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Local Sports

August 15, 2011

Cruise control: Villopoto sweeps 450s

New Yorker Barcia places third at UVSC; Wilson wins 250 title

NEW BERLIN _ If Saturday felt like the first time for Ryan Villopoto, it's because it was.

The same goes for New Yorker Justin Barcia and Scotland's Dean Wilson, who produced breakout performances in front of an announced crowd of 28,240 during the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship at the Unadilla Valley Sports Center.

Villopoto had a relatively easy time earning the overall 450 Motocross title on his 23rd birthday, breaking in a 2012 Kawasaki by winning both motos for the first time this season.

"I've been riding it for about two weeks now," said Villopoto, a Washington state resident who upgraded from a 2011 model and extended his one-point lead over Minnesotan Ryan Dungey to seven (391-384) by sweeping the ninth round of the 12-event series. "It's a completely different bike. It's way better."

Although he didn't win either holeshot _ the first riders to reach the 1.3-mile loop from the starting straightaway were Barcia and Jacob Weimer, respectively _ Villopoto quickly took control in each moto.

In the first, he trailed only Barcia until taking the lead for keeps on the seventh lap. An early pass of Mike Alessi in the second moto led to a wide gap between first and second place as Villopoto literally rolled to victory, keeping his wheels on the damp dirt of the final jump as he crossed the finish line.

Moments earlier at the same spot, Barcia and defending UVSC 450 champion Dungey started the last lap of their battle for second place with a bang.

The two hit the jump at the same time, but Barcia's Honda kicked sideways into Dungey's Suzuki. Dungey maintained his line at the far left of the jump but landed on the front wheel of Barcia, who flew off of his bike as it tumbled off track.

Despite the contact, Dungey went on to his second straight runner-up moto finish. And although Barcia's ejection cost him some valuable time, the Monroe resident still had plenty left to place third for the second consecutive moto.

"My expectations coming in were top 10," said Barcia, who was called up from the 250 Class to sub for the injured Trey Canard _ last year's 250 winner at UVSC _ for the rest of the season. "I have the speed to ride on a 450 ... and riding with those guys is really good for me."

Dungey said Barcia still has a lot to learn, though.

"He rode really good today, but this is the big boys and you can't do some of the things he was doing," Dungey said during the post-race media conference. "He needs to grow up a little and have some respect for us."

Barcia, who had been seventh in the 250 standings until his promotion, earned his first 40 points in the 450s for his 3-3 finishes. Dungey got 44 points for going 2-2 and Villopoto scored a perfect 50. Villopoto's sweep also resulted in his third title at UVSC as he won 250 crowns in 2008 and 2006.

Honda rider Chad Reed, the 450 champ at UVSC in 2009, went 4-5 in the motos for fourth overall. Reed hit a snag halfway through the second moto when he wiped out on Screw-U, a short, tight turn near algae-covered pond water on a stretch of the course that drops out of sight for most spectators.

The miscue dropped Reed from sixth to eighth before he fought back to finish fifth in the moto. It also hurt his chances to gain ground on points leaders Villopoto and Dungey as Reed stands third with 366.

A huge gap follows the top three in the 450 points standings as Brett Metcalfe, who placed 12th overall Saturday, is fourth at 262.

Alessi followed a seventh in the first moto with a fourth in the second to place fifth overall. He's also fifth in the season standings, with 210 points.

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