The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series has transitioned into the second half of the season in the last few weeks, as there are now just five rounds remaining before the champion is crowned at Lake Elsinore in the last weekend of August. Seeing as there was not a race to analyse this past weekend, I thought that now would be a great time to take a closer look at the top four riders in each class.
1st Ryan Villopoto (Monster Energy Kawasaki) – 333 points.
I honestly do not see anyone beating Ryan Villopoto for this 450MX championship; I am sure that I’m not alone in thinking that. Obviously with a forty-two-point gap, it’s looking good for him. Although RV has only won one more overall than his main rival (Ryan Dungey) it is quite clear that he is a step above the competition. However RV has not had a lot of success at the final five tracks that the series are heading to now, he hasn’t even raced at either the Miller Motorsports Park or Lake Elsinore. I believe that Washougal will be most interesting, as RV has never won at his home track. So it will be a massive triumph for him if he can conquer the circuit this weekend.
2nd Ryan Dungey (Red Bull KTM) – 291 points.
Before Red Bud, Ryan Dungey had a bit of a streak going, as he had won the overall at Budds Creek and Southwick. But that momentum came to a screeching halt at Red Bud, as a couple of issues (including a mechanical DNF, and a crash) meant that he lost quite a lot of points to the series leader. It now seems unlikely that he will defend his title, as I don’t think that he is going to go on a streak anytime soon. Although Washougal has been kind to him in the past, and Millville is his home track – so it would not be too surprising to see him win these races.
3rd Justin Barcia (Muscle Milk Honda) – 249 points.
At the beginning of the year it seemed as though Justin Barcia was going to break away from the rest of the class and join the Ryans at the head of the field. However, Bam-Bam has been quite quiet out there since round four, he has not had the type of impact that we all thought he would. Perhaps this is a result of his first full season on a 450f getting to him? After all, he has done a lot more racing and travelling than he has done in the past. But Barcia is sat quite comfortably in third place; I do not think that he will move forward, or drop back in the final five rounds. Really, that isn’t bad at all for your rookie 450MX campaign.
4th Trey Canard (Muscle Milk Honda) – 200 points.
Trey Canard hasn’t had the flashes of raw speed that I expected him to; he has not been too noticeable out there, just like his teammate. When Canard last contested the series (2011), I was surprised to see that Trey had the speed to match the Ryans. However, he hasn’t shown that this year, as he has made just one trip to the moto podium. Honestly I thought that Trey would do more than this in the individual races; but fourth in the series is where I expected him to be. If the Honda rider can stay in this position, it will have been a good comeback year for him. But JS7 is now starting to close in on him, so he could be in danger of losing this spot.
1st Ken Roczen (Red Bull KTM) – 312 points.
Now this is the Ken Roczen that we expected to see in 2012! Ken has been a constant threat for the win thus far this year, which has ultimately helped him maintain control of the series lead since round one. But he is far from in a comfortable position, as seven points separates him from Eli Tomac. Obviously, that gap could be overturned in just one moto; so it could be either of the two that hoists the number one plate above their head at the end of the year. I am sure that the German is quite pleased to have that seven-point cushion though – as it is a huge advantage mentally.
2nd Eli Tomac (Geico Honda) – 305 points.
I think that Eli Tomac has a reason to be concerned, honestly. Although Eli has shown that he can easily match the pace that Roczen is running, his starts have hindered him frequently. At the moment it seems as though neither Tomac nor his team have a solution for the problem, which must be slightly concerning for everyone in his corner. It is certainly strange, as he has had a handful of good starts, he just cannot replicate them frequently. If the title fight ended up coming down to a winner takes all situation, you have to presume that Eli would have the most to worry about, because of his starts – it’s certainly something to bear in mind.
3rd Marvin Musquin (Red Bull KTM) – 260 points.
What happened to Marvin Musquin? It was not long ago that he was a title contender, but it now seems as though he has dropped into a mid-season slump. If you read this column quite regularly, you will know that I did not really consider him too much of a threat for the crown, even though he won rounds three and four, and this is why. It seems like the Frenchman can only match the pace of the leaders on technical tracks, but on tracks that are the opposite of this (like the ones that the championship has just visited), he struggles. Now, the Frenchman has been eliminated from title contention, because of this.
4th Blake Baggett (Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki) – 247 points
We have all been waiting for Blake Baggett to mount a charge and begin racking up the wins, but we’re seven rounds in and we are all still waiting; it seems extremely unlikely now. Blake himself has put the blame on the wrist, however he has had some flashes of speed; they just haven’t been frequent enough to challenge for the championship. You have to presume that there is another underlying issue, as well as the wrist, as his inconsistent results indicate that something else is going on. After all how can he win one week and then finish on the edge of the top ten two weeks later?
Words by Lewis Phillips