AURORA, Ill. (January31, 2014) – En route to becoming the first rider to win two 450SX Class races in the 2014 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Champion, Ryan Villopoto cushioned his point lead to seven. Rockstar Energy Racing’s Jason Anderson has made it clear that leading races isn’t as important as winning races. Through four races, Anderson has three wins and has only led a combined six laps.
**The action from Anaheim kicks off Saturday, live on FOX Sports 1 at 10:00 p.m. ET (30 minutes earlier than the traditional TV race broadcast time).**
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Villopoto regained the points lead last weekend in Oakland, and as the championship heads back to Anaheim, the three-time defending champ is looking to extend his lead.
“This is our third time in Anaheim, and I’m not really sure what to expect,” said Villopoto. “I know there hasn’t been any rain and the dirt has been used this whole month. I know the Dirt Wurx guys are going to build a good track and do the best they can with the conditions. We made some changes on the bike to help make it fit me better, and I feel like this Monster Energy Kawasaki team is starting to hit its stride.”
Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing’s James Stewart turned out an outstanding performance in Oakland on Saturday night. Finally getting over the cold that has plagued him for the last few events, Stewart raced his Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450 to second place and picked up his second podium finish of the season.
Stewart came into the weekend having won twice before in Oakland. Feeling healthy and confident, the Yoshimura Suzuki rider qualified second fastest and then grabbed the holeshot in his heat race and took the win. In the 20-lap main event, Stewart overcame a rough start and worked his way through the field. By the race’s halfway point, he’d moved into a podium position and then was awarded the Progressive Pass of the Race when he overtook second place. Although he considered making a late-race charge, he decided to hold tight and finish on the podium.
“The race at Oakland was good,” said Stewart. “I pulled the holeshot in the Heat Race and got the win. Then we went back and made some changes to the Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450 before the Main Event. But then I blew the start so I had to make some passes and take some chances. I slowly made my way up and got around most of the guys one by one. I was closing in on the lead little by little and then almost crashed in the whoops and decided that finishing second would be ok. I wanted to be smart and be there every weekend. I’m happy with two seconds in a row. I felt good and it showed in the main event, but we’ll keep on working toward getting the win at Anaheim this weekend.”
Chad Reed scored his first win of the season at the second race in Anaheim and put his Discount racings/TwoTwo Motorsports machine on the podium in Oakland.
“Coming off a win and heading into Oakland, I put a bit of pressure on myself to try to get back-to-back wins,” said Reed. “Some things I did better, some things not so much. I was happy for a podium and to move from tied for third in points into second. I learned some valuable things over the weekend.”
Reed can tie Stewart, Ricky Carmichael and Jeremy McGrath on the all-time win list in Anaheim with a victory this weekend.
“Moving into Anaheim, we are just going to try to get a finish like we did at Anaheim 2 and try to have a better overall weekend than we had in Oakland,” added Reed. “When I won in Anaheim [two weeks ago], I had some strengths and weaknesses. Oakland was almost a flip-flop of those. My strengths were weak and my weaknesses became strengths. Now I just need to meet in the middle and move forward from there. I’m looking forward to Anaheim since it’s the last one for the year.”
Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey finished fourth in Oakland and sits fourth overall in season standings. Dungey finished second at the season opener in Anaheim and has his sights set on a win this weekend.
“Of course, I would have liked to finish on the podium”, remarked Dungey. “The top three were riding really good tonight, and unfortunately, I wasn’t able to move up. I am looking forward to the next Anaheim race and hope to get closer to getting a win.”
Winless this season, Team Honda/Muscle Milk’s Justin Barcia, who scored two wins as a rookie last year, finished seventh in Oakland and is seventh in the season points standings.
“These starts are killing me,” stated Barcia. “I know I have the speed to run up front with those guys but I’m not putting myself in a good position at the start. Everyone is so fast it makes it tough to work your way through the pack and still have a chance. I was right in the mix before I went down, which sucked. The bike was working awesome, I just need to get my starts down and be consistent.”
GEICO Honda rider Wil Hahn scored his best result in the premier class by finishing eighth.
“The whole day was better,” said Hahn. “My practices were better and my Heat Race was awesome. I got my starts better, and that was the main goal of the week. We did well here, and more than anything I was able to bring more speed. My riding was a lot more well-rounded, and I am looking forward to building on this weekend’s progress.”
Villopoto’s teammate Jake Weimer is also looking forward to coming back to Anaheim.
“Now that we have gotten into the rhythm of the season, I think we will start getting the results we are looking for,” said Weimer. “I know I have the speed to be up there fighting for podiums and I just need to put it all together in the Main Event.”
Rockstar Energy Racing’s lone 450SX Class rider Ivan Tedesco tied his season-best finish last weekend in Oakland with a 12th place.
“The day went ok,” said Tedesco. “Practice was a little rough the same as it has been the past few weekends. It’s taking me a little while to get used to the tracks. It gets better every time I go out there. I got plenty of track time tonight going to the LCQ. I put it in the main and got another bad start. I just clicked off as many laps as good as I could and I ended up 12th. It’s getting better and we’ll keep working at it.”
Anderson heads into this weekend with a six-point lead in the Western Regional 250SX Class season standings.
“The weekend was good,” said Anderson. “I had another last lap pass and it was awesome. Three wins on the season so far and you can’t beat that. I just need to stay in it and keep doing my thing.”
GEICO Honda’s Zach Osborne had a solid night, finishing fifth in the 250SX class Main Event.
“It’s not what I want, but I got to lead some laps in the Heat Race and was really close to winning it, which was good,” explained Osborne. “In the Main Event I finally got the start I needed, but I just didn’t really make the most of the situation. I was going for fourth towards the end of the race and knew I had to make something happen, so I tried passing Seely through the whoops. I missed a whoop and went over the bars pretty hard. I’m fine and still was able to finish fifth.”
In the 250SX Class, both Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki riders are coming off of podium performances and they are looking to stay there for the rest of the season.
“Oakland was bittersweet for me, but I am going to take the positives from it,” said Dean Wilson. “I know I have the speed to win out here and I’m going to concentrate on just going out there and getting as many wins as I can to finish out the season.”
For Justin Hill, Oakland marked his first trip to the podium as a professional.
“Being on the podium is nice, but I want to get a win,” said Hill. “I was a little nervous when I took the lead and that led me to make some mistakes. Now that I have some experience I can take what I learned and keep the pressure on to get on the top of the box.”
For the first-time ever, the entire Monster Energy Supercross season will air live on FOX Sports. FOX Sports 1 will air 13 races live and FOX Sports 2 will air four races live, in addition to every race re-airing on FOX Sports 2. The live Monster Energy Supercross programming on FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports 2 also includes live coverage on the authenticated FOX Sports Go app.
For more information on the Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, please log on to www.SupercrossOnline.com