In one of the wildest AMA Toyota Motocross Championship Presented by FMF races in recent memory, Monster Energy Kawasaki's James Stewart and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto endured extreme conditions and close competition to come out on top and keep their spectacular seasons intact at Unadilla.
The day began with two relatively uneventful first motos in which both competitors cruised to victory by over 10 seconds, but Mother Nature attempted to steal the show as the AMA Motocross Lites class began its final moto of the day.
Skies opened up and lightning threatened the safety of fans and riders alike, forcing the AMA officials to red flag the second moto of AMA Motocross Lites after nine minutes of racing. Action was put on hold for nearly 20 minutes as the storm cell and lightning passed through the Unadilla Valley Sports Center, allowing the AMA Motocross Lites competitors to re-enter the starting gate.
As the rain continued to fall, Rockstar/Makita Suzuki's Ryan Dungey took his second BTOSports.com Holeshot Award and opened an early lead over a hard-charging Villopoto.
The Suzuki rider held the defending champion at bay for two laps until a fall relegated him to second as the two continued to pull away from the rest of the field. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Brett Metcalfe brought home third in the second moto and third overall on the day after a sixth-place finish in moto one.
"This weekend was one of the toughest with the rain coming in," said Villopoto. "You didn't know what to expect. The track was good before the red flag. [The rain] blew in really quick and next thing we know the red flag was out. When we restarted, I just tried to get out front and make a break for it. The biggest problem with restarting is having the ball rolling [before the restart] and then having to stop and do that all over again in different conditions."
Stewart was able to sweep the Holeshot Award for the second week in a row as the AMA Motocross began their final moto. Track conditions continued to deteriorate with consistent rain. Suzuki City Biloxi, MS/OTSFF Suzuki's Cody Cooper capitalised on a great start to grab second and battled with Stewart for the top spot.
A native of New Zealand, Cooper excelled in the conditions and kept Stewart in sight the entire moto. A mid-moto fall by Stewart brought Cooper within striking distance, but the Kawasaki rider kept his head down and prevailed to improve to 16-0 in motos and 8-0 in overall victories.
"This track has always been tough for me, especially the last three years," explained Stewart. "This is the first moto I've finished since 2004. I stuck with it in the second moto, so you have no idea how excited I am right now. I had to pull my goggles off like five laps into the moto. I got roost in my face and then spun [my tyre] off the face of a jump and went down.