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Washougal wash job: It rained. who’d have expected such a thing to happen in the Pacific Northwest? But one thing you can expect from motocross fans who rust more than tan is that rain doesn’t stop them from coming to the races. If it did they would never get to do anything. The crowds at this year’s Nationals have been amazing—not just in their numbers, but in their unique personalities from region to region. Unadilla is coming up on August 8th—expect it to have a character of it own.
Ryan Dungey: Ryan Dungey became the winningest rider in Washougal history when he notched the 7th victory at the track since he first won the 250 class back in 2008 (and that was his first-ever AMA National win). This was a lucky win for Dungey because Justin Barcia had him covered until Justin did a spread eagle split in a muddy rut and allowed Dungey to swoop by.
Justin Barcia: Can you smell what Justin’s cooking? You should be able to because its a combination of clutch plates, high rpm smoke and a devil-may-care cologne. Barcia approaches race tracks in a way that hasn’t been seen on the National circuit in years. He’s wide open—you may not like his beard, but you gotta imagine that thing blows back at a 90-degree angle when he’s pegging the throttle of what is an amazingly powerful YZ450F. Barcia has become the motocross master of disaster as he goes from one crazy corner to the next. He’s wide open and he isn’t “playing it safe.” You’re rooting for the guy and praying for his safety at the same time.
Ken Roczen: It’s all slipping away from Kenny and with it goes his previously sunny attitude to racing. He’s got that same “sucking a lemon” look that was etched on Ryan Villopoto’s face during his final AMA Supercross season. No more laughing and rapid fire banter on the podium. Just some strange words and thoughts, quickly corrected, that imply—”I’m not happy with my bike.” Adding to Kenny’s woes are the fact that his mechanic Kelly Lumgair is leaving him when the season is over. Kelly didn’t want to leave KTM when Kenny announced his switch and rejected Rozcen’s pleas to come with him. Finally, RCH Suzuki made Kelly an offer he couldn’t refuse, so he went with Kenny to RCH. Now, he wants out. He will return to KTM at season’s end and Roczen will have to find a new mechanic for 2016.
The K-Roc ankle: RCH has been throwing everything they’ve got at Roczen’s problems. On Thursday at Glen Helen they tested all day—almost all day. After testing all morning, Roczen went back onto the track to try something new, but as be entered the track he gassed his RM-Z450 to turn onto the race surface and it snapped out from under him. He stuck his left foot out to catch the bike—which wasn’t going more that 5 mph. In the process he twisted his ankle. It was obvious to all at Glen Helen that he was in pain. Kenny rode back up to the REM pits scrunched over his handlebars in pain and had to be helped to a lawn chair. Amazing, an hour later he was back on the bike, albeit for sessions that had been shortened to one-lap-at-a-time tests. He did two of those with different settings and then called it a day. To be at a mud race, where ankles are at their greatest danger, and go 7-3, is a testament to how much Kenny wants to fight for his number one plate.
Christophe Pourcel: What is the most important thing to Christophe Pourcel? Happiness. He wants to be happy and if he isn’t, he isn’t going to go fast or stay around for very long. And, Christophe hasn’t been happy since he left the Pro Circuit team, where Mitch Payton and he were comme des frères. But, Pourcel pointed out of the 250 Supercross series and had to leave Mitch’s loving embrace. Since then, Pourcel has been unhappy. And he has quit or left or walked away from four teams since then. Now, at Husqvarna he’s happy as a clam—which in French is pronounced “clam.” Christophe’s 3-5 at Washougal wasn’t earth shattering. Why not? It was muddy. It was cool. It was what should be expected of him every week. But no one expected a smiling and talkative Pourcel on the podium.
Trey Canard: The oft-injured Trey Canard was back and he hasn’t lost any speed. But his timing and balance were a little off and one jump at Washougal may have had him spooked. However, the jump he broke his leg on a few years ago wasn’t really a factor in the mud—except that Canard fell twice on the take-off ramp, even though taking off was next to impossible. He just pushed the front end in the mud and slid safely to a halt both times. He remounted, had time for one more muddy mistake and finished 8-9 for ninth overall. You gotta start somewhere. Trey got some seat time and finished right behind Honda fill-in rider Fredrik Noren’s 9-7—who, as a Swede, would like it to rain every week.
Cooper Webb: The back and forth battle between Jeremy Martin and Marvin Musquin has been exciting, but with Cooper Webb in the mix now (after missing 5 races with an ankle injury) it is mesmerizing. Cooper Webb has added a third player to the show…and even though he’s a teammate of Jeremy Martin he seems to have a grudge against both Martin and Musquin. After Musquin slithered by him in the first moto (twice), with fairly typical slide job-style passes that are the best you can hope for on a muddy track, Webb threw a Loretta Lynn-style rant on the podium saying Musquin was dirty and he was going to pay him back for cross-jumping by him (although Musquin’s wheels never left the ground during the passes). It was an amateur podium display of the first degree. Then, somewhere between the first podium and second one, Cooper Webb grew into his role as an AMA Pro. He apologized on national TV for the things he said earlier in the day. It was refreshing on two levels: (1) Cooper has a long career in front of him as a Pro and he doesn’t need enemies on the track, back in his own truck, with future sponsors or from the fans of the sport. (2) It was a mud race—he wasn’t going all that straight himself. You learn as you go and Washougal may have been a learning experience that will be valuable in the future.
Arnaud Tonus: When Mitch Payton brought Arnaud Tonus over from the Grands Prix for this year, the focus was solely on the AMA 250 Nationals. Sadly, for both Arnaud and Mitch that hasn’t happened. Tonus did okay in his Supercross debut (enough to surprise a lot of people), but then he got weak, sick and eventually ended up on the couch with the European version of Epstein-Barr. Now, 9 races into the 250 Nationals Arnaud finally got to race his first one. It was both glorious and painful. Tonus finished a strong third in the first moto, but got knocked down in moto two (while in the top 10). He suffered a hand injury in the incident and soldiered on to 20th. At last he got to race and gets a week off to heal.
Bad day blues: It was muddy. Riders fall down in the mud. They get stuck behind slower riders in one-line ruts. They spin on the line and get caught up in pile-ups. At the end of the day, the results are a crap shoot. And, in the 250 class, Matt Biscelgia (35-10), Justin Hill (11-13), Joey Savatgy (12-21), Martin Davalos (20-17) and Chris Alldredge (25-32) can chalk their bad days up to the fates and the clouds. It wasn’t a lot prettier in the 450 class. Blake Baggett paid the biggest price for going down in moto two. He had been a solid 5th in moto one, but found himself dead last after a crash in moto two. He chugged his way back to 12th to save the day. But, last week he looked like he was on target to run Ken Roczen down in the points chase for the final podium spot. Not anymore. Jason Anderson was another ride who had speed denied by the mud. He was sixth in moto one, and was running near the front in moto two when he crashed, got up, crashed again and then had some kind of mechanical ailment that sent him to the pits.
Broc Tickle: Broc has been the model of consistency (if you don’t count Ryan Dungey). On average he runs in the 5th to 7th placings and takes home approximately 30 AMA points a week. Not at Washougal. Broc went 16-20 and earned 6 points. And he was leapfrogged by Christophe Pourcel in the 450 points chase and now sits 7th overall. Last week he was knocking on the door of 5th overall (only 7 points behind Jason Anderson for a desirable “top five” year—now he is 16 points behind Anderson for 6th and 21 points out of 5th, which Pourcel snatched from both Anderson and Tickle).
What’s left in 2015: KTM had a bad week in motocross. But not at Washougal. Ryan Dungey won the 450 class, Marvin Musquin was second in the 250 class (and gained points on Jeremy Martin in both motos). Plus, there were 4 KTM’s in the top ten in the 250 class with Musquin (2nd), Jessy Nelson (6th), Shane McElrath (7th) and Mitch Oldenburg (8th). All good. But it was still a bad week for KTM. How so? Jeffrey Herlings crashed out of qualifying in Czecho and will miss more races, Tony Cairoli has been sidelined with an broken arm and KTM’s Tom Moen crashed at Perris Raceway on Saturday and broke his tib/fib. Hey, forgive us, but the MXA crew thinks that Tom’s injury is the worst news of the bunch. Why? He is MXA’s KTM tech guru. We work with him every week. Herlings? Not so much? Cairoli? Nope. Get well Tom and by the way, could you get us a 45 Nm rear spring…if you’re not busy.
Here are the remaining AMA Nationals
August 8………….…Unadilla, NY
August 15……….…..Miller Motorsports, UT
August 22 …………..Crawfordsville, IN
WASHOUGAL FINAL RESULTS: 450 CLASS
1. Ryan Dungey (KTM)…2-1
2. Justin Barcia (Yam)…1-2
3. Christophe Pourcel (Hus)…3-5
4. Ken Roczen (Suz)…7-3
5. Phil Nicoletti (Yam)…4-6
6. Weston Peick (Yam)…12-4
7. Fredrik Noren (Hon)…9-7
8. Trey Canard (Hon)…8-9
9. Blake Baggett (Suz)…5-12
10. Josh Grant (Kaw)…11-8
Other notables: 12. Kyle Chisholm; 13. Jason Anderson; 15. Justin Brayton; 16. Andrew Short; 18. Broc Tickle; 22. Mike Alessi; 37. Austin Politelli.
WASHOUGAL FINAL RESULTS: 250 CLASS
1. Cooper Webb (Yam)…2-1
2. Marvin Musquin (KTM)…1-2
3. Aaron Plessinger (Yam)…5-4
4. Christian Craig (Hond)…4-5
5. Jeremy Martin (Yam)…9-3
6. Jessy Nelson (KTM)…6-8
7. Shane McElrath (KTM)…11-6
8. Mitch Oldenburg (KTM)…8-9
9. Zach Osborne (Hus)…7-11
10. Arnaud Tonus (Kaw)…3-10
Other notables: 11. Alex Martin; 13. Justin Hill; 14. Tosh Tomita; 17. Joey Savatgy; 18. Jordan Smith; 21. Martin Davalos; 30. Chris Alldredge.
2015 AMA 450 NATIONAL POINTS STANDING
(After 9 of 12 races)
1. Ryan Dungey…400
2. Justin Barcia…331
3. Ken Roczen…331
4. Blake Baggett…275
5. Christophe Pourcel…247
6. Jason Anderson…242
7. Broc Tickle…226
8. Phil Nicoletti…209
9. Weston Peick…198
10. Fredrik Noren…187
2015 AMA 250 NATIONAL POINTS STANDING
(After 9 of 12 races)
1. Jeremy Martin…375
2. Marvin Musquin…371
3. Zach Osborne…259
4. Joey Savatgy…240
5. Alex Martin…233
6. Jessy Nelson…233
7. Aaron Plessinger…203
8. Shane McElrath…181
9. Adam Cianciarulo…178
10. Cooper Webb…174
Photos; KTM, Husqvarna, John Basher, Troy Lee Designs, Geico Honda, Husqvarna