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This Week in Monster Energy Supercross: Salt Lake City

AURORA, Ill. (April 27, 2012) – Only two races remain in the 2012 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, season and tomorrow night, the world’s best riders invade Salt Lake City’s Rice-Eccles Stadium for the 16th race of the season.

Following the announcement earlier this week confirming that Monster Energy Kawasaki rider, and 2012 Monster Energy Supercross Champion, Ryan Villopoto will miss the remainder of the season due to injury, Toyota/Yamaha/JGRMX’s Davi Millsaps assumes the role of lead rider in the Supercross Class.

Millsaps has been one of the best riders over the second half of the season, highlighted by three podium finishes. Since the seventh race of the season in Arlington, Millsaps has climbed from 11th to second in the Supercross Class standings, three points ahead of Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Justin Brayton in third.

As for Villopoto, while he’s surely disappointed to have his season cut short, he will set his sights on the Monster Energy Cup in October.

“Everything started out great in Seattle,” said Villopoto. “I found some good lines during practice and was able to connect everything during the heat race. In the main event I didn’t get the start I needed and had to work from mid-pack. I was trying to pass three racers on the inside of a turn, came in hot, tried to grab some front brake and washed out the front end. I ended up injuring my knee, so unfortunately I won’t be able to race the last couple events. I’m pretty disappointed because I trained hard for this season and even though I won the Supercross title, I really wanted to defend my (motocross) championship. I’ve been through injury before and I know how hard I have to work to get back. My goal is to recover in time to compete in the Monster Energy Cup.”

Brayton posted a fourth-place finish in Seattle as the lone rider for the Factory Honda effort. The finish allowed him to gain valuable points on second in the championship standings as he continues his quest for a career-best runner-up finish in the title fight. This weekend, Brayton will set his sights on a first-career victory.

“I’m happy to finish fourth and be able to get some valuable points,” said Brayton. “I’m just ready to be in that top position. I want to win. The bike was running great, so I’m ready to go home, continue my training this week and head into Salt Lake City strong.”

In his return to action since having surgery to repair a broken collarbone, Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey looked strong despite missing five races. The 2010 Monster Energy Supercross Champion took an easy win in his heat race and was riding well in the main event before he went down when trying to pass Brayton for position. Dungey stayed out of trouble throughout the remainder of the race to post a sixth-place finish. He’ll look to return to the top step of the podium in Salt Lake City.

When his teammate went down in Seattle, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer stepped up to represent the team well, landing in third place. The former Western Regional Supercross Lites Champion has been close to breaking through for his first win in the Supercross Class this season, and with what he considers to be a home race up next tomorrow night, the Idaho native will be eager to show he’s ready to take that next step in front of family and friends.

“I knew it would be tough racing (in) Seattle because the track is always soft and rutted,” said Weimer. “Anytime you get on the podium it’s a good night, but I feel pretty good about Seattle because I was able to fight through it and come out with a better result than I expected. I’m really looking forward to the race in Salt Lake City. That race is my hometown race since it’s the closest race to where I grew up in Idaho.”

It was a tough night in Seattle for Yoshimura Suzuki’s Brett Metcalfe. The optimistic Australian picked up a fine fifth-place result in his heat race, but following mid-air contact with another rider on the opening lap of the main event, Metcalfe was forced to retire for the evening with a damaged bike.

“It was actually a good day for me,” said Metcalfe. “Practice went pretty good and I liked the track. The heat race came around and I got fifth. I put some good laps together and I was feeling good. In the main event, I came through the first corner ok, then I got together with another rider and we collided in mid-air. My bike got smashed up. That was the end of my race and I had to DNF, which was sad because this was the first DNF we’ve had all season. We’ll just come back strong for this weekend at Salt Lake City.”

Since he took the first professional win of his career in Seattle back in 2010, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Broc Tickle had high expectations coming into Centurylink Field. After a solid beginning to the evening, Tickle got pinched off and funneled to the back of the pack in the main event, coming around the first turn in 15th. Undeterred, Tickle put together a solid charge and picked off nearly half of the field to finish eighth. He currently sits 10th in the points standings.

“I thought I rode the best I had all season in Seattle,” said Tickle. “I rode solid and stayed aggressive all 20 laps and passed half of the pack in the process. You know this has been a crazy season; anything can happen on the track. The top 10 racers in the Supercross Class are riding really strong so it’s difficult to break into the top three to get a podium. I just have to keep pushing forward and working hard no matter how tough it gets. I know eventually it will all pay off. I’m going to focus on my starts this week and hopefully I can carry this momentum into Salt Lake City.”

In just his second start since returning from injury, L&MC Racing Honda’s Andrew Short had the most memorable night of his veteran career in Seattle. Short grabbed the holeshot and despite being pressured early in the race, was able to maintain his lead. He rode a consistent and solid race all the way to the checkered flag, leading every lap en route to his first Supercross Class win.

“This feeling is completely unreal to me, and I don’t even know what to say,” said Short. “After my heat race, I knew track position off the start was huge, so I really tried to dig deep to grab a good start and maintain it the entire race. I have been close to winning before, but was never able to pull it all together. Now to be able to get this win after coming off an injury is huge. I was really nervous the whole race, so being able to see that checkered flag while being in the lead is unreal. I’m so excited for my team, myself and my family.”

TiLUBE/Foremost Kawasaki’s Nick Wey continues to improve as he recuperates from injury. Like some of his counterparts, Wey suffered from bad luck in his Seattle heat race and had to go through the LCQ in order to qualify for the main event. Being the veteran that he is, Wey overcame the tough gate pick to finish a solid 10th.

“The track was pretty tough because of all the ruts and I kind of struggled all day,” said Wey. “But, I was quite a bit stronger than I was last week. Unfortunately, I had a crash in the heat race and had to go to the LCQ, but I was able to get a top 10 in the main. Hopefully, I’ll do better at Salt Lake City this weekend.”

Drama reigned in the return of the Western Regional Supercross Lites Championship in Seattle. With only two points separating the top two riders in the championship, expectations were high to see some memorably competition and the riders didn’t disappoint.

GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac entered Seattle as the rider chasing the championship lead. In his first race back since recovering from a fractured elbow, Tomac overcame a slow start to the day to put forth a strong ride in the main event. Tomac engaged in a heated physical battle with fellow title contender Dean Wilson, ultimately resulting in contact between the two, but was able to fight through it all to finish third and reclaim possession of the points lead coming into Salt Lake City.

“That was the wildest race of my entire life,” said Tomac. “It started a little rough, obviously, with the battle between me and Wilson. We made a few contact passes, but unfortunately there weren’t many places to pass on the track. My focus is just to be smart and finish strong the rest of the rounds. I’m here for the championship.”

Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Wilson received the worse end of the incident with Tomac, falling to the ground and ultimately finishing seventh in a valiant attempt to salvage points. Wilson appeared to suffer from an apparent shoulder injury in Seattle following the crash, but is expected to return and attempt to get back into the top spot in the championship. Currently, he sits just four points behind Tomac.

“I was pretty bummed after Seattle,” said Wilson. “Me and Eli (Tomac) were really going at it out there. In the main I was able to get around him pretty quickly on the first lap, then he got me back, and we went back and forth a couple times. It was some pretty aggressive racing, but we’re going for a championship and giving it everything we got out there. We were halfway through the race and he came across the track, we got tangled up, and I got the worst of it. I just had to put that behind me and focus on the championship. We only have two rounds left and this is racing so anything can happen.”

Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil Honda’s Cole Seely, who sits third in the championship standings, rode to a quiet, yet impressive fourth-place finish in Seattle. The strong result allowed the three-time podium finisher this season to stay within the title hunt, 15 points behind Tomac for first.

Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin put forth one of his best performances of the season in Seattle. The French rider was the fastest rider in practice and following a mid-pack start in the main event, managed to fight his way into a runner-up finish, his third of the year. He currently sits fourth in the championship, just eight points from a spot in the top three.

Star/Valli Yamaha’s Ryan Sipes took advantage of the down time afforded the Western Regional Supercross Lites Class to fully heal from his early-season injuries. As a result, Sipes came back stronger, healthier and faster than ever in Seattle. He finished fifth in his six-lap heat race and then dominated the main event by getting out front immediately and leading all 15 laps to take the checkers.

“I’m happy to get the win,” said Sipes. “I ended up in first coming around the second corner and I just put my head down and tried to focus on the track. I just continued to bring focus back to race the track, tried not to look back, and tried not to think about anything. I’m so happy for the Star/Valli Yamaha team. We’ve all been working hard and it’s all been worth it. Now I just want to try and get another one at Salt Lake City this weekend.”

Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki’s Jason Anderson turned in aggressive-yet-controlled laps all night in Seattle. After a fourth-place finish in his heat race, Anderson got a mid-pack start in the main event, but put his head down and picked his way through the field to eventually post a sixth-place result.

“Seattle was pretty good, though I had some trouble with my starts,” said Anderson. “But, my speed was good and sixth isn’t a bad way to end the night, considering how my start was. The Rockstar Energy Racing bike’s working great and I’ve been to Salt Lake City before and I like racing there. So, hopefully I’ll be able to rip some good starts and get up on the podium there.”

The Seattle race was a tough one for Rockstar Energy Racing’s Martin Davalos. The evening started out well, with Davalos turning in a spirited ride in his heat race and taking second. Then, in the main event, Davalos was running sixth when he stalled his bike and wound up finishing 14th.

“It was a tough night,” said Davalos. “I feel like I was riding pretty smooth, but then I stalled my bike with four laps to go, sitting in an easy sixth. I gave it away. It’s been a tough year, and I’m disappointed for the team because they’ve worked so hard on the bike and everything. But I still have two races left, so I need to keep putting my head down and do my best.”

Tune into the enhanced exclusive weekly video content from Supercross LIVE! during the entire 2012
season on SupercrossOnline.com, the Official Website of Monster Energy Supercross.

Weekly Supercross LIVE! Video Content Schedule

The Official Supercross LIVE! Pre-Show Race Days at 11 AM Local Race Time
Behind the Scenes with Supercross LIVE! All Day on Race Days
2 Minutes on the Track Race Days at 3:30 & 5:30 PM Local Race Time
And on the Podium Tonight Following Each Round’s Main Events
The Official Supercross LIVE! Post-Show Saturday Nights at Each Round
Toyota Tailgate Talk Wednesdays at 5 PM ET
After The Checkered Flag Thursdays at 5PM ET