Dungey victorious after Phoenix drama
19 January 2010
After making an awesome impression, chasing home the best Supercross racer on earth in only his third main event on a 450 bike, Makita Suzuki's Ryan Dungey came out and simply blew the pack away in round two of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship.
The night opened with not inconsiderable drama when reigning champion Stewart suffered a horrendous crash in his heat race, jumping into the path of Kyle Partridge and effectively having Partridge's Kawasaki land full on his back and slam him into the face of the following jump.
Clearly in considerable discomfort, Stewart remarkably came back to qualify for the main event by winning the Last Chance Qualifier, but it seemed that the way was clear for the likes of Dungey, Chad Reed and Ryan Villopoto to score well with Stewart below his best.
When the gate dropped for the main event, Dungey and Austin Stroupe immediately fired out into a Suzuki one-two, ahead of Villopoto, Ivan Tedesco and Josh Hill.
Both Villopoto and Hill immediately lit the blue touch paper, Villopoto firing his Monster Energy Kawasaki into second within a couple of corners whilst Hill, team mate to Stewart on the San Manuel Band Of Mission Indians Yamaha squad, quickly blitzed former 250 motocross and supercross champion Tedesco before getting stuck into Stroupe.
Youngster Stroupe, racing the 450 class on the west coast as preparation for his 250 east coast championship bid, immediately cut back through into third but Hill, barely a year or two older himself, quickly retook the position and set off after Villopoto.
But as the young bloods battled it out up front, the old guard was mired in the pack - both Stewart and Reed gated poorly, circulating behind veteran Kevin Windham on the fringes of the top ten, and Australian Reed must have been relishing the opportunity to make progress over his bitter championship rival.
But as the pack backed up, seventh-placed Justin Brayton had Davi Millsaps dive underneath him in a hairpin turn. Forced out wide, Brayton had to check and cut his turn tight, whilst Stewart, entering the turn wider than even Brayton, also had to cut his corner even tighter.
Reed, with an unmissable opportunity before him, dived for the inside of the corner - it put Stewart and Reed on a collision course, Stewart couldn't stop and Reed couldn't get out of the way, and the resulting collision put them both on the floor.
For Stewart, already battered and desperate to score points, his eventual remount would see him circulate and finish what could be a vital fifteenth place. For the desperately unlucky Reed, the incident left him with a broken hand and a championship dream in tatters - surgery to insert a plate means six weeks on the sidelines.
Away from all the drama, Dungey didn't put a single wheel wrong edging his way away for the win and an unexpected early championship lead.
Villopoto brought it home for an excellent second to kickstart his title tilt, seemingly twice the rider he was a week ago, whilst Josh Hill took the final step on the podium.
Tedesco hung on for fourth ahead of Andrew Short, with the inimitable Windham charging from deep in the pack for sixth - his mid-race battle with Davi Millsaps was epic, the riders circulating side by side as each sought to gain an advantage.
The drama wasn't all over, though - for reasons best known to himself, Stewart made his way over to Reed's pit and a heated post-race discussion ensued, resulting in the Stewart actually pushing Reed's bike off the stand.
With Reed out injured and some seriously talented youngsters emerging, Stewart might just be better off saving his energy for the track...
AMA Supercross Class Results: Phoenix
1.Ryan Dungey Suzuki
2.Ryan Villopoto Kawasaki
3.Josh Hill Yamaha
4.Ivan Tedesco Yamaha
5.Andrew Short Honda
6.Kevin Windham Honda
7.Austin Stroupe Suzuki
8.Justin Brayton Yamaha
9.Davi Millsaps Honda
10.Tommy Hahn Suzuki
AMA Supercross Class Standings
1.Ryan Dungey 47
2.Ryan Villopoto 38
3.Josh Hill 35
4.Kevin Windham 35
5.Andrew Short 34
6.Ivan Tedesco 32
7.James Stewart 31
8.Justin Brayton 26
9.Davi Millsaps 24
10.Tommy Hahn 21
By Paul Harris