Photo credit: Schaaf

Canard takes Moto 2, Dungey gets overall 450 Class Motocross win at Unadilla

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Another sweep wasn’t in the cards for Ryan Dungey this time, but it didn’t matter. With a victory in Moto 1 and a second-place finish in Moto 2 at Unadilla, the Red Bull KTM rider was able to secure his second straight overall victory.

More importantly, Dungey cut Ken Roczen’s 450 Class points lead in half today. Dungey entered the day 14 points back of his teammate. He’ll now leave Unadilla trailing by just seven points with two rounds left in the 2014 Lucas Oil Pro Motoross Championship.

In the first moto, Dungey used a strong start to put himself in third place behind the JGR Yamaha duo of Justin Brayton and Phil Nicoletti. By the end of the first lap though, Dungey had made his way around both riders and went on to lead every lap of the moto. Although Roczen kept it close for awhile, he couldn’t match Dungey’s pace and had to settle for second place.

The second moto of the day provided some of the best racing of the year. After Brayton earned another holeshot, Eli Tomac overtook him for the lead on the opening lap. Just over ten minutes into the moto, Trey Canard caught Tomac and was on his rear fender. The two went back-and-forth, exchanging the lead several times before Canard settled into the position on Lap 5. It wasn’t smooth sailing after that for Canard though – Tomac and Dungey caught back up to him, and both riders put on a fierce challenge late in the race. Dungey eventually passed Tomac for second, but Canard was able to secure the moto win – the first of his career in the 450 Class.

Watch a recap of 450 Moto 2:

Canard is one of the most respected riders in the series, and many were surely happy to see him finally win. One of the nicest guys in the sport, he has dealt with some severe injuries throughout the course of his career and has still managed to take his riding to new levels this year.

“I can’t tell you how good that feels,” Canard said about the moto win. “I’m not gonna sit here and cry about everything that’s happened. I’m just grateful“

As for Dungey, he’s still looking up at Roczen in the point standings, but there’s no doubt that things are trending in the right direction for him, and he’ll be hard to stop in the final two races.

“This was an awesome day,” Dungey said. “We came here and just wanted to make the best of the day and not worry about the future. It’s easy to get sidetracked, but there’s a lot of racing still.”

Unadilla 450 Class Overall Results
1. Ryan Dungey (1-2)
2. Trey Canard (4-1)
3. Eli Tomac (3-3)
4. Ken Roczen (2-4)
5. Justin Brayton (6-7)
6. Andrew Short (5-8)
7. Weston Peick (10-5)
8. Phil Nicoletti (7-9)
9. Brett Metcalfe (12-6)
10. Fredrik Noren (8-10)
*Moto 1 and Moto 2 results in parenthesis

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Sage Karam

Sage Karam
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series field, driver-by-driver. Ending in 20th was Sage Karam, who generated a lot of headlines despite missing a handful of races in his first full season in the big leagues.

Sage Karam, No. 8 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet

  • 2014: 9th place at Indianapolis 500; several starts in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship
  • 2015: 20th place (12 starts), Best Finish 3rd, Best Start 3rd, 1 Podium, 2 Top-5, 2 Top-10, 12 Laps Led, 14.5 Avg. Start, 15.8 Avg. Finish

Few drivers generated as much ink as Karam did during what as an ultimately race-by-race rookie season that saw him active in 12 of 16 races. It was an overall rocky campaign that featured any combination of brilliance, controversy and heartache depending on the weekend.

Karam was on the back foot to begin with anyway with limited preseason testing, following a wrist injury sustained in a crash at Barber Motorsports Park. The fact he was out of a car for Long Beach and the Grand Prix of Indianapolis owed to financial reasons but also served as a wakeup call that he needed to improve off the back of several ragged races to open the season. The speed was there for the Indianapolis 500 but the result wasn’t, with a first-lap crash and the following debacle of a doubleheader weekend at Detroit a week later ultimately Karam’s nadir.

Luckily for the 20-year-old, he had Dario Franchitti as a tutor, mentor and coach, and a post-Detroit “come to Jesus” meeting might have been the biggest impetus for change. Karam then surged in the second half of the year – primarily on ovals – and worked his way into the headlines courtesy of his driving and take-no-prisoners aggressive approach, particularly with Ed Carpenter at Iowa. In a single sentence, he was worth the price of admission almost on his own while also putting himself in contention for series “black hat” status.

Karam was on track for what would have been a dream weekend at home in Pocono, leading with 20 laps to go, when he lost control and crashed out – the debris from the car ultimately striking Justin Wilson’s helmet. It was a tragic end to the race but it was no fault of Karam’s that what happened, happened.

For as much as the community is rallying around Wilson’s family, it needs to do the same for Karam. At 20, he’s a talented driver with a bright future ahead of him, who continued to mature over the course of the season. You just don’t want Pocono to be the race that affects him psychologically, and prevents him from fully realizing his undoubted potential.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Stefano Coletti

Stefano Coletti
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MotorSportsTalk continues its look through the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series driver-by-driver lineup. In 19th place and the second-ranked rookie this season, was KV Racing Technology’s Stefano Coletti.

Stefano Coletti, No. 4 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet

  • 2014: GP2
  • 2015: 19th Place, Best Finish 8th, Best Start 8th, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 0 Laps Led, 18.9 Avg. Start, 18.6 Avg. Finish

Coletti struggled in his rookie season, which was a bit surprising after an impressive preseason testing period that helped him secure the second KV Racing Technology car alongside KVSH Racing lead driver Sebastien Bourdais.

The GP2 graduate produced early season excitement where he was a passing star, but that only seemed to deceive for the rest of the year. The only time he started ahead of Bourdais was at Iowa, when Bourdais crashed in qualifying.

Similar to other drivers KV has had in previous years Coletti was often hard on equipment, with a frequent number of either full-on accidents or less damaging spins, although not all were his fault. A trouble-free weekend for him rarely occurred, and eighth at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis marked his only top-10 result of the year.

It was a year that paled in comparison to Sebastian Saavedra’s difficult 2014, which paled in comparison to Simona de Silvestro in 2013, which… well you get the point. The lack of consistency for the team’s second car probably doesn’t help, but Coletti offered few moments of brilliance in a deep field where he needed to stand out.

Given the resources at his disposal, ending 78 points behind rookie-of-the-year Gabby Chaves seemed a fairly substantial margin. If he returns for 2016, he has a big jump to make.