Author: Brent Stallo
So, what happened at Southwick? Perhaps the better question is what didn't happen. Enough action went down at Southwick to keep an entire lunch table full of 8th grade girls busy gossiping for at least three straight lunch periods. And that, my friends, is saying a lot.
In case we miss anything in our report, here are a few of the mentionables. Metcalfe wins (yes, we said WINS, as in the overall), Dungey nearly gives away title, Barcia also wins (one moto), Reed blows it, literally, Wilson ahead by a mile, Baggett slips and Bogle continues to impress. And that doesn't even come close to covering every headline that went down throughout the weekend.
First things first. Hurricane Irene may have sparred much of the east coast, but it still brought a lot of rain. And by a lot, we're talking Budds Creek '09 proportions. Add rain to a track that is already infamous for being a game changer and you're got yourself a perfect receipt for disaster.
We'll kick this thing off by giving a HUGE shout out to our boy, Brett Metcalfe on taking home his first win of the season at a track that has dished out its share of heartbreak in the past. Metcalfe stated after the race that he felt as if his first moto was one of the worst he had ever ridden at Southwick and that he was lucky to have placed third. Metty came into the second moto with high hopes of finishing on the podium, but to see him pull off what he did, well, that was just amazing.
With Dungey out of contention due to a bike that showed up to the gate about 45 second too late (more on that later) Metcalfe only needed to beat Villopoto in order to take the overall. The only problem there was he got off the gate behind RV and everyone knows how that usually turns out. However, Metty dug deep and worked his way past RV, who seemed to be riding conservatively amidst the conditions, and eventually past Justin Brayton and into second. By this time he was still ages away from reeling in race leader Justin Barcia, but then again he didn't need to. Barcia, who experienced a blown motor in the first moto, was a non-factor. All Metty needed to do was keep RV in his rear view and he'd take the win. And he did just that.
While the Suzuki pits were elated with Metcalfe's first career win, the teams inability to start Ryan Dungey's bike in time to make the gate drop for the second moto was reason for disappointment. Dungey took the first moto win over RV and as such cut his point's deficit down to four. Then the problems started. As he lined the gate for the second moto Dungey did so without his trusty steed and was forced out of his gate position to the last gate on the line, per AMA rules.
As the 30-second board went up Dungey was still without a bike, but lucky for him, his team was able to replace the motor before the first lap of racing was complete, thus allowing him to enter the race. Albeit late, but he was able to enter nonetheless. With nothing more than saving points on his mind Dungey went to work. In roughly 34 minutes Dungey was able to work himself from being a half a lap down to seventh position. It was a ride that will go down in history as one of the most epic of all time. He still lost points to Villopoto, who finished the moto in fourth, but he may have saved his title hopes.
Dungey now heads into the final two rounds eight points down from RV, almost guaranteeing the fans a final showdown at Pala Raceway in two weeks.
In the Lites class things weren't quite as eventful, well, at least in terms of the championship they weren't. Dean Wilson, who entered into Southwick with a 25-point lead, was able to extend that lead to 38 thanks to an unlucky weekend out of his teammate Blake Baggett. With Tyla Rattray crashing last weekend at Unadilla and scoring zero points in the second moto, Baggett was the only rider within striking distance of Wilson. Unfortunately for Baggett, his fifth overall caused him to fall even further back in the championship. If he needed some luck heading into Southwick, he'll need nothing short of a miracle heading into Steel City if he wants to find himself back in the hunt.
It wasn't all about PC at Southwick, though. Gareth Swanepoel, with a magnificent win in the first moto, was able to become one of a select few to land on the podium this season. He's been close on a number of occasions, but it wasn't until Southwick that he was able to pull the rabbit out of his hat. Another unlikely podium went to Eleven10 Mods backed Alex Martin in the second moto. Martin, who has shown flashes of brilliance this season, got out to the early lead in the second moto and was able to hang onto a podium finish. He finished the weekend with 10-3 moto finishes for fourth overall, solidifying himself amongst a short list of podium finishers in the Lites class this year.
Only four motos remain in the 2011 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships and as we've seen time and time again in the past, a lot can happen in four motos. As usual, we'll be there every step of the way, so be sure and log back in daily for more coverage of the 2011 outdoor series.