Houston Supercross Insider

January 26, 2009
Coverage provided by Vital MX

Supercross Starting Line - Houston
James Stewart and Chad Reed battling off the starting line, both looking to take an early lead.

After a disastrous first race to start the series, James Stewart has now won three Supercross main events in a row. That in itself isn’t that unusual, but at both Phoenix and A2, the wins weren’t without their share of “moments” both big and small, where it looked like he might throw it all away.

In Houston, however, he looked like a completely different rider. This was the softest track of the year, and that, along with continued testing and tuning during the week with the San Manuel / Yamaha / JSE crew, along with some help from Yamaha’s in-house team, had him looking like a completely different rider in Houston. The easiest way to describe it? He had a lot more of his old dazzle than we’ve seen in quite a while.

James also looked like he was looser and having more fun out there. When asked about it afterward, he said, “I was definitely having fun. In the heat race I got a good lead and was whipping it, I had to take a parade lap and whip it with no goggles…just doing what I normally do. I think it’s showing. I’m getting a little confidence and just want to go into next week and work hard and have a good time and keep it going.”

As for the main, he mentioned, “The first lap was crazy. Especially with me and Chad bumping down in the first corner. He hit me coming in, and we both hit going into the next deal. Somebody hit me and it was all over the place. It was weird because everybody bottlenecked and was one of those deals where you just had to hurry up and get through it.”
After following Ryan Villopoto for three laps, James took over the top spot on lap four, and motored to the finish line. He’s now tied for second in the series points along with Josh Grant behind Reed.

Chad Reed - Houston
“As hard a track last week was to pass on, I’d take that track over this track any time. I just didn’t gel with it at all weekend.” – Chad Reed

Looking at the track on Saturday morning, Chad Reed (Rockstar Makita Suzuki) must have been a bit dismayed. He likes when the whoop sections are long and nasty, since that’s generally an area where he can make time. But a with whoop section that was only about a six-pack deep… that wasn’t what he was looking for.

For whatever reason, he also struggled on the loose surface, and noted, “You know, last week James said he felt uncomfortable and made a lot of small mistakes, and fell in practice. I guess from that side of things, yeah, we had a very similar weekend. But the end result was not the same. He still pulled off a win last week, and I wasn’t able to do that this week. To get up on the podium, I think second was really good for me the way I felt, and where I had to come from.”

Reed did have some work to do in Houston. He came into the first turn in the main event with the frontrunners, but after the bumps in the first turn, he got shuffled back and finished the first lap in eighth spot. “You know, I worked hard on my starts this week and to be honest with you I don’t think it’s my starts, it’s just where I’m at in the first turn. I think I just need to get down there and be clean and make a good smart choice in the first turn. I think that’s key to a good start, really. All James’ good starts have all come from just sneaking around the inside. You’ve just got to be in the right place at the right time.”

Surprisingly, Chad had trouble with the loose surface in Houston. “As hard a track last week was to pass on, I’d take that track over this track any time. I just didn’t gel with it at all weekend. I struggled, and you’ve got to work on those things. You just can’t have any weaknesses, and I was weak tonight.”

When asked to describe the material used to construct the track, he said, “It looks great, but it’s really slick. The fine dirt always covers up the shiny stuff, so you never actually see it. You start grabbing a handful and then suddenly the thing’s going sideways. There are no excuses. I had an off week and need to rebound next week.”

Ryan Villopoto - Houston
Ryan Villopoto took his first podium spot this season at Houston and hopes to see many more as the season moves forward.

As for Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto, he scored his first podium in the fourth race of the season, and was plenty happy to be back on the box. “It was kind of a long time coming. I haven’t been up here for a while, and kind of getting a little irritated about that. If feels good to get a good start and run a pretty clean race.”

Since Monster Energy Kawasaki had participated in Friday’s Press day (which requires them to be there on Thursday), Ryan had a short week to prepare. “We only had two days and flew here for the press conference. I worked on some starts and got two days of riding in, and then was off on the plane.”

So what’s the biggest thing he’s learned since jumping to the big-bore class? After thinking for a moment, he said, “It’s a lot harder than everyone says it is. Everybody says that it’s hard and really tough, but it’s a lot tougher than I kind of thought.”

Houston was also the first round of the AMA Supercross Lites East series, with a much earlier start date than in previous years…and a gap of three weeks before their next race. In a lot of ways it’s good, since it balances out the gap that the Lites West guys get at the end of their season.

Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Christophe Pourcel took home the win in the season-opener. Considering the rough couple years he’s had since he was last here, with a serious spinal injury and the time and effort it took to return to action, it had to be a sweet one indeed.

Christophe Pourcel - Houston
Christophe Pourcel made a solid start and took home the win for the first race of the Eastern Supercross Lites season.

When asked about all he’d been through the past couple years, the transplanted Frenchman said, “I think it’s something like you cannot tell anyone. Maybe my parents can understand that…when you’re paralyzed and get something like that. I worked for sure a lot to be back and that was already awesome to be back on the bike. To get the win like that? I don’t know. I was pumped after the finish line. I just go to my mechanic and I was so happy about that.” So what did he think they were doing back home in France? “I didn’t call them yet. I’ll make that call when I get to the hotel. But I think they are more than happy anyway. I think they are like me…they cannot say anything, and they’re just happy for me to be back like that.”

As for the main, things went according to plan for Christophe. “It’s exactly what I wanted. I got the start that I wanted. Then I made a few good laps and rode smooth. I was in trouble in the last lap with some other (lapped) riders. Then I just focused on the bike and rode smooth on the lane and don’t make any mistakes and don’t crash. I know that when I’m riding smooth I just go.”

Brett Metcalfe - Houston
“From tonight we got a heat race win and that doesn’t give you points, but it gives me a little confidence” – Bret Metcalfe

Bret Metcalfe (Geico Powersports Honda) scored a second-place finish, which was a much better start than his ’08 series, where he cased a triple and came home in 19th spot. Afterward he was pretty pumped, and said, “From tonight we got a heat race win and that doesn’t give you points, but it gives me a little confidence, and second in the main so it was a great night for myself and the new team. We’ve got three weeks now, so we’ll just buckle down and keep working.”

As for the main itself, he said, “We got a pretty good start, I think we came out in fifth. I kind of got a little gift with a couple guys (Stroupe and Durham) got together and blew off the track. I snuck up the inside of them and picked them off. From there, I had a little gap from fourth, so I could ride my lines and didn’t have to ride defensive. The early part, it took me a couple laps to get going, and Nico was running a good pace. Halfway through I really started to put some laps together and picked him off. At the end I closed up on Pourcel, but the gap was too big. It was good, though. I was really happy with my performance.”

As for next week, it’s back to the west coast and…lots of eyeballing on weather.com to see what might be in the cards. San Francisco and January? That often means wet weather, which could put an entirely different spin on the ’09 season.

Monster Energy Supercross Results
Reliant Stadium, Houston, TX

Supercross Lites Heat 1

1. Brett Metcalfe
2. Christophe Pourcel
3. Nico Izzi
4. Tyler Wharton
5. Wil Hahn
6. Darryn Durham
7. Matt Goerke
8. Branden Jesseman
9. Chad Ward

Supercross Lites Heat 2

1. Austin Stroupe
2. Matt Lemoine
3. Martin Davalos
4. Blake Wharton
5. Vince Friese
6. Daniel Blair
7. Teddy Parks
8. Jacob Saylor
9. Kyle Gills

Supercross Heat 1

1. Chad Reed
2. Josh Grant
3. Heath Voss
4. Timmy Ferry
5. Davi Millsaps
6. Ryan Villopoto
7. Josh Hill
8. Charles Summey
9. Manuel Rivas

Supercross Heat 2
1. James Stewart
2. Ivan Tedesco
3. Kevin Windham
4. Mike Alessi
5. Andrew Short
6. Kyle Chisholm
7. Benjamin Coisy
8. Cole Siebler
9. Matt Boni

Supercross Lites LCQ

1. Steven Clarke
2. Hunter Hewitt

Supercross LCQ

1. Josh Hansen
2. Paul Carpenter

Supercross Lites Main Event

1. Christophe Pourcel (Kawasaki)
2. Brett Metcalfe (Honda)
3. Nico Izzi (Suzuki)
4. Austin Stroupe (Kawasaki)
5. Blake Wharton (Honda)
6. Wil Hahn (KTM)
7. Martin Davalos (KTM)
8. Darryn Durham (Yamaha)
9. Daniel Blair (Honda)
10. Matt Goerke (Suzuki)
11. Jacob Saylor (Yamaha)
12. Branden Jesseman (Kawasaki)
13. Steven Clarke (Suzuki)
14. Hunter Hewitt (Kawasaki)
15. Teddy Parks (Suzuki)
16. Tyler Wharton (Honda)
17. Kyle Gills (Kawasaki)
18. Matt Lemoine (Yamaha)
19. Chad Ward (Kawasaki)
20. Vince Friese (Honda)

Supercross Main Event

1. James Stewart (Yamaha)
2. Chad Reed (Suzuki)
3. Ryan Villopoto (Kawasaki)
4. Andrew Short (Honda)
5. Josh Grant (Yamaha)
6. Ivan Tedesco (Honda)
7. Mike Alessi (Suzuki)
8. Timmy Ferry (Kawasaki)
9. Kevin Windham (Honda)
10. Davi Millsaps (Honda)
11. Josh Hill (Yamaha)
12. Heath Voss (Honda)
13. Paul Carpenter (Kawasaki)
14. Cole Siebler (Honda)
15. Matt Boni (Honda)
16. Benjamin Coisy (Honda)
17. Kyle Chisholm (Yamaha)
18. Charles Summey (KTM)
19. Manuel Rivas (Kawasaki)
20. Josh Hansen (Honda)

Supercross Point Standings
1. Chad Reed 86
2. James Stewart 77
3. Josh Grant 77
4. Andrew Short 71
5. Ryan Villopoto 68
6. Ivan Tedesco 62
7. Timmy Ferry 56
8. Kevin Windham 53
9. Mike Alessi 46
10. Davi Millsaps 42

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