The Unadilla National went off today at the famous Unadilla Valley Sports Center in Upstate New York. Along with the excitement of an increasingly close 250 Class points battle was the return of several top stars to the U.S. racing scene, most notably former 450 Class national champ, James Stewart. Along with the return of the San Manuel/L&M/Yamaha star were World Motocross GP rider Clement Desalle, Jason Lawrence, Ben Townley, and Wil Hahn.
Rain seemed inevitable at the start of the day but by mid-morning, the clouds had parted, making way for blue skies and seemingly perfect weather for racing, and the riders did not disappoint. Every moto offered up some excellent action, keeping the large crowd excited all day long.
Ryan Dungey took a commanding holeshot ahead of a raging 450 field. Following the early leader were Dungey’s temporary teammate Clement Desalle, Andrew Short, and James Stewart. Within just one lap, Dungey had already opened a small gap on the rest of the pack, knowing that if he wanted to win this particular moto he would need to put some distance between himself and the returning number seven. But Desalle proved to be a bit more than Stewart probably anticipated, as he held off the Yamaha rider for several laps before dropping back to third.
That is when Stewart put the hammer down and began closing the distance that Dungey had gained in the opening laps. But eventually Stewart’s 18 months away from outdoor racing began to show, as he began to lose ground to Dungey’s relentless pace. As the laps wound down, Desalle began to creep back up on the number seven. A fall by Stewart in the “Screw U” section gave the Belgian rider second place once again. Stewart was able to remount for third but it was too late into the moto to make up any ground. At the finish it was Dungey, Desalle, Stewart, Short, and Metcalfe.
In a bit of a surprise, Justin Brayton had the best jump off the gate, taking the holeshot and immediately showing the poise that is expected of a race leader. But it was not long before the Muscle Milk/Toyota/JGR/Yamaha rider was overtaken by Andrew Short, who has been one of the best and most consistent starters this year. Not far behind Short was the Suzuki duo of Desalle and Dungey, Ben Townley, and Brett Metcalfe. The number 29 would push for several laps before finally succumbing to the pace of Desalle and Dungey just before the mechanics’ area.
From there, the two Suzuki stars from opposite sides of the globe laid down some blistering laps, with Desalle leading the charge. Dungey showed his racing wisdom in the following few laps as he stalked his Belgian counterpart for a quarter of the race. Later Dungey would admit that Desalle had some pretty fast lines that he learned as he was following the number 463. By learning those lines, Dungey was able to close the gap and suddenly make his move, although Desalle was determined not to go lightly. On several occasions Desalle tried cutting back underneath Dungey, but to no avail. Within a lap of Dungey moving into first, he already had a two second cushion on second place, and from there proceeded to do what he has done so many times this season: check out.
Brett Metcalfe once again showed his consistency and stamina, as the Aussie began the moto around sixth place but rapidly moved up through the standings into third by the halfway point. Not far behind Metcalfe, Kevin Windham who followed his Honda compatriots drive through the pack, working his way from seventh to fourth at the finish.
1) Ryan Dungey 1-1
2) Clement Desalle 2-2
3) Brett Metcalfe 5-3
4) Andrew Short 4-5
5) Kyle Regal 8-6
6) Ben Townley 7-9
7) Kyle Chisolm 9-8
8) Justin Brayton 11-7
9) Josh Grant 6-14
10) Tommy Hahn 10-11
11) James Stewart 3-35