Seldom do you think about triple-digit temperatures when you’re headed to southern Michigan for a race but it was that hot at last week’s Lucas Oil 450cc AMA Outdoor Pro National in Buchanan, MI. But, as hot as the temperature was, the action on the track was even hotter. Ryan Villopoto came to Red Bud in hopes of making up ground in the 2011 points race but the Kawasaki rider almost saw all hopes of a national championship slip away earlier in Moto One. After a decent start, a hard over-the-bars crash dropped Villopoto to last place while his main competitors pulled away at the front of the pack.
What happened next was what legendary rides are all about. Gasping to get his breathe back, Villopoto remounted and pointed at his Monster Energy Kawasaki in the direction of race leaders Davi Millsaps, Chad Reed and Ryan Dungey. By mid-moto, Reed and Dungey were working their way around the Yamaha of Millsaps while Villopoto had made his way to mid-pack and was closing in on the ill-running bike of his teammate Jake Weimer. Up front, Dungey was pressuring Reed through the sandy whoops and deep-rutted Red Bud turns. Villopoto’s championship hopes were renewed with a ninth overall in Moto 1 – a performance that earned him the Ricky Carmichael “Hard Charger Award”.
The start of Moto 2 saw the Monster Energy Kawasaki of Villopoto lead Dungey, Reed and KTM rider Mike Alessi through the first turn. This time there was no stopping the Washington-state rider as he established a quick a lead and never looked back. Dungey maintained his pursuit but was losing precious seconds each lap. The surprise move came when Alessi forced his way past Reed for third proving he is still a contender in 450cc class. Villopoto’s impressive ride was good enough for third overall while Dungey claimed second. A late race pass on Alessi would give Sir Chad his fourth overall victory of the season.
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