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Ryan Villopoto and Ken Roczen Emerge Victorious at RedBud National

RedBud MX celebrated 40 years of hosting the world’s fastest racers on Saturday for Round 7 of the 2013 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing. Taking place over Fourth of July weekend, a massive crowd was on hand to witness some of the most intense racing of the season at Buchanan’s Red Bull RedBud National in southwestern Michigan.

Amongst some of the sports most decorated racers, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto swept both motos in the 450 Class to capture his fourth overall victory of the season; further extending his points lead in the class. In the 250 Class, Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen maintained his points lead after capturing a 2-1 moto score en route to his second overall win this season.

Thousands of fans lined the fences as the gate dropped for Moto 1 of the 450 Class, led immediately by Toyota/JGR/Yamaha’s Josh Grant, who grabbed the Motorcycle Superstore Holeshot. Grant maintained his lead in the opening laps but a hard charging Villopoto came through the pack from a seventh place start to eventually take over the lead by Lap 4.

Villopoto, current 450 Class points leader, established a comfortable gap on the rest of the field, leaving the battle for second place to ensue between Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey and Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart. However, a mechanical issue ultimately ended Dungey’s charge in Moto 1, allowing Stewart to inherit the runner-up position late in the race. Dungey’s 34th place finish in the first moto marked the first time this season that the reigning champion has finished off the podium. Grant maintained a smooth and consistent performance, securing a season-best third place finish in Moto 1.

In Moto 2 of the 450 Class, it was Stewart and Villopoto who commanded the early lead as the two former 450 Class champions diced back and forth in the opening laps. It didn’t take long for Dungey to inject himself into the battle where he created a three-way fight for the lead. Villopoto powered by Stewart in the infamous sandy whoop-section and Dungey followed suit, moving past Stewart for the second place position. With track conditions shaping up to be brutal, Villopoto worked hard to hold off the charging duo of Dungey and Stewart, who trailed close behind.

Bad luck struck again for Dungey in Moto 2 but this time as the result of a crash near the end of the race. Dungey’s misfortune allowed Stewart to reclaim the second place position, where he ultimately finished second behind Villopoto. Dungey was able to bounce back to salvage third place in Moto 2, where he finished 11th overall with a moto score of 34-3.

Villopoto’s clean sweep marks his first career 450 Class overall at RedBud and now gives the points leader eleven moto victories-the most of the season-after seven rounds of racing.

“We started the season in a very good position [winning the first five motos], but we kind of faded away and now it feels like we’re back to where we need to be,” Villopoto said. “The tracks are getting rougher and the speeds are getting higher and we were definitely pushing the pace pretty hard today.”

In the 250 Class, GEICO Honda teammates Wil Hahn and Eli Tomac went head-to-head off the start in Moto 1, where Hahn edged out Tomac for the Motorcycle Superstore Holeshot. Tomac reclaimed the early lead while Red Bull KTM teammates Marvin Musquin and Ken Roczen diced it out for the second place position. Around the halfway point, Roczen made the pass on Musquin despite the rough track conditions, where he then set his sights on Tomac out front.

MYPLASH/Metal Mulisha/Star Racing Yamaha’s Jeremy Martin put in a career best performance at RedBud, beginning with an impressive start in Moto 1. Martin followed close behind the intense battle for second between Roczen and Musquin throughout the first half of the race, keeping the pace of the KTM duo. By the hallway mark, Tomac was out of sight and Roczen had built a comfortable lead on his teammate Musquin for the second spot.

Just before the 2-Lap board, Martin closed the gap to less than one second on Musquin but in the end, the Frenchman was able to hold off the rookie to secure third place behind Roczen, while Tomac secured the Moto 1 win.

In Moto 2 of the 250 Class, GEICO Honda’s Zach Osborne and rookie Jeremy Martin commanded the early lead with heavy hitters Musquin, Roczen and Tomac all within striking distance. Roczen quickly made his move to the front by Lap 3 and the points leader didn’t look back from there.

A small mistake early on caused Tomac to get off to a slow start but the GEICO Honda rider eventually fought his way back to the second place spot that was briefly inherited by the young Martin. Tomac continued to charge toward Roczen out front but wasn’t able to catch the leader in time to make a passing attempt. Roczen’s Moto 2 victory gave him the overall win with a 2-1 moto score, topping Tomac’s score of 1-2 for the day. Jeremy Martin’s impressive 4-3 score landed the Minnesota native his first career podium finish in the 250 Class with two season best moto finishes.

After running in the lead pack, Musquin fell victim to a couple of late crashes that ultimately knocked the Frenchman back to fourth place in Moto 2, where he took fourth overall with a moto score of 3-4. Osborne remounted from a crash of his own, salvaging fifth place in the second moto to finish with fifth overall with (10-5) finishes for the day.

Only seven points separate Roczen and Tomac in the point standings with five races remaining in the series championship.

Round 8 of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship heads to Washougal, Wash. for the Peterson Cat Washougal National on Saturday, July 20.


MX Vice Editor || 25

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