Fans pack the hills at Washougal MX Park for annual AMA National


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The world’s fastest motorcycle riders were gaining altitude under blue skies during the 2012 AMA Washougal National Saturday, at Washougal Motocross Park.

With six professional races to watch in one day, the estimated 20,000-plus fans in attendance got their money’s worth. Justin Barcia, Ryan Dungey and Ashley Fiolek sliced through the turns, climbed Washougal’s famous “Horsepower Hill” and soared above the Evergreen trees en route to the checkered flag.

Mike Alessi shocked Washougal by holding off Dungey in the first moto of the 450 class. Alessi lassoed the holeshot on the first turn and set a fast pace early on. After several attempts to pass Alessi, Dungey lost traction and slipped off his bike. Furious with his mistake, Dungey channelled his anger into more horsepower on the final few laps. But a confident Alessi maintained control and brought an end to Dungey’s 10-moto winning streak.

“The only way he was going to beat me was to get around me, and I wasn’t going to let that happen,” Alessi said. “I rode better when [Dungey] was right behind me and pressuring me. I could hear the fans going crazy all around the track. I was thinking, ‘this is fun.’”

A more determined Dungey put the throttle down in the final 450 moto, gained the holeshot out of the first turn and drove off into the sunset with his fifth overall Washougal win in a row. He won his first outdoor national event here in 2008, and has been in the winner’s circle ever since.

“Washougal has been a great place for me. You just have to be patient on this track. It seems like the more you take your time, the faster you go. And the more you try to push it, the slower you go,” Dungey said. “It was fun battling [Alessi] in that first moto. I did everything I could to catch him, but he had the better race. It was a nice little kick of motivation to go out and race harder. You can never underestimate these guys. They’re all great riders.”

Dungey leads the 450 class with 383 points this season. Alessi trails in second by 80 points with two more national events left on the schedule.

The 250 class has featured a new overall winner each week, and it was no different in Washougal. Season points leader Blake Baggett rebounded from a rough first moto to win the second go around, but Barcia had the better day. He outlasted two other riders in an exciting first moto before taking second in the finals.

Baggett remains on top of the 250 class with 355 points, but Barcia (344), Tomac (323) and Ken Roczen (305) are all within striking distance.

“[Barcia] wants to win it, and so do I,” Baggett said. “It’s getting down to the final races. You just have to give it your all and see where you end up.”

Women’s motocross returned to Washougal for the first time since 2009. Fiolek turned the park into her own playground by winning both races. Tarah Geiger also closed the gap on season points leader Jessica Patterson, who continues to race courageously with a broken hand.

“All these girls are riding fast and stepping their game up,” Fiolek said. “I’m anxious to see who comes out on top.”