Irvine, Calif. - Monster Energy Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto served notice on Saturday night in Indianapolis that he is ready to overcome any adversity to stand on the top step of the podium. The sophomore rider didn't let a crash in his heat race slow him down as he won the last chance qualifier and the main event putting him in a tie atop the championship points. Nick Wey continued his consistent riding coming home eighth and earning his fourth straight top-10 finish with the team. In the supercross lites class, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Christophe Pourcel dominated the main event to open up the Eastern Region season. Dean Wilson made his AMA professional debut and finished sixth.
Hard Way to Win
When a crash in the first turn of his heat race sent Villopoto back to the truck to repair the water pump and head pipe, the Washington native knew he had a tough task ahead of him to claim his third win in the last four races. After winning the LCQ, Villopoto still had the 19th gate pick and despite the disadvantage, he came out of the first turn in third. After a spirited battle for the lead until the halfway point, Villopoto pulled away to win his fifth career supercross race.
"I won the LCQ and had to take the most outside gate for the main event," said Villopoto. "That wasn't the gate I wanted since it was a sharp left hand corner for the first turn. I got a really good start from out there and I was third. I got by Davi (Milsaps) and then Kevin (Windham) and I had a really good battle. We were going back and forth for a while. I could hear the crowd when (Ryan) Dungey got Windham, so I knew I had to put in some solid laps. The track was tight and slippery and it was tough to go fast. It was a good race and we showed that our team handles tough situations well."
With the red No. 1 plate on his Kawasaki KX(tm) 250F, Pourcel showed he was not going to surrender his East Coast title easily by dominating the Indianapolis event. Pourcel was fastest in qualifying, won his heat race and ran away with the main event.
"The track was way too tight," said Pourcel. "I just wanted to get a good start and I did. Stroupe was in front of me, and I passed him right away because I didn't want to have to follow anybody on the track."
In his AMA Supercross Lites debut, Wilson rode a strong race to finish sixth in the main event. With everything new to him, he rode a consistent race and worked to pick up as much as he could.
"I didn't get the finish that I wanted tonight," said Wilson. "This is a podium team and that's where I want to be. I didn't ride as well as I thought I could. I was really tight. I feel like I learned a lot and want to move forward so I'm better next weekend."
After four races with the factory team, Wey has scored four top-10 finishes despite still getting used to the bike. The veteran racer showed his savvy in Indianapolis finishing third in his heat race and then battling to get eighth in the main event.
"The track was pretty one-lined," said Wey. "I made some mistakes early in the race and went backwards. I had to battle with a bunch of guys and lost time to the leaders. Once I got by them, I made up some good time and got into the top 10."
The Last Resort
Villopoto's LCQ didn't go exactly as planned as he exited the first turn in 12th place. Over the next five laps he continually made his way up to the front of the pack and put himself into a qualifying position.
"It's always scary going into the LCQ," said Villopoto. "Only the top two spots advance and if you don't get one of them you go home. I had a bad start and I had to come from behind. It was tough but I did what I needed to do."
Pourcel had collarbone surgery in January and despite a lack of track time, he showed he has the fitness and the drive to stay at the front.
"I'm really comfortable with my Kawasaki KX250F," said Pourcel. "I feel my fitness is really good. I've been working a lot on my bicycle at home. I haven't been riding my Jet Ski(r) as much because it's too cold. When you win a race it is good, but when you do it and you aren't tired it is even better."
In the Right Spot
With the win Villopoto now is leading the points standings along with Dungey. Villopoto began his charge to the top of the standings four weeks ago in San Francisco and he is looking to keep the momentum going as the series continues its East Coast swing.
"Before we came to Indy I was in a great position as the series moved to the east," said Villopoto. "I think I'm in a better position now, tied for the points lead and I definitely have the momentum rolling. I just have to keep putting in the hard work."
As if competing in his first race wasn't enough, Wilson also faced the challenge of a track the likes of which he has never seen. The Canadian rider has only ridden supercross tracks in California and the dirt in Indianapolis could not have been any more different than what he prepared on.
"The track was really difficult," said Wilson. "There's no where in California where we can practice on a track with a bunch of sand and lots of ruts. Plus it was really slick. I've never been on a track comparable to that."
Follow us twitter
Kawasaki. Let the good times roll
KAWASAKI CARES: Always wear a helmet, eye protection and proper apparel. Never ride under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Adhere to the maintenance schedule in your owner's manual. Professional rider shown on a closed course. This message was sent to your because you have expressed an interest in receiving email updates from Kawasaki or you are a current owner. You can unsubscribe or modify your email preferences at any time by clicking reply to this email.