Irvine, Calif. (May 2, 2011) - Monster Energy Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto earned his sixth win of the season after an impressive ride aboard his Kawasaki KX450F during the penultimate round of the Monster Energy Supercross, an FIM Championship at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah. The win extended his points lead to nine going into the final round in Las Vegas. Making his supercross class debut, Jake Weimer finished with a solid seventh-place result. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Broc Tickle also maintained his points lead in the AMA Supercross Lites, Western Region with a podium finish heading into the final race. Teammate Tyla Rattray finished just outside the top-five in sixth, while Josh Hansen overcame an early-race crash to come back for 13th.
Win Number Six
Entering the night with a six-point lead in the championships standings, a win wasn’t necessary for Villopoto to maintain the points lead. Improving with each lap around the track, he qualified second during timed practice and went on to finish third in his heat. His start in the main put him in fourth after the first lap and he was quickly making up time on the riders in front of him. He passed for second on the seventh lap, and took over the lead on the eighth, never looking back as he went on to win a season-high sixth win.
“I knew that I didn’t have to win for the championship, but I really wanted to give myself a better cushion going into Las Vegas,” said Villopoto. “Considering the weather we saw over the two days in Salt Lake City, the track turned out great. It is nice to head into the last round with a little bit of a gap. If the opportunity presents itself, I want to go after the win, but I know what I have to do (for the championship).”
Making his first appearance in the supercross class, Weimer showed he was ready to make his presence known on the Kawasaki KX450F. The day started slow for the reigning AMA Supercross Lites, Western Region champion, but he started to shine once the gate dropped. He earned fourth in his heat race and went on to finish seventh in the main event.
“It was definitely good to be back,” said Weimer. “I was a little hesitant at the start of the day and not sure why I was holding back. I got more comfortable as the day went on. I know I’m only racing supercross for two races, but it was good to get some racing under my belt before we move on to outdoors.“
Tickle continued his consistent streak with his sixth podium finish of the year. His consistency has helped him retain his two-point lead over second place as the series winds down to the final round in Las Vegas. Still pushing to get back to 100 percent after a collarbone injury just over a month ago, Tickle rode through the pain of arm pump to finish third.
“I haven’t really felt like myself out there because I’ve been dealing with a little arm pump the past two races,” said Tickle. “I know it takes time to come back and I have really tried to not make it an excuse. I am looking to feel the way I felt when I won in Oakland. This week I’m going to try and have fun when I go out and ride. Hopefully that will bring me back to where I was at the beginning of the series.”
Push Until The End
Hansen’s season has been filled with ups and downs. He holds a season-high three wins with an additional podium, while also riding through the pain of a broken hand. In Salt Lake City he grabbed a second-place start in the main event, but a crash on the second lap pushed him back to over a half-lap down on the field. Despite pain in his hand, he pushed to make it back to 13th.
“I can’t even describe how disappointed I am with myself,” said Hansen. “I made a mistake that ended up costing me the championship. It’s really hard to watch it slip away again, but I can say I learned a lot tonight. I try to learn from all my mistakes and I just hope I can redeem myself with one more win in Las Vegas.”
As his first supercross season winds down, Rattray has continually shown he can make the difficult transition from motocross to supercross. He has only finished outside sixth position once and has stood on the podium twice. The former MX2 World Champion has his sights on the upcoming motocross series, but not before tacking up another good finish in Salt Lake as he finished sixth.
“I am really looking forward to the outdoors and I wanted to get through the final races safe and healthy,” said Rattray. “It’s been a fun season learning the supercross series and having to adapt to a completely different type of racing. While I’ve had fun, it’s definitely getting me excited to start a new series.”
The weather for the main events in Salt Lake City was clear, but the day before and hours leading into practice saw snow falling to the ground. The cold weather didn’t deter Villopoto, who came from hot weather in Florida.
“I left Florida and it was nice and sunny, but it’s what we have to deal with,” said Villopoto. “When we race outdoors, it is usually the other way around where it’s nice and then we go into hot, humid weather. This is a little different seeing snow everywhere as we woke up this morning, but it all turned out great.”
The Final Round
The race at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas will be run a little different for the Lites riders. The night show will start with two 15-lap races for the respective lites final round. Tickle will be defending his two-point lead in the West, while Wilson will be hoping to cap off an up and down season with a win for the East. Villopoto will be looking to capture his first supercross class championship as he enters the round with a nine-point lead.