From beginning to end the second round of the 2007 AMA Supercross series at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona was dominated by riders from the Monster Energy Kawasaki team. Not only did James Stewart hand Makita Suzuki’s Ricky Carmichael a second consecutive defeat but he also gained a few additional points on his only real championship rival, and third place finisher, San Manuel/L&M/Yamaha’s Chad Reed.
James Stewart: “I knew I was going to have to pick it up somewhere or he (Ricky) was just going to run away from me. I know what my goal is. I don’t really care about race wins I care about winning a championship so if I had to take a second tonight I would be sitting up here, not bummed at all.”
The Supercross final began with Stewart grabbing an early lead while Xyience/MDK/Honda’s Nick Wey and David Vuillemin were holding on to second and third. Neither Carmichael or Reed got a great start and shortly after they hit their stride, a spectacular crash in the first rhythm section by Vuillemin left the French rider lying motionless in a heap so officials were forced to red flag the race to protect him and the medics. Vuillemin eventually stood up under his own power and was escorted to the hospital under the watchful eye of Dr. Bodnar and the Asterisk Medical Team.
After the gate dropped for the second time it was Carmichael who gained the advantage while Stewart suffered from a poor start this time around. Ricky appeared to be in good shape to run away with it but Bubba put his head down and blazed past both Kevin Windham and Chad Reed by the second lap and set his sights on the #4 Suzuki. Much to the delight of the 45,000 Phoenicians in attendance the Kawasaki rider reeled RC in rather quickly and the battle was on.
Ricky held him off for a while and for a few laps even looked like he was on the verge of putting on a clinic he was riding so smooth. But Stewart was visibly faster in two key places, through the turn after the first whoop section and again at the turn leading to the entrance of the second whoop section. Other than that the two were damn near equal but those precious fractions of a second started adding up.
“I struggled with bike set-up pretty much all day,” said Stewart after his second win in as many weeks. “Nothing changed (on the bike) between practice and the main event, just me. I felt like I was better than what I was riding (during practice). We looked at the video, we looked at a track map and`found some better lines. I think that one of the key lines was right before the whoops and it worked out to my advantage tonight.”
Both riders were wading through a sea of backmarkers as early as the 10th lap and you better believe they played a factor in keeping it close. It seemed like Stewart had a bit more trouble getting through than Ricky did and it allowed the RC to show the Kid his wheel a couple times but James held his ground repeatedly.
“I’m always bummed (to lose),” mused Carmichael after the race. “That’s just the competitive nature in me. I mean the guy’s (Stewart) riding good you can’t discount that, and I am too. We’re really close and, dang, I really felt that I was faster everywhere except the turn before the second set of whoops and that finish line. I’m anxious to see it on film you know, because I was solid everywhere else. It just seemed like he was turning exceptionally well there. It was just frustrating you know. I know we’re better than that (runner-up), Suzuki’s been working really hard, our engine is just simply amazing this year.”
Behind the leaders, Reed was riding a lonely race in third while Sobe No Fear/Samsung/Honda’s Kevin Windham, Rockstar/WBR/Suzuki’s Michael Byrne and Windham’s teammate Travis Preston battled for the table scraps. Preston ultimately passed Windham for fourth place after K-Dub had a little incident with a lapped rider.
“Phoenix is a really tough place for me,” said a reserved Reed. “I’ve been in many positions to win here and just haven’t been able to do it. For me it was awsome to get another start, but unfortunate for Villy, obviously. I knew I had a second chance at the restart and went for the (good) start. I almost had the holeshot but I kinda got pushed by Bubba a little bit and just went to third and maintained that (position). Being on the podium is a win to me at this point.”
Stewart (50) has a six-point lead over Charmichael (44), who will not compete at Anaheim II, and a 10-point lead on Reed (40).
1. James Stewart, Kaw
2. Ricky Carmichael, Suz
3. Chad Reed, Yam
4. Travis Preston, Hon
5. Tim Ferry, Kaw)
6. Michael Byrne, Suz
7. Ivan Tedesco, Suz
8. Kevin Windham, Hon
9. Nick Wey, Hon
10. Heath Voss, Hon
There’s only one word to describe Kawasaki’s Supecross Lites effort: Monster-ous. Mitch Payton’s boys swept the podium at Phoenix with French recruit Christohe Pourcel taking the wire-to-wire win followed by Ryan Villopoto and Chris Gosselaar. The Lites final set the tone for the night after a chaotic start had bikes and riders going all directions in the battle for the holeshot. Pourcel, Red Bull KTM’s Martin Davalos and privateer Yamaha rider Matt Lemoine led the field on lap one while Villopoto was slowed by the first turn fiasco.
Up front the showdown between 377 (Pourcel), 630 (Lemoine) and 577 (Davalos) was one for the ages considering all three riders featured triple digit numbers and were brawling for the win.
Villopoto rode an amazing race to finish in second considering he had barely survived the start and just barely cracked the top-10 by the end of the first lap. He was fourth by Lap 5 and by then it was obvious he was faster than everyone in front of him. He was only eight seconds behind his Monster/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki teammate Pourcel when the checkers came out.
“I accidently moved over on Goose (at the start) and the KTM guy (Davalos) was pretty much even with me going into the turn,” said Villopoto. “I figured he would go inside and he went straight for the berm and I almost pushed him off the track, my rear tire went off and I knocked some tuff blocks down. It was pretty crazy through that first section so I just kinda had to wait for everyone to calm down and then go for it. It was pretty hairball you know there’s a lot of people, there’s someone everywhere and you’re just trying not to land on each other. There’s a lot of new guys that are pretty much just goin’ for it. They’re not watchin’ out for nothin’.”
While everyone was watching Villapoto and the front runners do battle, the #102 Monster machine piloted by Gosselaar was making his way from as far back as 13th place and into the podium hunt with three laps remaining. Davalos began to wear down after a half dozen laps and slipped back to 10th after pushing Pourcel in the early stages.
The come from behind efforts from Villopto and Gosselaar were the most impressive feats considering how many new riders were on the track.
“In the main I got a really bad start and I was just trying to find a line,” explains Gosselaar. “There were dudes going everywhere, jumping off the track. So, I just tried to run 15 laps as solid as I could. I’m battling with my starts right now and I’m going to work on that this week and try to improve that, for sure.”
Red Bull KTM’s Josh Hansen found himself in fifth place after one lap but he couldn’t take advanatge of the RV’s slow start and eventually slipped back to sixth by the end.
Pourcel, who’s currently tied with Villopoto in the points chase at 74 each, confirmed that he might be able to ride the entire West Regional series but that a decision would not be made until after Anaheimi II. Gosselaar, Jason Lawrence and Hansen are all tied for third with 33.
1. Christophe Pourcel, Kaw
2. Ryan Villopoto, Kaw
3. Chris Gosselaar, Kaw
4. Matt Lemoine, Yam
5. Steve Boniface, Kaw
6. Josh Hansen, KTM
7. Josh Hill, Yam
8. Jason Lawrence, Yam
9. Kyle Cunningham, Yam
10. Martin Davalos, KTM