The Oakland Coliseum will host Round 4 as the battle for the 2012 supercross championship begins taking shape.
The 2012 Monster Energy AMA Supercross series is being jettisoned north this week where it will continue its California tour at Oakland’s O.co Coliseum. Three different race winners have emerged during the first three rounds, setting the stage for a very long and exciting season. The newest addition to victory circle is TwoTwo Motorsports’ Chad Reed, who is now tied for second in the series after proving he too could control the field at Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium. It wasn’t an easy contest for the Aussie to win, however, as he had to rise through the top-five during the opening laps before running away with it.
“It was awesome to bounce back after last weekend’s result,” Reed said. “Week after week we are learning from our mistakes and we are doing all we can to make sure the momentum keeps moving forward.”
In addition to Reed formally entering the fight for wins with Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto and KTM’s Ryan Dungey, there were a few more developments. Over the course of the past year Muscle Milk Honda’s Trey Canard has been at the receiving end of multiple career-threatening injuries. The latest is a broken back suffered in L.A. where Canard’s collision with Star Valli Yamaha’s Ryan Morais at Dodger Stadium was one of the worst we’ve seen in a while, and will result in a long recovery for both riders.
Canard and Morais weren’t the only ones affected by the crash. Honda’s Kevin Windham was emotionally disturbed by the incident, saying: “I saw the whole thing and it was really bad. It happened right in front of me. It ruined my night. I thought about him the whole race. Of course, at that point we didn’t know his condition. Trey is one of the best kids I’ve ever been around and I couldn’t think of
Kevin Windham: “I saw the whole thing and it was really bad. It happened right in front of me. It ruined my night.”
anything else. I didn’t even want to ride but we made it through and got some points. I’m just glad the night is over and Trey’s okay.”
According to the latest information, Trey is set to undergo a small operation to relieve pressure on his spinal cord on Thursday, January 26. At the same time Morais suffered injuries also which included a broken jaw, several fractured vertebrae and some broken ribs. The light at the end of the tunnel for these two is that both are expected to make full recoveries.
Meanwhile Dungey currently leads the standings and is the only rider to have claimed podiums in every round so far. This statistic seems noteworthy since it was RD5’s consistency in 2011 which allowed him to finish within 10 points of Villopoto.
“It feels great to hold the red number plate as we head into the fourth round,” said Dungey. “It’s still early in the series, but it is definitely off to a good start for the Red Bull/KTM Team. I can’t thank everybody on the team enough. They have put in so many hours and we have made so much progress on the new 450. The bike is running amazing.”
While he may not grab as many headlines as RV, Dungey is in the process of building a season of regular top-three finishes that will force RV into a strategy that is dependent on wins. As great as RV2 is – any plan that relies on a win/lose type approach is taking a huge risk in a championship that is this competitive.
“Fourth is all right, but isn’t going to cut it,” Villopoto said. “We have shown that my fitness and the speed of my KX450F are there, so I just need to dial my starts this week.”
Still looming large in the background, JGR Yamaha’s James Stewart achieved his first top-three finish of the season in the last round. As a result of his mistakes during the first three rounds, however, Stewart is already nearly 20 points behind Dungey in the series. His speed appears erratic and his style has come at the cost of crashes in every round so far. Until the former champ can settle down and manage 20 laps with the bike right-side up, there is little hope of him vying for the title this year. However, Stewart is heading to a venue which he won last year, so we can’t count him out of the picture just yet.
One of the biggest surprises in the early season has been Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer. The 24-year-old finished in the top-five during the first two rounds, and was running second in the Los Angeles main before suffering a tough block pass by Stewart on Lap 7. Posting consistent starts and showing good speed, it’s only Weimer’s second season in the Supercross Class after his first was largely eroded by a broken forearm.
“[Los Angeles’] track was tough to pass on and unfortunately I fell victim to that,” said Weimer. “But I don’t want to dwell on it, it’s a long season and I felt really good up front. For me, it was a little bit easier to have someone to pace off of and I think I would have been on the podium if I hadn’t gone down.”
In the Western Regional Supercross Lites Class Geico Honda’s Eli Tomac recently accomplished his first victory of the season. The win came after Tomac set the fastest lap for the third round in a row, making him the rider to beat in terms of brute speed.
“I’ve been riding well all year,” said Tomac. “I had the fastest lap of the first two main events but my starts weren’t there. That’s what I’ve been working on this past week.”
Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Dean Wilson is only one point behind Tomac, the Scotsman finishing on the podium in the past two rounds. While not getting the greatest of starts at Dodger Stadium, Wilson climbed up to fourth on the opening lap and by the halfway point was overtaking Zach Osborne to eventually finish second. If Wilson and Tomac can both get some good starts this season, expect to see some fireworks as these two chase down their first Lites title.
“After training a little bit different this week, I’m already excited to get back into my routine, work on my starts, and go to Oakland for the first time,” Wilson said.