When the 2012 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series kicked off, expectations were high … very high. After all, the 2011 series was one of the most exciting and variable seasons of premier class racing in the history of the sport, with multiple winners and points lead changes. The championship even came down to a three-way battle in the very last race.
So for 2012, most were hoping for somewhat of a repeat, and for a while it seemed that the likes of Ryan Villopoto, James Stewart, Ryan Dungey, Chad Reed, and Trey Canard might deliver the goods again. But then Canard got hurt in Los Angeles. Okay, not too much of a blow there, but Trey could very well have been a contender, having won three races in 2011. Other than that, for the first four races things were looking up, with four different winners in four rounds. Not bad.
Then along came the East Coast rounds and the main contenders began dropping like flies. First Reed went down in a violent crash during the Dallas main event. The ensuing injury may keep him off the bike for the remainder of the year (which is likely the reason that earlier this week TwoTwo Motorsports announced the signing of Ben Townley to compete in the 2012 AMA Pro Nationals).
Then a press release following the St. Louis round revealed that second in points, Dungey, had fractured his collarbone and undergone surgery in the week leading up to Daytona. Whether he returns to racing before the end of the indoor series or not, Dungey is basically out of the title hunt.
Then last week in Indianapolis, Stewart had his own blunder, falling just after the first turn of his heat race and getting run over by about four other riders. Not many details have been released as to his current condition, but he did not return to racing that night. No word yet on whether fans will be seeing him in action up in Canada.
All of these crashes and faults of Supercross’ top men mean that only one former champion remains. He also just so happens to be the defending champion and is also in firm control of the points chase. At Indy, Ryan Villopoto was nearly 100 points ahead of the next closest, competing rider in the standings, Davi Millsaps. Of course, Villopoto also went on to take the win that night, stretching his lead even further.
In East Lites racing, viewers witnessed one of the stranger occurrences in Supercross racing in quite sometime…and this one came straight out of the AMA rulebook. After four laps of racing the main event, with Ken Roczen out front for the first time this year, Kyle Cunningham went down hard just after the whoops and the race was red flagged.
Often when the red flag is drawn, a complete, gated restart takes place, and this has become more common in recent years with officials taking more precautions for rider safety. However, an AMA rule states that if more than three laps but less than 90 percent of a race has been completed at the waving of the red flag, riders will restart, but in the order that their last lap was completed. This meant the Hoosier State hosted one of the first staggered starts in an AMA Pro race in recent history.
Once the riders got going again, Roczen looked to be on his way to his first win of the year. Instead, he lost control of his bike heading over a small double and went down. This effectively handed the lead and eventual win over to Blake Wharton; his first victory since 2009 in St. Louis. The win for Wharton also meant it was Justin Barcia’s first loss of the season. Bam Bam had a tremendous streak going with four in a row. But with his third place finish at Indy, the GEICO/Honda rider still has a comfortable lead as the series heads north of the border.
What can be expected in Toronto? More than likely a few rocks as the race has consistently had one of the more gravel-strewn surfaces in years past. Whether or not James Stewart will show up in Canada remains a question mark. Either way, he will have his work cut out for him as the JGR/Yamaha rider remains almost 70 points behind Villopoto. Some big rhythm sections could play into the favor of typically more precise riders like Millsaps or Kevin Windham. If there was ever an opportunity for someone other than the Big Four to get a win in 2012, Toronto could be it.
Follow Supercross.com’s Twitter Feed
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 Motorsports
Supercross Class: Toronto Stats
The first race was held on December 3, 2004, and Ricky CarmichaelÃ‚Â won on a Suzuki
In 2005,Ã‚Â James StewartÃ‚Â won on a Kawasaki and on a Yamaha in 2009
In 2006, Chad Reed won on a Yamaha
Reed became the first two time winner in Toronto with his win in 2008
Ryan Villopoto won on a Kawasaki in 2010
Ryan Dungey won on a Suzuki in 2011, leaving Honda and KTM as the only bikes to not win in Toronto, Honda’s Justin Brayton and KTM’s Marvin Musquin change this
Supercross Lites Class Stats: Toronto
This will be the fourth time the gate will drop for a Supercross Lites Class race in Toronto
Christophe Pourcel won the first points-paying Supercross Lites Class race in Toronto in 2009 on a Kawasaki
Justin Barcia won in 2010 on a Honda and Dean Wilson won in 2011 on a Kawasaki
Supercross Class Laps Led
Ryan Villopoto: 102, Ryan Dungey: 33, James Stewart: 25, Chad Reed: 24, Justin Brayton: 10, Cole Seely: 7, Mike Alessi: 5, Jake Weimer: 5, David Millsaps: 4, Brett Metcalfe: 1
Supercross Lites Class Laps Led
Justin Barcia: 49, Blake Wharton: 9, Darryn Durham: 8, Ken Roczen: 4, Alex Martin: 1, Blake Baggett: 1
Ryan Villopoto “The dirt in Toronto is always tricky. And I think this weekend is going to be a lot like Indy. I think everyone is going to have to ride smart to ride fast. I know my plan going in is just to get a good start and stay out of trouble.”
James Stewart will not be racing. You can read the latest of his condition and his quote here. http://www.supercross.com/news/james-stewart-injury-update-courtesy-jgr-mx
Justin Brayton “It was a really great night for me, with a heat win, some awesome starts and now a second place finish in the main. This was my first time ever leading laps in the 450 Class and now I want it more than ever. It has been a long time coming and now I feel like the trophy is right there. This is a good building block and I am ready to work this week and come out swinging in Toronto.”
Brett Metcalfe “We came in with a different approach with bike setup in Indy. It was evident in my first lap of practice. I just felt so much more comfortable and could really attack the track and ride the bike. I was really stoked; the Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450 was running great. We got great starts and qualified the best we have all year. In the heat race, we ripped the holeshot and it felt awesome to get out there in front. I was able to hold on and get my first heat win of my 450 career, and that was a big achievement for me. In the main, I got another good start on the Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450. I came out of the corner about third or fourth. Then I was able to charge through and get up to second, and ran up there for half the main event. Then I dropped back a few positions because I got tired running up front and holding everybody off, but I was fighting as hard as I could.”
Jake Weimer “This is my first time racing on the east coast and there are a lot of differences. I am a little bummed after last week, but I have to put it behind me and move forward.”
Broc Tickle “My results are starting to come around. That’s the crazy thing about this sport. Sometimes you ride great and get a poor result and sometimes it’s the opposite. I know I’m starting to ride better and loosen up on the track and the results are starting to come too.”
Marvin Musquin “I feel like I’ve gained a lot of experience by riding select Supercross Class races while the West Coast Lites series is on break. The KTM 350SX-F is a great bike to ride in the big bike Class to learn the ropes. But this will be my last weekend racing the Supercross Class as I start riding my KTM 250SX-F again next week in preparation for the return of the West Lites Championship in Seattle in April. I have a lot more confidence now and I really want to get a win before the supercross season ends.”
Blake Wharton “It feels good to get the win. It’s been a while since I’ve won, but I never stopped thinking I could. I know it’s not easy to win, but at the same time, what we’re doing during the week, we’re doing to win. I happened to win tonight, but it’s so tough with the competition because everyone’s so fast. But this weekend, I won it, and I just want to go into Toronto and carry this over. Toronto should be good, I like going to Canada.”
Justin Barcia “With such a slick track, I had a feeling it was going to be a tough night. It is definitely a bummer not to keep my winning streak going but I am still happy to be on the podium. Consistency is the most important thing in the long run so I am glad to have the GEICO Honda on the podium regardless.”
Justin Bogle “I switched things up and just tried to have fun this week. I felt good in practice today and I played it safe and got third in my heat race. The main was pandemonium, pretty much. I was feeling really good after the restart, but had a fall. I’m getting sick of these rookie mistakes. I know I’m learning, but I really want to get to the point where I have things figured out.”
Darryn Durham “The weather has been so unexpected this year on the East Coast. Usually we go into the dome stadiums to escape the cold and rain, but this year the weather has been great except at Daytona. I hope the good weather means the dirt will be ready for us in Toronto.”
Blake Baggett “I’ve tried to refocus and just concentrate on winning. This season has been different for me and it hasn’t gone to plan. So I’m looking to change my plan and go out and get some race wins.”
Ken Roczen “It’s been an up and down season for me this year. But last weekend at Indy I felt like I’d found my groove and speed again. I’m so bummed that while I was leading the race I crash — first crash this season and it had to happen when I was winning! The whole red flag and strange restart procedure threw me off as I had a solid lead before the race got called. I definitely want to finish what I started last week by getting the win in Toronto.”
SPEED will broadcast Monster Energy Supercross from Toronto LIVE at 7:30pm EST on March 24, 2012.