MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (August 31, 2011) – In winning the first 450 Class moto at Southwick’s Moto-X 338, defending Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Champion Ryan Dungey had already put in a hard day’s work. The Rockstar Energy/Makita Suzuki rider had to hold back not only the late charge of his championship rival Ryan Villopoto, but also the deteriorating elements, as Hurricane Irene was approaching the legendary Massachusetts motocross track. But then an electrical malfunction with the race bike left Dungey’s entire team back in the pits scrambling to discover and fix the problem before the start of the second moto. That’s when the real work started!
Despite their best efforts, the event began without Dungey’s #1 motorcycle on the grid. As soon as master mechanic Mike Gosselaar could sort out the problem and get the engine running, he raced the bike down to starting line. Dungey started his race nearly a full lap behind the rest of the pack but, in heroic fashion, rode as fast as he could through the treacherous rain, picking off riders left and right. By the time the 30 minutes plus two laps of racing were complete, Dungey had climbed from 39th position all the way up to seventh. In passing 32 competitors he both salvaged his hopes of repeating as champion and laid claim to this week’s Ricky Carmichael Hard Charger Award.
Dungey has been locked in battle with Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Villopoto all summer long and, after a close first-moto win, had trimmed Villopoto’s championship lead to four points. Had the equipment malfunction prevented him from starting moto two, he would have been faced with a 25-point deficit.
Having retrieved his now-running bike from Gosselaar on the line, Dungey actually stalled it for a moment before re-firing the engine. The crowd roared as the #1 rider jumped out onto the racetrack just ahead of eventual moto winner Justin Barcia of the GEICO Honda tea. The fans stuck him with as he climbed steadily back through the field.
At the halfway point, Dungey was still not in the top 20, but once he got into a points-paying position, he picked up his furious pace even more. When he took the checkered flag in seventh, he was just three spots behind Villopoto, the series points leader. Despite the drama, Dungey still left Southwick just eight championship points behind Villopoto with two rounds remaining in the series: this weekend at Steel City Raceway in Delmont, Pa., and the grand finale on September 10 at Pala Raceway above San Diego, Calif.
For his dedication in the extreme conditions of Southwick, Ryan Dungey will be presented with the Ricky Carmichael Hard Charger Award at Saturday’s pre-race riders’ meeting prior to the Steel City National in Delmont. The announcement will provide well-deserved recognition for his efforts in front of his peers.