Villopoto Back On Top In Phoenix
PHOENIX — In front of 49,834 fans inside Chase Field, reigning three-time Monster Energy AMA Supercross champion Ryan Villopoto won his first race of the season aboard his Monster Energy Kawasaki.
For the second consecutive week, Rockstar Energy Racing’s Jason Anderson used a last-lap pass to post back-to-back victories in the Western Regional 250SX Class Championship.
Yoshimura Suzuki’s Jake Moss grabbed the Nuclear Cowboyz® Holeshot Award to start the 20-lap 450SX Class Main Event, with Toyota/Yamaha/N-Fab/JGRMX’s Justin Brayton and Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey in tow.
Villopoto started ninth, behind the likes of Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart, Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Justin Barcia, and Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen.
Brayton took over the lead after the second corner, bringing Dungey and Barcia with him. Barcia surged towards the front, passing Dungey for second and then setting his sights on the lead. Barcia briefly passed Brayton, but the Yamaha rider countered back, which allowed Dungey to reclaim second from Barcia.
A six-rider battle ensued with Brayton, Dungey, Roczen, Barcia, Villopoto and Stewart all within just a few seconds of one another.
On lap seven, Barcia and Roczen made contact while battling for third, sending Roczen to the ground. Villopoto pressured Barcia shortly thereafter and made the pass for third. As Dungey looked to make a move on Brayton, Villopoto closed in and made the pass for second on lap 11.
On lap 13, Villopoto passed Brayton and fended off a late charge to win in Phoenix for the first time in the 450SX Class.
“Justin was riding a hell of a race,” said Villopoto. “I have to give it to him, he made it tough. I didn’t get the start I wanted because the (starting) gate was slippery, but I just needed to be patient. The Phoenix (track) gets really slick so I had to take my time and make sure my passes stuck.”
Brayton’s runner-up effort tied his career-best finish, which came in Toronto in 2012.
“This feels so good,” Brayton exclaimed. “The new Yamaha is unbelievable. We did our homework this year. It’s been a lot of hard work, but being up (on the podium) pays off. I was trying to pay attention to what was going on behind me but still look ahead. I did all I could to stay up front, but Ryan (Villopoto) got by me.”
Dungey finished third, giving him back-to-back podium results.
“That was a good opportunity to get a win,” said Dungey. “I kept making mistakes. I couldn’t get through the whoops, but all in all it was a good ride. The track was super slippery and it caught us off guard but we still put in on the box.”
With his win, the 35th of his career, Villopoto moves into the 450SX Class points lead. He holds a one-point advantage over Dungey.