Monster Energy AMA Supercross headed to Toronto, Canada on Saturday night, where Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto overcame a challenging track to take his seventh win of the season.
Other Kawasaki riders too performed well at the Rogers Centre in Toronto: Jake Weimer rode a strong main event to finish fifth despite jumping off the track and getting tangled with a lapped rider. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Broc Tickle finished inside the top-ten for the third straight week, taking eighth place. In the supercross lites main event, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Darryn Durham held a podium finish until losing the front end, dropping him to fifth. Teammate Blake Baggett battled from a poor start to finish 15th.
After 12 rounds, the key to success this season has proven to be survival. With many of the top riders succumbing to injury, Villopoto has been able to stay strong and healthy, but that doesn’t mean he’s backing it down. In qualifying practice, the reigning champion ended up second, and was not happy about it. Striving for nothing but victory, Villopoto grabbed the early lead in the heat race and took the win. In the main event, he rounded the first corner in second and looked to get out front early and stay out of trouble. Villopoto made the pass for the lead, but would nearly throw it away in the deteriorating whoop section, getting out of control and nearly riding it out side-saddle.
“My starts were great all night,” said Villopoto. “I made a couple big mistakes in the whoops the first couple laps and almost threw it away. I felt really good on the rest of the track, but it took me a while to get the whoops sorted out. From here the plan is to keep going for wins and try to wrap this title up while we’re still in dome stadiums.”
Feel Good, Ride Good
After a couple of tough weeks, Weimer was ready to return to riding at his potential. He finished second behind his teammate in his heat race and felt confident going into the main. While running in a podium position for the first 12 laps of the main, Weimer chose the wrong line while lapping a rider and they came together, which dropped him to fourth. Still frustrated with what just happened, two corners later he misjudged one of the rhythm sections and jumped off the track. This dropped him to fifth which is where he finished the night.
“I had a really good week coming into Toronto,” said Weimer. “I felt awesome all day and had a great gate pick for the main. I snuck around the inside and made some passes to put me in third, but then ran into trouble. I know I should be on the podium and I’m riding better than I have been the last couple weeks.”
Chasing the Leader
In the Supercross Lights Eastern Region, Durham has demonstrated the speed to win the past few weeks, but has yet to make it to the top step of the box. His night started with a heat race win, which he was hoping to transition to the main. The first few laps of the main saw Durham battling back and forth for third until his front end washed out. After dropping back to ninth, Durham put on a hard charge and fought his way back up to fifth.
“The track was tough all day,” said Durham. “I got a sick holeshot in the heat race and won that, which felt really good. In the main I fell and had to come back through the pack to get fifth. The track was really soft and rutted, so I’m just happy to get out of there healthy and ready to go at it next week.”
Consistency at Last
This season Tickle has been up and down the results page, but for the third-consecutive week he finished in the top-ten. Toronto’s deep ruts seemed to suit him as he rode a solid heat race to finish fourth and battled for the full 20 laps to finish eighth, despite a crash.
“This weekend I tried something a little different and had a plan for practice,” said Tickle. “I felt really comfortable on the bike and I think that showed in the heat race. In the main I was as high as seventh, crashed back to 11th and was still able to come back to eighth, so I’m happy with how I rode.”
Putting the Pieces Together
Baggett started his day strong by laying down fast laps early in practice. In the heat race he nearly got the holeshot and finished third. In the main event, Baggett was cut off on the start and was pushed outside the top-ten. While coming from the back, he made an aggressive move for seventh which cost him and dropped him to 15th where he would finish.
“I didn’t ride to my full potential tonight,” said Baggett. “I really struggled in the whoops and never was able to find a fast way through them. I really needed to be more aggressive, but couldn’t make it happen on that track. I’m disappointed, but I’m going to move forward to next weekend and look for a better result in Houston.”
Due to Canada’s climate, Toronto’s dirt often has been difficult for the organizers and riders to manage. In years past, frost would start to thaw within the dirt creating a very soft and wet surface. This year however, the dirt held up much better and only deteriorated in certain areas of the track. The soft, deep ruts still played a large part in the outcome of the race.
With many of the top title contenders currently out with injury, Villopoto could possibly clinch the 2012 title, as early as next week in Houston, Tex., at the Reliant Stadium. A win next week could give him more than 100 points over second place, which is enough to seal the deal.
Monster Energy AMA Supercross Season
Rogers Centre – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
March 24, 2012
Supercross Class Results
1. RYAN VILLOPOTO, POULSBO, WASH., MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI
2. Justin Brayton, Murrieta, Calif., Honda
3. Kevin Windham, Centreville, Miss., Honda
4. Davi Millsaps, Murrieta, Calif., Yamaha
5. JAKE WEIMER, WILDOMAR, IDAHO, MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI
6. Marvin Musquin, Murrieta, Calif., KTM
7. KYLE CHISOLM, VALRICO, FLA., JWR KAWASAKI
8. BROC TICKLE, HOLLY, MICH., MONSTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI
9. Bobby Kiniry, Holland Patent, N.Y., Yamaha
10. Will Hahn, Decatur, Tex., Honda
Supercross Class Season Standings
1. RYAN VILLOPOTO, POULSBO, WASH., MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI, 271
2. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM, 192
3. James Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Yamaha, 177
4. Davi Millsaps, Murrieta, Calif., Yamaha, 169
5. Kevin Windham, Centreville, Miss., Honda, 166
6. Justin Brayton, Murrieta, Calif., Honda, 165
7. JAKE WEIMER, RUPERT, IDAHO, MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI, 150
8. Brett Metcalfe, Lake Elsinore, Calif., Suzuki, 145
9. Mike Alessi, Hilliard, Calif., Suzuki, 136
10. Chad Reed, Dade City, Fla., Honda, 128
Eastern Regional Supercross Lites Class Results
1. Justin Barcia, Ochlocknee, GA., Honda
2. Ken Roczen, Murrieta, Calif., KTM
3. Blake Wharton, Pilot Point, Texas, Suzuki
4. Jake Canada, Sun City, Calif., Honda
5. DARRYN DURHAM, BUTLER, PA., MONSTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI
6. Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Honda
7. Tommy Weeke, Menifee, Calif., Honda
8. Justin Bogle, Cushing, Okla., Honda
9. MATT LEMOINE, COLLINSVILLE, TEX., KAWASAKI
10. Jeff Gibson, Blacklick, Ohio, Honda
Eastern Regional Supercross Lites Class Season Standings
1. Justin Barcia, Ochlocknee, Ga., Honda, 145
2. Blake Wharton, Pilot Point, Texas, Suzuki, 117
3. DARRYN DUNHAM, BUTLER, PA., MONSTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI, 114
4. Ken Roczen, Murrieta, Ga., KTM, 102
5. Jake Canada, Sun City, Calif., Suzuki, 90
6. BLAKE BAGGETT, GRAND TERRACE, CALIF., MONSTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI, 86
7. Justin Bogle, Cushing, Okla., Honda, 74
8. Malcolm Stewart, Haines City, Fla., KTM, 50
9. Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Honda 50
10. MATT LEMOINE, COLLINSVILLE, TEX., KAWASAKI, 46