The 2011 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship is roaring northward as the series makes its way into another new venue: Oakland Coliseum. The season is already turning into a colossal battle with Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto and San Manuel Yamaha’s James Stewart each showcasing mind-numbing speed and hardened determination. Last week’s inaugural race at Dodger Stadium was tense and unpredictable as RV snagged his second victory of the season and widened his lead in the series to five points ahead of Stewart. Still in the early stages of the title chase, some riders may be finding that they’re burning the candle at both ends as they try to balance speed and consistency. While slow does not by any means win the race, a steady approach to each round may prove more valuable in winning the championship.
Villopoto made Stewart regret his crash at Dodger Stadium by taking
another win and increasing his point lead.
In Los Angeles Stewart put in a total of eight laps in the lead before losing the front wheel in a turn. Unable to pull away from Villopoto, who was matching his speed turn for turn, Stewart buckled and ate dirt. His crash resulted in him dropping down to fourth, but JS7’s speed allowed him to recover and take second at the checkered flag. Overall the round proved a major disappointment for Stewart, who felt he threw the race away.
“It felt like I had the race,” said Stewart. “I’m very, very, very disappointed with this one. I feel bad for my team because we’ve been working hard and you can’t win them on the ground. This won’t happen again.”
Meanwhile in Villopoto’s corner the Los Angeles race went extremely well. Despite getting a less than ideal start, RV managed to make up time and by Lap 7 was directly behind Stewart. After Stewart’s crash Villopoto swept into the lead and went on to notch a historic first win at Dodger Stadium. With another victory he’s added three more points to his championship lead over the Yamaha rider, but it’s hardly any breathing room this early in the series. For the upcoming Oakland race Villopoto can expect more close racing with Stewart, and in order to gain a significant advantage in the long run Villopoto will have to be consistent out of the gate.
Honda’s Trey Canard had his bell rung in Los Angeles and comes into Oakland still looking for his first Supercross win.
Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey was another rider who held the lead briefly in Los Angeles before being overtaken. The 21-year-old defending champion had a great start and swapped positions multiple times with Stewart before the Floridian put in a final block pass ahead of Dungey. Ultimately the 2010 champ finished on the podium for the second time this season and was pleased with his result.
“I’m definitely looking forward to Oakland and going to another new stadium,” said Dungey. “We’ll do some work this week and show up to Oakland ready to go.”
Meanwhile Honda’s Trey Canard was greeted at Dodger Stadium with a high-impact crash during his heat race. The accident left him dazed and hurting, but the 20-year-old put himself back together for the LCQ, which he won to advance into the main. After battling from a mid-pack start he managed to score a fourth-place finish and stay fourth overall in points.
TwoTwo Motorsports’ Chad Reed turned a negative into a positive in Los Angeles by charging from dead last to finish seventh. While an impressive feat in itself, the Aussie has fallen into a bad pattern of having to compensate for his poor starts. Already 24 points adrift of Villopoto, Reed’s performance this season has been slipping as a result of problems out of the gate. In preparation for Oakland Reed’s team will continue to work on their development program throughout the week for better results.
Fellow Aussie Brett Metcalfe of Rockstar Makita Suzuki achieved a terrific holeshot despite having an outside gate pick. After leading for a lap Metcalfe hit the mat, however, and eventually finished eighth. Metcalfe remains sixth in the title chase and is nine points away from Reed coming into Oakland.
“Overall, I was happy with the ride; it was just that mistake that disappointed me,” said Metcalfe. “I’m really looking forward to Oakland – another new stadium. The dirt should be a little looser and more tacky, which will suit my style a little better.”
Competition in the Lites is alive and well after Honda’s Cole Seely (below) won his first SX race. However, Josh Hansen (above) still leads coming into Oakland.
In the Supercross Lites division a new name graced the top step of the podium at Dodger Stadium. Lucas Oil Troy Lee Design’s Cole Seely won his first ever SX Lites event in dominatn fashion after getting a solid holeshot and leading for the entire 15-lap race. In doing so Seely prevented Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Josh Hansen from taking his third straight win of the season while moving up to third in the championship behind Hansen’s teammate, Broc Tickle.
Despite Hansen stalling his bike during the opening lap and falling deep within the field, he regrouped and eventually finished fifth. Also having a breakthrough performance at Los Angeles was Geico Powersports Honda’s Eli Tomac, who finished second after successfully passing Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen. Meanwhile Supercross rookie Tyla Rattray had a difficult night at Dodger Stadium after getting landed on during his heat race. The South African was battered but otherwise uninjured and expects to be in fighting shape for the upcoming Oakland round. Heading to Oakland, Hansen still leads the series by just four points ahead of Tickle, and seven points ahead of Seely.
Round 4 of the 2011 Monster Energy AMA Supercross series begins Saturday, January 29th at 7 p.m.
Don’t forget to make your Fantasy Supercross picks before then!