Wet weather doesn't wreck Washougal moto schedule

Thursday's amateur racing was postponed

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

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Everything is "100 percent on schedule" for Saturday's Washougal MX National, according to track spokesman Brian Barnes.

It is only the build-up to the big day that has seen some delays.

Thursday's amateur races at the Washougal MX Park were postponed until Sunday as crews worked to prepare the track and spectator areas after torrential rain fell in Clark County earlier in the week.

Thousands of amateur riders annually make the trip to Washougal to take on the course on Thursday and Friday, then watch the professionals battle each other and the track on Saturday.

The Friday amateur schedule is still a go as of Thursday afternoon, Barnes said.

Track manager Ryan Huffman had a simple message for the rest of the week: Pray for sun.

Barnes has worked all 34 of the nationals at Washougal. The track has had to cancel second motos of amateur races. He recalled one year when it poured overnight just before the national, but crews got the facility in tip-top shape.

This was the most rain Barnes has seen during a national week. Fortunately, he said, it happened early. The forecast calls for sunny and hot for Friday and Saturday.

"The crew is doing an amazing job getting it set up," Barnes said. "I think people are going to have the coolest experience they've ever had up here."

The track was closed for amateur racing on Thursday not for safety reasons, Barnes said, but because conditions made it too difficult for some to navigate. Sloppy conditions and elevation changes at Washougal can be a grind on the best of the best, let alone amateurs. Officials figured another day was needed for the track to dry.

There will be a new champion in each of the 450 and 250 classes at Saturday's national. Washington's own Ryan Villopoto, who won the 450 in Washougal last year, is recovering from knee surgery and is missing the outdoor season.

Last year's 250 winner at Washougal, Eli Tomac of Cortez, Colo., is now racing 450s. He got his first 450 overall victory last week, in fact.

Ken Roczen of Germany leads the 450 points race. Ryan Dungey, a five-time winner at Washougal, is in second place.

Jeremy Martin of Millville, Minn., is in first place in the 250 points race.

This is the ninth round of the 2014 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship Series. There have been four different 450 winners in the first eight rounds, and three 250 winners. That makes for an unpredictable trip around the trees and up and down the hills of Washougal.

"It will probably be one of our best nationals ever," Barnes said.