In an already dominant season, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto heads to Toronto’s Rogers Centre tomorrow night with a 54-point lead over second-place contender James Stewart in the Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship.
Monster Energy Kawasaki heads north of the U.S. border this weekend, riding a wave of momentum from Indianapolis. Villopoto is looking to extend his commanding margin with another trip to the top step of the podium.
“The dirt in Toronto is always tricky,” said Villopoto. “And I think this weekend is going to be a lot like Indy. I think everyone is going to have to ride smart to ride fast. I know my plan going in is just to get a good start and stay out of trouble.”
JRGMX/Toyota/Yamaha’s James Stewart suffered a crash in his heat race last week that forced him to sit out of the last chance qualifier. Stewart hopes to jump back into action this weekend and cut into Villopoto’s points lead. UPDATE: James Stewart announced on his Twitter account that he will miss the upcoming Toronto round.
“As for right now, I’m heading in for further checks and after that we’ll reevaluate this weekend’s race in Toronto,” said Stewart. “We’ll keep you all in the loop as this goes, but right now I wanted to thank all of you for the support. To my fans, my team, my sponsors, my family, my friends; everyone out there that’s been supporting me — thank you”
Stewart added, “Over the past few weekends we as a team have been working really well and built up some solid momentum that carried us straight into Indianapolis. The practice sessions were good. We were able to go fast and the team and I were really excited to get out there and race. But unfortunately it didn’t play out the way we expected it to and I was unable to finish out the night in Indy.
While Villopoto has established himself as the man to beat, Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Justin Brayton posted the third fastest lap time during qualifying practice in Indianapolis and went on to win his heat race. Second off the line in the main, Brayton made the pass for first a few laps in, which is where he would stay the majority of the race. Eventually, he was passed, but maintained his second place spot to the checkers—his career-best finish.
“It was a really great night for me, with a heat win, some awesome starts and now a second place finish in the main,” said Brayton. “This was my first time ever leading laps in the 450 Class and now I want it more than ever. It has been a long time coming and now I feel like the trophy is right there. This is a good building block and I am ready to work this week and come out swinging in Toronto.”
Yoshimura Suzuki Racing’s Brett Metcalfe celebrated their best night of supercross so far this year in Indianapolis. Metcalfe raced his Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450 to his first-ever Supercross Class heat race victory, and then went on to bring home an impressive fourth-place result in the Supercross Class Main Event.
“We came in with a different approach with bike setup in Indy,” said Metcalfe. “It was evident in my first lap of practice. I just felt so much more comfortable and could really attack the track and ride the bike. I was really stoked; the Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450 was running great. We got great starts and qualified the best we have all year. In the heat race, we ripped the holeshot and it felt awesome to get out there in front. I was able to hold on and get my first heat win of my 450 career, and that was a big achievement for me. In the main, I got another good start on the Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450. I came out of the corner about third or fourth. Then I was able to charge through and get up to second, and ran up there for half the main event. Then I dropped back a few positions because I got tired running up front and holding everybody off, but I was fighting as hard as I could.”
For Villopoto’s teammate Jake Weimer, Toronto is a place he will be looking for redemption. Weimer missed the main event last week and is ready to get back on track.
“This is my first time racing on the east coast and there are a lot of differences,” said Weimer. “I am a little bummed after last week, but I have to put it behind me and move forward.”
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Broc Tickle is looking to stay on pace in Canada. The Michigan native has put in two strong rides at the last two events and is getting more comfortable on the Kawasaki KX450F.
“My results are starting to come around,” said Tickle. “That’s the crazy thing about this sport. Sometimes you ride great and get a poor result and sometimes it’s the opposite. I know I’m starting to ride better and loosen up on the track and the results are starting to come too.”
Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin earned a seventh-place finish in Indianapolis and hopes to gain momentum while competing on the big bike during his Western Regional Supercross Lites Class hiatus.
Musquin looks to gain a bit more experience on his final ride in the Supercross class before he returns to training for the west coast lites return at Seattle.
“I feel like I’ve gained a lot of experience by riding select Supercross Class races while the West Coast Lites series is on break,” says Musquin. “The KTM 350SX-F is a great bike to ride in the big bike Class to learn the ropes. But this will be my last weekend racing the Supercross Class as I start riding my KTM 250SX-F again next week in preparation for the return of the West Lites Championship in Seattle in April. I have a lot more confidence now and I really want to get a win before the supercross season ends.”
Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki’s Blake Wharton gave the Rockstar Energy Racing teams their first Supercross Lites main event win of the season at round in Indy. En route to victory, Wharton grabbed the holeshot in his six-lap heat race and finished second before going onto the 15-lap main event and bringing home the win.
“It feels good to get the win,” said Wharton. “It’s been a while since I’ve won, but I never stopped thinking I could. I know it’s not easy to win, but at the same time, what we’re doing during the week, we’re doing to win. I happened to win tonight, but it’s so tough with the competition because everyone’s so fast. But this weekend, I won it, and I just want to go into Toronto and carry this over. Toronto should be good, I like going to Canada.”
Despite getting a less-than-desirable start in the main, GEICO Honda’s Justin Barcia was given a second chance to close the gap on the leaders after the race was red flagged and all riders were forced into a staggered restart. Barcia worked his way from eighth place to a respectable third.
“With such a slick track, I had a feeling it was going to be a tough night,” said Barcia. “It is definitely a bummer not to keep my winning streak going but I am still happy to be on the podium. Consistency is the most important thing in the long run so I am glad to have the GEICO Honda on the podium regardless.”
After the restart, GEICO Honda’s Justin Bogle worked his way up to fourth position, however a spill sent him back to eighth. Bogle was able to salvage a few positions and finish a respectable sixth place.
“I switched things up and just tried to have fun this week,” Bogle said. “I felt good in practice today and I played it safe and got third in my heat race. The main was pandemonium, pretty much,” said Bogle. “I was feeling really good after the restart, but had a fall. I’m getting sick of these rookie mistakes. I know I’m learning, but I really want to get to the point where I have things figured out.”
Durham inched closer to Barcia’s points lead with a second place finish at Indy and hopes to be on the podium with good weather for round 12.
In the Supercross Lites Class, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Darryn Durham is sitting second in the points standings and looking to get his first win.
“The weather has been so unexpected this year on the East Coast,” said Durham. “Usually we go into the dome stadiums to escape the cold and rain, but this year the weather has been great except at Daytona. I hope the good weather means the dirt will be ready for us in Toronto.”
Durham’s teammate Blake Baggett is also looking to get back on top of the box and he hopes Toronto is a place where he can start a winning streak.
“I’ve tried to refocus and just concentrate on winning,” said Baggett.
“This season has been different for me and it hasn’t gone to plan. So I’m looking to change my plan and go out and get some race wins.”
A 16th-place finish didn’t sit well with Red Bull/KTM’s Ken Roczen.
“It’s been an up and down season for me this year,” explained Roczen. “But last weekend at Indy I felt like I’d found my groove and speed again. I’m so bummed that while I was leading the race I crash — first crash this season and it had to happen when I was winning! The whole red flag and strange restart procedure threw me off as I had a solid lead before the race got called. I definitely want to finish what I started last week by getting the win in Toronto.”
Unfortunately, Rockstar Energy Racing’s Hunter Hewitt suffered some bad luck in his heat race. In the first turn, Hewitt got tangled up with some other riders and went down. As a result, he did not race the main event.
Cunningham had a bit of bad luck in the Indianapolis main leading to the unusual staggered restart. He will be sitting out Toronto while he recovers from his wrist injury.
Star Valli Yamaha’s Kyle Peters struggled in the Supercross Lites in Indy but pulled through in the end. The young rookie carded a ninth-place finish in his heat race and transferred to the main, where he finished 12th. Meanwhile, Star Valli Yamaha teammate Kyle Cunningham finished eighth in his heat race, but crashed out of the main and was taken for medical evaluation.
“It was a rough race in Indy,” said Peters. “The track was really gnarly and I tried to get through it the best I could. My goal is to just keep pushing and working on improving, and I know I’ll get there. Now I’m looking forward to Toronto and hopefully getting a better result there.”
Star Valli Yamaha’s Nico Izzi is also racing the Supercross Class, but only on the east coast, because officially he’s campaigning Western Regional Coast Supercross Lites Class. But in the Supercross Class at Indy, Izzi had an excellent showing, finishing fourth in his heat race and 10th in the main.
“It was a good night here in Indy,” said Izzi. “I had a solid heat and got fourth, and then a solid main. I was running in seventh when I fell on about the 12th lap. My goal was to come in and get a top 10 and I did that, even with the fall. This is the ‘big boy’ Class, I was just going out there to get experience. I had fun and I’m ready to move on to Toronto.”
Also in the Supercross Class, Star Valli Yamaha’s Bobby Kiniry continued to improve his overall performance and picked up his best results of the season. Kiniry finished his heat race in eighth and brought home 13th in the main event in Indy.
“I had a decent night overall,” said Kiniry. “I felt quite a bit faster today, and I kept it off the ground when a lot of people were laying it down. Now, I’m just looking forward to Toronto. That’s really my home race because it’s so close to where I’m from in New York, and I’ve got a lot of family and friends coming out. So I’m looking forward to having a good week and some good racing in Toronto.”
TiLUBE/Foremost Kawasaki’s Nick Wey crashed hard on the first lap of his Supercross Class heat race in Indianapolis and was unable to participate in the rest of the night’s racing, although he plans to race in Toronto.
SPEED will broadcast Monster Energy Supercross from Toronto LIVE at 7:30pm EST on March 24, 2012.
Tickets are available at the Rogers Centre Box Office, all Ticketmaster Outlets, charge my phone at, www.supercrossonline.com, or online at www.ticketmaster.ca. Practice and qualifying begin at 12:30 p.m. and the main event starts at 7:00 p.m. Total Access Passes are $120 Adult/Child; Gold Circle $40 Adult/Child; Extreme Value $25 Adult/Child; Treadhead $15 Adult/Child; Pizza Pizza Kids Tickets $15.
Tune into the enhanced exclusive weekly video content from Supercross LIVE! during the entire 2012 season on SupercrossOnline.com, the Official Website of Monster Energy Supercross.
Weekly Supercross LIVE! Video Content Schedule
The Official Supercross LIVE! Pre-Show Race Days at 11 AM Local Race Time
Behind the Scenes with Supercross LIVE! All Day on Race Days
2 Minutes on the Track Race Days at 3:30 & 5:30 PM Local Race Time
And on the Podium Tonight Following Each Round’s Main Events
The Official Supercross LIVE! Post-Show Saturday Nights at Each Round
Toyota Tailgate Talk Wednesdays at 5 PM ET
After The Checkered Flag Thursdays at 5PM ET