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American Analysis: Washougal

Washougal has been a staple on the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross calendar for many, many years; the wooded track has become a part of motocross history now. Fortunately we were privy to some history being made this past weekend, as Ryan Villopoto (the hometown hero) won his home race for the first time. But Washougal served up some controversy away from the track as well. In fact this has overshadowed the event for the most part, so we do not really have a choice but to touch on it.

Unfortunately, the Alessi family seems to always be at the centre of controversy. In the past, they have performed some questionable actions. Whilst Mike Alessi seems to have got away from that reputation in recent years, his brother Jeff has made his fair share of mistakes. It is clear that Jeff’s racing career didn’t go to plan; he hasn’t been on-track at an American professional race for quite some time (due to injuries for the most part). However, he has been racing at a few local races etc; so his name is still out there. What I am getting at is Jeff Alessi is still ‘a name’ that is recognised by most. So, the actions that he performed at Washougal aren’t acceptable.

If you missed what happened, Jeff Alessi was caught with a laser pen in his possession, which he was shining in the eyes of a few 450 guys (including Ryan Villopoto – a rider that the Alessi family have history with), just moments before the gate dropped. Although I’m sure that this may not seem like too big a deal to some – the results could have been serious. Villopoto has openly stated that the incident affected his concentration; if you ride, you know just how much of this is required. Perhaps this could have affected the results also? Imagine racing up horsepower hill whilst having a laser pointed directly into your eye? Obviously, it really could have been quite disastrous; hence why Davey Coombs has taken this so seriously.

Although the punishments have been announced (these are firm but fair, in my opinion), Jeff Alessi continues to plead his innocence, and the debate is far from over. Sadly it did not stop when Coombs confiscated the laser and the pass that Jeff held; both Tony Alessi, and Mike Genova were involved in a heated argument with Steve Matthes – the journalist that broke the news – following the race. Tony has also been stating that Davey Coombs assaulted Jeff, which is an added point of focus. Overall, this incident is ridiculous; it definitely shouldn’t have happened at a professional event, such as round eight of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross. Now, it seems MotoConcepts will not attend the remaining rounds as a result!

Anyway, shall we look at some of the action that happened on-track, rather than off of it? At Washougal, the main focus going in was whether or not Ryan Villopoto would finally capture an overall win at his hometown race. Although he has captured a couple of moto wins there, Villopoto has not been able to put together two motos at that track. Honestly, I did not think that he was going to win there this year. Why? Coincidentally, his primary rival, Ryan Dungey has had a lot of success at the venue, as the comparison below shows:

Ryan Villopoto

Ryan Dungey

2006

6th Overall – 40-2 (250s)

Amateur

2007

2nd Overall – 1-3 (250s)

3rd Overall – 3-2 (250s)

2008

2nd Overall – 1-2 (250s)

1st Overall – 2-1 (250s)

2009

Injured

1st Overall – 1-5 (250s)

2010

Injured

1st Overall – 1-1 (450s)

2011

2nd Overall – 1-2 (450s)

1st Overall – 2-1 (450s)

2012

Injured

1st Overall – 2-1 (450s)

2013

1st Overall – 2-1 (450s)

2nd Overall – 1-2 (450s)

I found it intriguing that Ryan Villopoto has dropped out of the top three in a moto only once at Washougal, despite never winning an overall there prior to this weekend. However if Ryan had not missed the race three times due of injury – I’m sure that he would have already got a win at Washougal. Ryan Dungey has only dropped out of the top three in a race once, too, so that is why he is considered the master of Washougal by most. In my opinion the fact that he [Ryan Dungey] had a five-race win-streak on his side at the wooded track going into this year is the most interesting stat from the chart above; that is an impressive feat, as he would have had to remain healthy and one-hundred-point for five straight years.

Now the series will head over to the circuit of Millville, in Minnesota, for round nine of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross. Interestingly, this is the home race for Ryan Dungey, and he has not lost a race there in five years either. If Villopoto could halt his win-streak there, as well, it would be a huge mental victory for him.

Words by Lewis Phillips

Image courtesy of Simon Cudby/KTM Images

MX Vice Editor || 25

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