ELLENTON, Fla. – official series release — Jeff Kardas/Supercross photo —
With his sixth win of the 2016 season of Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, reigning 450SX class champion Ryan Dungey took one step closer to defending his crown.
This weekend the Red Bull KTM rider will chase a seventh victory as the championship makes its annual visit to Indianapolis from Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday, April 9. The visit to one of the country’s most prominent motorsports destinations will also signify the return of the Eastern Regional 250SX Class Championship, which has featured four different winners through its first four races.
This past weekend during Monster Energy Supercross’ return to California, from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Dungey made his return to the top step of the podium with a convincing performance. After moving into the lead early, Dungey briefly lost control of first place to GEICO Honda’s Justin Bogle, but the champ responded and quickly moved back in front, bringing RCH Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s/Suzuki Factory Racing’s Ken Roczen with him.
The two rivals were separated by about a bike length for several laps until lap seven, when Roczen attempted to mount a challenge for the lead. Dungey withstood the advance and proceeded to pick up the pace to pull away from Roczen, ultimately opening up a multiple second lead that he carried on through to the finish.
The win marked the 28th of Dungey’s 450SX Class career, moving him into a tie with Rick Johnson for sixth on the all-time list. It also signified a landmark 100th top-five finish for the Minnesota native and extended his historic podium streak to 28 races.
“Tonight was good. I got off to a strong start, which was key,” said Dungey. “Kenny [Roczen] was applying the pressure, but I stayed strong and made sure to make quick work with lapped traffic.”
The win came just one race after an on-track infraction in Detroit cost Dungey a win after race officials penalized him two positions. It was one of the most significant decisions handed down by race officials in recent memory, but Dungey and his team clearly moved on and set their sights on bouncing back with another dominant ride. It ended a three-race winless streak for the points leader, his longest of the season.
Roczen followed Dungey across the line in second, posting his seventh podium result of the season. Rounding out the podium was Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Jason Anderson in third. Anderson was the beneficiary of Dungey’s Detroit penalty, awarded his second win of the season. His third-place finish in Santa Clara gives him back-to-back podium results for the first time in his career.
By virtue of their 1-2-3 finish at Levi’s Stadium, the top three riders in the championship standings solidified their respective spots in points. Dungey extended his lead over Roczen to 42 points, with Anderson sitting 58 points back.
After a brief one-race break in action, the Eastern Regional 250SX Class Championship returns to competition as wide open as it was to start the season. Four different riders have emerged victorious through the first four races and as a result, the top five riders in standings are within 20 points of one another with five races remaining.
GEICO Honda’s Malcolm Stewart is the most recent Eastern Regional winner, with a dominant effort in Detroit that vaulted him to the top of the championship standings. It is the first time that Stewart has ever led a championship and with that comes his inaugural race with a red number plate. Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Jeremy Martin, another one of the four winners this season, sits seven points behind Stewart in second. His teammate Aaron Plessinger, the only rider in the top five to not have a win this season, is third, 13 points back.
Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM’s Justin Hill and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Martin Davalos round out the top five. Both have won a Main Event in 2016, but both have also missed a race and have their work cut out for them to close the deficit to Stewart. Given how unpredictable the racing has been to this point in the season, there’s plenty of reason for optimism between these two.