The 2011 AMA Supercross series advances to Round 2 in Phoenix where all the action from Anaheim will continue.
The opening round of the 2011 AMA Supercross series was a true heart-stopper. Fans across the globe watched anxiously as the gates dropped at Anaheim, unveiling which rider would get a shot at early stardom by winning the first race of the season. that rider turned out to be Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto. After getting an excellent start RV held his own against some of the most tenacious riders to land the win and mark a spectacular comeback from injury last season. But as riders calm their nerves and review what took place over the past weekend they are met with one pressing truth: they must meet and exceed their first round performance as Round 2 of the series lands in Phoenix’s Chase Field this coming weekend.
Villopoto looked to be in stellar form in Anaheim as the 22-year-old locked down the 10th SX victory of his career. He was both quick out of the gate and precise in his overtaking as he passed first round holeshot winner, Ivan Tedesco, on his way to the checkers. Perhaps most importantly, Villopoto showed patience and maturity by maintaining the lead over 17 laps. Capitalizing on the poor starts of some of his major rivals, Villopoto made few errors which his competitors could take advantage of.
“This is a nice way to start out the season,” said Villopoto. “Starting out this way makes things much easier. I hope I can start putting together some more wins and a championship this year.”
One of Villopoto’s main rivals, 2010 defending Supercross Champion Ryan Dungey, also acquired a decent start in the main and finished second at Anaheim. The Rockstar Makita Suzuki rider had to make passes on teammate, Brett Metcalfe, and Hart and Huntington Kawasaki’s Tedesco
Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto will look to continue his season by earning the 11th Supercross win of his career in Phoenix.
before honing in on Villopoto. A true battle between Villopoto and Dungey never fully came to fruition, however, as Dungey was unable to overcome a 6.4-second gap. For the upcoming Phoenix round Dungey remains focused and positive about his past performance at Anaheim. The Phoenix round also holds special weight for Dungey as it’s the venue where he earned his first career Supercross victory in 2010.
“I got off to a decent start and had to play some catch up out there,” said Dungey. “During the week, I’m going to work hard to get ready for Phoenix. It’s a good start and we’ll take from what we’ve learned and keep moving forward. I’m looking forward to Phoenix; it’s been good for me the last couple of years and I’m looking for a good race there.”
At Anaheim there was little doubt who the fastest rider on the track was. San Manuel Yamaha’s James Stewart was pure lightning, but a miserable start prevented the Florida native from showcasing his speed up front. Despite being dealt a bad card Stewart eagerly charged to the front of the pack with a frantic pace that nearly had him in the dirt on a few occasions. Finishing third after starting from deep in the pack, Stewart expects to be faster out of the gate for Phoenix following his solid podium result at Anaheim. Also, if Stewart clenches the win in the second round at Phoenix he will tie
GOAT Ricky Carmichael for the all-time win record at Chase Field with four victories.
“I’ll work on my starts and be prepared for Phoenix. I tried my best to get up there. Once I got into third, I tried to make up some time on Ryan (Dungey) but ran out of laps. Overall I’m happy though. Coming from 17th to third, I think that’s pretty good and lets me know that I still have the speed. Get a couple good starts and I think we’ll be right there.”
Rounding out the list of the top-four competitors with a chance at the title in 2011 is TwoTwo Motorsports’ Chad Reed. Like Stewart, Reed encountered an uphill battle after getting a poor start but fought back with speed. While not as impressive or flamboyant as Stewart, Reed managed a top-five finish in the opening round and still stands as a worthy adversary heading to Phoenix.
James Stewart has the opportunity to tie GOAT Ricky Carmichael for the most number of wins in Phoenix at four.
One rider surprising onlookers at Anaheim was factory Honda’s Trey Canard. In his first premier class appearance aboard his full-time 450 ride, Canard failed to qualify in his heat race after being hit and going down. Still determined, Canard rode in the LCQ to advance into the main where he started mid-pack. From ninth Canard progressed steadily through the field and posted a respectable fourth-place finish. Though lacking the experience of his rivals, Canard could prove to be a sleeping giant in future races.
In Supercross Lites the Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki team controlled the field without question. The team’s newest member, Broc Tickle, snagged the holeshot in the main and led for the first half of the race while his teammate, Josh Hansen, remained hot on his rear wheel. On Lap 9 Hansen made the definitive pass on Tickle and sealed the first win of the season. The victory was made complete with Tickle and other teammate, Tyla Rattray, rounding out the Lites podium
Kawasaki’s Josh Hansen heads to Chase Stadium after achieving the first Supercross Lites win of 2011.
as Hansen gave Kawasaki its 22nd Supercross Lites victory at Anaheim.
“I’m happy to be here and get back on my feet and head down the right path,” said Hansen. “I have a great crew around me, and I’m excited for the season.”
The second round of the series begins Saturday January, 15th at 7 p.m. There will be live coverage of the event provided by SPEED beginning 9:30 p.m. ET.
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