Villopoto so close to another Supercross title

A strong outing to claim his sixth win of the season, combined with the misfortune of his remaining championship rival, has given Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto firm control of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship. The defending Supercross Class champion carries a 54-point lead into the championship’s annual visit to Toronto’s Rogers Centre for the 12th race of the 2012 season this Saturday night.

Media day is Thursday, March 22 from Noon-2:00 p.m. inside the Media Center at Rogers Centre, featuring Canadian Standout Cole Thompson.

Last weekend in Indianapolis, Villopoto raced to his sixth win this season, patiently working his way from a fifth-place start to work past second-place competitor Brett Metcalfe, and his Yoshimura Suzuki, on Lap 10, and make a winning pass on Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Justin Brayton on Lap 15.

An added significance came with Villopoto’s win at the expense of Toyota/Yamaha/JGRMX’s James Stewart. With the departure of both championship contenders Chad Reed, of TwoTwo Motorsports/Bel-Ray Honda, and Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey due to injury, Stewart assumed the role as the lead challenger to Villopoto’s points lead. Following a win in Daytona, Stewart had the momentum coming into Indianapolis; however, a crash coming out of the first turn in his heat race left Stewart out of contention for the remainder of the evening for precautionary reasons.

With uncertainty surrounding Stewart’s condition and status for this weekend in Toronto, Villopoto could hold as much as 95 points to his credit over fellow Toyota/Yahama/JGRMX rider Davi Millsaps, who currently sits fourth in the Supercross Class standings behind both Dungey and Stewart, respectively.

In Stewart’s absence, both Brayton and Metcalfe assumed the vacancy at the front of the field. Both riders rode strong heat races, with each taking the win in their respective heat for the first time this season, which also helped set the tone for their efforts in the main event.

Brayton’s strong start led to him leading an evening-high 10 laps before succumbing to the pressure of Villopoto. The runner-up effort was a career-best finish for Brayton and could be the spark he needs to contend for a spot on the championship podium at season’s end. For Metcalfe, he found himself in the thick of the battle for the win for most of the main event, ultimately settling for fourth, which tied his best result of the 2012 season.

Millsaps overtook Metcalfe in the late stages of the race to secure his second consecutive podium finish, with a third-place finish. Millsaps has come on strong in the second half of the season, and as a result of his strong results, he is currently fourth in the Supercross Class point standings.

At last season’s Monster Energy Supercross race in Toronto, Dungey overcame a season filled with heartbreak and frustration to break through for his first and only win of the 2011 season. However, the win vaulted Dungey into title contention, igniting a strong run to the finish that ultimately saw him finish third in the championship.

GEICO Honda’s Justin Barcia was in search of his fifth win in five races in the Eastern Regional Supercross Lites Class at Indianapolis. The defending Eastern Regional Supercross Lites Class Champion had dominated the competition coming into last Saturday’s race, but despite his best efforts, he came up short in a bid for five-straight victories.

Barcia experienced his worst start of the season in the main event, while Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen, Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki’s Blake Wharton, and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Darryn Durham battled out front for the win.

A fall by Roczen about halfway through the race allowed Wharton to take over the lead, and eventually the win, while Durham followed in second. Barcia was impressive in his climb from a ninth-place start, and while he missed out on the win, he still secured a fifth consecutive podium finish in third. Heading into Toronto, he holds a 22-point lead over Durham and will be eager to bounce back from his worst outing of the championship.

While he attempts to chip away at Barcia’s advantage, Durham will also have to fend off a confident Wharton, who sits just one point behind in third and has the momentum of his first win this season.

Last season in Toronto, Barcia entered the race as the points leader and was in line for his third win of the championship after a strong start. Barcia led the first eight laps of the main event, but was caught by Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Dean Wilson, who led the final seven laps to take his second win of the championship.

The first Monster Energy Supercross Championship race held in Toronto was on March 29, 2008, with eventual champion Chad Reed winning on a Yamaha. In four years of competition at the Rogers Centre, four different riders have stood atop the podium – Reed, Stewart, Villopoto and Dungey. Both Villopoto and Stewart will look to change that trend on Saturday.

The first points-paying Supercross Lites Class race in Toronto was held on March 28, 2009, with eventual champion Christophe Pourcel winning on a Kawasaki. Like the Supercross Class, there has never been a repeat winner in the Lites Class at Toronto, with Pourcel, Barcia, and Wilson taking victories. Barcia will seek to become the first repeat winner in the division this weekend.

SPEED will broadcast Monster Energy Supercross from Toronto LIVE at 7:30pm EST on March 24, 2012.

Tickets are available at the Rogers Centre Box Office, all Ticketmaster Outlets, charge my phone at (855) 985-5000,www.supercrossonline.com, or online at www.ticketmaster.ca. Practice and qualifying begin at 12:30 p.m. and the main event starts at 7:00 p.m. Total Access Passes are $120 Adult/Child; Gold Circle $40 Adult/Child; Extreme Value $25 Adult/Child; Treadhead $15 Adult/Child; Pizza Pizza Kids Tickets $15.

Supercross Class Results: Indianapolis

  1. Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki
  2. Justin Brayton, Murrieta, Calif., Honda
  3. Davi Millsaps, Murrieta, Calif., Yamaha
  4. Brett Metcalfe, Lake Elsinore, Calif., Suzuki
  5. Cole Seely, Murrieta, Calif., Honda
  6. Mike Alessi, Victorville, Calif., Suzuki
  7. Marvin Musquin, Murrieta, Calif., KTM
  8. Broc Tickle, Holly, Mich., Kawasaki
  9. Weston Peick, Wildomar, Calif., Kawasaki
  10. Nico Izzi, Murrieta, Calif., Yamaha

Supercross Class Season Standings

  1. Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki – 246
  2. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM – 192
  3. James Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Yamaha – 177
  4. Davi Millsaps, Murrieta, Calif., Yamaha – 151
  5. Kevin Windham, Centreville, Miss., Honda – 146
  6. Justin Brayton, Murrieta, Calif., Honda – 143
  7. Brett Metcalfe, Lake Elsinore, Calif., Suzuki – 142
  8. Jake Weimer, Rupert, Idaho, Kawasaki – 134
  9. Chad Reed, Dade City, Fla., Honda – 128
  10. Mike Alessi, Hilliard, Calif., Suzuki – 128

Eastern Regional Supercross Lites Class Results: Indianapolis

  1. Blake Wharton, Pilot Point, Texas, Suzuki
  2. Darryn Durham, Butler, Pa., Kawasaki
  3. Justin Barcia, Ochlocknee, Ga., Honda
  4. Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., Kawasaki
  5. Jake Canada, Sun City, Calif., Honda
  6. Justin Bogle, Cushing, Okla., Honda
  7. Matthew Lemoine, Collinsville, Texas, Kawasaki
  8. Tyler Bowers, Danville, Ken., Kawasaki
  9. Les Smith, York, SC., KTM
  10. Shawn Rife, Mechanicsburg, Ohio., Honda

Eastern Regional Supercross Lites Class Season Standings

  1. Justin Barcia, Ochlocknee, Ga., Honda – 120
  2. Darryn Dunham, Butler, Pa., Kawasaki – 98
  3. Blake Wharton, Pilot Point, Texas, Suzuki – 97
  4. Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., Kawasaki – 80
  5. Ken Roczen, Murrieta, Ga., KTM – 80
  6. Jake Canada, Sun City, Calif., Suzuki – 72
  7. Justin Bogle, Cushing, Okla., Honda – 61
  8. Kyle Cunningham, Aledo, Texas, Yamaha – 43
  9. Malcolm Stewart, Haines City, Fla., KTM – 42
  10. PJ Larsen, Murrieta, Calif., KTM – 38
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