(Top) Toyota babes were all smiles in the LA pits.
(Above) The King of Supercross Jeremy McGrath practicing.
Dodger Stadium played Supercross host for the first time and Round 3 of the 2011 Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship was a night to remember. Ryan Villopoto claimed his second win of the season and retains the overall championship points lead. With amazing performances in both the premier and Lites classes, the Dodgertown energy was intense for the riders and fans that came out to enjoy a night of Supercross racing at Dodger Stadium.
Replacing one of the three Anaheim rounds, Dodger Stadium did not fall short of expectations as over 30,000 fans showed up to view the racing action. The pits had plenty of sponsors showcasing their products for all the fans to enjoy. Some of the highlights included Travis Pastrana’s freestyle motocross bikes on display along with his new Nationwide Series Toyota Camry NASCAR racing machine. Pastrana ended up taking his Toyota racing car out on the track during intermission and gave the fans a little show spinning his car all over the starting line of the Supercross track. Travis joins the NASCAR Nationwide Series and is co-owner on the Boost Mobile Pastrana-Waltrip Racing Team for 2011. Starting with a short track race, Pastrana has entered the 2011 NASCAR Toyota All-Star showdown taking place this weekend Jan. 28-29 at the Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, California.
Another great athlete making an appearance in the Los Angeles Supercross opening ceremonies was Supercross legend Jeremy McGrath. The King of Supercross was on hand for autographs and commentary before he took his factory Honda CRF450R out on the track to commemorate Dodger Stadium as a new SX venue.
The real story of the evening was the epic podium battle in the 20-lap Supercross main event. Four riders clawed after podium positions all the way to the checkered flag. Australian Brett Metcalfe came out of the gate kicking like a wild stallion, taking the holeshot and leading the race into the second lap until he made a mistake and crashed out of the lead. Metcalfe’s error allowed Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey to take over the lead. Soon after San Manuel Yamaha rider James Stewart, Dungey, Honda’s Trey Canard and Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto were all in the moto mix for podium positions up front. All these riders had the speed and potential to make it happen and positions changed frequently throughout the race.
(Top) Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto – Los Angeles SX winner.
(Above) Cole Seely winning the Lites class main event.
Canard put in a valiant effort after a violent over-the-bars crash during his heat race and won the last chance qualifier to make the main. Canard pushed himself and came out of nowhere to join the hunt for the podium, ending in fourth place. In the end, the historic first main event win at Dodger Stadium went to Kawasaki’s Villopoto who put a pass on a downed Stewart for the lead and made it stick. Some unfortunate highlights involved TwoTwo Motorsports’ Chad Reed getting mixed up in a first lap pile-up rendering him incapable of reaching the front runners. The former champion still managed to finish in seventh and salvage some points. Another rider who did well on the start and held second position for several laps was Geico Powersports Honda’s Kevin Windham, who eventually fell off the pace and finished sixth.
The Lites class may not have lived up to the premier class, but it produced a worthy highlight reel. The moment the gate dropped, riders banged bars and fought for position. Troy Lee Designs Lucas Oils Honda rider Cole Seely nabbed the holeshot and ran with it as Monster Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider Josh Hansen closed in behind during the first lap. Soon after the start Hansen found himself stalled in Turn 4 and watched the entire pack go by leaving him dead last on the first lap. Seely ran with the lead and took it all the way home for his first Lites win of the season and the first Supercross win of his career.
“I never really led a Supercross race let alone a main event and I think halfway into it I was thinking to myself ‘this is crazy.’ I just put my head down and did what I know how to do which is run laps and be consistent with picking my lines. In the end it all paid off for me,” said Seely.
Despite a crash in the main Germany’s Ken Roczen fared better in Los Angeles where he took sixth behind Josh Hansen.
While Seely held his ground for the win, the action behind him was intense. The beginning of the season’s racing action has been filled with drama in the Lites class. During a battle for third position between Red Bull KTM rider Ken Roczen, DNA Shred Stix Yamaha Star Racing’s Kyle Cunningham and Rockstar Suzuki’s Martin Davalos, all three went down only a few laps into the race. Cunningham cut in on Roczen’s line in a left-hand berm and both riders went down forcing Davalos to the outside. Davalos then clipped Cunningham’s machine and went down himself, putting him out of contention for a podium spot. All three riders re-mounted and finished the race, but none of them made the podium. Davalos felt that both he and Roczen were in a good position and that Cunningham made a mistake by cutting it too close in the turn.
“It was really unfortunate to get mixed up in it, Cunningham pretty much was riding over his head and kind of went a little crazy,” said Davalos. “Obviously with Roczen crashing and I was really in a bad position because my bike clipped their bikes right when I went by and it just ruined it for everyone involved, it just really sucks.”
Hansen, who currently leads the Lites class in points, had to fight forward to salvage the race and collect as many championship points as possible to keep the title in his grasp. The Kawasaki rider came from last to fifth, securing his points lead but not without causing some turmoil with some fellow riders. In his drive forward, the Pro Circuit rider pushed Slaton Racing Kawasaki rider Jake Canada high into a berm forcing Canada off the track and costing him several positions. Depending on how you view it some would say it was dirty racing and some would say he had it coming after taking a wide line earlier through the mechanics’ area.
Second place went to Colorado native, Geico Honda’s Eli Tomac, who put in a solid ride by fending off Rockstar Suzuki’s Ryan Morais and Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Broc Tickle as both riders were nipping at Tomac’s heels the entire 15 laps.
“I finally got the start that I wanted and have been working on it all week. I finally put it together and I got a little tight but it worked itself out,” said Tomac. “It felt good being in front of 30,000 fans for the first time in the main event. I had some good defensive tactics in the end there and was able to pull it off.”
With Round 3 of AMA Supercross in the books and both the premier and Lites class stacked with talent, it sets the stage for an exciting series. The Supercross paddock stays in California for Round 4, rolling north to Oakland on January 29.