Red Bull KTM rider Ryan Dungey has an outside chance of finishing second in the 2012 Supercross champiosnhip
despite missing five races in the middle of the season.
The 2012 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season comes to a close this weekend at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada. With the championships all wrapped up this is a battle for pride in the Supercross class and bragging rights to the winner of the Dave Coombs Sr. East/West Shootout.
It has been a wild 2012 championship with its fair share of surprises, twists, injuries and disappointments for teams, riders and fans alike. The year started as one of the most competitive in recent history with former champions Ryan Villopoto, Ryan Dungey, Chad Reed and James Stewart all healthy and ready to prove once and for all, who is the fastest Supercross racer on the planet. The series started off in epic fashion with each rider winning a race in the first four rounds. Then RV showed why he’s the defending champ after reeling off three wins in a row. Then the injuries started to pile up.
First to fall was Reed. The Honda rider was lost for the season after busting up his knee, ribs and back in Dallas. Two weeks later Dungey went down and broke his collarbone. Then Stewart crashed in Indy and has been battling a sore wrist and rumored internal team problems. While three of the big four were on the shelf, RV ran away with the title only
Chad Reed gets carted off the track in Dallas (Left). The epic battle we all hoped to to see play out between Stewart (7) and Villopoto fizzled out about Round 6 (Center). Kevin Windham (14) was heating up until injuries forced him out after Houston.
to destroy his knee in Seattle a week after claiming the championship and ruining his chance to defend the MX crown. That, in turn, left the door open for an unlikely candidate to shine on the big stage.
Supercross veteran Andrew Short and the semi-privateer L&MC Honda team to earn his first career SX win at Seattle after RV imploded in the opening laps. Seattle marked the return for Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey who quietly finished sixth in his first race back from injury while his red Bull teammate Ken Roczen pulled off a surprise runner-up finish on a 350 SX-F.
The next round at Salt Lake City saw Dungey claim his third win of the year after race-leader Davi Millsaps failed to hold him off in the closing laps. In his first year riding for KTM, the 2010 Supercross champion was impressive and had fans of the big orange brand its first legitimate threat to win an AMA Supercross title. Prior to his injury, Dungey was in perfect position to make a run as he closed to within 10-points of defending champ Villopoto following a hard fought win in Atlanta.
Red Bull KTM rider Ryan Dungey (5) took the
win over Toyota Yamaha’s Davi Millsaps (18)
at St. Louis Supercross. That effort helped
within striking distance in the finale.
It wasn’t to be, however, as a practice crash at the Edward Jones Dome left him battered, but he still managed to soldiered on and finish runner-up to RV. Subsequent evaluation to the injured shoulder revealed that he had been competing with a broken collarbone which forced him to bow out of Daytona and the next four races. And that was the end of what could have been a fairytale first season with KTM. Now he’s fighting for a shot at second or third in the championship. Even if he finishes in his current fourth-place position, the 2012 campaign must be considered a success for KTM.
JGRMX Toyota Yamaha rider Davi Millsaps came up short last weekend after dominating his heat race and looked well on his way to his first main event victory since 2010 only to cave under the pressure and allow Dungey to steal it from him. It was a surprise to see Millsaps challenge for the win and at this point he is one of the few riders with the ability to push Dungey. Millsaps currently holds down second place in the championship thanks to a consistent, injury-free campaign that has included four podium finishes. His team hopes he can end the season strong and give the JGR squad its best Supercross championship result to date. With only 12-points separating Millsaps, Brayton and Dungey it will take a solid effort from the veteran. The good news for JGRMX is that he has shown all year that he has what it takes to finish strong.
Muscle Milk Honda’s Justin Brayton has put in a strong season series of rides with the big dogs on the sidelines. He finished fourth in SLC, has been on the podium four times including a pair of seconds in Toronto and Indy. He has yet to win a Supercross race and the way things have been going for the Honda rider it would be a nice reward for being consistent all season long. He needs every point possible in this final round if he wants to displace Millsaps for second overall.
Jake Weimer is looking for his first career AMA Supercross victory. He’s had some great rides in 2012 so the only thing left for him to do is win a race for Monster Kawasaki.
Monster Energy Kawasaki still has a great rider pushing through the Supercross field in the finale and his name is Jake Weimer. He has five podiums to his credit, including a third at SLC just ahead of rival Brayton. Weimer has not tasted victory in his young SX career so the Kawi rider will be pushing hard.
When the dust settles on the 2012 Monster Energy Supercross it will be remembered as another season that could have been one of the best. Although it has been marred by injuries there are a few feel-good stories including the title defense by RV and the reemergence of the young, up-and –coming riders. Las Vegas race fans will be sure to see some bar-banging action as Dungey tries to hold off a trio of hungry riders who want to be where he has been: On top the podium.
Dave Coombs Sr. East/West Shootout Lites Preview
In the 2012 AMA Supercross Lites Division the surprise story is the dominant performances put on by GEICO Honda riders Justin Barcia and Eli Tomac in both regions. Barcia dominated the East to finish as back-to-back champion while Tomac claimed the Western title with a win in Salt Lake City. It is Tomac’s first career AMA SX Lites championship title. The powerhouse GEICO squad has done the improbable and dethroned the mighty Pro Circuit Kawasaki team who has had its way with the Lites class for a decade.
The Lites class was dominated by GEICO Honda in 2012. Eli Tomac won the West (Left) while Justin Barcia won the East (Right).
Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Dean Wilson was close to Tomac in the final race but this crash (Center) took him out of contention.
In 2011, PC rider Broc Tickle won the West with Dean Wilson runner-up. In 2010 Jake Weimer and Christophe Pourcel won the West and East titles, respectively, with Pourcel making it two championships in a row as part of the impressive 26 AMA championship trophies currently on Mitch Payton’s mantle. Needless to say, the Pro Circuit squad is sure to be motivated by team pride if nothing else.
Wilson had a shot at overtaking Tomac in the points chase during the last round at SLC but a crash in the main even took him out of contention and handed the title to his rival. In the East, dynamic duo of Darryn Durham and Blake Baggett couldn’t match Barcia’s pace during the season, but both riders were fast all season and it culminated in a 1-2 podium in New Orleans as Durham earned his first career Lites win. Durham ends the season tied for second in points with Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen with tie-breakers giving him the title of first runner-up.
Finishing the season tied for second place should provide plenty of motivation for Roczen and KTM as the Red Bull team arrives in Vegas. KTM has never won an East/West Shootout and with Roczen at the controls it seems like the best chance for the Austrian OEM to finally break through. Add into the mix the recent effort he put in at Seattle where he finished second in the Supercross class aboard the smaller displacement KTM 350 and you could consider Kenny a safe bet to make his presence felt at Sam Boyd Stadium.
Red Bull KTM rider Ken Roczen (70) will be gunning for KTM’s first ever East-West Shootout win. Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Blake Wharton is one of the dark horses in this race. He will be right in the thick of a crowded battle for bragging rights heading into MX.
Rockstar Energy Suzuki’s Blake Wharton will also be keen to make up for a disappointing conclusion to his Lites East campaign which ended on a sour note when he dropped from second to fourth in the points after a 14th place finish in New Orleans.
If you are looking to sift through all the B.S. and get down to brass tacks here is the most important stat of all. Since the East/West Shootout began in 1995, the new Lites champions have only won seven times. That bodes well for all the riders out to prove that just because they didn’t win the number one plate in the regular season, doesn’t mean they are going to roll over in Las Vegas. Ladies and gentleman, this is going to be fun.