REFLECTIONS OF THE PAST: 2012 UNADILLA NATIONAL

By John Basher

August 18, 2012–round 10 of the AMA National series. That single event was historical for several reasons. (1) Ryan Dungey clinched KTM’s first AMA 450 National Championship. (2) Blake Baggett was powered away with the 250 National title, although Justin Barcia was keeping Baggett honest. (3) A relative unknown by the name of Jeremy Martin raced his first 250 National. The eventual two-time 250 National Champion went 18-27 for 23rd overall in his first Pro race.

With Ryan Villopoto out of the 2012 AMA 450 Nationals after injuring his knee at the Seattle Supercross, the focus turned to James Stewart and Ryan Dungey. Stewart reeled off four straight moto victories to open the series aboard his new Yoshimura Suzuki. Remember that Bubba jumped ship from JGRMX Yamaha following the Supercross series. A violent crash while leading the first moto at Lakewood ended Stewart’s bid. Still, he tried coming back to stay in the hunt, only to disappear for long stretches. Bubba had a huge crash in the second moto at Unadilla and would retire for the remainder of the series.

The summer of 2012 was smooth sailing for Ryan Dungey and KTM. Once Stewart was out, Dungey clicked off ten straight moto wins. He celebrated victory and his second 450 National title after crossing the Unadilla finish line with a 1-1 performance. Ryan clinched the championship with two rounds to spare. Talk about domination!

In the 250 class, Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett was putting together an impressive line of results. However, he was outmatched by the European duo of Marvin Musquin and Ken Roczen at ‘Dilla. That cool summer day in New Berlin, NY turned out to be huge for Musquin (first 250 National overall victory) and Roczen (first 250 moto win). Blake Baggett would eventually win the title, but Unadilla was a precursor for what was to come in the ensuing years.

Take a look back at the 2012 Unadilla National through the images below.

Tyla Rattray (28), James Stewart (7), Jake Weimer (21), Les Smith (46) and the rest of the 450 class fought for position out of the gate.

James Stewart was on fire during the opening motos of the 2012 AMA 450 National Championship, but his good fortune took a swan dive into an empty pool when he crashed violently at Lakewood. A number of ailments kept him out of racing for part of the summer. He raced Unadilla, but a second moto crash knocked him out of the rest of the series.

The first 450 moto was a battle between journeyman Michael Byrne (26) and factory Kawasaki rider, Jake Weimer (21). Byrne led, but crashed and broke his leg. Weimer inherited the lead and was on his way to his first ever 450 moto victory, only to take a digger.

Ryan Dungey controlled the 450 National Championship in his first year with KTM.

The “Junkyard Dog,” John Dowd came to Unadilla with a goal of scoring points. He did just that, finishing 17th in the first moto. These days his son is carrying the torch.

Ryan Dungey’s mechanic, Carlos Rivera, wrote his favorite short story of 2012 on Dungey’s pit board.

How many of these riders can you name? We will give you a minute to jog your memory back to 2012. Ok, are you ready? That’s Austin Howell (61), Evgeny Mikhaylov (595), Derek Anderson (241), Dalton Carlson (91), Jake Weimer (21), Kevin Rookstool (71), Jake Loberg (975), Michael Stryker (945, and recent Loretta Lynn’s +25 Champion), Christian Craig (43) and Dakota Kessler (449, son of Mickey Kessler).

Ryan Dungey celebrated his second 450 National title with a fist pump over the finish line.

Zach Bell (167) was a holeshot machine when he began his Pro career. He pulled two holeshots, but got cross-rutted on the fast downhill following the famed “Skyshot” jump in the second moto and had to be carted off.

MXA followed Justin Barcia around Unadilla and did a story on the Geico Honda rider. This photo of Barcia over the “Skyshot” tabletop during practice was used as the opening spread. Barcia finished 7-2 for fourth overall.

Marvin Musquin had nothing but bad luck going for him when he first came over from Europe. However, Unadilla was his coming out party. The Frenchman went 2-3 for his first 250 National overall.

Even Champions need to start somewhere. Jeremy Martin logged his first Pro race at Unadilla, finishing 23rd overall. He wasn’t even close enough to smell the exhaust of Blake Baggett, Jessy Nelson, Martin Davalos or Blake Wharton. My, how things change.

Blake Baggett was the points leader entering Unadilla, and he kept the red plate all of the way until the end of the series. Unadilla was an off-day for Baggett, as he finished fifth overall.

Justin Bogle has always been a flashy rider. He made himself comfortable over the “Skyshot” during practice, much to the delight of Unadilla’s faithful fan base.

Who is this rider? It’s none other than Eli Tomac. In 2012, Tomac was really starting to grasp outdoor racing and establish himself as a serious threat. He went 6-1 for second at Unadilla that year.

The 2012 Unadilla National was a banner day for KTM. Ryan Dungey clinched the 450 title, Marvin Musquin won his first overall, and Ken Roczen (above) won his first 250 National moto.

 

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