Not often is there a first time Supercross main event winner in the premier class. In fact, since the beginning of professional AMA Supercross racing in 1972, only 54 riders had taken first place honors until this past Saturday. At round 15 of the 2012 Monster Energy Supercross Series, Andrew Short became the 55th rider to stand atop the podium. While Short practically lead from wire to wire, his win came amongst several unusual circumstances.
With many riders out already this year, the races have lacked the depth that they had last year. But if enough of the top guys are out, suddenly the field is leveled once again. That was basically the scenario that occurred on Saturday. When the gate dropped, Short did not technically get the holeshot, but he was able to find his way into the lead immediately after the first turn.
Ryan Dungey had decided to make his return to racing in the Northwest, so many eyes were on him to step into a lead position, along with the already crowned 2012 Champion, Ryan Villopoto. But Dungey had a mid-pack start, and Villopoto was near the back after the first turn. Only a few turns later, Villopoto fell in a tight left hand turn while attempting to overtake Davi Millsaps. While the fall itself was a slow, low-side mistake, it was the way Villopoto fell that did the damage, as his foot seemed to stick in one place due to the tacky soil, and his bike and body then toppled over. The result was a knee injury that not only ended Villopoto’s evening, but the year as well (a press release went on Tuesday morning stating that Villopoto is set for surgery, but will indeed miss the rest of the 2012 season).
Dungey had issues of his own while moving up through the pack. The Red Bull/KTM rider was running in fifth place and was challenging Justin Brayton for fourth when he clipped Brayton’s rear wheel in a right hand turn and went down. Thus the lead pack was left up to four riders, none of whom had ever taken a main event win.
Following closely behind Short was Dungey’s teammate, Ken Roczen, who had been bumped up to the Supercross Class for the remaining West Coast rounds. Roczen rode within striking distance for the first half of the race, and even got a front wheel in on Short, but was never able to make a pass stick.
Short went on to take the first win of his career on a bike that is essentially without an official home or team, although Muscle Milk Honda has been allowing the crew to pit out of the back of their truck for the last two races. The Larry Brooks and Jeremy McGrath supported effort is in between sponsorships at the moment, so the win will greatly help their cause.
For Short, the last time he won a Supercross event was during his Lites racing days back in 2006. The Colorado native has long been a fan favorite due simply to his positive attitude, great media and fan relationship, and his persistence on the track.
In Lites racing, Ryan Sipes took his first win of the year, but everyone’s eyes were fixated on the riders in second and third. Coming into Seattle, Dean Wilson lead Eli Tomac by four points, and with only three rounds remaining for the Lites West championship (including Seattle), the heat was on. Right off the start the two were at the front of the pack, and ready to continue the points battle. Sipes had the lead, but Wilson and Tomac were second and third and right on each other. On the first lap they traded passes with minimal contact, all the while staying right on Sipes.
Then Wilson made an aggressive pass that pushed Tomac off the track and onto the plywood. After a quick recovery by Tomac, the GEICO/Honda rider was able to close the gap once again on Wilson. Within less than a lap, Tomac was directly on Wilson’s Monster Energy Kawasaki, and repaid the favor, by forcing a pass on the number 15 that sent Wilson to the ground.
Sipes went on to win the race, followed by a charging Musquin in second place. Tomac, with his bike damaged from the contact he had with Wilson, managed to finish third. Wilson could only muster a seventh place, meaning Tomac now leads the points standings by four points over Wilson.
With Salt Lake City serving as the penultimate round, the West Lites title is far from decided. In the last two years, SLC has greatly affected the Lites championship outcome, largely due to unpredictable weather. Will Tomac be able to extend his lead for the second time this season, or will Wilson have a little extra to show in Utah?
For the Supercross class, the title has already been decided, but with the new champ now out for the remainder of 2012, will another rider be able to step up for his first career win or will Dungey be able to take another win before the season is out. We will find out Saturday.
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2012 AMA Supercross Series Schedule
2012 FIM World MX GP schedule
2012 AMA National Motocross Series
AMA Supercross Series results
World MX GP results
AMA National Motocross results
Monster Energy Supercross Notes, courtesy Feld MotorsportsÃ‚Â
Supercross Class Stats: Salt Lake City
The first race was held on April 28, 2001, and Ricky Carmichael won on a Kawasaki
This is the eighth time the gate will drop for a Monster Energy Supercross race in Salt Lake City
From 2001-2004, Salt Lake City hosted a Monster Energy Supercross race. The championship returned to Salt Lake City in 2009.
Supercross Class: Wins by Brand
Honda: 3, Yamaha: 3, Kawasaki: 1
Supercross Lites Class Stats: Salt Lake City
The first race was held on April 28, 2001, and Ernesto Fonseca won on a Yamaha
This will be the eighth time the gate will drop for a Supercross Lites Class race in Salt Lake City
Supercross Lites Class: Wins by Brand
Kawasaki: 4, Honda: 2, Yamaha: 1