Photos by Ryne Swanberg
The 2014 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship resumed with round five of the 12 stop series taking place at Muddy Creek Raceway in Eastern Tennessee. A mash of terrain types and a challenging layout put the top 450 riders to the test, but once again a select few should why they have taken residence at the front of the field this season.
2014 Muddy Creek MX 450 Race Report
Ken Roczen | 2-1 | First Overall
Red Bull KTM's Ken Roczen has been a force in the 450 class since the start of the summer, and the rookie's string of stellar finishes continued in Tennessee, in spite of a first moto wrought by issues.. A second place start helped him avoid carnage in the first turn and he overtook the lead by the end of the first lap, but a crash shortly after taking the spot would drop him down to fourth. His quick remount and a number of consistent laps allowed Roczen to climb back into second place and within sight of leader Ryan Dungey, but another crash late in the moto would keep him from making an attack. He would hold on to take second place for the moto.
Roczen and the Red Bull KTM team reverted to their "standard" setup in the second moto, and the switch yielded impressive results almost immediately. He followed teammate Dungey through the first turn with a second place start, and then quickly stole the lead away. With a clear track ahead, Roczen upped the speed, posted the fastest lap of the moto (a 1:56.189 on lap five), and ran each of his laps at a similar pace. A brief mistake late in the race would toss him out of sorts, but he quickly brought the bike back under control and continued on to the moto win. While he would tie Dungey for points on the day, his second moto victory earned him the overall and retention of the red plate.
Ryan Dungey | 1-2 | Second Overall
The 450 championship chase is firmly between two racers, both of whom ride under the Red Bull KTM banner. Class veteran Ryan Dungey has kept his rookie teammate honest through the first half of the season, and their similar speed was well documented in the opening Muddy Creek moto. Dungey steadily worked up the running order after a solid start with a series of perfect laps, cut away at the lead built early by Eli Tomac, and grabbed the spot near the halfway point. He would fend off Roczen's advances for the spot, which ended with Roczen's late moto crash, and rode to a 15 second victory.
Dungey nabbed the holeshot to start the second race, but was passed by Roczen early in the 18 lap moto. The two rode at a very similar pace, with Roczen being faster and Dungey's laps being more consistent, but a renewed battle for the spot would never materialize. Instead, Dungey kept Roczen within sight and crossed the finish line 6.687 seconds behind.
Eli Tomac | 3-3 | Third Overall
Eli Tomac avoided the standard method of taking a first race following injury slowly, with the GEICO Honda rider running at the front of the field throughout the day. He would lead the pack through the first turn and took the holeshot in moto one, but was soon passed for the lead by Roczen. A crash by the German rider would hand the lead back to Tomac, and he proceeded to build a sizeable lead over Trey Canard and Ryan Dungey. The gap between Tomac and Dungey shrank as the race continued on, with a change in position taking place midway through. Ken Roczen would steal second away soon after, but Tomac's early gap put him over 22 seconds ahead of fourth place at the finish line.
Tomac again took off at the front in the second moto, and the top three (Roczen, Dungey, Tomac) ran within two seconds of each other. This torrid pace let them gap the rest of the field, but Tomac eventually dropped slightly and saw the others slip away. The difference in speed between the Red Bull KTM teammates and Tomac was clear, as the top two turned laps markedly quicker that put them him nearly a full minute back at the checkered flag. Still, Tomac's return was a massive success as he claimed the final spot on the podium and showed he can bring added intrigue in the remaining rounds.
Trey Canard | 4-4 | Fourth Overall
Trey Canard has been close to the front in nearly every moto contested thus far, but the Team Honda Muscle Milk rider is just shy of taking the top spot of the podium. He started the first moto in third place and moved up to second following Roczen's crash, but was never able to make a bid for the lead against Tomac. A pass by Ryan Dungey would again drop him back to third place, and a tip over while traversing a rutted corner allowed Roczen to race by for the position. Canard would remount quickly, but would come under fire late in the moto by a charging James Stewart. The two riders spent the final laps dueling for fourth place, with Canard just holding the Yoshimura Suzuki rider off at the line.
Canard started the second moto right behind the same pack as moto one, but was never able to make a charge at their positions. He would spend much of the race alone on the track, but did have some pressure from RCH/Soaring Eagle/Suzuki's Weston Peick towards the final moments after the privateer turned factory flyer fought from outside the top-ten to fifth place. A pair of fourth place finishes would rank him fourth overall on the day, but Canard appeared frustrated following the moto's end.
Andrew Short | 6-8 | Fifth Overall
Andrew Short's fifth place overall was proof that a pair of impressive, solid motos are sometimes better than two wildly varied finishes. The BTO Sports KTM rider began the first race deep in the top ten, but showed an unbreakable focus while picking his way through the pack. He would fight past Ryan Sipes, Justin Brayton, Phil Nicoletti, and teammate Matt Georke to run as high as the top five, but would drop to sixth after one of the many passes made by James Stewart in the Yoshimura Suzuki rider's surge from a first turn crash.
Short was once again in the thick of the action in the second moto, but could not match the same speed run by Peick, Josh Grant, and Brett Metcalfe. Their lap times varied only by hundreths of a second on the stopwatch, but the differences were enough for Short to run alone in eighth place. This, matched with his sixth in the opening race jolted Short's overall score, and he would take fifth on the day by a single point over Weston Peick.
1. Ken Roczen 2-1
2. Ryan Dungey 1-2
3. Eli Tomac 3-3
4. Trey Canard 4-4
5. Andrew Short 6-8
6. Weston Peick 10-5
7. Brett Metcalfe 9-7
8. James Stewart 5-11
9. Josh Grant 11-6
10. Justin Brayton 8-15
11. Malcolm Stewart 14-10
12. Kyle Chisholm 12-12
13. Chad Reed 16-9
14. Matt Goerke 7-36
15. Ben Lamay 15-14
16. Phil Nicoletti 17-13
17. Jimmy Albertson 13-17
18. Fredrik Noren 18-16
19. Kellian Rusk 35-19
20. Cade Clason 35-19
|2014 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship 450 Class (After 10 of 24 motos)
1. Ken Roczen 230pts (4 moto wins)
2. Ryan Dungey 214pts (2 moto win)
3. James Stewart 187pts (3 moto wins)
4. Trey Canard 186pts
5. Brett Metcalfe 141pts
6. Weston Peick 131pts
7. Josh Grant 129pts (1 moto win)
8. Malcolm Stewart 108pts
9. Chad Reed 105pts
10. Andrew Short 102pts