Kawasaki held its 2011 Monster Energy Kawasaki Race Team Introduction this week at its Irvine headquarters in Southern California. Included in the formal announcement was Team Green’s Supercross/Motocross team along with the multi-championship winning Off-Road team. The announcement comes before the start of the highly anticipated AMA Supercross season that kicks off this Saturday evening at Anaheim’s Angel Stadium.
Present at the introduction were premier class contenders Ryan Villopoto and Jake Weimer. Villopoto is coming into the 2011 Supercross prepared after his 2010 season was cut short due to injury, prepared in the sense that Villopoto has trainer Aldon Baker on his side and the results are visible in his fit appearance. Villopoto’s 2010 season was the best of his premier class career so far and he’s hoping to be the guy to beat in 2011.
Teammate Jake Weimer recently joined the premier class club only to be welcomed by injury. During practice at the Kawasaki test track Weimer took a spill and broke his arm, leaving Villopoto to carry the weight for the beginning of the season. Weimer was awarded a special championship ring from Kawasaki for earning the Lites West title in 2010 and was happy to announce he’s healing well.
The Monster Energy Kawasaki Pro Circuit team was all on site with Team Manager Mitch Payton. The five-man team includes newcomers Blake Baggett and Broc Tickle along with 2010 Australian Supercross Champion Josh Hansen, 2008 World MX 2 Motocross Champion Tyla Rattray and relentless Dean Wilson. All the Lites-class guys will be competing on the 2011 Kawasaki KX250F, which we tested earlier this year during the 2011 Kawasaki KXF250F First Ride.
Jake Weimer explains how he crashed his KX450F, breaking his arm during a practice session at the Kawasaki test track.
Also announced was the 2011 Off-Road team. Continuing to support the effort is Arizona native Destry Abbot and Reno, Nevada resident Justin Soule, who is now in his second year with Kawasaki. Ricky Dietrich will no longer be riding for Team Green and instead Kawasaki has added Taylor Robert from Scottsdale, Arizona who competes in the World Off-Road Championship Series (WORCS) and recently raced on the AMA Team USA Junior ISDE Trophy Team. Destry will continue to compete in various series including Grand National Cross Country and possibly Endurocross. Soule, who finished third in the 2010 Endurocross series last year, will continue his efforts in WORCS and Endurocross alongside new teammate Robert.
Kawasaki festivities rang in the New Year at the 2011 introduction, starting with a team video to get the crowd pumped up. Lunch was served soon after the introduction and trivia questions were asked such as how many Supercross wins did Villopoto receive during last season before his injury put him out. The answer is seven and I didn’t get it right so I didn’t recieve a signed jersey. Other activities included remote controlled car manufacturer Traxxis who brought some of its RC cars to sample, but not before a tour of the Kawasaki race shop where the rider’s bikes were on display. Some of the mechanics also gave a run-down of what happens behind the scenes before race day.