Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Tyla Rattray scored his first professional 450 class podium after a consistent 4-4 moto result, while Jake Weimer finished ninth overall. In the 250 class, Blake Baggett kept himself in the title hunt by finishing fifth, while his teammates Martin Davalos, Justin Hill, and local native Darryn Durham finished 12th through 14th, respectively.
Villopoto returned to his winning ways at High Point by running away from the field in both motos. The 2011 champion has won seven of eight motos this season, all of which by large margins. His third overall win extends his points lead to 16 over the stacked field in the 450 class. Villopoto ran away with the first moto to win by nearly 17 seconds, while in the second moto he had to earn it. He jumped into third place early and battled with past champions Ryan Dungey and James Stewart, ultimately taking control of the race by the halfway point but not without some aggression.
“I wouldn’t consider it dirty, but it was closer than I anticipated,” said Villopoto when asked about his pass on defending champion Dungey. “I was jumping the uphill triple and grabbing the inside and banking off the end of the rut, while he was coming across the rut. It was close, but that’s racing and you have to act fast racing these guys or else they can get away.”
Following two days of rain leading up to Saturday in Mt. Morris, the track was soft and sloppy when qualifying practice began. Lap times gradually improved as the track took form and lines developed. Both Villopoto and Baggett were able to put their Kawasaki’s on the pole to earn the Oakley Bomb award as fastest qualifier, edging out the competition by nearly a second and a half and half a second respectively. Baggett’s lap time on his KX™250F was so impressive he had one of the fastest segment times of anyone amongst the 250 and 450 class.
“It took a little while to figure the track out,” said Baggett. “I was constantly looking for the dry lines and trying to avoid the mud. The clay base is really hard and all the good dirt on top was just getting pushed off. There were multiple lines, but only one really fast one.”
After consistent top-10 finishes at the first three rounds, Rattray had a breakout ride at High Point. The former World Champion felt comfortable on the European designed track and grabbed two great starts on his KX™450F to get him up front early. Rattray has been progressively improving his Kawasaki and after achieving his first professional 450 class podium, has found a suspension setting that suits him.
“You can’t just jump up to the 450 and expect it to be easy,” said Rattray on his transition from the 250 class. “The larger 450 machines are a lot to handle and it takes time and testing to find a setting that allows you to use that much power. These big bikes will beat you up if you’re not comfortable.”
Weimer had his best performance of the season thus far at High Point finishing 8-9 for ninth overall. Like Rattray, Monster Energy Kawasaki has been working, testing, and continually improving the KX450F for Weimer and Villopoto, allowing them to improve each week. With next weekend off, Weimer is packing up for a road trip to ride some new tracks around Florida and Georgia to stay fresh on various types of tracks and break up his regular routine.
“This weekend was another step in the right direction,” said Weimer. “I’m battling with guys who have already seen the podium this year and I know I can be up there as well. It’s a never ending progression.”
The competition in the 250 class is as deep as the 450 class, if not deeper. Battles can be found on every section of the track from the front-runners all the way through the top-20. Local Pennsylvania native Durham had a strong showing in the first moto and was in position for his best finish of the season until a crash punctured his radiator ultimately ending his second moto. Healed from his Hangtown crash, Durham is excited about the week off, as he will finally be able to get back to riding during the week. Also excited for the break is Davalos, who will be spending the week at home in Cairo, Ga., and hopes to return with improved speed and confidence.
“Racing at High Point is always exciting,” said hometown hero Durham. “Having my family and friends here for support is a nice welcoming, but I’m bummed I had the crash in the second moto. I’m going to get back to work over the next two weeks and will be back to 100-percent health come Budds Creek.”
With one third of the season complete, the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship takes a week off. Racing will resume with Round 5 at Budds Creek Raceway in Maryland on June 22, 2013.