2012 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series, an FIM World Championship officially underway – Anaheim Recap, Phoenix Preview
As the series heads into round two at Phoenix, Arizona’s Chase Field, potential title contenders have already begun to establish themselves. At Anaheim I, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto walked away with the season kickoff win in the Supercross Class, while Cole Seely captured the Supercross Lites victory for Lucas Oil / Troy Lee Designs / Honda.
Stats and data below courtesy Feld Motor Sports
Villopoto was clearly the fastest rider on the track, and was the only rider during the main to lay down lap times under 1:01. When the checkered flag waved, Ryan was more than 12 seconds ahead of second place finisher Chad Reed of TwoTwo Motorsports/Honda. But the fight for second was the best skirmish of the night. JGR/Toyota/Yamaha’s James Stewart got a mid pack start and was forced to work his way up, while Villopoto, Reed, and Red Bull/KTM’s Ryan Dungey began up front.
Stewart was eventually able to make his way up to Dungey in third, and that’s when things got interesting. The two riders battled back and forth, forcing each other into various mistakes, but Reed made an error on his own, allowing Dungey and Stewart to close the gap. Just as Stewart was gaining on Reed, the JGR rider made yet another mistake, and landed on top of a tuff block in an on/off section, resulting in a crash.
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Dungey moved back into third, where he would eventually finish, while Stewart remounted, but was not riding well, and wound up losing another two positions on his way to sixth place finish, behind Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Justin Brayton and Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer. Supercross.com / Honda rider Andrew Short, GEICO / Honda’s Kevin Windham, MotoConcepts’ Mike Alessi, and Dodge Motorsports / Hart and Huntington’s Josh Hansen rounded out the top ten.
In Lites racing, Cole Seely took a dominant win in front of his hometown crowd. Monster Energy / Pro Circuit / Kawasaki’s Tyla Rattray had an excellent ride, where he began in second behind MotoConcepts Vince Friese, but quickly made his way to the front. From there, the South African held onto the lead for several laps before giving way to Seely’s charge, but he held on for a very solid second at the finish.
Behind Rattray was his teammate, Dean Wilson, who rode well, but also seemed to struggle in a few sections. By the end of the race, GEICO / Honda’s Eli Tomac had put on such a strong charge from a mid pack start, that he was able to pressure Wilson into a crash, that rewarded the number 17 machine with a third place finish.
As the series moves to Phoenix, many of the predicted frontrunners have already set themselves up for a title chase, but a few others remain who either were not at the opening round, or just did not have a good race. Most notably is Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Trey Canard, who missed the opening round due to a healing broken collarbone. But the star 450 rider has just announced, via his twitter account (@TreyCanard) that he will in fact be racing this weekend in Arizona. If there is anyone who can throw a wrench into the racing, it is Trey. Unfortunately, also announced this week was the upcoming absence of H&H’s Josh Hill (broken tib/fib) and GEICO/Honda’s Wil Hahn, who broke his hip while practicing earlier this week.
Riders such as JWR’s Kyle Chisholm and Josh Grant, Yoshimura / Suzuki’s Brett Metcalfe, and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Broc Tickle, could all still play a role in the Supercross Class championship despite not having the best performances at A1. For the last two years, the winner of Phoenix had not won the opening round, so fans should expect some good racing. In 2011, Villopoto showed that he could ride at Stewart’s pace before washing out in a corner. Of course, Phoenix was also the site of Ryan Dungey’s first premier class win in 2010. Perhaps he can get the first premier class win now for his new team, Red Bull/KTM.
The championship is also far from determined in the always exciting Lites Class. Rockstar / Suzuki’s Jason Anderson and Martin Davalos, along with Lucas Oils / Troy Lee Designs / Honda’s Christian Craig (although it’s now confirmed that Christian is out with a wrist injury), and Rockstar/Star Racing/Metal Mulisha’s Nico Izzi still have a lot to prove and could very well play spoilers in the West Coast Lites championship hunt.
Notes and stats courtesy Feld Motor Sports
Anaheim 1 Supercross winner and defending Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series Champion Ryan Villopoto said “It was a phenomenal night for me. I didn’t have the heat race I wanted, so I didn’t have a great gate pick. Once I was out front, I wanted to lay down fast laps and make no mistakes. I did make one small one, but overall, it was a great race for me.”
Second place finisher in Anaheim Chad Reed added, “Villopoto made us look silly out here tonight. I am just happy to get second place tonight in this deep field of riders.”
Past Winners in Phoenix
- January 15, 2011: James Stewart
- January 15, 2010: Ryan Dungey
- January 10, 2009: James Stewart
- January 12, 2008: James Stewart
- January 13, 2007: James Stewart
- January 14, 2006: Ricky Carmichael
- January 15, 2005: Ricky Carmichael
- January 10, 2004: Kevin Windham
- January 11, 2003: Ezra Lusk
- January 26, 2002: Ricky Carmichael
- January 27, 2001: Ricky Carmichael
- January 29, 2000: David Vuillemin
- January 23, 1999: Jeremy McGrath
Supercross Lites Class
- January 15, 2011: Josh Hansen
- January 15, 2010: Jake Weimer
- January 10, 2009: Ryan Dungey
- January 12, 2008: Jake Weimer
- January 13, 2007: Christophe Pourcel
- January 14, 2006: Nate Ramsey
- January 15, 2005: Broc Hepler
- January 10, 2004: Ivan Tedesco
- January 11, 2003: James Stewart
- January 26, 2002: James Stewart
- January 27, 2001: Ernesto Fonseca
- January 29, 2000: Casey Lytle
- January 23, 1999: Nate Ramsey
Supercross Class Wins by Brand in Phoenix: Kawasaki 4, Yamaha 4, Honda 3, Suzuki 3
Supercross Lites Class: Wins by Brand in Phoenix: Kawasaki 7, Yamaha 2, Honda 2, Suzuki 2, KTM 1
Monster Energy Supercross Lites: Anaheim Opener
- Cole Seely earned his third Supercross Lites Class win
- Dean Wilson finished sixth in his Western Regional Supercross Lites Class debut
- Tyla Rattray and Eli Tomac finished second and third, respectively
- After multiple years of racing in Europe, Zach Osborne finished ninth place
- Supercross Class Laps Led: Ryan Villopoto 20
- Supercross Lites Class Laps Led: Cole Seely 12, Tyla Rattray 3
“We will keep pushing and moving forward to Phoenix this weekend” said Villopoto. “There are a lot of races left so we just need to keep on with our program and try to be consistent.”
Villopoto will carry the coveted red number plate into Chase Field as the Monster Energy Supercross Championship points leader.
TwoTwo Motorsports/Bel-Ray Honda’s Chad Reed finished second, marking the 115th podium finish in his 142 career starts. Reed won his heat race and rode smooth to a solid finish.
“I’m excited how the Anaheim opener turned out,” said Reed. “The goal was to be on the podium and to have a shot at a win, and we achieved both. I was a little off the pace of Ryan (Villopoto) but, I feel we can make up that gap in the coming weeks.”
Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey, the 2010 Supercross Class champion, rounded out the podium with a third-place finish. Dungey, who is riding a KTM for the first time in his career, gave the Austrian manufacturer their best-ever Supercross Class result.
“Finishing on the podium at the Anaheim opener was definitely a great way to start the 2012 supercross season,” said Dungey. “It was an honor to deliver KTM their first-ever US podium in the Supercross Class last weekend and hopefully it’s the start of many more to come. Working with an all-new race bike usually takes a team quite a lot of time testing and developing before you start to see podium level results. However, right off the bat we have had no problems dialing in the new KTM 450 and after just a few short months of seat time on the new bike, we are already showing very positive results against a field of very experienced competitors. It’s definitely a testament to KTMs determination to produce a championship-contending bike and the team’s commitment to ongoing development that positioned us amongst the top finishers at Anaheim. I’m really motivated to get on the podium again this weekend in Phoenix.”
In his debut race aboard the American Honda Muscle Milk ride, Justin Brayton earned a career-best fourth-place finish after being forced to qualify through the last chance qualifier.
“It is always nerve racking going into an LCQ, but I was able to win and boost my confidence back up,” said Brayton. “I got a decent start in the main and was able to pick it up about halfway through, where I made my way to fourth.”
Toyota/Yamaha/JGRMX’s James Stewart, a two-time Supercross Class champion, suffered a late-race crash and dropped back to sixth place, where he would finish.
“We learned a lot last weekend in Anaheim,” said Stewart. “First race with the new team, their first race with a new rider, first time I’d been racing since last year’s supercross season. I mean that was our first real competition together, and in end, it wasn’t all the bad. We found some things with the bike and those will help.Ã‚Â But, we got a taste of what the competition is going to be like this year, and I think we’re ready for more.”
Supercross.com Honda’s Andrew Short controlled the lead for several laps in his heat race before being passed by Stewart and Dungey to finish third. He went on to finish seventh in the main event. This marked Short’s first ride under the newly-formed team between Jeremy McGrath, the all-time winningest supercross racer, and Larry Brooks, who managed McGrath, Reed and Stewart in the past.
After being sidelined with injury for the start of 2011, Villopoto’s teammate Jake Weimer entered the 2012 season 100% healthy and ready to claim his spot amongst the leaders. He battled back from a mid-pack start in Anaheim and finished a career-best fifth. Weimer has finished within the top 10 in all three of his Supercross Class races.
“We got some decent points in Anaheim and can only build from here,” said Weimer. “I look forward to doing better in Phoenix, knowing my fitness and equipment is the best it could be.”
Lucas Oil / Troy Lee / Honda’s Cole Seely had a lot to be excited about leaving Anaheim Saturday night, following an impressive ride to his third-career Supercross Lites Class victory.
“I am definitely excited. It’s great to come out on top at a race that gets so much hype,” said Seely. “My main focus this year is consistency, as long as I stay consistent each week I think I can win the championship.”
Although Tyla Rattray finished second at the Anaheim opener, he views last weekend as a warm up. Rattray took the early lead in the main event and rode a consistent pace but is not content with anything short of a win.
“I’m really looking forward to this weekend,” said Tyla. “We shook the cobwebs out last weekend and will be on top of our game in Phoenix.”
Coming off his AMA 250cc Motocross title, Dean Wilson was heavily favored to win the opener. Wilson held third place for nearly the entire main event, until a last-lap mishap dropped him to sixth.
“Last week was not the result I was looking for at all,” said Wilson. “The team and I have worked hard all week, and I’m looking to come into Phoenix a different man.”
Two-time World GP Champion Marvin Musquin made his Supercross Lites Class debut, finishing fourth after earning third in his qualifier.
“Fourth place at Anaheim was a good result for my Supercross Lites Class debut,” said Musquin. “I was really nervous heading into my first U.S. supercross race, but I think I did a good job controlling my nerves in front of such a big crowd. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the best start in the main as I got checked up by another rider going into the first turn. However, I think I came back strong working my way up to fourth spot by race end. I’ve won two World GP titles in Europe, so my goal is definitely to be up fighting for wins here in the U.S. Now that I know what to expect in the Lites Class – now that the first race is out of the way – my focus is purely to be on the podium each weekend going forward.”
SPEED will broadcast the Supercross class race LIVE at 9:30pm EST on January 14, 2012.