Mechanical gremlins and a crash hurt Ryan Dungey’s title hopes in Michigan.
Just how good has the Red Bull RedBud National been to Ryan Dungey in his professional 450MX career? Before 2013, the worst he’d placed in a moto at the famous and historic racetrack was second. He recorded resounding 1-1 victories in 2010 and 2012 and went 2-2 in 2011. With a record like that, the venue should be a favorite of the Red Bull KTM rider. After the weekend he’s just had, however, he’d probably like to forget it even exists.
Facing a 12-point deficit to Ryan Villopoto to start the second half of the season, it was important for Dungey to make up ground on Villopoto at RedBud. With a dwindling number of opportunities left in which to grab points against a competitor like Villopoto, who rarely gives up points – and is stingy when he does – Dungey couldn’t afford to let his rival’s lead get any larger.
Unfortunately for Dungey, though, a bizarre electrical problem literally shut him down while running second behind Villopoto in the first moto. The bike stalled and stubbornly refused to light back up. After repeated attempts, the bike was pushed back to the Red Bull KTM pits where, to the bewilderment of Dungey’s mechanic, Carlos Rivera, it fired right up. But the damage was done, and just like that, eventual moto winner Villopoto gained twenty-five points and a whole lot of breathing room on his main competitor.
There was still another moto to be run, however, and an opportunity for Dungey to reclaim a small chip of the large chunk of points he’d handed over to Villopoto in the first race. After working his way into second, Dungey dropped the hammer, went after Villopoto and slowly started reeling him in. He got tantalisingly close to Villopoto, which no doubt spurred him on and encouraged him to push even harder. Then, probably as a side effect of pushing beyond the limit, Dungey went down hard and became trapped under his motorcycle, requiring the assistance of a track worker to regain his freedom.
By the time he’d gotten back under way, James Stewart had passed him. Having scored 34th in the first moto, he took third in the second for eleventh overall. It’s a far cry from the success that Dungey’s enjoyed at RedBud in the past, and miles from where he needed to finish in order to maintain the health of his championship bid.
He now faces a massive deficit, 42 points to be exact. With just five rounds remaining against a rider as dominant and skilled as Villopoto, that mechanical DNF may have ended Dungey’s title hopes. But don’t bother telling him that: Dungey has proven time and time again that no matter what happens, he never gives up. Don’t expect a bad day at RedBud to change that.
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