Lynn’s to see the stars of tomorrow attempt to establish their position in the sport. Some of the riders will be heading to the X Games also; Chad Reed (and some others) will be taking part in the Moto-X event in LA. So although the premier series is on a break before the final three rounds, the industry is still abuzz.
Words by Lewis Phillips