AURORA, Ill, (March 11, 2011) – As the 20th Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, race from Indianapolis looms, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto finds himself in firm control of the Supercross class standings heading into the 10th race of the season. Coming off back-to-back wins at both Atlanta and Daytona, Villopoto now carries a 23-point lead into a venue in which he was able to capture the win one year ago.
“I got the win (at Indy) last year and I hope that I can keep the (win) streak alive,” said Villopoto. “I really want to go after more wins and finish out the second half of the season strong.”
Luck has been on Villopoto’s side during his victorious efforts the past two weeks, but the third-year rider has been arguably the most consistent competitor in the championship all season. By virtue of running at the front of the field, he is able to take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves.
For San Manuel Yamaha’s James Stewart, Daytona was hard to swallow. A major crash out of the lead forced Stewart to climb his way through the field from last place on a difficult track. He was able to overcome the majority of the competitors that stood in front of him, ultimately posting a ninth-place finish and salvaging valuable championship points. However, his misfortune has put him in the deepest hole he’s been in all season in the standings.
“I’ll never quit for anything, I want it too bad,” said Stewart. “It’s not about how hard you go down, it’s about how hard you fight when you get back up. That was a crazy race for sure and I was definitely feeling a little sore afterwards, but I went back to training this week and am looking forward to Indy.”
Reigning Monster Energy Supercross Champion Ryan Dungey has been the strongest rider in the championship over the last month of competition. The second-year Rockstar/Makita Suzuki rider has posted four consecutive podium finishes since a rare DNF in Anaheim, including a trio of runner-up efforts. His consistency has not only helped bring him back into the title fight, but it’s provided tremendous confidence for he and his team as they’ve proven to have the ability to bounce back from adversity.
At Daytona, that adversity struck again with a freak incident while leading his heat race. However, Dungey and his team came back to win the LCQ and ultimately wrap up a third-place effort despite a poor gate pick.
“I owe a lot to my Rockstar Makita Suzuki team,” said Dungey in Daytona. “They worked their butt off to get my Suzuki ready for the LCQ and for it to run that good in the main was unbelievable. I’m really happy – we had our work cut out for us. With the cards that were dealt and the circumstances, I think we handled everything the best we could and did all we could. I think at the end of the day, we’re happy with the result. I’m really looking forward to Indy; the new Lucas Oil Stadium is really cool and the fans there are great. It’ll be good to get back indoors.”
The Red Bull KTM team continues to improve each and every week during the debut season of the 350 SX-F. First-year KTM rider Andrew Short has posted solid efforts throughout the season on the new bike, including a season-best fourth-place effort this past weekend in Daytona.
“It feels so good to continue to make big steps every week,” said Short. “Earning fourth place in Daytona was just one more step closer to the podium and where we would like to be. We continue to work hard each and every week and except to see my KTM on the podium by the end of the season.”
For Rockstar/Makita Suzuki rider Brett Metcalfe, the last two weeks have brought a pair of significant get-offs that have ultimately forced the Australian rider to sit out this weekend’s race from Indianapolis.
“The track in Daytona is always tough,” said Metcalfe. “And the crash in Atlanta took a lot out of me physically. I knew it was going to be tough coming in to Daytona, but I tried to be positive. We got better through practice – my Rockstar/Makita Suzuki team really got the bike working good for me and I couldn’t really ask for anything more.
“I just wasn’t physically prepared for that kind of race. I tried to make a game plan and stick to it, but I lost that game plan about halfway through the main. I felt good at the beginning of the main, but by the halfway point, it was tough for me and I lost a bit of focus there. We’re still in one piece but I think its best that I sit this week out to let myself recover a bit and prepare to come back for Jacksonville.”
The 2011 season has seen its ups and downs for Red Bull KTM’s Mike Alessi. In his first full season in supercross since 2009 and his first effort in the discipline aboard the KTM 350 SX-F, Alessi is progressing weekly and looking to improve as the season moves forward.
“I really liked the Daytona course,” said Alessi. “I always like that supercross because it feels more like an outdoor race to me. Unfortunately, I had some bad luck off the start and ran off the track twice so I was happy to still come away with a top 10.”
With the Supercross Lites Eastern Regional Championship in full swing after three races, it’s a tight battle atop the standings between GEICO Honda’s Justin Barcia and the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki duo of Blake Baggett and Dean Wilson.
For Baggett, Daytona was almost as perfect as the second-year rider could ask for. After winning his heat race, Baggett stormed to the lead in the main event and never looked back, going wire-to-wire to claim his first win for Mitch Payton’s team and the second win of his young career. Additionally, the win moved Baggett into second in the championship.
“It was pretty unbelievable to have my first race win the year at Daytona,” said Baggett. “I was so happy and I really hope I proved that I am a championship contender. I have been working on my starts and it really helps getting out front early and being able to control the race. I want to be able to do it again in Indy.”
Baggett’s Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki teammate Wilson hoped Daytona would keep the momentum he garnered from his first-career win at Atlanta just one week prior. Instead, it resulted in one of the worst outings of the sophomore rider’s career. A strong heat race suggested the three-way battle would continue in the main, but a bad start forced Wilson to come from behind and resulted in some mistakes that led him to an eighth-place effort.
“I didn’t have a good race in Daytona, but I try to put that out of my mind and focus on what I have to do next week,” said Wilson. “I am very determined to win and I will be pushing hard to pick up some more points in Indy.”
For the Rockstar Energy Suzuki stable, Daytona resulted in mixed emotions. The team was proud of rookie rider Jason Anderson’s hard-working sixth-place effort in his continued development in supercross.
“Daytona actually worked out pretty good for me,” said Anderson. “I struggled a little bit in my heat race but made it through to the main. In the main, I got bumped at the start and bent my shift lever; it ended up stuck in third gear. I had to ride the whole race in third gear so I was on the rev limiter every lap through the whoops, but my RMZ was amazing and held together – I was pretty excited to come away with a sixth. I’m definitely looking forward to Indy. The Daytona track was kind of a curveball for me, so I’m excited to go to Indy and get back to an indoor stadium.”
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