The 2011 Monster Energy AMA Supercross series is heading back west again this weekend and hitting Southern California with one final roost to the face. San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium will host Round 7 of the championship, and if weather reports hold true it could turn out to be a wet one as heavy rainfall is expected throughout the region which will make Dunlop tire selection extra crucial.
The series has become unstable after the previous round in Houston where Honda’s Trey Canard obtained his first ever premier Supercross victory. The championship has also produced a new points leader in Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto, who overcame adversity during Round 6 to post yet another podium finish. Meanwhile, one character still trying to push the memory of Houston from his mind is San Manuel Yamaha’s James Stewart. After suffering two crashes and breaking his front brake caliper, Stewart notched his worst finish so far this season in 15th and fell from the standings. Will San Diego prove to be JS7’s redemption?
With a lot of attention surrounding Villopoto and Stewart’s performance in the series, it can be easy to forget some of the other key players. Houston put an end to this forgetfulness by showcasing the talent of 20-year-old Canard as he expertly piloted his Honda CRF450R ahead of the field. After staunching the advances of Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey in the final laps of the event, Canard put his name
on the short list of 2011 Supercross winners.
Also hitting the mark in the first half of Houston’s tussle was Geico Powersports Honda’s Kevin Windham. The vet rider pulled the holeshot out of a short starting straight and stayed clean through the nasty first-turn pileup. While a gnarly trip over the bars on Lap 11 ended his run in the lead, his brief return to the front of the pack signaled there’s still a valid threat coming from runner-up in the 2010 championship. We’ll see if a week is enough time for Supercross’ elder statesman to recover from a tough spill.
Dungey’s performance in Houston was also exceptional after the ’10 champ nearly clipped Canard across the finish line. His second-place result provided a good comeback from an upsetting DNF in the previous round at Anaheim. With four podium finishes to his name so far in 2011, he is more than capable of entering the title picture in the home stretch.
“There’s still a lot of racing left,” said Dungey. “We came up a little bit shy and I just have to look forward to next weekend.”
TwoTwo Motorsports’ Chad Reed may be unhappy about dropping down to fourth in the championship, but the Aussie can be pleased with how he turned his race around in Houston. Reed was part of an unlucky few caught in the first-turn disaster, and was running 17th during the opening lap.
Davi Millsaps won San Digeo in 2010 under wet conditions, and is coming off a strong finish in Houston.
Despite Houston’s notoriously difficult circuit to pass on, Reed advanced quickly through the field to take sixth at the checkers.
If weather rears its ugly head in San Diego events could turn in favor of JGRMX Yamaha’s Davi Millsaps, who unexpectedly won the venue in 2010 during a rain-filled day. Millsaps is currently ninth in the series and is coming off a solid fourth-place finish in Houston.
“I’ve felt fast for quite a few rounds but it just hasn’t been coming together,” Millsaps said. “Luckily, the series is heading east soon, and that’s my kind of dirt, so I’m hoping for even better rides than this coming up.”
Red Bull KTM’s Andrew Short has faced a steep learning curve with the 350 SX-F. While his start in the 2011 series has been quiet, it appears the 28-year-old from Colorado is beginning to acclimate to his new machinery. Short managed an excellent overtake on Suzuki’s Brett Metcalfe in Houston to grab fifth, allowing him to move up to sixth in the championship. So far in 2011 he’s posted top-six finishes at Anaheim 2 and Houston – both of which have been top results for KTM in the Supercross class.
As tension in the Supercross class reached new heights in Texas, West Coast Lites riders had the opportunity of a week off in preparation for San Diego. One rider most in need of this small break was Monster Energy Pro Circuit
Kawasaki’s Josh Hansen and the West Coast Lites division will return at San Diego before a two-month hiatus in the schedule.
Kawasaki’s Josh Hansen. The current West Coast Lites leader suffered an injury to his hand during the second Anaheim competition and used the time off to fully recover prior to the upcoming round.
“I’m glad I got a week off to help my hand heal up,” said Hansen. “It looks like it might be a bit of a mud race, but I’ll be ready to get as many points as I can before we get our two month break.”
Lurking eight points behind the leader is Hansen’s Pro Circuit teammate, Broc Tickle. The 21-year-old has earned one victory so far in 2011 but has regularly positioned himself up front in each round. It appears if Hansen truly wants to claim the West Coast division this year he’ll have to keep it out of his teammate’s hands.