James Stewart and Ivan Tedesco battled for position in the second Heat race at Anaheim 1 Supercross.
The opening race of the season is always a nerve-wracking event for the racers. There’s so much hype surrounding the first contest of the year and expectations are high, making riders lay it all on the line to get a win. But all in all, Anaheim 1 AMA Supercross was a pretty clean race with no major incidents other than some bar banging between San Manuel Yamaha’s James Stewart and Hart and Huntington rider Ivan Tedesco.
During the second 450 heat race we got to see Tedesco power out a holeshot on board his Kawasaki KX450F, taking the early lead with Stewart close behind. After the first lap Stewart made a close pass on Tedesco who seemed to think it was a dirty move and pursued Stewart in an effort to pass back. When Tedesco caught up to Stewart several turns later, his pass attempt didn’t go as planned and Stewart ended up pulling away after a small bobble in the turn when the two riders came together in dramatic fashion.
As for Stewart, he was impressive and proved to be back in the hunt for another Supercross title. After the main event he indicated that he needed to get better starts if he was to dominate the field. Said Stewart, “I just wanted to settle in at the gate and get some lines picked out, but I struggled with the start which allowed the leaders to get too far ahead.” Stewart came from all the way back from 12th at the start of the race to the front and ended up and just a few seconds away from race winner Ryan Villopoto and runner-up Ryan Dungey.
One of the leaders from the time the gate dropped and displaying an impressive will to win was Ryan Villopoto. Most people thought he would be in the hunt this year, but not right out of the gate! The Monster Kawasaki rider looked promising in his heat races and got out front in the main to find himself with the first win of the season. According to Villopoto the track was technical and difficult due to rain earlier in the week. “This is my best start in a season so far in my career as a 450 rider and I think it’s going to make the season a little easier for me in the long run and give me a little added confidence,” said Villopoto.
Ryan Dungey put in some good lap times but seemed to struggle on finding speed to get out in front of the pack. The Makita Suzuki rider’s second place finish was no small feat and puts him in a good point’s standing early in the season. Other riders who pushed hard but didn’t land in a podium position included American Honda’s Trey Canard, who held on to fourth in his rookie debut just in front of fifth place finisher Chad Reed of TwoTwo Motorsports on his Honda CRF450R.
Valli Motorsports Rockstar/Yamaha Team rider Austin Stroupe rode practice as planned at Anaheim 1 but determined he was not ready to race due to a prolonged shoulder injury he sustained during the Houston round of the 2010 Supercross season.
As far as the Lites class is concerned, Josh Hansen delivers a win, Martin Davalos is definitely a contender, and Red Bull KTM’s new rider Ken Roczen was fast, but not fast enough to clinch a podium spot. The A1 Lites competition ended with Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki sweeping the podium. Mitch Payton’s team arrived with three strong West Region contenders – Josh Hansen, Broc Tickle and Tyla Rattray, who finished on the podium in that order.
Rockstar Energy Suzuki riders Davalos and Ryan Morais suffered with poor finishes in their heat races, but ran away with some solid results at the end of the night. Davalos crashed his Suzuki RM-Z250 during his heat race but won the LCQ and went on to finish fourth in the main event. Teammate Morais pushed hard to finish in sixth in the main event after coming back from an injury only days before the race. Should be an interesting Lites race next weekend in Phoenix, so be sure to stay tuned!
Geico Powersports Honda rider Will Hahn took a nasty spill during practice and fractured the T-5 vertabra in his back and was unable to compete in the Lites race. 2010 Lites West champion Jake Weimer was present at A1 but was unable to ride due to breaking his arm earlier in the month at the Kawasaki test track.
Anaheim 1 delivered both good racing and fan fun as expected it would in 2011. The pits were alive with sponsors and crowds getting a glance at what’s new in the sport. Sponsors included everything from THQ promoting the new MX vs. ATV Alive video game that features James Stewart too tire vendors such as Falken Tire promoting performance
(Above) Jeremy McGrath signing autographs at DC display. (Middle) Monster Energy Girls. (Below) James Stewart’s custom painted Bell Moto-9 Red Bull helmet.
A notable mention is Thor MX releasing two limited edition gear sets during Anaheim 1. The first set of gear was developed in collaboration with lifestyle brand Volcom and worn by Ryan Villopoto during the race. The Flux gear is now available to consumers and is the exact same version Villopoto wore when capturing his Anaheim 1 win. A second set of gear that was displayed is the all new Transmit gear and is part of Thor’s core lineup for 2011. Jake Weimer, who couldn’t race, supported the gear release from the pits and will be wearing the Thor Transmit gear when he takes to the track in a future round that is yet to be determined.
DC who signed on as a new sponsor, had an extravagant display that catered to fans of all ages, DJ Ashba delivered fresh beats while DC motocross riders autographed free posters to fans. Even Supercross legend Jeremy McGrath showed up to represent DC and add to the hype. If you didn’t want to wait in line for an autograph they offered a portrait action shot that offers a fan the chance to hang off the bars of an upside down dirt bike simulating a motocross freestyle backflip. This was a favorite among the kids and put up some big smiles on fans faces.
One thing the pits were not short of was eye candy or otherwise known as babes. Monster Energy girls, Violation girls, Rockstar girls and the amazing talent of the Toyota girls who not only looked good but offered fans a chance to sit behind the wheel of a 2011 Tundra in style.
If you could manage to look past the girls you would see some cool custom painted lids such as Jeff Alessi’s Bell Moto-9 helmet sporting an Ethika scheme and James Stewart’s Red Bull helmet with a custom bull dog painted on the back.
Other pit highlights of the day was freestyle motocrosser and artist, Kyle Loza drawing up tattoos for fans and Monster Energy’s team autograph signing at the Monster Energy Lounge right in the center of all the pit action. Next stop is Phoenix for round two of racing along with more fun for the fans in the pits of Supercross.