Can Villopoto Keep Hot Streak Going?
ANAHEIM – Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, will make its third and final visit to Anaheim on Saturday night for the fifth race of the 2013 season and the 60th race ever inside Angel Stadium.
Last week in Oakland, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto became the first repeat winner this season as the reigning back-to-back 450SX Class Champion once again dominated to claim the 26th victory of his 450SX Class career.
Despite his recent string of success, Villopoto will still be chasing Rockstar Energy Racing’s Davi Millsaps, who sits atop the championship standings and will lead the field into action in search of his second win of the season.
After starting off the season in Anaheim with a 16th-place finish, Villopoto has posted finishes of second, first, and first over the last three weeks, making him the hottest rider in the championship. However, despite his success Villopoto still sits eight points out of the points lead and will look to extend his winning streak to three-in-a-row tomorrow night.
“I always like racing at Angel Stadium,” said Villopoto. “We’ve made some adjustments to my KX450F and things are starting to turn around for us. I just need to keep working hard and finishing as best I can so I can retake the points lead.”
After missing action in Oakland with an illness, fellow Monster Energy Kawasaki rider Jake Weimer will be back in action at Anaheim. Weimer was off to the best start of his 450SX Class career up until last weekend, and although he wasn’t able to line up on the starting gate, he still sits seventh in the championship and hopes to continue his recent string of strong results.
“It was a difficult decision for the team and myself to make last week,” said Weimer. “I want to be out there racing, but in the big picture I think it is the right thing. I’m going to do my best to get out there at Anaheim and I hope I can get another top-five finish.”
After missing the podium for the first time this season at the previous Anaheim stop, Millsaps was back on the box in Oakland, posting a very strong runner-up effort behind Villopoto. With finishes of 1-3-4-2 to start the year, Millsaps has been the most consistent rider thus far and as a result, has maintained control of the championship since his victory at the season opener in Anaheim. With a win under his belt inside Angel Stadium already, Millsaps can solidify his possession of the red number plate with another victorious effort.
“It was a good ending to a day that started off not that great, and I’m pretty excited about it,” said Millsaps. “[It was a] pretty cool ride. First practice and second practice were not that great. Third practice was better, but I was still uncomfortable and not feeling it. Even in the Heat Race I was struggling. To come out on the podium definitely got my confidence back up. Next week is next week. [I’m] going to take this one step at a time.”
Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Trey Canard hasn’t been far off of the pace set by Millsaps to start the season. Canard has been a fixture at the front of the field since the first race and his consistency had placed him second in the championship, just seven points behind Millsaps. While Villopoto is making a hard charge forward, Canard is on the verge of breaking through for a victory, which he hopes will come tomorrow night.
“It was a tough night, but a good night at the same time,” stated Canard. “I went down in the big crash in Turn 2 and my bike got stuck on someone else’s, then I made a mistake about halfway through the race and went down again. I’m happy to have salvaged a fourth-place finish and am looking forward to Anaheim.”
For the second week in a row, Canard’s rookie teammate Justin Barcia got a taste of the harsh side of the sport. One week after suffering lacerations to his face when he cased a triple jump, Barcia was involved in a multi-rider incident on the opening lap of the Main Event in Oakland. A hard spill left Barcia unable to continue, resulting in his second consecutive DNF. Barcia has fallen from second to ninth in the championship over that span, but will be back a ready to do battle on Saturday night in search of his second win of the season.
“I’m feeling pretty banged up and sore and mad that this happened another weekend but overall I am okay,” said Barcia.
Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey was another rider on a streak of bad luck heading into Oakland, but he was able to break his recent string of misfortune with a strong podium finish of third. Dungey wasn’t completely spared from the opening-lap incident, but put forth an impressive ride through the field to match his best finish of the season, which moved him into fourth in the points.
Dungey’s fortune was TwoTwo Motorsports Honda rider Chad Reed’s hardship. After an extremely consistent start to the season and his first podium finish of the year at the second race in Anaheim, Reed looked primed to challenge for the win in Oakland. However, he was one of the key players involved in the incident that collected many of the championship’s top contenders and was forced to settle for a season-worst 12th-place finish in its aftermath. Reed has been vocal about his desire to win and he will surely give it his all in an effort to bounce back tomorrow night.
One week after news broke that his L&Mc Racing team would cease operations for the 2013 season, Andrew Short was back in action at Oakland with his own Team Twenty9 effort. While the direction of Short’s immediate future remains unclear, he performed well in his maiden voyage as a self-funded privateer, finishing sixth and moving into sixth in the championship. He’ll be back in Anaheim aboard his own ride once again, looking for more consistent results.
After a slow start to his 2013 season, Toyota/Yamaha/JGRMX’s Justin Brayton broke into the top 10 in the 450SX Class standings last weekend. Brayton was able to work his way through the chaos of the opening lap to post a 10th-place finish and build his confidence coming into the return to Anaheim. BTO Sports KTM’s Matt Goerke became a surprise presence inside the top 10 in the championship after posting a season-best seventh-place finish in Oakland.
Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart was another rider who was involved in the opening lap crash. As a result of the incident, Stewart was forced to record a DNF and as a result, dropped outside the top 10 in points.
“I got a bad start in the Main in Oakland, but made some great passes in the first turn and whoop section,” said Stewart. “Then in that second corner, a rider got out of control and cut another guy off and they pile-drove me pretty good and I hurt my knee again. Eventually, I got up and went to jump the triple and landed, and my throttle was stuck. It was one of those races. I have to give it up to the Yoshimura Suzuki team though and all the fans for their support. I’m disappointed, but right now it’s all about just being here. The real reason I’m still here racing is because I love doing it. Whether I’m winning or finishing 16th every week, I’ll still be here because I love racing. I’m looking forward to racing Anaheim again this weekend.”