2014 High Point MX Race Report | 450 Class
Photos by Jeff Kardas
With six eight motos in the books, we are now officially a third of the way through the 2014 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. And while that may seem like a pessimistic thought, let us continue by stating the season has flown by thanks to exciting days like 2014 High Point MX. At any point in the afternoon, it seemed like one of four riders could take victory in the 450 class, and each fought tooth and nail to retain their place on the fast and technical race track. Perfect weather made the afternoon of action in rural Pennsylvania tough to top, but we think the rest of the summer will be much the same in terms of on-track drama.
1. James Stewart | 1-1
If the opening moto at Thunder Valley was a preview of what is possible when James Stewart has his Yoshimura Suzuki dialed in, the afternoon at a High Point was a feature presentation. A second place start in moto one put him ahead early in the moto and he wasted no time moving into the lead, taking over the spot by the end of the second lap. Getting in front allowed Stewart a number of advantages, but the biggest was undoubtedly the free reign to carve laps without being assaulted by the competition's roost. An impressive lead was built almost immediately and although the field closed in the final laps, when Stewart relaxed his own pace, he was never challenged in the opening moto.
Oddly enough, the same situation played out again in the second moto. Stewart was edged at the holeshot stripe, but he overtook the lead by the end of the lap. The track dried considerably between motos, which allowed the field to up the pace even more and this created an exciting 17 sprint. At one point Stewart came under fire from Canard, but managed to withstand the onslaught and inched away. The charging Red Bull KTM teammates pulled Canard's focus away from the leader, and Stewart was able to creep away. Issues with lapped riders allowed the charging pack of Canard, Dungey, and Roczen to close in, but he would take the second moto by a slight margin and sweep the day, resulting in his first overall of the season.
2. Ken Roczen | 2-3
At this point in the season, there is no denying that Ken Roczen has been the strongest rider in the 450 class. The rookie has controlled the championship since the second round of the summer and is able to push his Red Bull KTM to speeds few can match. A dismal start buried him in the opening moto, but a series of passes put him in the front pack in no time. His efforts were briefly upended with a crash during a battle with Chad Reed and Ryan Dungey for third place, but he quickly remounted as was back in no time. The pursuit of Red Bull KTM teammate Dungey resulted in a simultaneous attack on Canard, and Roczen snatched second place when both riders made costly errors late in the moto.
Roczen was right up front in the second outing and trailed Stewart, Canard, and Dungey to run fourth place for much of the moto. The title contenders were within mere seconds of each other, due in part to the high number of lappers, but the true fight was between Dungey and Roczen for third. The two swapped the spot a handful of times, with Roczen winning the battle after Dungey made a series of mistakes late in the moto. Roczen's 2-3 scores were enough to take second overall on the day, and he retains the point lead heading into round five.
3. Trey Canard | 4-2
Trey Canard's starts have been solid throughout the year and once again, the Team Honda Muscle Milk rider was in prime position at the beginning of moto one. He followed Stewart by Chad Reed to take second place butdespite a number of similar lap times between the two, could never close the gap between he and the leader. Midway through the race, Canard's attention turned to holding back the Red Bull KTM teammates, an effort that continued for all but the final laps when he tipped over and handed spots to both riders.
Canard launched into attack mode early in moto two, following Stewart over the massive infield double and showing the Suzuki rider a wheel a number of times, but a small gap developed as the race continued on. Dungey reinstated his charge on Canard for second, but the determined Honda rider did not budge and held on to the spot for the remainder of the race.
4. Ryan Dungey | 3-4
Ryan Dungey spent nearly every minute of the hour of racing locked in battle. The Red Bull KTM rider kicked off the day with a solid start in moto one and tracked down Trey Canard soon after passing Chad Reed for third place. However, his teammate Ken Roczen followed suit and it appeared that Dungey's tactics turned from offense to defense. With only moments to go, Dungey made a serious bid for Canard's second place spot, but would make a mistake that shot him off course. He would regroup quickly and even pass Canard, but this time to retake third.
Dungey's directed another number of charges Canard's way, but each advance was turned down. The two ran within a second of each other, exchanging clean moves for a number of laps and using contrasting lines in certain areas of the track. But once again, Roczen soon came to make his presence known and began a separate battle with Dungey for track position. They would trade the spot a number of times, but a late race crash by Dungey and drop to fourth brought the action to a close.
5. Josh Grant | 6-6
Consistency was key to Josh Grant's day. The JGRMX/Toyota/NFAB/Yamaha rider started the first moto outside the top ten, but put on a valiant charge to break through just laps into the race. From there Grant clawed through the running order and ran down fifth place running Chad Reed. This created a three-way battle for the spot, as Andrew Short found himself in the mix, and the veterans fought until the final feet of track. All would finish within the same second, but a mere .856 seconds separated them at the line, with Reed taking fifth, Grant sixth, and Short seventh.
The second moto was much the same, as Grant struggled off the line and was ranked eleventh on one early lap. He proceeded to pick off a number of riders in the remaining laps and pulled out of Brett Metcalfe's reach to earn sixth in the second moto. These steady results put him fifth overall against competition that scored slightly mixed or lower finishes.
1. James Stewart 1-1
2. Ken Roczen 2-3
3. Trey Canard 4-2
4. Ryan Dungey 3-4
5. Josh Grant 6-6
6. Weston Peick 10-5
7. Andrew Short 7-8
8. Chad Reed 5-10
9. Brett Metcalfe 9-7
10. Phil Nicoletti 8-12
11. Matt Goerke 13-11
12. Ben Lamay 12-14
13. Ryan Sipes 11-15
14. Fredrik Noren 14-13
15. Malcolm Stewart 38-9
16. Kellian Rusk 15-16
17. Evgeny Mikhaylov 17-17
18. Cade Clason 16-18
19. Kevin Rookstool 18-37
20. Ronnie Stewart 19-19
|2014 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship 450 Class (After 8 of 24 motos)
1. Ken Roczen 183pts (3 moto wins)
2. Ryan Dungey 167pts (1 moto win)
3. James Stewart 161pts (3 moto wins)
4. Trey Canard 150pts
5. Brett Metcalfe 115pts
6. Josh Grant 104pts (1 moto win)
7. Weston Peick 104pts
8. Malcolm Stewart 90pts
9. Chad Reed 88pts
10. Andrew Short 74pts