AMA-MX: 2009 Glen Helen results

Villopoto sweeps 450 class

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, May. 26, 2009
Ryan Villopoto began his 450 class AMA Motocross career by sweeping both motos in the season opening round May 23 at Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino, Calif.

The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider became the second rider to pull off a sweep in his 450 debut. Ricky Carmichael was the first, completing the feat in 2000, also while riding a Kawasaki bike. Villopoto moved into the 450 class this season after winning the last three 250 class championships.

The first moto began with Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Mike Alessi off on another of his trademark quick starts. Alessi led the first lap but lost the advantage when his bike got stuck on a turn. By the time he got free, he had dropped to fourth while Boost Mobile Yamaha’s Josh Grant took the lead.

Grant led for eight of the race’s 14 laps before Villopoto took over on lap ten to win by over 18 seconds. Grant finished second and Alessi third.

“In the first moto we got a really great start and were out in front and pulling away big time. Just all of a sudden, I hit a turn and got stuck – literally got stuck and couldn't get out,” says Alessi. “That put me all the way back to fourth. I charged back to third to try to salvage points.”

The second moto proved to be more of a challenge for Villopoto. Alessi took another early lead and was able to hold onto it for most of the race.

Meanwhile, Villopoto struggled for the beginning of the race, falling as far back as tenth. Slowly, Villopoto worked his way through the field to emerge in second place by lap six. Over the next five laps, Villopoto trimmed away at Alessi’s 16-second lead to take the lead on lap 12. Villopoto eventually won by 2.648 seconds.

“It’s tough coming up through the pack,” says Villopoto. “In the first moto it wasn’t too bad, but in the second moto I was back in tenth at the start so I had to work hard. I have to say this is one of the toughest tracks I have ridden at a national. It was really rough and it was good. I liked the track. It really separated the riders. My bike was good and I could ride a good pace.”

Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Chad Reed finished third to complete the podium.

Kawasaki saw further success in the 250 class as Christophe Pourcel took the first moto ahead of Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey and Geico Powersports Honda’s Trey Canard.

Dungey prevented another Monster Energy Kawasaki sweep by winning the second moto by 1.434 seconds ahead of 2008 MX2 World Champion Tyla Rattray. Dunlop Factory Connection Honda’s Justin Barcia finished third for the final podium spot.

The 2009 AMA Motocross season continues May 30 with the Hangtown Motocross Classic at Prairie City SVRA Park in Sacramento, Calif.