2008 AMA Outdoor Motocross Nationals – Thunder Valley

Villopoto and Stewart Sweep Again in Lakewood
By Donn Maeda
Photos by Garth Milan

Thunder Valley Motocross hosted the first-ever nighttime AMA Motocross National this weekend. Though the time of day was different, the results were not. Ryan Villopoto and James Stewart continued with their winning ways, sweeping the Motocross Lites and Motocross classes, convincingly.

MOTOCROSS LITES MOTO ONE
With the sun setting behind the mountain that the Thunder Valley racetrack is carved out of, Villopoto swept across the track and snared the first holeshot of the evening. Chasing close behind were Suzuki’s Nico Izzi, Austin Stroupe and Josh Grant, who was making his first appearance since his concussion at the Las Vegas SX.
At the start of lap three, RV enjoyed a six-second lead over Izzi, Stroupe, Grant, Ryan Dungey and MDK KTM’s Martin Davalos. Dungey found his way past Grant on lap four and set his sights on the lead trio. Stroupe went down on lap five, bumping everyone up a spot, and leaving the Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki teammates to round out the podium positions. Grant, meanwhile, was impressive as he held down fourth.
Further back in the pack came Matt Goerke, Trey Canard, Dan Reardon and Ryan Sipes. Mired back in the pack were Yamaha of Troy riders Mike Brown, Jason Lawrence and Ryan Morais.
Canard was the rider on the move inside the top 10, and he ran down Goerke’s KTM for fifth just past the halfway mark. Up front, meanwhile, the distance in between the top three began to shrink. With two to go, Izzi closed within five seconds of Villopoto and Dungey was only three seconds further back in third. At the finish, however, Villopoto held on for his eighth-straight moto win. The last lap saw an exciting battle for second, as Dungey closed on Izzi and nearly got him. Grant was fourth ahead of a fast-closing Canard.

MOTOCROSS MOTO ONE
As expected, Alessi grabbed the holeshot abaord his EFI Suzuki RM-Z450. Stewart, hometown hero Andrew Short, and Ivan Tedesco gave chase. Alessi enjoyed the point position for longer than usual, as Stewart didn’t work his way past for 3/4 of a lap. Once out front, Stewart pulled his customary disappearing act and established an immediate lead.
On lap four, Stewart held a five-second lead over Alessi, who in turn enjoyed the same cushion over Short. Behind them came Tedesco, Michael Byrne, Davi Millsaps, Michael Blose and Sean Hamblin, the new factory Yamaha rider. Hamblin suffered a horrible start and, along with Kawasaki’s Tim Ferry, sliced through the pack and towards the front. On lap six, Tedesco slowed suddenly and looked to be in pain as he circulated the track slowly before pulling off.
At the halfway point, Stewart led Alessi by over 10 seconds. Short came next, and was trailed by Millsaps, who had just made his way past Byrne.
Not much changed inside the top 10 in the remaining laps. At the finish, Stewart held a commanding 16-second lead over Alessi. Short was third, followed by Millsaps, Byrne, Sean Collier, then Hamblin.

MOTOCROSS LITES MOTO TWO
Grant led the way in the second moto and was trailed by Davalos, Stroupe, Brown and Izzi. Villopoto, meanwhile, was mired at the start and completed lap one in around 10th. While Grant pulled out an early lead over Davalos, Villopoto was busy slicing through the night air and working his way forward. Dungey crashed spectacularly on the opening lap and was attended to by the Asterisk medic staff.
Five laps in, and Grant held a solid lead over Davalos and Stroupe, and showed no signs of being sidelined for the previous six weeks. Villopoto, though, was on the move and into fourth. Stroupe retired from theace just before the halfway point with mechanical woes, as did Davalos a few laps later. As the laps wound down, RV closed the gap on Grant, setting the stage for a spectacular finish. With three laps to go, Villopoto railed the outside line in a tricky switchback section and made an aggressive pass on Grant, much to the delight of the crowd. Grant, however, was not going to give up that easily and stuffed the National Champ a couple corners later. Just before the finish line, Villopoto again railed the outside line and swooped right past Grant anbd into the lead for good. Once in control, Villopoto established a solid lead over Grant, who appeared to be spent. This left the door open for Grant’s Geico Powersports teammate Canard, who was arguably the fastest rider on the track as he reeled the former leader in. Time ran out, however, and Grant held on to second at the finish, a few inches ahead of Treynard.
Villopoto’s ninth moto win of the season was arguably the hardest fought thus far, but the champ was glad to get the night race out of the way.
“I wasn’t looking forward to the race at all,” admitted Villopoto. “I didn’t see how they could safely light a huge National track. It was better than I thought, but the way they kept the track graded and smooth because of the lights, made it easy for anyone to go fast.”

Motocross Lites (Moto Results)

Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki, 1-1
Josh Grant, Riverside, Calif., Honda, 4-2
Nico Izzi, Saint Clair, Mich., Suzuki, 2-4
Trey Canard, Elk City, Okla., Honda, 5-3
Dan Reardon, Murrieta, Calif., Honda, 7-7
Matt Lemoine, Pilot Point, Texas, Yamaha, 10-5
Matt Goerke, Lake Helen, Fla., KTM, 6-10
Jake Weimer, Rupert, Idaho, Honda, 9-8
Mike Brown, Gray, Tenn., Yamaha, 12-6
Ryan Sipes, Vine Grove, Ky., KTM, 11-9

Motocross Lites Point Standings
Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki, 241
Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., Suzuki, 183
Austin Stroupe, Lincolnton, N.C., Kawasaki, 152
Jake Weimer, Rupert, Idaho, Honda, 152
Brett Metcalfe, Murrieta, Calif., Kawasaki, 143
Jason Lawrence, Carlsbad, Calif., Yamaha, 120
Dan Reardon, Murrieta, Calif., Honda, 104
Nico Izzi, Saint Clair, Mich., Suzuki, 92
Matt Goerke, Lake Ellen, Fla., KTM, 89
Trey Canard, Elk City, Okla., Honda, 83

MOTOCROSS MOTO TWO
Under the lights, the second Motocross class moto got underway with the customary Alessi holeshot. Team Red Bull Honda came next; Millsaps and Short, followed by Stewart and Ferry. Stewart quickly worked into second on lap one and set out after the “hare.”
At the start of lap three, Alessi held a two-second advantage over Stewart, who was well ahead of Millsaps and Short. Ferry, Byrne, Collier and Josh Hill came next. As he was in the first moto, Hamblin was swallowed up at the start and had his work cut out for him.
Stewart moved past Alessi on lap five and began to pull away, pulling out five seconds within the next two laps. Millsaps maintained third over Short, who had his hands full with a hard-charging Ferry. Byrne held sixth over Hill, followed by stunning privateer Sean Collier. Hamblin was up to ninth at the halfway mark.
As the laps wore down, the action on the track stayed mush the same: Stewart way out front, Alessi way ahead of the battle between Millsaps, Short and Ferry. Aside from Hamblin closing in on and overtaking Collier, the closing laps of the moto were uneventful. At the checkered flag and flamethrower, it was Stewart, Alessi, Millsaps, Short, Ferry, Byrne, Hill, Hamblin and Collier.

Motocross (Moto Results)
James Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Kawasaki, 1-1
Mike Alessi, Victorville, Calif., Suzuki, 2-2
Davi Millsaps, Tallahassee, Fla., Honda, 4-3
Andrew Short, Smithville, Texas, Honda, 3-4
Michael Byrne, Newnan, Ga., Suzuki, 5-6
Timmy Ferry, Largo, Fla., Kawasaki, 8-5
Sean Hamblin, Murrieta, Calif., Yamaha, 7-8
Sean Collier, Santa Clarita, Calif., Kawasaki, 6-9
Josh Hill, Yoncalla, Wash., Yamaha, 13-7
Jeff Alessi, Victorville, Calif., Honda, 9-12

Motocross Class Point Standings
James Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Kawasaki, 250
Mike Alessi, Victorville, Calif., Suzuki, 199
Davi Millsaps, Tallahassee, Fla., Honda, 188
Timmy Ferry, Largo, Fla., Kawasaki, 179
Andrew Short, Smithville, Teas., Honda, 141
Michael Byrne, Newman, Ga., Suzuki, 130
Nick Wey, Dewitt, Mich., KTM, 103
Sean Hamblin, Murrieta, Calif., Yamaha, 102
Ivan Tedesco, Tallahassee, Fla., Honda, 95
Jeff Alessi, Victorville, Calif., Honda, 94


, Tallahassee, Fla., Honda, 4-3
Andrew Short, Smithville, Texas, Honda, 3-4
Michael Byrne, Newnan, Ga., Suzuki, 5-6
Timmy Ferry, Largo, Fla., Kawasaki, 8-5
Sean Hamblin, Murrieta, Calif., Yamaha, 7-8
Sean Collier, Santa Clarita, Calif., Kawasaki, 6-9
Josh Hill, Yoncalla, Wash., Yamaha, 13-7
Jeff Alessi, Victorville, Calif., Honda, 9-12

Motocross Class Point Standings
James Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Kawasaki, 250
Mike Alessi, Victorville, Calif., Suzuki, 199
Davi Millsaps, Tallahassee, Fla., Honda, 188
Timmy Ferry, Largo, Fla., Kawasaki, 179
Andrew Short, Smithville, Teas., Honda, 141
Michael Byrne, Newman, Ga., Suzuki, 130
Nick Wey, Dewitt, Mich., KTM, 103
Sean Hamblin, Murrieta, Calif., Yamaha, 102
Ivan Tedesco, Tallahassee, Fla., Honda, 95
Jeff Alessi, Victorville, Calif., Honda, 94