- Five 250 Class Riders Score Jackpots
- Bikeland predictions set new record
By Jow Row and Lance Thruxton
Vegas! The scorching 103°F last stop of 2014’s emotionally charged, 40 year SX anniversary. Some veteran fans proclaimed it one of the most crowd-pleasing seasons ever. HDTV coverage and slo-mo replay certainly made it seem magical and the finals at sun-baked Sam Boyd stadium capped it off in style. Swarms of fans braved triple digit temps and high winds to pack the pits. Even last week’s early 450 Championship outcome didn’t keep Monster Energy’s annual Vegas finale from its inevitable umpteenth sell out. Not all was preordained however, as the 250 class East and West Championships and the shootout were up for grabs. Runner ups in both classes wanted to make “final impressions” on potential sponsors. And just for the hell of it the stadium sported a rare counterclockwise layout.
How it went down:
250 East Main Event
With rising star Adam Cianciarulo and Pro Circuit Kawasaki stalwart Martin Davalos out of contention with injuries, the East Championship was Justin Bogle’s to sew up for his Factory Connection Geico Honda team. Bogle secured the crown by wisely finishing behind first time winner Jeremy Martin’s Yamaha. Texan Matt Bisceglia brought another Honda home for third.
250 West Main Event
Canadian Dean Wilson on the Pro Circuit Kawasaki won a race-long battle with Yamaha’s Cooper Webb. Justin Hill claimed third but the real drama was watching the usually wild-riding Jason Anderson and his KTM coolly lock down the Championship with a subdued sixth place. Anderson’s eight point lead coming into Vegas was sufficient to let him just pace fourth place finisher Cole Seely and eke out the 250 West Championship over season rival Seely by five points.
Dave Coombs Sr. Memorial East West Shootout
A high-flying Justin Hill led teammate Dean Wilson on a blazing 10-lap romp to take home the nation’s top 250cc bragging rights. Jason Anderson trailed home a distant third. Big crashes took out Malcolm Stewart and Justin Bogle midway thru the once a year event.
450 Main Event
Any hope the field had that Villopoto would take it easy with the Championship in hand evaporated when the gate dropped. RV smoked the field with his 7th season win and 41st SX career victory. “Steady Eddie” Ryan Dungey came home 14 seconds back with KTM’s affable Austrian rider Ken Roczen in third another 10 seconds back. To be honest it was a bit of a parade, the yearlong toll showing on many of the finishers. James Stewart’s chance for a final year end show up of Villopoto was scorched when he apparently tweaked the front forks in a start gate tangle and pulled off on lap three. Ironically the final season points standings ended up the same as the season’s final event results.
Quite a year for the Washington red head. His determination, perseverance, and consistency netted a second consecutive SX championship and career #4 equaling Showtime Jeremy McGrath’s record.
While injuries and crashes allowed RV’s title clinch after sixteen of seventeen rounds, Bikeland knew he was going to win it early on. Thanks to our cumulative years of talent assessment (and envy), computer modeling skills, and even our ability to redirect OEM bike shipments, Bikeland again correctly predicted the 450 class champ and runner up. Last year, we bet on Villopoto halfway through the series before he was leading. This year we brashly called it before the season even started! Yes, Bikeland staffers are also available for fortune telling however Thruxton only works with “select clients.”
Our calls looked vulnerable more than once this year though. Week after week, Villopoto was under constant assault and often eclipsed by the resurgent James Stewart’s crash-or-win riding which netted Stewart five wins. Early season, hard fought victories by Chad Reed at Anaheim 2 & 3, Ryan Dungey at Indy, and Ken Roczen at Anaheim 1 provided plenty of drama and team manager stomach acid. Reed soon crashed out of the season but Dungey and Roczen hounded Stewart and Villopoto all year.
What’s next ?
Moto fans have only three weeks of down time until the 12-round outdoor MX season kicks off at Glen Helen in California. Redemptions and more will be on the line for the 250 gang and expectations aplenty in the 450s for “The Ryan’s”. Bikeland’s prediction: It will be well worth watching!