Round 1 of the 2013 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif., marked the start of the racing season for Monster Energy Kawasaki on Saturday night.
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer used his momentum from the offseason and carried it into the main event where he finished fifth. Reigning two-time champion Ryan Villopoto posted many of the fastest times throughout the day, but in the main event recovered to 16th after an early crash. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Tyla Rattray bounced back from a season ending crash last year to take eighth place in the 250SX main event. Teammates Blake Baggett and Martin Davalos finished 14th and 20th, respectively, after getting caught up in a first lap crash.
A Good Starting Point
Weimer finished off 2012 with a season-best finish in AMA Pro Motocross with third overall and was crowned King of Bercy Supercross. To kick off 2013, he knew he wanted to be up front and demonstrated on Saturday night that he is not far from battling for a 450SX main event win. Weimer took his time getting back into the racing mode in practice, but wasted no time once the gate dropped. He finished fourth in his heat race, which gave him a good gate pick for the main event. After a top-10 start, Weimer was patient and waited for the mistakes of those in front of him and was up to sixth at the halfway point. He continued to close the gap on the leaders and took over the fifth place spot with two laps to go.
“Today started off feeling sort of rocky,” said Weimer. “My practice times were a little off, but once the racing came around I started to ride better. At the first race you want to come out and just kill it, but I was riding a little tight and anxious. As I put more laps in I smoothed out and got much more comfortable. A top-five finish is a great starting point considering we have 16 more rounds to go.”
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One Step at a Time
After a devastating injury last year which ended Rattray’s supercross season, he was not looking to rush anything at Round 1. Rattray quietly finished fifth in his heat race. In the main event, he rounded the first corner in 10th after nearly being collected in a pile up. He methodically climbed up to sixth place, but with two laps remaining a small mistake dropped him to eighth, where he finished. Rattray was a podium contender before his injury last year and is sure to return to the box now that the first-round jitters are out of the way.
“I just wanted to come to Anaheim with an open mind and do the best I could,” said Rattray. “My crash from last year obviously scared me, so I didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks. I was a little tight to start the day, but our KXTM250F is so good. I almost ran into the back of a rider on the first lap, which set me back, but I was able to move forward and finish off with a top-10. I’m happy with that and know that Phoenix will be much better next week.”
Rolling with the Punches
Baggett was looking for redemption after being knocked out of competition at the Monster Energy Cup last year due to injury. He posted the fourth fastest qualifying time and finished fifth in his heat race, setting himself up nicely for the main event. Baggett nearly got the holeshot in the 250SX main event on his KX250F, but the tides quickly turned. As they entered the first rhythm lane, another rider crashed and his flipping bike clipped Baggett’s arm, nearly sending him to the ground. With no feeling in his right arm, he pushed through to attempt to finish the 15-lap main event.
Despite the pain Baggett was suffering, once the leader lapped him, he began to run at the same pace and was not passed by any other rider. He would eventually finish 14th and salvage some valuable championship points.
“Tonight was definitely not what I wanted,” said Baggett. “The team and I have been working really hard, so it’s disappointing to end the night like that. It was everything I had to make it through the main event, the pain was excruciating. Hopefully the season will come down to the last round and every point will count.”
Champions Will Prevail
Villopoto came into the 2013 season as the defending champion and the clear favorite to win the opening round. He was second fastest in qualifying practice only off by one tenth of a second. In his heat race, Villopoto did not get the best of starts, but caught the leaders by the last lap to cross the finish line on the rear wheel of the winner. Confident, he lined up for the 450SX main event, but was pushed outside of the top-10 around the first turn. He progressively picked off riders until he clipped a tuffblock and went down while trying to take eighth place. Despite the scary get-off and a severely damaged bike, Villopoto was able to finish 16th and score five championship points.
“The main event did not go well at all,” said Villopoto. “I did not get the start I needed, which forced me to find alternate lines in order to pass guys. The track was not easy to pass on, so you had to take some risks. After the crash I knew I just had to get as many points as I could and survive. There are still 16 more rounds, so I’m now focused on Phoenix and finishing where I should be.”
Davalos has always shown spectacular speed in supercross and 2013 is no different. He posted the fifth fastest qualifying lap time and was cool and confidant going into the night show. When the gate dropped for his heat race, Davalos ripped a huge holeshot on his KX250F and rode away from the field. He clicked off effortless laps and won by more than two seconds. In the main event, he got another good start, but like Baggett, another rider’s bike came flipping across the first rhythm lane and took out Davalos. He got up unscratched, but his bike suffered too much damage to continue. Davalos proved he has the tools to win and will wait until next week.
“I really felt good all day and my bike was amazing,” said Davalos. “I was able to ride six solid laps in the heat race, which was a great way to start off the season. Unfortunately in the main event, I got taken out mid-air and went down hard, smashing radiator and headpipe. It’s disappointing, but I’m happy that I’m okay and we’ll look to back it up in Phoenix.”
The season opener of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship is by far the largest event on the calendar. The racing is unpredictable and the fans are out in droves. The Monster Energy Party in the Pits allows fans to meet their favorite athletes, see the bikes up close and experience the sport like no other. With over 45,000 fans in attendance, you could hardly walk through the pits and the roar and cheers from the crowd were deafening.
Knowing the Dirt
As the day progresses, riders have to be considerate of the track conditions as well. As temperature reach near 70 degrees during the day, once the sun sets, it drops to the low 40s and 50s. This has an effect on the dirt, which makes tire selection very important.
With Round 1 of 17 complete, the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship still has just as many unknowns as before the season began. Monster Energy Kawasaki and Villopoto will look to bounce back at Round 2 at Chase Field in Phoenix, Ariz., on January 12, 2013.
Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship – Round 1 Angel Stadium – Anaheim, Calif.
January 5, 2013
250SX Main Event Results
1. Eli Tomac, Durango, Colo., Honda
2. Ken Roczen, Murrieta, Calif., KTM
3. Cole Seely, Newbury Park, Calif., Honda
4. Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., Suzuki
5. Malcolm Stewart, Haines City, Fla., KTM
6. Ryan Sipes, Ekron, Ky., Suzuki
7. Zach Osbourne, Chesterfield, S.C., Honda
8. TYLA RATTRAY, DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA, MONSTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI
9. Max Anstie, Murrieta, Calif., Suzuki
10. Michael Leib, Mission, Viejo, Calif., Honda
14. BLAKE BAGGETT, GRAND TERRACE, CALIF., MOSNTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI 20. MARTIN DAVALOS, QUITO, EQUADOR, MONSER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI
250SX Points Standings
￼￼1. Eli Tomac, Durango, Colo., Honda, 25
2. Ken Roczen, Germany, KTM, 22
3. Cole Seely, Newbury Park, Calif., Honda, 20
4. Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., Suzuki, 18
5. Malcolm Stewart, Haines City, Fla., KTM, 16
6. Ryan Sipes, Ekron, Ky., Suzuki, 15
7. Zach Osbourne, Honda, 14
8. TYLA RATTRAY, DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA, MONSTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI, 13 9. Max Anstie, England, Suzuki, 12
10. Michael Leib, Mission, Viejo, Calif., Honda, 11
14. BLAKE BAGGETT, GRAND TERRACE, CALIF., MOSNTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI, 7 20. MARTIN DAVALOS, QUITO, EQUADOR, MONSER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI
450SX Main Event Results
1. Davi Millsaps, Murrieta, Calif., Suzuki
2. Trey Canard, Oklahoma City, Okla., Honda
3. Ryan Dungey, Waconia, Minn., KTM
4. Chad Reed, Dade City, Fla., Honda
5. JAKE WEIMER, TWIN FALLS, IDAHO, MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI 6. Andrew Short, Tulsa, Okla., Honda
7. Justin Barcia, Ochlocknee, Ga., Honda
8. James Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Suzuki
9. Justin Brayton, Fort Dodge, Idao, Yamaha
10. Kevin Windham, Baton Rouge, La., Honda
16. RYAN VILLOPOTO, POULSBO, WASH., MONSTER ENERGY KAWSAKI
450SX Points Standings
1. Davi Millsaps, Murrieta, Calif., Suzuki, 25
2. Trey Canard, Oklahoma City, Okla., Honda, 22
3. Ryan Dungey, Waconia, Minn., KTM, 20
4. Chad Reed, Dade City, Fla., Honda, 18
5. JAKE WEIMER, TWIN FALLS, IDAHO, MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI, 16 6. Andrew Short, Tulsa, Okla., Honda, 15
7. Justin Barcia, Oclocknee, Ga., Honda, 14
8. James Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Suzuki, 13
9. Justin Brayton, Fort Dodge, Idao, Yamaha, 12
10. Kevin Windham, Baton Rouge, La., Honda, 11
16. RYAN VILLOPOTO, POULSBO, WASH., MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI, 5