Teammate Darryn Durham achieved his first career outdoor podium in Moto 2 after leading over half the race to finish 13-3 for seventh overall. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto retained his points lead by finishing 1-2 for second overall and Jake Weimer rode consistently to finish 8-10 for eighth overall in the 450 class. The rookies Justin Hill and Adam Cianciarulo followed their teammates with 10th and 16th overall in the 250 class, while Martin Davalos did not compete due to illness and Tyla Rattray sat out the second moto after a crash in the first moto ended his day while running in the top-five.
Known for his late-race charges, Baggett showed true heart and dedication in the first moto. After starting just inside the top-10, he silently made his way through the pack and found himself in third, yet a ways back from the leader. With four laps remaining Baggett laid down the fastest laps of the race, besting his competition by more than two seconds a lap to catch and pass into the lead in true “El Chupacabra” fashion. He backed it up with a second place finish in the second moto to take his first overall win of the season.
“This track is gnarly,” said Baggett. “That first moto I knew it was my time to get it done. I was making up time on the leaders and the last few laps I just put everything into it and was able to get both of them. The second moto I got a much better start, but couldn’t get into a rhythm. It’s a step in the right direction.”
Villopoto made quick work in the first moto as he got into the lead within the first few corners and went on a tear to check out from the field by 50 seconds. In Moto 2 he had to maneuver through traffic and by the time he reached second place the leader had built up a gap that despite his best efforts, he could not overcome. After breaking down the track with the team following the motos, Villopoto thought that the track reminded him of what High Point conditions usually consist of, with loamy outside ruts and a hard base underneath. No matter the results of Villopoto and Weimer, who finished eighth overall, the team is always learning and progressing with the KX™450F.
“Today was good overall,” said Villopoto. “I never gave up or settled for second, but Ryan (Dungey) just had too big of a gap in the second moto. We learned a lot about the bike and are going to be testing some things this week to continue making improvements.”
Having last weekend off was perfect timing for Durham, who has been recovering from his crash at Round 1 in Hangtown. The additional weekend in between rounds allowed him two weeks of riding during the week to get his speed back to where it was. Durham was battling within the top-10 in Moto 1 until a crash dropped him to 13th, but it was Moto 2 where he showed his true potential. Durham rounded the hairpin first turn neck and neck for the holeshot, took over the lead and began to distance himself from the pack. Having not led a moto since 2010 at High Point, “Double D” ran strong for 10 of 17 laps. Despite a small tip-over, he finished a strong third and achieved his first national podium finish.
“Man, it’s sick to be up front,” said Durham. “It had been a while and there’s no other feeling like it. Having the fans hanging over the fences cheering you on each lap is unexplainable. I can’t wait to be up there again.”
All season long Hill has been stringing together top-10 finishes, and this weekend he was joined by Cianciarulo. Hill matched his career best finish by going 10-10 for 10th overall on the rough, rutted track. Cianciarulo showed speed early on by running within the top-3, but learning the speed and intensity of the 250 class takes time and he finished 14-17 for 16th overall. Cianciarulo almost matched his Kawasaki teammate, Villopoto’s debut performance where he went 14-16 in 2005 at Broome-Tioga. Two rounds later Villopoto went 3-2 at Glen Helen.
“There is no replicating how hectic it is out there,” said Cianciarulo. “Whether I was near the front or in the back, guys are wide open, going for it. I expected that it would be tough, but it was still eye opening. Next weekend I’ll be ready for it.”
At High Point two weeks ago, Rattray and Davalos had two of their best finishes of the season. Rattray rode to his first career 450 class overall podium and carried that momentum into Budds Creek. In the first moto he was coming through the pack and was battling for a top-five position when he suffered a violent crash in the rollers before the finish line. Battered and bruised, Rattray decided it was best to sit out the second moto and rest up for next weekend at Southwick where he won his first 450 moto last season. Davalos had been battling a bug all week and after practice he also decided to sit out the day in order to heal up.
The Championship series reaches the halfway point next weekend as it heads to the legendary Moto-X 338 for the last time. The Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki riders will head to Southwick, Mass., early to ride for the local press and get some extra time on the treacherous sand track.