Ryan Villopoto did what he had to do on Saturday, riding a clean race and gathering enough points to nab his first-ever Supercross title.
All Ryan Villopoto had to do was finish in the top five at Vegas. The Kawasaki rider came through in the clutch securing his first-ever Supercross title at the 2011 season finale. Two-two Motorsports’ Chad Reed took the win at Sam Boyd Stadium, but as any fan of Supercross this year would expect, there was plenty of unexpected drama in the SX main event.
Mike Alessi snagged yet another holeshot as the gate dropped late Saturday night – the SX main following an unprecedented three Lites class main events. The KTM rider proved this year he’s a ringer at the starting line, but the crowd wasn’t screaming for Alessi as they got their first glimpses of the Supercross field. It was fan favorite Kevin Windham getting the cheers as the Honda man also nabbed a stellar start and soon vaulted into the lead on Lap 1. James Stewart, Ryan Villopoto and Chad Reed rounded out the top five in the early going.
Stewart soon pounded through the whoops on Lap 1, however, to get past Alessi and sit right on the rear of Windham. Alessi began to fall back, with Stewart biding his time behind the leader and Villopoto sitting on a title-winning position in third.
Stewart made the pass on Lap 4, but Windham wouldn’t fade – still keeping the San Manuel Yamaha in his sights. Windham kept pressuring and once again, as it has so many times this season, Stewart went down while in the lead. This time the Yamaha rider lost it in the whoops section, the hard-charging Windham was unable to miss the downed rider’s machine and crumpled into the dirt himself after going over the bars. The winner in this surprising exchange was Villopoto, who snuck by unharmed and inheriting first-place with Reed right behind.
Stewart limped off the track, with Windham also remaining down before hobbling off. Now the race was down to the top three riders in the points running 1-2-3 – Villopoto, Reed and Dungey. Reed was 12 points down with his Kawasaki rival ahead of him, with much anticipation on the pass that would be in store for Villopoto. Would it be a clean one?
There was some apprehension as Reed moved up front in a routine pass, but Villopoto went after the position and got it back momentarily. Villopoto then demurred, allowing Reed by for good. The same exchange took place with
Kevin Windham was working on a storybook finish to the 2011 season, but ran into trouble when Stewart went down.
RV51 and Dungey, but the Kawasaki was riding smart and let the reigning champ past without issue – he’d soon be the champ if he could bring it home in the final eight laps.
Dungey began closing on Reed as the laps wound down and with five to go the Suzuki was right on the rear wheel of the Honda. Dungey kept working on the Aussie, but the fourth-winningest rider of all time in Supercross claimed the checkers. Dungey was second, Villopoto third, with the LCQ-transferring Chris Blose and Andrew Short in fourth and fifth.
Reed took the win, but the fireworks at Sam Boyd stadium were launched for Ryan Villopoto. Finishing third, the Kawasaki rider claimed the premier SX title by a mere four points. Dungey’s second-place finish retained his third-place position in the points – 10 back of the leader. Stewart, in spite of his crash, finished the race in 15th and remains fourth in the points. Honda's Trey Canard, who missed the three final rounds of the season, retains fifth in the 2011 final standings.
2011 Supercross Las Vegas Results:
1. Chad Reed (Honda)
2. Ryan Dungey (Suzuki)
3. Ryan Villopoto (Kawasaki)
4. Chris Blose (Yamaha)
5. Andrew Short (KTM)
Chad Reed did what he had to do by winning the Vegas finale, but Villopoto's points advantage was too much.
6. Jake Weimer (Kawasaki)
7. Austin Stroupe (Yamaha)
8. Nick Wey (Yamaha)
9. Kyle Regal (Yamaha)
10. Tye Simmonds (KTM)
11. Tyler Bowers (Kawasaki)
12. Weston Peck (Yamaha)
13. Davi Millsaps (Yamaha)
14. Michael Byrne (Suzuki)
15. James Stewart (Yamaha)
2011 Supercross Championship Points:
1. Ryan Villopoto, 338
2. Chad Reed, 334
3. Ryan Dungey, 328
4. James Stewart, 302
5. Trey Canard, 255
6. Andrew Short, 230
7. Kevin Windham, 207
8. Davi Millsaps, 180
9. Justin Brayton, 155
10. Nicky Wey, 152