Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Villopoto Wins Inaugural Race At Dodger Stadium
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto raced to a hard-fought win and made history as he won the inaugural Monster Energy Supercross, an FIM World Championship event at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Villopoto came through the pack on his Kawasaki KX(TM)450F to finish with his second win of the season and extended his points lead he has held since the season opener. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Broc Tickle finished the AMA Supercross Lites main event just off the podium in fourth. Teammate Josh Hansen used the 15-lap race to make his way up to fifth, while Tyla Rattray ended the night in 14th.
The rider that wins the inaugural event at a venue earns the right to mark his name down in the history books and Ryan Villopoto rode an incredible 20-lap race to earn that right at Dodger Stadium. He didn’t get the start he wanted and had to make a quick push through the pack. He moved into second just before the half-way mark and a few laps later had taken over the lead. Villopoto kept up his quick pace to finish the night with his second win of the season.
“It’s great to be able to be the first winner at this event,” said Villopoto. “This race didn’t start out the greatest for me and I had to work my way up. The track was a little tricky because moisture started to come up and you really had to be smart. It’s nice to come back after finishing second last week. It feels really good.”
Since the start of the season three weeks ago, Villopoto has proven he has what it takes to lead a prestigious championship series. While there are 14 races left this season, Villopoto’s prior championship experience may come into play during the long season.
“I think winning championships before helps because you see the big picture,” said Villopoto. “It’s nice having the points lead, but the season is long and I have to stay on my toes and be smart. I have a great team behind me and I know they will be there for me through the long season.”
Keeping His Lead
Hometown rider Josh Hansen didn’t have the race he was hoping to have, but he rode back from nearly last place to finish fifth and gain valuable championship points. He currently holds a four-point lead over his teammate Tickle.
“The night didn’t go as planned, but I made it out of here healthy and with the points lead,” said Hansen. “I’ve really been finding the joy in riding and I try not to see the negative after a fifth place finish. I’m really thankful for my team and everyone that continues to support me.”
Broc Tickle has shown speed all year aboard his Kawasaki KX250F and after three rounds finds himself in second place in the point standings. His consistency has put him just four points out of first as he finished fourth in Los Angeles.
“My night didn’t go the greatest, but I am confident in my riding,” said Tickle. “I was in third and tried a pass for second, but didn’t make it stick and ended up getting passed because I made a little mistake. I really wish I could have been back on the podium, but I know in the end, points matter more so I’m still in good position for the championship.”
Riding Off The Rust
After a practice crash left him with a sore wrist, Tyla Rattray was forced to take the week off from riding to let his injury heal. While his wrist feels better, nothing can replace time on the bike and Rattray felt it on the difficult new dirt in Los Angeles. His spirits are still high as he learns to adapt to a new form of racing.
“Now that I’ve finished and raced in the position I did, I do feel Iike I learned a little more about racing and how important it is to stay on track with riding and training,” said Rattray. “It sucks to be injured and not be able to ride, but I know what I’m capable of and really looking forward to racing next week after I regroup this week.”
While Villopoto collected the most wins in the series last season, there was still uncertainty of where he would stack up after being out for almost nine months. His confidence has been restored and even expanded after showing his true speed at Dodger Stadium as he made pass after pass through the pack.
“I’m definitely feeling good and gaining my confidence back,” said Villopoto. “There are so many guys in the class that can win races and it’s nice to know I am able to be in the mix.”
Another New Venue
With the first of two new venues on the schedule in the books, the riders head to their next new venue in Oakland, Calif. Just across the bay from where Supercross used to stop, the riders will be ready for all that Oakland has in store. While Supercross has visited Oakland before, the Kawasaki riders want to see their names on top of the scoreboard of the Oak-Alameda City Stadium.
“I’m sure the crowd is going to be great and I know I want to be back on top of the podium,” said Hansen. “We normally travel to San Francisco and I’m definitely looking forward to visiting a new venue.”