AURORA, Ill (February 18, 2011) – Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto, of Poulsbo, Wash., used a 14-point swing in Supercross class point standings to move into the covered number-one position following the 20-lap main event at Houston’s Reliant Stadium last weekend for the sixth stop of the 2011 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship. With two wins and three additional podium finishes, Villopoto is the most consistent rider in the field heading into San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium tomorrow night.
“I’ve been trying to stay focused on the long term goal of a championship,” said Villopoto. “I did lose the lead for a few races, but tried to ride smart and stay on two wheels. I’ve only been off the podium twice and I really want to maintain the consistency.”
With a 2.2 average finish this season, Villopoto’s only non-podium finish was a fourth at Oakland and he’s led the points race every weekend except Anaheim 2, where James Stewart’s third win of the season gave him a five-point advantage over Villopoto.
How quickly things change.
Stewart, of Haines City, Fla., has an average finish of 3.8 and earned podium finishes at every race this year except Houston where he finished 15th due to two crashes. He’s now nine points out of the Supercross class points race. Stewart’s reputation for either winning or crashing is following suite this season as he’s won every race that he hasn’t crashed in.
“The second crash is what really set me back, when my front brake got bent,” Stewart said. “I really had to take it easy the rest of the laps, because my tire kept locking up. The good thing is I didn’t get hurt and I’m excited to show my fans that I’ll be back on top in San Diego.” Stewart now sits in second place, just nine points shy of the lead.”
While Villopoto and Stewart wrestle for the points race, American Honda’s Trey Canard picked up the first Supercross class win of his career.
“It was awesome to get my first-ever Supercross class win last weekend and to put American Honda Racing on top for the first time this season,” said Canard. “I want to build on this momentum going forward and my goal is to finish on the podium every weekend.”
Canard was given the lead on Lap 10 by fellow Honda rider Kevin Windham. Windham suffered a horrific crash that didn’t allow him to return to the main event.
“The race was going so well and I was pulling away from second place,” said Windham. I probably could have quit doing the obstacle that tripped me up and still won the race. I mean, it’s never over until it’s over but I liked my chances from that point on. The track was deteriorating and a lot of the top riders had quit trying that maneuver where I wrecked. By the end of the race none of them were trying it. Man, it just breaks your heart.”
Like he has done so many times before, Windham will pick up the pieces and make another run at victory.
“I’m going to need to nurse my injuries and just fight through it,” said Windham. “I want to get back to that level as soon as I can. The life of a motocross rider involves dealing with injuries and at this point in the year there isn’t anyone out there that isn’t banged up somehow. When you have all the races in a row there just isn’t adequate time to recover. We’ll do the best we can.”
Defending Supercross class champion Ryan Dungey rebounded in Houston after a DNF at Anaheim 2, finishing second. Dungey and Villopoto jockeyed for positions late in the race before the two engaged in a drag race to the finish line.
“Overall, we had a real solid day in Houston,” said Dungey. “The bike felt great all day. I really owe a lot to Team Rockstar Makita Suzuki because they worked hard. We need to keep pushing and start winning these races. I’m really thankful for the day – coming off of Anaheim 2 was a real tough one for the whole team and myself, but this is a step in the right direction and we’ll keep building from here. It will be good to get a good solid week in and show up in San Diego with my RMZ ready to go.”
Red Bull/KTM made history when their three riders, Andrew Short, Ken Roczen and Mike Alessi, finished 5th, 7th and 10th, respectively at Houston. Prior to that, KTM’s best finish came at the ninth race of the 1992 season when Mike Fisher, Keith Johnson and Mark Musselman all finished within the top 20.
In practice, Short put together his best showing all season. He qualified sixth fastest just a second off the pace of James Stewart who turned the fastest lap. Ken Roczen, in his first-ever Supercross class race, turned the 9th fastest time and Mike Alessi rounded out the group in 13th.
“I was not thinking very positive before the main event because my heel was still hurting me from the heat,” said Roczen, who jarred his foot in a collision with Ivan Tedesco in the heat race. “But it was not bad in the main, and I forgot about the pain when I was riding. I am so excited to finish inside the top ten. I was more nervous than I had ever been going into this race. The guys in the Supercross class have been my heroes for a long time, and it was pretty cool to get to race with them. I am very happy to have raced this event and hope to do a few more.”
For Alessi, finishing 10th marked the best finish of his season.
“The last two weeks I have made some changes to my program and am slowly gaining back some confidence,” said Alessi. “My goal was to get inside the top ten and now I just want to remain consistent and hopefully back it up in San Diego. I am really pumped for the team. To have all riders finish inside the top ten is great for the Red Bull/KTM team and especially the 350 SX-F.”
Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Brett Metcalfe rode a solid practice and carried that momentum into his heat race with a fourth-place finish on his RM-Z450 in Houston. A strong start in the main put him into third place on the first lap. Metcalfe rode a consistent race and maintained a top-five position until the last lap when a small mistake put him on the ground in the first whoops section. Metcalfe remounted his Suzuki to finish in eighth place.
“I’m happy with the way I rode in Houston,” said Metcalfe. “The team made some good changes that week. We made some big improvements to the engine and I have to thank Yoshimura for all their help and everybody on the team. I think myself and Ryan both got great starts. I came out strong in the heat race and the main event was going good right ‘til the end. I made a couple mistakes, and a couple guys got me at the end there and I threw it away in the whoops trying to get a position back on the last lap. I’ve had a good week riding and each week my riding has been improving. We just need to improve the result.”
As the action in the Western Regional Supercross Lites class championship returns to action, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Josh Hansen used last week to rest his injured hand. He looks to maintain his points lead in the AMA Supercross Lites Western Region before the seven week break.
“I’ve been focused on getting my hand back to a good place where I can race as hard as I can this weekend,” said Hansen. “It’s not going to be easy, but I’m definitely staying positive.”
Hansen’s teammate Broc Tickle is only eight points behind in the standings and is looking for his second win of the season. His first win came at the rain-soaked track in Oakland, and with the forecast calling for rain, he is hoping that his luck will return.
“I did well in the wet in Oakland so maybe that will also be the case in San Diego,” said Tickle. “I’ve been working really hard during our week off and I want to be able to go into the break on a high note.”
After sitting out Anaheim 2 due to a back injury, Tyla Rattray looks to make his return in San Diego.
“I’m still a bit sore, but I rode for the first time on Monday and it went pretty well,” said Rattray. “I should be strong enough for the race on Saturday. I really want to get back out there so I’m going to do everything I can to make it happen.”
Team Rockstar Energy Suzuki scored a sixth- and a seventh-place finish at the last west lites main event in Anaheim. Martin Davalos powered his Yoshimura-equipped Suzuki RM-Z250 to a sixth-place finish in the 15-lap lites main event and teammate Ryan Morais finished just behind Davalos in seventh.
“I had a decent race at our last round in Anaheim,” said Davalos. “It has been good to have a little break and work on some things I needed to improve on. I’m really ready for San Diego.”
“I twisted my ankle in the first practice at A2,” said Morais. “The week off has been very helpful for me. I’ve been able to rest the ankle a bit and get ready to put my Suzuki on the box in San Diego.”
For more information on the Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, please log on to www.SupercrossOnline.com.