Unadilla is known for being a rough, rugged beast, hence why the lap times in the two tables below seemingly drop off as the race progressed. Evidently the circuit claimed quite a few of the riders; even some of the guys featured in this column couldn’t avoid taking a soil sample. In the end two riders proved their worth by excelling on the difficult terrain, but that doesn’t mean that there were not some great battles throughout the field.
Ryan Dungey vs. James Stewart – 450MX Moto One
Ryan Dungey (2nd)
James Stewart (3rd)
It was quite surprising to see that Ryan Dungey was seemingly off the pace at Unadilla. Sure, he got third overall, but we all know that Dungey would have liked to be much closer to RV. I was actually quite surprised to see that the Red Bull KTM rider began to lose time to Stewart in moto one, as James gradually inched closer in the middle of the race. Of course, he wasn’t close enough to attempt a pass, but he was visibly faster – the lap times above support this.
In the table, there are nine laps highlighted – these made up much of the race, so it is a good indication to what went on. James Stewart was faster than Ryan Dungey, on six of those nine laps, despite his dislike for Unadilla. It is worth noting that on those laps, he only made a tiny gain of around half a second – but we all know that is a large amount of time in motocross. It is a shame that this battle did not go anywhere, but that is because Ryan sustained his speed over the duration of the moto, whereas James’ times seemed to alter more.
When the checkered flag flew at the conclusion of the first 450MX moto at Unadilla, Dungey had a faster average lap time than James Stewart. But the difference wasn’t much, as James’ average time of a 2:19.287 was just off of the average time of Dungey – a 2:18.867. I do think that their lackluster final laps would have increased both riders’ average times. I believe that the increase in lap times towards the end could be because of two reasons – either the deteriorating track conditions, or the fact that everyone had settled into their position.
Eli Tomac vs. Ken Roczen – 250MX Moto Two
Eli Tomac (1st)
Ken Roczen (2nd)
In the lead up to Unadilla, most suspected that Ken Roczen would be very fast – after all, the circuit could be likened to those in Europe. Ken was fast; he just was not fast enough to beat Eli Tomac. It was somewhat surprising to see how much faster Eli was; but we have seen this scenario quite frequently in the ten rounds run. In the moto highlighted above Roczen led at the beginning, but lost the lead to his rival on the tenth lap. It was very clear that Tomac was coming, as the lap times indicate that he was rapidly closing on the German.
On lap six, Eli Tomac posted a 2:15.657 lap time, the fastest of the race, which was very close to his fastest time in practice (2:15.590). Remarkably, Tomac was faster than Roczen on all of the laps highlighted in the above chart – no one can dispute that Eli was faster. It is intriguing that Tomac’s lap times increased once he had secured the lead. On the lap following his pass Eli set a time four seconds faster than Roczen. However, Eli then dropped his times to a 2:20, which indicates that he rode to the level of his competition, rather than force the issue, once he had already secured the lead.
There is no doubt that this past weekend was a huge mental victory for Eli Tomac – he made a huge statement. I’m certain that Ken Roczen has been left scratching his head heading into the final two rounds.
Words by Lewis Phillips
Image courtesy of Simon Cudby/KTM Images