MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – official release — Simon Cudby photo — With one quarter of the 12-round Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, now completed the title pictures in both the 450 and 250 Classes are starting to take shape.
This Saturday current series points leaders Ken Roczen (450 Class) and Jeremy Martin (250 Class) will lead their respective divisions into the fourth round of the 2014 season with the annual visit to Mt. Morris, Pa. and legendary High Point Raceway for the UPMC Sports Medicine High Point National presented by United Bank and Coastal Drilling East.
High Point will signify the last round of action before the championship reaches its first of two breaks in the schedule. With the season essentially broken down into thirds, each impending off-week will carry huge significance, particularly in terms of momentum heading into the break. As a result, High Point will potentially be the most competitive race of the season thus far as every contender will be in search of a strong result to head into the off-week with confidence. A win on Saturday could pay big dividends in the long run.
At the championship’s previous stop at Thunder Valley MX Park in the mile high altitude of the greater Denver area, Roczen piloted his Red Bull KTM to his second straight overall victory in the 450 Class. It has always been said once a rider is able to break through for his first victory that winning comes to him much easier after that.
Roczen proved that theory with a consistent outing in which he relied on 2-1 moto scores to claim the overall and cement his possession of the red number plate as the class’ current championship leader. The German rookie entered the afternoon with a slim five-point margin between he and teammate Ryan Dungey, but after Dungey’s worst race of the season thus far the gap between the dominant KTM duo has extended into the double digits, currently at 12 points.
While Dungey still finished on the overall podium for the third consecutive weekend, the third-place finish was his lowest thus far thanks in large part to a crash in the opening moto that saw him finish outside the top three for the first time this season in fourth. The frustration was evident in Dungey, who knew he gave up valuable ground to his teammate and continues to search for that edge to regain control of a division he took the reigns of early with a win at the opening round at Glen Helen. In four attempts at High Point, Dungey has earned two victories and boasts a finish of no worse than third in a single moto at the facility, meaning the opportunity is there for the taking.
Also closing in on the pace of the lead duo and looking to become a consistent third player in the title fight is Team Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart. The former champion enjoyed a breakout ride at Thunder Valley, showing he still has dominant speed by leading every lap of the opening moto for his first win of the season. Stewart parlayed his triumph into a third-place effort in Moto 2 and as a result landed on the overall podium for the first time in 2014.
The veteran has acknowledged that he and his team were playing catch up early on as they worked to dial in the settings on the Suzuki, but given his season-best effort at Thunder Valley it appears as though the bike is where it needs to be and Stewart is ready to be a fixture in the battle up front. Stewart is also a former winner at High Point, going 1-1 in 2008, and is arguably the most determined rider in the 450 Class right now.