The gate is set to drop on the 2013 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season on January 5 in Anaheim, and yes, the Monster Energy Girls will be back!
The 2013 Monster Energy AMA Supercross opener at Anaheim is just days away and this season is poised to be one of the most competitive in 40 years. Two-time defending champion Ryan Villopoto returns aboard his trusty KX450F to battle against the likes of Chad Reed, Ryan Dungey, James Stewart, Trey Canard and Justin Barcia (not to mention a whole host of others), all looking to claim the title for themselves and put an end to RV’s current reign at the top. 2012 proved that skill and experience can quickly be sidelined at the slightest mistake, one of the reasons Supercross is so exciting to watch and so dangerous to contest. We got a taste of what’s to come during the 2012 Monster Energy Cup in October, but the cards will soon be on the table again once the gate drops at Anaheim – and we can’t wait to see what happens.
2012: A Look Back
Villopoto secured his second consecutive title in Houston with four rounds remaining in the 2012 season, the earliest any rider has clinched a SX championship in the sport’s history. Out of the 15 rounds he contested, RV won nine times and only missed the podium twice (once at Daytona where he took fifth and the other in Seattle where he tore his ACL). He also moved up to fifth on the all-time win list (including Lites career results). But it wasn’t a cake-walk for Villopoto. There were four race winners through the first four rounds of competition, spread between RV, Dungey, Reed and Stewart – a feat achieved only once before in Supercross. Villopoto’s early success proved especially lucky since he was unable to return to competition after his crash in Seattle.
Villopoto wasn’t the only rider to suffer a debilitating accident during the season. Canard had a huge crash early on in Los Angeles; Reed suffered numerous injuries in Dallas four rounds later; Dungey followed with a broken collarbone two rounds after Reed’s misfortune and Stewart messed-up his wrist after scoring a win in Daytona. Some, like Reed and Canard, couldn’t come back at all. Stewart attempted a return at Houston but was still unfit for competition. Dungey, on the other hand, made waves upon returning to the fray, regaining his speed in Seattle where he finished sixth, then going on to win the final two rounds, albeit after Villopoto had crashed out for the season. It was Dungey’s first Supercross season aboard the KTM 450 SX-F and through the first nine rounds he was in serious contention for the overall. The season still ended as a banner year for Team Orange, with Dungey settling into third after the final round. Expect him to be gunning even harder to give the marque its first SX title in 2013.
Following the final round in Vegas, rumors of internal struggles between Stewart and his JGRMX squad were confirmed when Bubba announced he was leaving the team to join Yoshimura Suzuki. He’d grabbed two race wins prior to the crash that took him out for the season, but he missed the podium more often than not, a disappointment to the rider who once boldly asserted he would surpass Jeremy McGrath’s record for overall race wins.
Ryan Dungey (5) and Jake Weimer (21) battling in 2012. Dungey will be back to battle for the 2013 SX title with Red Bull KTM and Weimer remains with Monster Energy Kawasaki alongside his teammate, Villopoto.
Later in the 2012 season, Davi Millsaps, Justin Brayton and Jake Weimer often hashed it out for second and third place. Brayton and Millsaps were in heated contention for the runner-up position until Dungey returned; Millsaps was able to hold his advantage to finish in second overall thanks in large part to the fact that he took points in every round of the season. Brayton, though, took a goose-egg in Los Angeles and ended the year nine points shy of Millsaps’ 266. Without a win to his credit, Brayton fell to fourth even though he and Dungey were tied at 257.
The absence of so many top-tier riders late in the season opened the door for Andrew Short to earn his first career premier class race win in Seattle. Prior to that, Short too suffered from injuries sustained during practice leading up to the round in San Diego, forcing him to miss eight rounds mid-season. Veteran rider Kevin Windham had a solid year through the 12th round in Toronto, but then dislocated his shoulder during a heat race in the following contest in Houston and had to sit out the final five stops. In fact, only two riders who finished in the top-10 besides Millsaps were able to take points in every round: Brett Metcalfe and Mike Alessi. Alessi couldn’t find his way to a top-three finish during 2012, but managed to hold to sixth overall. Metcalfe also struggled to reach the podium and finished in eighth.
In the Lites class, Justin Barcia dominated in his final season aboard the 250. He won six of nine rounds in the East division and secured his second consecutive Lites title in the penultimate round in New Orleans. He was followed by KTM pilot Ken Roczen in second overall and Blake Wharton in third. Eli Tomac followed suit during the Salt Lake City round in the West Division, securing his championship with one round remaining ahead of Dean Wilson and Marvin Musquin, who finished second and third respectively.
Both Tomac and Barcia continued their winning ways in the final round in Vegas, each scoring victories in their respective divisions. During the Dave Coombs Sr. East/West Shootout, it was Barcia who came out on top, followed closely by Tomac, but showing, without a doubt that he was ready to move up to the 450 class.
2013: A Season of Champions
In the past five years, four different riders have claimed Supercross titles aboard three different bikes. Reed took honors in 2008 riding a Yamaha YZ450F and Stewart followed with a title in 2009 on the same mount. Dungey came into the premier-class in 2010 and won the title as a rookie with his RM-Z450 and since then it’s been Villopoto’s show on the KX450F.
In 2013 Reed is contending on a Honda CRF450R and riding for his own team, Two Two Motorsports. Going it on his own, Reed has found success and is looking for more positive results in the upcoming season.
“I’ve seen a lot in my life career,” said Reed. “I’ve been a big sponge and taken it all in — the good, the bad, the ugly. l have lived life to the fullest, and I believe that helps me stay motivated and committed to what I love to do on the weekends. I’ve been very lucky to have always been in the fight for podiums, wins and the title. I’m hoping ’13 will be no different! I learned a lot in 2012, and I’m ready to put that to good use.”
Stewart will battle under the Yoshimura Suzuki banner, and he’s already shown ample speed on the RM-Z450. Though it wasn’t an official start to his contract, Stewart managed to race the first two rounds of Motocross in 2012 with the Suzuki, winning four straight motos, before crashing and injuring his wrist.
“It’s going to take speed, but it’s probably going to be about consistency more than anything,” said Stewart. “There are a lot of fast guys out there, and all of them want to win. None of us will have the luxury of a bad weekend this year.”
Dungey returns with Red Bull KTM for another run on the 450 SX-F, the Minnesotan riding the momentum of a dominating title win in the Outdoor National. Dungey will be the sole rider in the 450 class for the factory-backed KTM squad. Villopoto remains loyal to Monster Energy Kawasaki as does his 2012 teammate Jake Weimer.
Barcia was brought up to ride for Team Honda Muscle Milk alongside new teammate Trey Canard. Barcia showed his skill aboard the big bikes during the 2012 Monster Energy Cup, which he won with a 2-1-2 finish. Though it wasn’t enough to get the million dollar purse, it was ample evidence that he is ready to contend with the more seasoned riders in the class. Canard was re-signed to ride for the Factory Honda effort through 2014.
Brayton left his Honda mount for an open spot on JGRMX, riding together with Josh Grant. Millsaps leaves his Yamaha behind for an RM-Z450, riding for Rockstar Suzuki, while Broc Tickle and Josh Hill will also contend on a ‘Zook for the RCH Racing team run by Carey Hart and Ricky Carmichael.
Short will ride for Team Chaparral Honda and Windham will ride for GEICO Honda. Michael Byrne and Matt Goerke will pilot 450 SX-F’s for the BTO Sports/KTM team while the new Velocity 3 Racing team has Bobby Kiniry and Kyle Chisholm on their roster. Alessi continues with his MotoConcepts crew while it remains questionable whether Metcalfe will find a ride. In all, as of the date of this article, there are 59 riders on the provisional 450 class entry list for the opener at Anaheim.
Justin Barcia won the 2012 Monster Energy Cup in his debut aboard the Honda CRF450R as a premier class rider.
In 2013, the Supercross championship returns to Minneapolis for the first time in four years and will forego the round in Los Angeles due to updates to the venue. There will be three events in Anaheim as a result of the Dodger Stadium renovation, but otherwise many of the most popular stops are still on schedule, including Daytona, Toronto, Seattle and the finale in Las Vegas.
Since Barcia has moved up, the Lites East Division will be hotly contested. Tomac remains to defend his West Division title, but riders like Baggett, Rattray, Roczen, Musquin, Wilson and Davalos will all push for podiums and could end up title winners themselves in their respective divisions.
Anaheim: A Familiar Beginning
Anaheim has played host to the Supercross season opener 22 times and 2013 is no different. Last year, Villopoto notched his first of many wins there, getting out front early and leading all 20 laps. Reed worked his way into second despite struggling during practice, though he lagged behind RV by over 12 seconds at the checkers. Dungey came in third a further second behind. The three riders were clearly a cut above, as fourth-place finisher Brayton came across the finish over 16 seconds behind the KTM ace. Weimer followed in fifth in his first race as a 450 class rider.
Stewart rode hard but hit a snag late in the race, crashing into the tuff blocks and falling from podium position down to sixth.
In the Lites class, Cole Seely earned his only win of the season, followed by Rattray and Tomac in second and third respectively.
Since 2008, Villopoto and Stewart have won four times at Anaheim, Reed’s taken three victories and Dungey has one. On January 5, 2013, we’ll see whether any of these four riders can notch another win in what is set to be a thrilling start to another amazing season of AMA Supercross action.
The video below, provided courtesy of Supercross Live via YouTube, takes you through a virtual lap around the track riders will face during the 2013 season opener at Anaheim.