NEW BERLIN — Maybe it’s time to start calling him Ryan Villomoto.
Three days shy of his 25th birthday, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto swept both motos in the 450 Class to win the overall track title in front of 22,458 fans Saturday during the Unadilla Pro National MX at the Unadilla Valley Sports Center.
Villopoto won both holeshots — meaning he was the first rider to reach the 1.3-mile loop from the starting straightaway — for the first time this season. Those quick starts set up consecutive wire-to-wire victories that marked Villopoto’s 13th and 14th moto wins and his fifth overall track title in the 12-round Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship.
“It was good because I got two holeshots and I think I only have one (other one) on the year so far,” said Villopoto, who is two holeshots shy of tying James Stewart and Justin Barcia for the series lead with two rounds remaining. “Getting the first one was awesome, but then to back it up was even better. I was able to get two clean starts and get out front.”
And after that happened, the 450 Class motos on this perfectly pleasant Saturday were more or less over.
Villopoto’s only true challenge thereafter was figuring out which lines to take on the cotton-soft topsoil as he approached soon-to-be lapped traffic in the 40-man field. He easily beat defending Unadilla champion Ryan Dungey by 20 seconds in the first moto and finished 12-plus seconds ahead of Monroe native Barcia in the second.
“I really enjoy the track,” said Villopoto, the 2011 Unadilla champion who has nine more moto triumphs and one more overall track title than Dungey this season. “They’ve done a lot of work in the past years just trying to get the dirt better and get rid of some of the rocks and it definitely shows.
“Unadilla is really wide, so it has a lot of line choices and a lot of options,” he continued. “You go from right to left or inside to outside or vice-versa. It’s a great track. It’s definitely becoming one of my favorites.”
Villopoto’s holeshot win in the second moto turned out to be huge, too, as he narrowly avoided a multi-rider crash a few feet behind him. Trey Canard’s unmanned Honda went flying over a barricade during the wreck, which also took down 2008 Unadilla champion Stewart and Mike Alessi, among others. All three are in the top 10 for season points.
Canard, who bowed out of the first moto with mechanical problems, ended up with zero points on the day as he finished 26th in the second moto. He’s fifth in the season standings with 263 points — 200 behind leader Villopoto.
Stewart never made it back to the track after cartwheeling his Suzuki over the same barricade and injuring his neck. Stewart, who finished third in the opening moto, still managed to place 11th overall and maintain his spot at No. 4 in the points standings (289). In a video posted on his website, Stewart said he expects to ride in Round 11 — the Utah National — on Aug. 24.
The crash kept Alessi off the track for the second moto as well. He was 12th in the opening moto and finished 18th overall, earning nine points to increase his season total to 204 (10th overall).
Dungey followed his runner-up finish in the first moto with a fourth in the second as he fell 10 points further behind Villopoto in the season standings.
“Sometimes it just doesn’t click like you want it to,” said Dungey, who placed third overall and will enter the Utah National with 419 season points. “I didn’t really have anything for (Villopoto) today. I didn’t have a good start in the second moto and had to play catch up.”
Dungey engaged in a tight battle for third place with Jake Weimer throughout the second moto but failed to pass the Kawasaki rider. Weimer, who is seventh in the season standings with 216 points, placed fourth overall with his 9-3 finish in the motos.
Barcia went 4-2 in the motos, but he was nowhere close to Villopoto in either. Villopoto led Barcia by more than 5 seconds after the fourth lap of the second moto and padded his advantage on virtually every lap thereafter.
So big was Villopoto’s lead in the second moto that he simply rolled over the last jump at the finish line, then stood up, let go of the handlebars and pumped both fists skyward while his bike was still moving.
“The Ryans are killing it, as always,” said Barcia, who seemed pleased with a second-place podium finish that helped him stay comfortably in the third position in the season points standings with 347. “I definitely want to stay on the podium. That’s the biggest thing and I’ll just keep going for it.
“This is, by far, one of my favorite tracks,” he continued. “I really enjoy it. There were a lot of ruts and bumps. My bike was working good, so I was really happy about that. It was a good day overall.”
Eli Tomac must have been ecstatic then.
Honda rider Tomac pulled off a double in the 250 Class, sweeping both motos for his fifth track championship of the season.
“It was another awesome day for me,” said Tomac, who fought from behind in both motos but turned each into easy victories as he prepares to make the jump to the 450 Class next season.
Points leader Tomac passed Jeremy Martin on Lap 7 of the opening moto and beat the Yamaha rider by more than 18 seconds.
“Once you get into the lead, you can ride your own lines,” said Tomac, whose 455 series points are 39 better than Roczen. “I basically try to sprint past someone and get rid of the guy as fast as I can.”
Tomac chased his closest rival in the season points standings, Ken Roczen, for the first nine laps of the second moto, too, but turned that into a 9-second win.
“As soon as he passed me, I tried to go after him,” Roczen said. “But it took half-a-lap and he was gone.”
Wil Hahn and Martin Davalos took the holeshots in motos 1 and 2, respectively, but neither made it to the podium.
Martin followed his runner-up finish in the first moto with a third in the second to place second overall. Martin’s performance helped him jump Jason Anderson for sixth place in the points standings, 249-248.
“I felt more confident today and to get out in the lead is awesome,” said rookie Martin. “Running up front with those guys is awesome.”
Roczen went 5-2 to claim the third spot overall Saturday.
“I struggled in the first moto,” he said. “The track was rutty and bumpy, so it was hard to keep my groove. This is not where I want to be or how I want to ride. It was just an off day.”
Defending Unadilla champion Marvin Musquin went 8-9 in the motos but still holds the third spot overall in the points standings at 334. Blake Baggett stands fourth with 295 points, followed by Zach Osborne at 261.
Dean Russin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-432-1000, ext. 215.