Last weekend at Budds Creek MX Park in Mechanicsville, Md., Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki’s Chad Reed stood atop the podium for the fifth time this season and was able to add the number one plate to his resume after clinching the 2009 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship 450 Class title. It is the first outdoor championship for the Australian rider and the third AMA title of his career. As the battle for second heats up between Honda Red Bull teammates Andrew Short and Ivan Tedesco, the focus shifts this weekend to the tight 250 Class title hunt.
During the Budds Creek race, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Christophe Pourcel extended his small advantage over Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey to 13 points with two rounds remaining. The advantage puts Pourcel in a comfortable position for the final four motos in which he needs to finish at least second in order to guarantee the championship no matter what Dungey does. While experience will play into Dungey’s hand, Pourcel has not appeared to suffer from unfamiliarity, landing on the overall podium at all 10 rounds this season. The duo will surely engage in a fight to the finish, providing stellar on-track action for the fans.
This weekend, professional Motocross makes its only stop in New England, home of some of the most dedicated fans in the country. Historic Moto-X 338, in Southwick, Mass., serves as host of the Moto-X 338 Motocross National and will challenge riders with the only sand track on the schedule. As the site of many memorable battles throughout the years, Moto-X 338 always provides some great racing. Same-day coverage of the race will feature each class for the first time in 2009. SPEED will present the 250 Class beginning at 9 p.m. ET immediately followed by the 450 Class at 10 p.m.
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
While Pourcel is leading the way with his chase for a championship, Jake Weimer is putting together a breakout season and it hasn’t gone unnoticed as shown by his selection to the Motocross of Nations team. The Idaho rider captured his third win of the season last weekend in arguably the strongest ride he has ever had outdoors. Despite coming up just short of the moto one win, Weimer kept his teammate in his sights and the determination carried over into moto two where he took the lead late in a torrential downpour. After sitting in 10th after four rounds, he now sits fourth in the standings, on the cusp of taking third. For Pourcel, a smart ride in the rain showed his championship mentality. Knowing the pressure is somewhat relieved, it could be more of the same from the Frenchman. However, never one to back down, if a win is in his grasp don’t be surprised if he makes a charge. For Austin Stroupe and Tyla Rattray, each rider continues to get back into top form after lengthy injuries. Each rider finished in the top 10 last weekend with Stroupe in fifth and Rattray in 10th. Neither rider competed at Southwick last season so it will be interesting to see how they fare in the sand.
"Southwick should be a good race for me," said Pourcel. "I race well on sandy tracks so hopefully I can win both motos and build a bigger cushion heading to the final race. I’m going to just concentrate on getting the best finishes I can."
"I need to get two good starts again," explained Weimer, who claimed both holeshots last weekend. "The second half of the season has been really good and I want to keep getting good finishes and try and finish third in the standings."
"It is good to be back on track," stated Rattray. "I’m glad I got a race in before coming to Southwick. Since it is a sand track, I think I can do well, but it helps having raced last weekend. I really want to get back on the podium and I think I have a good chance this weekend."
"I’m making good progress," added Stroupe. "I just want to finish out the season as strong as I can and hopefully get a couple of podiums."
Even though he has lost ground in the title hunt, Dungey has been at the top of his game. Top-five starts have forced him to work his way through the field a bit more than his rival, but the speed is there and so is the confidence. His runner-up finish last season at Southwick was surrounded by wins in three of the final four events. If any rider has what it takes to make a late season run, its Dungey and with every point on the line from here on out, its go time for the Minnesota native.
"I’m excited about racing Southwick this weekend," boasted Dungey. "It’s a good track – it’s a lot of fun and I feel pretty comfortable in the sand. We only have two rounds left in the season and everything is coming down to the wire. I’ve been focusing on doing my regular program this week and will just try to ride my own race this weekend and gain some more points in the championship."
GEICO Powersports Honda
Australian Brett Metcalfe was on the verge of claiming an elusive first moto win at Budds Creek, but as the rain came down harder, the track became increasingly difficult and a slight bobble relegated him to second. However, Metcalfe’s never surrender mentality has brought him to third place in the standings and it is only a matter of time before that win occurs. Last year at Moto-X 338, he put together one of his best performances of the season, finished second and third in the motos for third overall and will look to improve on that on Saturday. Rookie Justin Barcia quietly took home fourth overall last weekend with moto results of fourth and seventh. The Georgia rider has become consistent late in the season, honing in on his endurance and using his stellar speed when necessary. For third member Blake Wharton, the final month of 2009 has been rough. After scoring no points two rounds ago, he suffered the same fate last weekend and can’t seem to rid himself of bad luck. He hopes his 10th place result in Southwick last season will mean that things turn around for the final two races.
In just his second race back, Ryan Sipes led the way for the KTM team at Budds Creek. He finished eighth overall and rode at the front of the pack for the majority of the muddy second moto. British rookie Tommy Searle was one of the many riders who suffered from misfortune in the final moto, posting finishes of seventh and 21st for 13th overall. In his first race back from shoulder surgery, Wil Hahn brought home 25th.
"I have always heard stories about Southwick and I am very excited to see what this sand track is all about," said Searle. "Every track on the circuit is new to me and it is a thrill each weekend the first time I pull onto the track."