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BLOUNTVILLE — Ryan Dungey’s rivals hope history doesn’t repeat itself.
The defending AMA Outdoor Motocross National Champion ended Ryan Villopoto’s streak of five straight moto wins Saturday to capture the 450 Class at the inaugural Built Ford Tough Tennessee National at Muddy Creek Raceway.
The race was officially round 3 of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Series, the same point of the season when Dungey won for the first time last season. He then reeled off 10 consecutive moto wins on his way to the 2012 series championship.
“I feel like things are improving and everything is falling into a nice place,” said Dungey, a Red Bull KTM rider. “It’s good to get the first win of the season. It was a hard-fought one and the track was tough. Last year was nice to start kicking it off at this round, but this year will be different. There are a lot of tough guys and tough conditions out there.”
Dungey passed Justin Barcia’s Honda for the lead of the second moto on lap 12 and pulled away to an 11-second victory. Villopoto was never a factor, crashing his Kawasaki on the first lap and then again on lap 12. He did, however, battle through the adversity to finish fourth in the moto. Combined with his win in the day’s first moto, he finished third overall.
He explained how Barcia had just passed him before his first crash.
“Justin had just got around me. I was following him just a little too close,” Villopoto said. “We went back to the far sweeper (turn) and I got in one big long rut. It makes it tough because most of the field was able to get around me. For sure, I wanted to keep my win streak going.”
Dungey won the overall title 45-44 over Barcia. Villopoto ended with 43 points and still holds the lead in the season standings 143-133 over Dungey.
Villopoto grabbed the holeshot and led the entirety of the first moto. Barcia nearly got side-by-side with Villopoto in the early going. Within three laps, however, Villopoto scooted away and won by nearly 10 seconds over Barcia.
Barcia talked about being that little tick behind the two Ryans.
“I’m just trying to get to that notch right now,” Barcia said. “It’s going to take a lot of hard work. I just have to keep chipping away. Ryan (Dungey) was just riding a little bit better that second race and was able to get me. I just have to keep working to get there, and keep learning from those guys.”
Dungey was slow on the start in the first moto, sixth after the holeshot and then had to dodge Trey Canard’s early crash. However, he worked his way up to third 10 minutes into the race with a pass of James Stewart and stayed there.
Stewart finished fourth in the moto and the overall standings, two points ahead of Mike Alessi.
With Villopoto’s recent hot streak, it didn’t look promising for Dungey for the overall crown. However, with a harder tire compound, a never-say-die attitude and an understanding of where he was at, he was able to score the victory.
“I knew the pass for the lead was for the overall lead, but I didn’t know where Villopoto was at,” Dungey said. “I was behind Barcia and just trying to wear him down. I knew five laps to go, I had to make the pass. Then I had to drop the hammer a little more and push out that lead to get the win.”
Local favorite Zach Osborne of Abingdon, Va., took the early lead in the first 250 moto. He wasn’t able to hold on to the advantage and fell to sixth. After running third much of the second moto, he finished fifth in the moto and fifth overall.
“I got passed and fell back to fourth at one point,” Osborne said about the first moto. “Then, I got back to second and tipped over. I couldn’t get very high after that. It was a little better the second race.”
KTM rider Ken Roczen of Germany won the first moto and Eli Tomac, winner of the last race at Colorado, was victorious in the second moto.
Marvin Musquin of France was second in both motos to capture the overall title 44-43 over Tomac. Rozcen also tallied 43 points and finished third.