Race Report – Steel City

words: Antonovich
photos: Kinman

The whirlwind 12-stop tour that is the Lucas Oil AMA National Championship came to a close in Pennsylvania, and the racing was met with clear skies (a blessing, considering the previous east coast rounds). Two titles were still to be decided when the day began, as both the Lites class and the WMA championships were still hanging in the balance at the end of a long summer that started in May on the opposite side of the country at Glen Helen. With two six motos left in one of the most unpredictable seasons in AMA history, the surprises continued up until the champagne and sweat soaked number one plate was finally handed over. While it's nowhere near as good as being there, here is the final race report of the 2009 AMA National Championship.

250 Moto One

The gate clanged into the PA soil and Geico Powersports/Factory Connection/ Honda rookie Justin Barcia bolted to the first turn with the early lead. Just behind him, the title contenders of Rockstar/Makita/ Suzuki hotshot Ryan Dungey and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's French import Christophe Pourcel made their way around the recent overall winner and went to the top two spots to try and settle the championship in thirty-five minutes. Dungey would attempt multiple passes in Pourcel, sneaking on the inside and going wide around Pourcel in the rhythm and downhill sections, but Pourcel would fire right back and hold off the USA MXoN team member. The contenders were close enough for the majority of the race that it was easy to see the different styles the two have; Pourcel's smooth and consistent flow and Dungey's more American wide open attack. On the closing laps, Dungey did falter and lost a bit of time to Pourcel, then hung back and stayed in second, losing minimum points going into the second moto with a slight point lead over Pourcel. The duo's lead over Justin Barcia was well over fourteen seconds, a clear display of the speed the two possess.

250 Moto One Results

1. Christophe Pourcel
2. Ryan Dungey
3. Justin Barcia
4. Jake Weimer
5. Austin Stroupe
6. Ryan Sipes
7. Ryan Morais
8. Blake Wharton
9. Brett Metcalfe
10. Steven Clarke

250 Moto Two

Moto two had a shake up for the holeshot, as Christophe Pourcel came across the stripe first with Ryan Dungey buried in the back of the top ten. The Kawasaki rider had a clear track ahead and started to gap the rest of the field as RD10 fought through traffic to keep damage control on his point lead, and would come to fifth place by the end of the first lap. Dungey made his way around the third and fourth place rookies of Geico Powersports/Factory Connection/Honda's Blake Wharton and privateer Pro Circuit/Kawasaki supported Blake Baggett, and the two Blake's would battle back and forth while keeping Dungey from establishing too massive of a gap. Ten seconds ahead of the three Americans, Pourcel led the final laps of the season and won the overall, but Dungey's 2-2 scores were enough to clinch his first AMA National title.

Muscle Milk/MDK/KTM's Tommy Searle had a rough final day to his season; while chasing Blake Wharton in the first moto the front end seemed to wash out, and he re-fired in a puff of smoke. The second moto would have him running second to Pourcel before another crash dropped him to sixth. Justin Barcia would be unable to match his success from the first moto, and could only muster a thirteenth in the final race of the day. Muscle Milk/MDK/KTM rider Ryan Sipes would also put in solid results with a 5-6 for his day's scores, which was enough for a fourth overall.

250 Moto Two Results

1. Christophe Pourcel
2. Ryan Dungey
3. Blake Wharton
4. Blake Baggett
5. Ryan Sipes
6. Tommy Searle
7. Brett Metcalfe
8. Jake Weimer
9. Broc Tickle
10. Austin Stroupe

Overall

1. Christophe Pourcel 1-1
2. Ryan Dungey 2-2
3. Blake Wharton 8-3
4. Ryan Sipes 6-5
5. Jake Weimer 4-8
6. Justin Barcia 3-13
7. Austin Stroupe 5-10
8. Brett Metcalfe 9-7
9. Tommy Searle 13-6
10. Blake Baggett 17-4

Championship Points

1. Ryan Dungey 503
2. Christophe Pourcel 492
3. Brett Metcalfe 378
4. Jake Weimer 353
5. Justin Barcia 340
6. Tommy Searle 332
7. Broc Tickle 285
8. Blake Wharton 273
9. Tyla Rattray 236
10. Matt Lemoine 189

450 Moto One

With a season filled with shockers, the first moto of the 450 class continued the tradition and we saw another first time winner. The holeshot went to the younger of the Alessi brothers, as Jeff showed his drag racer reaction time and led the Red Bull Honda's of Andrew Short and Ivan Tedesco until losing ground and fading back. Canidae/Motosport Kawasaki 450 freshman Tommy Hahn would also make his way around Alessi, then started to attack the Honda duo and steal the lead. The Red Riders made their way back around Hahn, and Short and Tedesco would battle between themselves for the lead for numerous laps, and IT9 got to the top spot and would make a gap before laying down in a turn and handing the spot to Hahn and Short. Hahn would live up to the promise he showed back at Washougal, and would clinch his first win of his 450 career.

While Tommy was piloting his Kawasaki to the win, the newly crowned champion Chad Reed found himself in eighth place at the fifteen minute mark. With the clock ticking down, Reed pushed his Rockstar/Makita Suzuki's throttle to the stops and rose to second place just as the final lap rattled off. His teammate Michael Byrne also found extra speed, passing Short and Tedesco to finish third. They would not find time to chase Hahn, as the Texan stretched out a five second lead.

Moto One Results

1. Tommy Hahn
2. Chad Reed
3. Michael Byrne
4. Ivan Tedesco
5. Andrew Short
6. Davi Millsaps
7. Matt Georke
8. Christian Craig
9. Robert Kiniry
10. Jake Moss

Moto Two

The second moto had Chad Reed leading the roaring 450s around the left hander, but that is where his lead would end. After being passed by Muscle Milk/MDK/KTM pilot Justin Brayton, he would hit the ground and pull off shortly after. Clearly frustrated, Reed pulled into the mechanics area, picked up Goose, and made his way back to the semi. This didn't matter to Brayton, as he flew his KTM around the hills, leading every lap, and built a twelve second lead over Monster Energy Kawasaki replacement rider Jake Moss. Moss would set the quickest lap of the second moto and would put an additional ten seconds between himself and Red Bull Honda's Ivan Tedesco. First moto winner Tommy Hahn would reach as high as third, but mistakes forced him to lose ground and relent to fourth place, far away from a chance at going one-one for the overall.

The shakeup wouldn't be limited to just Hahn and Reed, as Michael Byrne had a rough second outing and could only manage a ninth place, which was still a solid score for sixth overall. Valli Motorsports Jimmy Albertson knifed through traffic for sixth place in the second moto, but his lackluster fifteenth in the first moto would keep him from scoring a top ten overall finish. The second moto was shining proof that 2009 was a year of possibilities and shocking wins, showing the loads first time winners after years of the Carmichael-Stewart dominance of the summer series.

Moto Two Results

1. Justin Brayton
2. Jake Moss
3. Ivan Tedesco
4. Tommy Hahn
5. Andrew Short
6. Jimmy Albertson
7. Tim Ferry
8. Antonio Balbi
9. Michael Byrne
10. Davi Milsaps

Overall Results

1. Tommy Hahn 1-4
2. Ivan Tedesco 4-3
3. Justin Brayton 11-1
4. Jake Moss 10-2
5. Andrew Short 5-5
6. Michael Byrne 3-9
7. Davi Milsaps 6-10
8. Tim Ferry 12-7
9. Matt Georke 7-12
10. Chad Reed 2-34

Championship Points

1. Chad Reed 481

2. Andrew Short 388

3. Ivan Tedesco 376

4. Michael Byrne 348

5. Tommy Hahn 302

6. Josh Grant 280

7. Justin Brayton 249

8. Nick Wey 200

9. Cody Cooper 191

10. Jimmy Albertson 185

WMA

Moto One

Jessica Patterson took her Honda of Houston/Ryno Organics/Fox to the front of the pack and never relented, as no one would come near her for the duration of the day's races. Her nemesis, Red Bull Honda's Ashley Fiolek would only reach third before hitting the ground and falling back to seventh, riding with what was rumored to be a broken collarbone. Her lines and pass on Monster Energy/Team Green Kawasaki's Elizabeth Bash were mirrored by Mariana Balbi, and Balbi would be the first to capitalize on the teenager's crash. Jacqueline Strong was nearby, and her third place finish in the first moto was a season high for the Arizona resident.

Even with Fiolek's crash and seventh place finish, it was more than enough to clinch the championship over Patterson, and after being handed the plate, decided not to line up for the second moto.

Moto One Results

1. Jessica Patterson
2. Mariana Balbi
3. Jacqueline Strong
4. Tarah Gieger
5. Sara Whitmore
6. Elizabeth Bash
7. Ashley Fiolek
8. Sara Price
9. Penni Cyrus
10. Allison Vrba

Moto Two

Ashley FIolek’s crash in the first moto left her with a potentially broken collarbone, so the repeat champion was unable to start the second moto. It didn’t matter though; she had secured her number one plate with her finish in the first moto. The second going was much the same, as Patterson trucked to the lead and led every lap, with Balbi once again running second place. Sara Whitmore moved up numerous spots from the first moto and scored the final podium spot. Tarah Gieger rode her Red Bull/Yamaha to another strong fourth place finish, tallying the same amount of points as Whitmore but was credited with fourth overall after Whitmore's higher second moto score.

Patterson's lead over the field was remarkable, finishing well over a minute ahead of fifth place, and fourteen seconds over second place Balbi. Although losing the title to Fiolek for a second time, Patterson's strength and endurance is a sure sign that the training she has done all year has paid off, and along with Patterson's desire to reclaim the top spot, next year is sure to be epic.

Moto Two Results

1. Jessica Patterson
2. Mariana Balbi
3. Sara Whitmore
4. Tarah Gieger
5. Sara Price
6. Elizabeth Bash
7. Jacqueline Strong
8. Allison Vrba
9. Alyssa Fitch
10. Penni Cyrus

Overall Results

1. Jessica Patterson 1-1
2. Mariana Balbi 2-2
3. Sara Whitmore 5-3
4. Tarah Gieger 4-4
5. Jacqueline Strong 3-7
6. Elizabeth Bash 6-6
7. Sara Price 8-5
8. Allison Vrba 10-8
9. Penni Cyrus 9-10
10. Alyssa Fitch 12-9

WMX Points Standings

  1. Ashley Fiolek, 350
  2. Jessica Patterson, 345
  3. Sherri Cruse, 258
  4. Sara Price, 237
  5. Elizabeth Bash, 217
  6. Vicki Golden, 192
  7. Sarah Whitmore, 185
  8. Mariana Balbi, 170
  9. Penni Cyrus, 157
  10. Jacqueline Strong, 148

So with that, the final championships of the year have been decided. And although the various off season races and trips across the Atlantic are just weeks away, it's time for the riders to unwind after nine months of bar to bar action. Be sure to check Transworld Motocross for testing videos, Kickstart, and interviews as we approach the long, cold, boring off season.