Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto Wins in Houston to Clinch SX Title

After an intense night of racing in Houston, Texas, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto rode to his eighth win of the season to clinch his second consecutive Monster Energy AMA Supercross title.

His teammate Jake Weimer rode strong all night to finish on the podium in third place. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Broc Tickle also put together his best supercross finish to date, landing in seventh place. In the supercross lites class, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett put together a solid ride to finish on the podium in third. His teammate Darryn Durham battled back from a first turn pile up, reaching as high as seventh, but went down in the last couple laps of the race and finished 17th.

Villopoto’s goal coming into Houston was to clinch the title in one of the last closed-dome stadiums before the final three rounds, where all of the racing action is open to Mother Nature’s fury. He got the night off to a great start by winning his heat race and knew with a main event win, the championship could be his. When the gate dropped for the main event, Villopoto got a great start and quickly took over the lead aboard his KX450F. He led wire-to-wire to take the checkered flag and secured the second supercross class title of his career.

“It’s awesome to get the championship out of the way and takes a lot of pressure off my shoulders,” said Villopoto. “I definitely felt more prepared coming into this season. I came in healthier than last season, since I was coming off an injury last year, and had more seat time on my Kawasaki. Last year we battled until the final race for the title while this season was more like survival and I was the last man standing, but that’s our sport. You have to be able to ride fast and smart. This season I was able to wrap it up earlier than it has ever been done before which is really cool. Since we have next weekend off I’m going to head down to Miami to relax a little before New Orleans.”

Back On the Box
Weimer came to Houston feeling confident on his KX450F, but knew he would need an incident free evening to finish on the box. He got the night off to a great start in his heat race where his smooth and consistent riding landed him in the runner-up spot. In the main event, Weimer came around the first lap in fifth place and started looking to make his move. By the third lap he worked his way into third where he stayed for the remainder of the race. Weimer currently sits sixth in the points standings.

“Anytime you’re on the podium it’s a good night,” said Weimer. “The track in Houston was a little tricky and kept breaking down as the night went on, but I felt pretty good on it. I knew in the main it would be important to stay consistent and smooth so I really focused on connecting all my lines. There was one rhythm section that was pretty difficult, so I just made sure that I nailed it every lap. I was able to stay in third most of the race and finished on the podium. The past few weekends I feel like I’ve been riding well, but kept getting tangled up with other riders until tonight. I’m just going to keep training hard and come into New Orleans ready to fight. Overall, It was a great weekend for the team.”

Putting it Together
During timed qualifying, Baggett laid down the fastest lap aboard his KX250F, almost a half-second faster than anyone else in his class. When the gate dropped for the heat race, Baggett got a great jump and moved into second place, where he would finish. With a good gate choice for the main event, Baggett was confident he would be able to finish on the podium. In the main, he got another good start and came around the first lap in fifth. He worked his way into third place by the fifth lap, which is where he remained until the finish. Baggett currently sits fifth in the points standings.

“I’m pumped to finish on the podium,” said Baggett. “Overall the night went pretty good, it’s a step in the right direction. I felt pretty good on the track all night, but during the main I made a few mistakes that cost me. There were a few laps that I missed jumps in the rhythm lanes and know I would have been able to get around (Ken) Roczen if I had hit them. I just have to keep working on being more consistent. Since we have next weekend off we are going to be practicing for outdoors before we head to New Orleans.”

Gaining Ground
As each round of the season passes, Tickle continues to show improvement aboard his KX450F. During timed qualifying, he laid down the 10th fastest lap time on the slippery, loamy track. Tickle continued to improve with each lap as the night progressed and scored a third-place finish in his heat race. In the main event he got a mid-pack start and came around the first lap in 14th place. He immediately began picking off riders and was able to work his way into seventh place before the finish. Tickle currently sits 11th in the points standings, but is within close striking distance of the top-ten.

“I am pumped on my riding tonight,” said Tickle. “I got my best supercross finish of the season. I think I did better tonight because I rode more aggressive than usual. The heat race went awesome, but in the main I didn’t get a good start and had to fight through the pack. It was pretty hectic the first couple laps, there were a lot of crashes, but I was able to charge past the mayhem. I’m pumped with the result because it shows I am making progress and all my hard work is paying off. I rode outdoors last weekend and I think it really helped me out tonight. We’re going to get a couple weeks of motocross training before New Orleans, so I think that will help me ride even better.”

On the Charge
Durham was riding smooth all night on the challenging track in Houston. During timed qualifying, he was able to connect all his segments with ease and set the third fastest lap time in his class. However, when the gate dropped for the heat race he was tangled up in a first turn pile-up and was forced to go to the last chance qualifier. In the LCQ, Durham came out swinging to take the win and transfer to the main event. In the main, Durham got caught up in another first turn pile-up and had to start working through the pack from 17th position. Durham put together an impressive charge, gaining ground with each lap, until he had worked his way into seventh place. With three laps remaining, Durham tried to push past sixth and went down, which knocked him back to 17th place, where he would finish. Durham currently sits sixth in the points standings.

“I felt solid on the track all night and laid down some of the best practice times I’ve had all season,” said Durham. “When the night show started I just really had a tough time with starts. I kept getting caught in the middle of pile-ups. In the main, after I went down in the first turn, I picked up my bike and started charging. I was getting ready to make a move around sixth, but I dropped the front end in the whoops and went down. I’m not happy with the result, but I am happy I’m still in one piece. I feel like I’m making gains every week, but I just need to put it together and win one.”

Record Breaking
Since Villopoto stepped up to the supercross class he has dominated the series, winning 23 of the last 46 races. With four rounds still remaining in the 2012 season, Villopoto became the first rider in AMA Supercross history to clinch the title this early in the season. Overall, this is Villopoto’s seventh professional championship and he has already set his sights on a second consecutive AMA Motocross 450cc class championship.

“It was outstanding to earn the supercross title this early,” said Monster Energy Kawasaki Team Manager Dan Fahie. “Ryan did such a great job riding this season and the team has been working hard to support him. It was a stacked deck at the start of the season and for Ryan to accomplish this feat this early in the season truly is an impressive accomplishment. We still want to see Jake finish the supercross season strong, but are also going to get an early start on outdoors as well.”

Much Needed Break
The Monster Energy Supercross tour has been going non-stop since the first weekend of January and after 13 straight weeks of racing, everyone is ready for a little break. After locking up the title in Houston, Villopoto will relax a little during the break, but he and his Kawasaki teammates will also start to think about the upcoming motocross season. The outdoor season starts just two weeks after the supercross season wraps up in Las Vegas, Nev., so the teams are already thinking about motocross settings.

Cajun Country
In two weeks, Monster Energy Kawasaki heads to New Orleans, La., for Round 14 of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross. Even though Villopoto has already clinched the title don’t expect him to slow down as he is currently running a bad case of podium fever. Weimer will also look to keep his spot on the box and move up the leaderboard. This race also marks the last round of the supercross lites eastern region before the finale in Las Vegas. Expect Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Durham and Baggett to be battling hard to find a spot inside the top-three before the end of the season.

Results
Monster Energy AMA Supercross
Reliant Stadium – Houston, Texas
March 31, 2012

Supercross Class Results
1. RYAN VILLOPOTO, POULSBO, WASH., MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI
2. Davi Millsaps, Murrieta, Calif., Yamaha
3. JAKE WEIMER, RUPERT, IDAHO, MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI
4. Mike Alessi, Hilliard, Calif., Suzuki
5. Justin Brayton, Murrieta, Calif., Honda
6. Bobby Kiniry, Holland Patent, N.Y., Yamaha
7. BROC TICKLE, HOLLY, MICH., MONSTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI
8. Nico Izzi, Menifee, Calif., Yamaha
9. Weston Peick, Wildomar, Calif., Yamaha
10. JOSH GRANT, CORONA, CALIF., JWR KAWASAKI
11. KYLE CHISHOLM, VALRICO, FLA., JWR KAWASAKI
12. Brett Metcalfe, Lake Elsinore, Calif., Suzuki
13. Will Hahn, Decatur, Texas, Honda
14. KYLE REGAL, BRIGHTON, CALIF., HART & HUNTINGTON KAWASAKI
15. Matt Georke, Lake Helen, Fla., Suzuki

Supercross Class Championship Standings
1. RYAN VILLOPOTO, POULSBO, WASH., MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI, 296
2. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM, 192
3. Davi Millsaps, Murrieta, Calif., Yamaha, 191
4. Justin Brayton, Murrieta, Calif., Honda, 181
5. James Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Yamaha, 178
6. JAKE WEIMER, RUPERT, IDAHO, MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI, 170
7. Kevin Windham, Centreville, Miss., Honda, 166
8. Brett Metcalfe, Lake Elsinore, Calif., Suzuki, 154
9. Mike Alessi, Hilliard, Calif., Suzuki, 154
10. Chad Reed, Dade City, Fla., Honda, 128
11. BROC TICKLE, HOLLY, MICH., MONSTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI, 122
12. KYLE CHISHOLM, VALRICO, FLA., JWR KAWASAKI, 116
13. JOSH HANSEN, ELBERT, COLO., HART & HUNTINGTON KAWASAKI, 89
14. NICK WEY, MURRIETA, CALIF., KAWASAKI, 76
15. Bobby Kiniry, Holland Parent, N.Y., Yamaha, 67

Supercross Lites Eastern Region Class Results
1. Ken Roczen, Murrieta, Calif., KTM
2. Justin Barcia, Ochlocknee, Ga., Honda
3. BLAKE BAGGETT, GRAND TERRACE, CALIF., MONSTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI
4. Blake Wharton, Pilot Point, Texas, Suzuki
5. Phil Nicoletti, Cochecton, N.Y., Honda
6. Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Honda
7. Jake Canada, Sun City, Calif., Suzuki
8. Justin Bogle, Cushing, Okla., Honda
9. Kyle Cunningham, Aledo, Texas, Yamaha
10. MATT LEMOINE, COLLINSVILLE, TEXAS, KAWASAKI
17. DARRYN DURHAM, BUTLER, PA., MONSTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI

Supercross Lites Eastern Region Class Championship Standings
1. Justin Barcia, Ochlocknee, Ga., Honda, 167
2. Blake Wharton, Pilot Point, Texas, Suzuki, 135
3. Ken Roczen, Murrieta, Ga., KTM, 127
4. DARRYN DURHAM, BUTLER, PA., MONSTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI, 118
5. BLAKE BAGGETT, GRAND TERRACE, CALIF., MONSTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI, 106
6. Jake Canada, Sun City, Calif., Suzuki, 104
7. Justin Bogle, Cushing, Okla., Honda, 87
8. Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Honda 65
9. MATT LEMOINE, COLLINSVILLE, TEXAS, KAWASAKI, 57
10. Malcolm Stewart, Haines City, Fla., KTM, 55

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