The fireworks and explosions are always bigger the second time around at Angel Stadium for Monster Energy AMA Supercross, but the winner remained the same on Saturday night in Anaheim, Calif.
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto grabbed his second holeshot of the season, established the lead, and never looked back leading every lap of the main event to regain the points lead.
Villopoto’s teammate Jake Weimer found himself at the back of the field after crashing on the first lap and charged back to finish 11th, just behind Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Broc Tickle in 10th. Tickle’s teammate Dean Wilson rode a consistent race to finish just off the podium in fourth in the Supercross Lites class.
Back on Top
It had been four long weeks since Villopoto stood atop the podium and after four different winners he was the first to capture a second win of the series. Villopoto was not the fastest in qualifying practice, but knew he had the speed to win. In the heat race, a win was looking like a long shot after a poor start left him buried in the pack. A few laps later, three of the leaders had gone down moving Villopoto into second place. With the leader in sight, Villopoto was able to reel him in and take the win. In the main event, Villopoto rode a near flawless race, grabbing the holeshot abroad his Kawasaki KX™450F and led from the green flag to the checkered flag.
“I pulled the holeshot and got passed on the inside going through the whoops, but was able to stay low off the triple and pass him back before the end of the first lap,” said Villopoto. “Once out front, I was just trying to keep tabs on second place. I saw that the guys behind me were doing a faster rhythm, so on the next lap I was able to take that line and from there I was able to keep a consistent gap until the finish.”
After a few weeks of shared points leaders, Villopoto has reclaimed the points lead and will be the sole rider carrying the red plate.
Chasing After the Win
Wilson came into Anaheim looking for a better result than the opening round at Angel Stadium. In the heat race, he started up front on his KX™250F and quickly began making passes. With a few laps remaining he made a move on the leader and was able to take his third heat race win of the season. For the main event, Wilson chose an outside gate, which ended up costing him as he started just inside the top ten. After the first lap, Wilson made his way up to fifth, but had allowed the leaders to sprint and gap the field. After 15 laps, Wilson finished in fourth place and still sits second in the points standings.
“The night started well getting the heat race win and I had planned to get the holeshot in the main,” said Wilson. “But my plan didn’t work out and I was forced to come through the pack. Once I got into fourth, I started catching third until we ran into lappers. I didn’t have the night I wanted, but it’s not over yet. All I’m focused on is getting wins.”
Wrong Place, Wrong Time
Weimer has shown that he has the speed to be up front every weekend, but has been robbed of a few opportunities to have results to show for it.
Weimer started the night strong by running up front in the heat race and was handed the lead when the two leaders both fell in the same corner.
Excited to inherent the lead, Weimer raced into the next corner bar-to-bar battling for position and was forced outside in the sand section, washing out the front end. He picked up his KX450F and finished sixth.
For the main event, Weimer had a less than stellar gate pick and rounded the first corner mid-pack. In the following whoop section, another rider would go down directly in front of Weimer sending him down yet again. Weimer remounted in 16th and fought for the full 20 laps to cross the finish line in 11th place.
“Tonight I had a terrible gate pick for the main and had a rider go down right in front of me, leaving me nowhere to go,” said Weimer. “I feel like I’m riding well, but just have to put myself in better situations. I felt strong and consistent throughout the main, so I just need to put this behind me and show up next week with a good attitude, ready to do battle.”
Tickle has shown improvement each week thus far in the season and achieved his second top-ten finish Saturday night in Anaheim. In the heat race, he rode to a strong fifth-place finish, giving him a good gate pick for the main event.
When the gate dropped for the main, Tickle rounded the first corner mid-pack and stayed in tenth position for nearly the entire race. He stayed consistent throughout the full 20 laps and once again proved he has the speed to be up front with the leaders.
“I’ve been building my confidence weekend by weekend and know I can ride better than I did,” said Tickle. “I’m happy with my finish tonight and we’re still improving, which is all that matters. We race to win, so I will keep working and making my way to the front.”
Pretty in Pink
This weekend the Monster Energy Kawasaki riders were sporting new pink riding gear in support of Breast Cancer Awareness month, but that did not change their focus or determination to ride their best. Villopoto will return next weekend running the red number one plate, signifying the current points leader.
“The red plate is important,” said Monster Energy Kawasaki Team Manager Dan Fahie. “But the most important thing is that we have the speed to win week-in, week-out and if we continue to do that, the red plate naturally comes along with it.”
Next weekend Monster Energy AMA Supercross heads to Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Calif., on Saturday, February 11, 2012 for Round 6.