Photos by Jeff Kardas
After twelve rounds of racing stretched over four months, the 2014 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship came to a close with the 2014 Utah MX, held at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah. Competiting on specially constructed course that runs along the infield of the auto racing facility, the event has seen its share of criticism and praise in its short time on the tour, but much needed rains the day prior to this year’s running helped shape an exciting conclusion to the season. Red Bull KTM teammates Ken Roczen and Ryan Dungey entered the final two motos of the year separated by only a handful of points, and it was obvious that the 450 National championship would go down to the last race of the year.
Trey Canard | 1-1 | First Overall
Trey Canard found his form in the final rounds of the series. After making a change to Kayaba suspension components at Unadilla, the Team Honda Muscle Milk rider has claimed four victories in the final six motos of the year. His run at Utah was flawless from start to finish, as he edged out the field to take the holeshot in moto one and sped away. Despite the two top riders in the class battling for the title, Canard still came under attack from both Ryan Dungey and Ken Roczen, but held off the teammates to take the first moto win by just under seven seconds.
Canard backed up his first moto performance perfectly in the day's second go by taking the holeshot and streaking away from the field. Roczen applied pressure early in the race, but Canard was on his own again before long. The stopwatch reflected Canard's speed, as his 1:44.098 lap time in the second moto was the fastest of nineteen-lap dash to the end of the season. The design of the course put Canard into lapped riders incredibly early and this did pose a challenge, but he cut through the slower field to retain the lead and finish almost eight seconds ahead of the competition. This sweep was a 450 career first for Canard, and the mood at the Team Honda Muscle Milk trailer reflected the mood perfectly.
Ryan Dungey | 2-2 | Second Overall
After losing thirteen points in the mud at Indiana, Ryan Dungey need things to happen perfectly in both motos to have a shot at the title. A third place start put the Red Bull KTM rider at the front of the field, and right behind his title rival/teammate Ken Roczen. The two battled intensely through the middle of the moto for the runner-up position, with numerous passes exchanged through the middle of the moto, until Dungey eventually slipped by to take the spot. By besting Roczen by one spot, the point standings shrunk to a margin of eighteen as they headed into the second moto.
With the points a tad bit closer, Dungey knew it was do or die in the final moto of the season. A stellar start carried Dungey up to third place and in pursuit of his rival for second place, with the pass coming on the third lap of the moto. This move cut the gap between the racers another two points, and Dungey chased after leader Canard in hopes of shaving even more off of the margin. Unfortunately for the former National champion, there was no catching Canard and no closing Roczen's point gap in just thirty-minutes time, and his second place moto score reflected his position in the championship. In spite of the loss, Dungey was gracious to his teammate and the two congratulated one another on the thrilling twelve round battle for supremacy.
Eli Tomac | 4-3 | Third Overall
Eli Tomac asserted himself as a contender for the day by posting the top qualifying time in practice, and the GEICO Honda rider was in the thick of the action throughout the day's motos. Fourth place early in the moto, Tomac kept the lead pack in sight until a small mistake in the latter half of the race. In spite of the crash, Tomac regrouped in time to hold onto fourth place, where he finished the moto.
Another fourth place start put Tomac behind the lead pack, but the GECIO Honda rider's run through the moto was assisted by Ken Roczen's relaxed pace in the final laps of race. This move ushered Tomac onto the overall podium for the day, and although the top four were within eight seconds of each other for much of the race, there was no epic battle between them. After the race, Tomac discussed his abbreviated season and noted that he and the team had made a number of changes over the course of the eight rounds contested, all in hopes of figuring out the perfect setup for the future.
Ken Roczen | 3-4 | Fourth Overall
With the championship in sight and a twenty-point lead over his nearest competitor, all Ken Roczen needed to do in order to clinch the title was finish the day within the top-ten. Rather than play it safe, the Red Bull KTM rider pushed himself to the front the moment the gate dropped in moto one and ran ahead of Ryan Dungey. The two swapped the spot a number of times in a matter of laps, until Roczen dialed down his pace and let his teammate by. Still, the moto was not flawless; Roczen made a handful of mistakes, including one near catastrophe with a lapped rider, but regrouped each time to cross the finish line in third place.
When a second place start put Roczen ahead of Dungey in the final moto, it became clear that the rookie 450 rider would spend the rest of the race waiting for the checkered flag. Knowing the championship was just nineteen laps away from becoming reality, Roczen allowed his rival to pass by and settled into a relaxed pace for the remaineder of the race. A distant minute and four seconds behind moto win Trey Canard at the checkered flag, Roczen used the final lap as a celebration for taking the title. After being presented with the AMA championship plaque, Roczen took to the front straightaway of the iconic sports car track and roasted away his Dunlop rear tire.
Brett Metcalfe | 7-5 | Fifth Overall
Utah marked the final day of Brett Metcalfe's fill-in contract with Monster Energy Kawasaki, and the veteran was determined to end the season on a high note. A spirited dice with JGRMX/Toyota/NFAB/Yamaha's Josh Grant took up much of the first moto, with both running in the position for extended periods of time, with Grant ultimately taking the spot. Metcalfe fell further back in the order late in the race, and crossed the finish line in seventh place.
Metcalfe's ride in the second moto helped the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider hold on to his place in the point standings for the season. After trailing Ryan Sipes in the early laps, Metcalfe moved by and into fifth place at the midway point, but was still down a considerable amount of time to the leaders. His 7-5 scores on the day kept Eli Tomac from making up too many points in the last two races of the year, and Metcalfe claimed fourth overall by just fifteen markers.
1. Trey Canard 1-1
2. Ryan Dungey 2-2
3. Eli Tomac 4-3
4. Ken Roczen 3-4
5. Brett Metcalfe 7-5
6. Ryan Sipes 9-6
7. Andrew Short 6-12
8. Fredrik Noren 10-9
9. Weston Peick 13-7
10. Justin Brayton 12-8
11. Ben Lamay 11-11
12. Josh Grant 5-39
13. Jimmy Albertson 14-15
14. Chad Reed 8-30
15. Mitchell Oldenburg 40-10
16. Kellian Rusk 21-13
17. Noah McConahy 38-14
18. Ronnie Stewart 19-16
19. Paul Coates 15-32
20. Tony Archer 20-17
|2014 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship 450 Class (After 24 of 24 motos)
1. Ken Roczen 532pts (8 moto wins)
2. Ryan Dungey 518pts (6 moto wins)
3. Trey Canard 468pts (4 moto wins)
4. Brett Metcalfe 334pts
5. Eli Tomac 319pts (2 moto wins)
6. Andrew Short 302pts
7. Weston Peick 290pts
8. Josh Grant 259pts (1 moto win)
9. James Stewart 226pts (3 moto wins)
10. Fredrik Noren 207pts