After winning the first Supercross race held at Dodger Stadium last year, Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto will return to So. Cal this weekend aiming for his second win of the season.
For only the second time in its history the Monster Energy AMA Supercross series is embarking for Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Last year riders christened the L.A. track with Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto earning his second win of the season in front of a sold-out crowd. Unlike last year, however, the reigning champ is returning to So. Cal in a points deadlock with Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey after the 2010 Supercross champ demolished the competition in Phoenix. Both tied with 45 points, the race is on to see who can become the first repeat winner of 2012.
It’s not a total surprise that Dungey ruled in Phoenix. Given the former champ’s exquisite throttle control and cautious nature, RD5 was definitely in one of the best positions to skate around Chase Field’s slippery surface without error. While there are many venues in the calendar which reward aggressive passing and elbowing for the lead, Phoenix’s hard-packed dirt played into the calculated hands of Dungey – who was eager to give KTM its first-ever taste of SX victory.
“The whole crew at KTM has been behind me 100% since I joined them in October and it is amazing to earn this win together,” said Dungey.
KTM and Ryan Dungey are proving to be a lethal combo, but can the duo keep its intensity heading into Round 3?
While RD5 may have claimed the ultimate honors in Arizona, fans were on their feet in Phoenix rooting for the the defending champ too. Villopoto’s crash on the first lap and subsequent charge up to third at the finish speaks volumes about what RV1 is capable of.
“I knew I had the speed, and really felt my bike was on, but it took a lot of work moving through the field to finish third,” said Villopoto. “I ran into a little bad luck, but overall I felt good about the ride. It was still a bummer though because I felt the win was pretty close before I went down. I’m looking forward to getting back to Dodger Stadium where I won last year.”
In what was a rare occurrence, the top Kawasaki on the podium in Phoenix was that of Jake Weimer. After posting his first-ever Supercross heat win, Weimer got a solid start in the main behind Dungey and never looked back.
“There are still a lot of rounds left, and I still have a lot of work to do, but that was an awesome night for me and the Monster Energy Kawasaki team,” Weimer said. “I just focused on throttle control, connecting sections, being smooth
and clicking down laps. My new race bike is dialed, it’s got plenty of power and handles awesome, so I’m feeling really positive going into the next round.”
JGRMX Yamaha’s James Stewart, once a major roadblock in RV2’s quest for dominance, hasn’t been able to manage a top-five result this season. Granted, the series is only entering its third round, but Stewart needs to start winning or he’ll have trouble catching the two Ryans. JGRMX Team owner Coy Gibbs was quick to explain Stewart’s poor performance at Phoenix, saying, “James wasn’t really feeling all that good. He skipped second practice because he felt sick and didn’t want to wear himself down for the racing, which we thought was a good idea, but that was a tough main event.”
As much as JS7’s illness could have affected his racing, Stewart remains the only rider to challenge RV each week when it comes to lap times. Stewart’s speed is his major asset, so some wins should fall in place for him throughout the course of the season. It’s only a matter of when…
Muscle Milk Honda’s Trey Canard is eager to make a full recovery and be racing up front. Look for him to land on the podium soon.
TwoTwo Motorsports’ Chad Reed was another rider to suffer a setback at Phoenix. The Australian crashed during his heat race and was relegated to the seventh gate pick, putting him mid-pack heading into the first turn during the main. Despite finishing fifth, Reed considered the result better than his second-place finish at Anaheim.
“We were actually better this week to last week, but the results on paper just don’t show it,” said Reed. “I felt like for the most part it was positive. What we worked on since last round was better and we learnt some things throughout the day that were both negative and positive.”
Whatever Reed learned in the course of the first two rounds, the veteran is hoping it will translate into a win at Dodger Stadium. The two-time champ will spend the week beforehand at the test track to gain some extra practice before heading to L.A.
The competition in the Lites class is reaching an all-time high. In Phoenix there were nine different riders who set the fastest lap time throughout the course of the evening, giving rise to a plethora of riders who could take the win in Los Angeles. When the dust settled in Phoenix it was Dean Wilson who rose to the challenge, overcoming illness and making up for a disappointing moto in the opening round at Angel Stadium.
“This class is unbelievable and it’s not going to be easy (to win), but I want to be in the championship and I’m going to try my best,” said Wilson.
Kawi faces a difficult title defense as the Western Regional Supercross Lites Class is stacked with talent from multiple manufacturers.
The night started on a great note and only got better for KTM after Frenchman Marvin Musquin posted his first Lites podium finish in second. The ’09 FIM MX2 champ had a great start and completed all 15 laps behind Wilson without any major mistakes, making him tied for second-place in the West Coast Lites series with the Scotsman.
“I have been dreaming of this moment since I was a young kid and was hoping this is what I would accomplish when I moved here from France,” said Musquin. “This is honestly a dream come true.”
But with two near-perfect starts in the past two rounds and two podium finishes, South African Tyla Rattray is leading the field heading into Dodger Stadium. Rattray’s aggressiveness and skill have allowed him to stay consistent in a field that is becoming ruthless with competition. Both Rattray and Wilson form the bulk of the Pro Circuit Kawasaki offense against a growing Honda threat, which is headlined by Geico Honda’s Eli Tomac and TLD Honda’s Cole Seely. One thing’s for sure – If both Honda and Kawasaki can get a decent start in Los Angeles, look for fireworks as the two powerhouses jockey for bragging rights.