Yoshimura-Backed Teams Strong at Inaugural Monster Energy Cup
Yoshimura-backed teams showed their strength at the inaugural 2011 Monster Energy Cup in Las Vegas on Saturday night. The Rockstar Makita Suzuki, Rockstar Energy Suzuki, Honda Muscle Milk and GEICO Honda teams showed off the performance advantage of their Yoshimura products while battling for the top prize money.
Brett Metcalfe. Photo by Jake Klingensmith
This new stand-alone Supercross race capped off the 2011 season and incorporated both Motocross and Supercross styles in the lengthy track as well as the racing format. The hybrid track was the longest Supercross track ever built, and the night’s format included Supercross heat races and main events, but the scoring was all Motocross: three 10-lap Open Class main events combined to provide riders with one overall best score.
Team Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Brett Metcalfe had a stellar night, riding his Yoshimura-equipped Rockstar Makita Suzuki RM-Z450 to third overall in the prestigious Supercross event.
“This was a really exciting race,” said Metcalfe. “The whole Rockstar Makita Suzuki team worked great. It was really awesome to see the bike become better and better over the course of one day and seeing the team making all these changes in one race was incredible. We had a few practice sessions, and I was feeling pretty comfortable. The track was different than what I’m used to, so it was a little challenging at first. But by race time that night, I was ready to go.”
The Rockstar Makita Suzuki rider started the night on a positive note by putting in an impressive ride in the first heat race. He got a great start on his Rockstar Makita Suzuki RM-Z450, led all the laps before making a small mistake at the end of the heat and finishing second. In the three main events, Metcalf continued to ride aggressive and focused races, finishing fourth in the first main, third in the second main and third in the final main. All of these results combined to hand Metcalf an impressive third-place finish overall.
“All through the heat race, I led every lap until the last lap,” said Metcalfe. “Then I spun out and lost a position. But I felt good going into the main events. I knew to do well and get up on the podium; it would be key to get good starts. I was able to get three pretty good starts and really come out of the first corner in a good position each time. The Rockstar Makita Suzuki RM-Z450 was unreal out there; it worked awesome for me and I’m happy with third overall. Now we have the off-season to prepare for Supercross next year. We learned a lot this weekend that we can put to use in testing and come out ready next year.”
Team Rockstar Energy Suzuki stepped it up a notch for the Vegas race. Riding the Yoshimura-equipped Rockstar Energy Suzuki RM-Z450 instead of the RM-Z250 that he usually races in the Supercross Lites class, Martin Davalos carded an impressive fourth-place overall in the Open Class.
Martin Davalos. Photo by Jake Klingensmith
Although Davalos struggled a bit in the first heat races, the Rockstar Energy Suzuki rider rallied and went on to win the Last Chance Qualifier to transfer to the three main events.
“My weekend was pretty good,” said Davalos. “We struggled a bit with traction during the day, and I was feeling uncomfortable with the track. But the Rockstar Energy Suzuki guys worked really hard for me, trying to help me get more comfortable on the RM-Z450. We made some major changes after the first heat race and that made me feel a lot better for the rest of the night.”
A strong endurance rider, Davalos rode three remarkable races, bringing home two seventh-place finishes and then a fifth-place result in the third main event. Davalos’ final result for the night was a solid fourth-place overall.
“The Rockstar Energy Suzuki RM-Z450 was working great,” said Davalos. “I got good starts and put in consistent lap times, and I finished seventh in the first and second main events. I had some energy left then, and I got a good start in the third main event, and I pushed hard and was able to get fifth in the race and fourth overall for the night. I feel like we did a good job for my first 450 race, but we couldn’t have done it without the whole Rockstar Energy Suzuki team effort. Now, I’m looking forward to getting back on my Suzuki RM-Z250 and the start of the next Supercross Lites season.”
Justin Brayton made his debut with Team Honda Muscle Milk at the MEC, competing for the first time aboard his Yoshimura-equipped factory-Honda CRF450R. With only two weeks of riding and testing on his new ride heading into the race, Brayton performed well and gained valuable racing experience
Justin Brayton. Photo by Jake Klingensmith
After posting promising results in practice, Brayton finished his heat race in fourth place, moving him straight through to the main event. With three races comprising the main event, Brayton went on to record 13-5-18 results for 12th overall.
“Riding the Monster Energy Cup event was a great opportunity for me to get some valuable seat time on my bike and also see how well it performs in racing conditions,” said Brayton. “I’ve got my first-day jitters out of the way now, and it was a good prelude to the support I will receive throughout the 2012 season. The bike was definitely awesome tonight; I just need to get a better feel for it so I’m completely at home come the start of the Supercross series.”
In addition to Brayton, GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac and Kevin Windham both raced Yoshimura-equipped Honda CRF450Rs at the event. Tomac usually rides a Honda CRF250R in AMA competition, yet he performed extremely well on the CRF450R, going 5-4-10 for fifth overall. Honda veteran Windham went 15-14-12 for 13th overall.
Eli Tomac. Photo by Jake Klingensmith
The Yoshimura-backed teams will return for the start of the 2012 AMA Supercross season on Saturday, January 7, 2012, at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA.