Andrew Short returned to the series over the weekend in New Orleans minus the Supercross.com logos on his Honda.
Many thought the New Orleans Supercross would be an easy night for newly crowned 2012 Supercross Champion, Ryan Villopoto
. With James Stewart missing yet another round in the series, and his usual title contending rivals sidelined, it seemed like easy pickings for RV1. But as first timed practice rolled around that was no longer the case. Nico Izzi took his Rockstar Energy Yamaha to the top of the time charts early on in the first timed session only to be overtaken with a fast lap by Villopoto. This did not stop Izzi as he threw down another flyer lap right before the checkered was thrown to out-do RV. By the end of the second timed qualifying RV was once again at the top of the time sheets.
The series has seen a fleet of injured riders this year. It seems like we are watching one top guy fall out of the series almost every round. We finally saw somewhat of a breakthrough with the return (attempt) by people's champ Kevin Windham
. K-dub, a huge New Orleans Saints fan, wore his custom MSR Saints gear in attempt to ride. Unfortunately he was able to complete only a couple of laps. Major props to Kevin for trying to get out there for all of his fans.
Andrew Short also made his return though without the Supercross.com logos on his Honda CRF450R
. Shorty pitted out of the Factory Honda stable as an unofficial team member. L&M plans to return in full force next weekend in Seattle unveiling their new title sponsor for the remainder of the season.
Also of note, Wil Hahn hopped on the big bike as a replacement rider for the injured Trey Canard and ended with a ninth place finish on the night.
Villopoto sailed to a smooth victory and win number nine, with absolutely zero mistakes.
"Yeah, the track was really tough tonight," said Villopoto. "It was kind of breaking down and to do fast laps were really hard. I had to really concentrate and do smooth laps and that’s what made it tough but the holeshot was 90% of the race right there and I’m glad to be able to get that. It's the third one of the year."
Top: Although it was difficult to put in smooth laps, Ryan Villopoto managed to ride a clean race all the way to the finish. Above: Ryan Villopoto, Josh Grant and Justin Brayton made up the podium over the weekend in New Orleans.
Second on the night was Jeff Ward Racing Kawasaki rider Josh Grant
. The past couple years have not been the best for Josh but his finish at New Orleans shows that with some good luck he still has it. An emotional Grant explained:
"I can't even explain it. It's been one of the hardest times in my life, you know, these last couple years and it's finally paid off. I’ve been working my butt off trying to get up here and you know, reality is, these guys were running a stronger pace at the beginning of the season and I just wasn't there, I wasn't ready. Now I've got the right people in my corner with Jeff Ward Kawasaki and DNA, I'm stoked."
Rounding out the podium in the Supercross class was Muscle Milk Honda's Justin Brayton
. Brayton has had an up and down season but due to a fall by Mike Alessi, Brayton was able to grab the final spot on the box and end the night with a third-place finish.
Next weekend the Supercross class heads back to the West Coast and the home race for Villopoto. The Seattle, Washington round is already having reports of rain. With a possible return for Stewart, the JGRMX Yamaha rider will be looking to copy his muddy Daytona victory.