Irvine, Calif. (September 5, 2011) – Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Dean Wilson clinched the 2011 AMA Motocross 250 class championship with a 1-1 finish at the penultimate round of the series at Steel City Raceway in Delmont, Pa. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto extended his points lead as he looks to add an AMA Motocross Championship title to the FIM World Supercross Championship he won in May. After putting together some of the most exciting racing of the season, Villopoto finished on top of the podium with a 1-1, including a last-lap, last-turn pass in the first moto which helped him extend his points lead to 14. Teammate Jake Weimer also put together a couple solid motos, finishing fifth overall with a 6-6 result. Tyla Rattray finished fourth overall with a 4-4 result in the 250 class. Blake Baggett finished sixth after going 5-8, while teammate Broc Tickle salvaged 12th with a 37-5.
The Champion is Crowned
Wilson came out swinging at Steel City Raceway and threw down the fastest lap time in his class aboard his Kawasaki KX™250F during qualifying, proving he was going to be difficult to beat. In the first moto, he grabbed the holeshot and gapped the field by almost 10 seconds for the win. In the second moto, Wilson had to work a little harder to claim his prize. After the gate dropped he pulled into second and began looking for an opportunity to pass the leader. He paced the leader for a few laps, testing different lines around the course, and then made his move. Wilson’s pass stuck and once he got out front he never looked back. He took the checkered flag and secured the 2011 AMA Motocross Championship in the 250 class.
“It feels absolutely amazing to win the championship,” said Wilson. “I felt really good after I put down the fastest lap time in practice. The track was really slippery out there. It’s one of those tracks you really have to ride in a high gear and try not to use too much effort. In the first moto, I got the holeshot and gapped the field for the easy win. In the second moto, I had to battle with Eli (Tomac) for the checkers. I didn’t get the best start, but I got lucky, found a hole and went right through it. The best part of the second moto was when I rode past the mechanic’s area and everybody was cheering and the pit board said ‘2011 MX Champion’ and I got goose bumps from that point. I almost didn’t want to win at Steel City because my parents weren’t here, but I am still happy I won. I’m lucky to have such great parents that support me and let me do what I love. I came from amateurs in 2009 and didn’t go pro until 2010, so I think what really helped me get to this level so quickly was being on the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team. It’s the best team out there for transitioning amateurs. It’s a winning team. I’m just so happy, this really is a dream come true for me.”
KX Proof Positive
When Villopoto arrived at Steel City Raceway, he had an eight-point lead in the series standings and knew he was going to have to put on a charge to maintain the points lead. Aboard his 2012 Kawasaki KX™450F, Villopoto immediately set the tone for the weekend throwing down the fastest lap time during practice, which was almost three seconds faster than the next fastest competitor. Villopoto went on to win both motos and extended his points lead to 14 going into the final round of the season.
“It was really tough out there,” said Villopoto. “Overall the track was very hardpacked, especially if you were riding in the ruts. It was pretty slippery also, especially after they watered it, so you had to be careful for the first couple laps until you found your rhythm. In practice I was able to shave three seconds off my lap time by exploring new lines. I connected my lines and was able to carry my momentum a little better around the track that lap. Everything is great on my 2012 KX450F, we did a little adjusting with the suspension for the second moto and it seemed to work out. For me, Unadilla was the turning point this season because I was finally able to use the 2012 KX450F, and it has worked out great. I’m really happy with today’s result and I’m looking forward to getting to Pala and wrapping this season up.”
Getting in the Groove
Weimer has been showing steady improvement throughout the season. His transition to the 2012 KX450F has accelerated his performance and his current standing as sixth overall in points proves the new machine has helped amplify this talented riders natural abilities. At Steel City he rode with smooth consistency over the challenging course to finish fifth overall after going 6-6.
“I feel good about my performance,” said Weimer. “I have been riding consistent and got good starts in both motos. The track was really hardpacked and technical today. It was pretty hot out there, so conditioning was key. I just tried to keep it on two wheels and keep my momentum through the course by linking all the sections. I’ve been feeling really good on the new 2012 KX450F, it has a lot of power and the suspension was dialed-in. I’m looking forward to Pala and hope I can grab a podium before the season ends.”
World Class Competitor
South Africa’s Rattray is one of the fastest racers in the outdoor world. With four wins in this AMA Motocross season, he has kept his teammate Wilson on his toes, threatening to take over the points lead if Wilson so much as relaxed for a minute. He came to Steel City looking to cultivate his fifth win of the season and stay in contention for the championship, but came up a little short. While he finished a respectable fourth overall after going 4-4 on the weekend, it wasn’t enough to keep his teammate Wilson from clinching the title. Rattray’s impressive riding has helped keep the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team at the top of the leaderboard throughout the season.
“It was pretty tough out there,” said Rattray. “I didn’t get very good starts today which messed me up. I got caught up in the pack and wasn’t able to get into a good rhythm out there, and that’s really what you need to do on tracks like this. You have to try to find smooth lines, and I just didn’t have it today. Congratulations to Dean on winning the championship, he definitely earned it. I’m really looking forward to Motocross of Nations in France and riding the new 2012 KX450, it should be a lot of fun. I’m going to try to have a good race at Pala next weekend so I can finish this season strong.”
With five wins already under his belt this season, Baggett came out to Steel City feeling confident and looking to get back on the podium. In the first moto, Baggett came around the first corner inside the top-10, and worked his way into a fifth-place finish. In the second moto, he got a better start inside the top-five and was charging for a spot on the podium when he clipped a pole on the track and went down. Although he went down hard, he picked up his bike and finished the race in eighth place to earn sixth overall on the weekend.
“I did the best I could out there,” said Baggett. “I tried to get on the podium and came up a little short. The track was really slippery blue groove and when they watered it the blue groove sections got really greasy. In the second moto, I got a decent start and was putting on a good charge, but I hit one of those poles next to the track. I just clipped the side of it and it blew me off the bike. It was a super technical track today and I just wasn’t able to make it happen, so I was disappointed with the result. I’m just going to shake it off and try to finish the season with one more win. Although I’ve never raced at Pala, I’m going to go out there and give it my all.”
Already a battle-tested champion in the 2011 supercross season, Tickle knows it takes hard work and consistent riding to finish on the podium. In the first moto, he got a top-ten start, but a mechanical issue forced him off the track early. In the second moto, he was determined to get a good finish and prove his skills on the technical track. Although he started the second moto in 18th, he put on a charge and picked off several competitors throughout the race to finish an impressive fifth. His hard work and determination helped him salvage 12th overall for the weekend and left him in seventh place in the series points standings.
“It seems like I’ve been having a little bad luck this season,” said Tickle. “You just have to take the bad with the good sometimes. The first moto I had some mechanical issues that weren’t really anyone’s fault. In the second moto I worked my way up to fifth, so I feel good about that. It was pretty hard out there today. It was hot and the track was sketchy. I just want to have a good race this season and there is only one race left to do it, so I’m going to give it my all at Pala. I’m actually pretty excited to race at Pala. I like that track a lot because it’s a pretty technical and I typically do better on those types of tracks.”
The Crowd Goes Wild
In the first moto, Villopoto got a great start and rounded the first corner in third. He quickly maneuvered around the second place rider, and pulled in behind the leader. For more than 30 minutes he stalked the leader and made several attempts to pass, but couldn’t make it stick. Just when everyone thought he was going to have to settle for second place, Villopoto surprised everyone. On the last turn of the final lap he twisted the throttle on his KX450F and shot past the leader only feet before the finish line to steal the win. The crowd jumped to their feet and erupted in a thunderous roar at the amazing feat.
“The track was really one-lined and hard to make a pass on,” said Villopoto. “I got a good start in the first moto and as we came around the first corner Justin (Barcia) ran me a little wide. I was able to get around him pretty quickly and I pulled up on the back tire of (Ryan) Dungey. We battled throughout the entire first moto. Several times I would catch up to him and he would pull away. It was hard to get out of the main groove so I could get around him. I ate a lot of roost that moto and just kept the pressure on him. I was waiting for him to make a mistake or find any opportunity to pass. I knew I had to make something happen so I made my move on the last turn. In racing you’re always taught to guard the inside, and that’s what he did, so I took advantage of that and passed him on the outside. It was a close race, by far the closest race we’ve ever had. It felt great to take the win and hear the fans cheering.”
Down to the Wire
Next weekend the exciting 2011 AMA Motocross season heads to Pala Raceway, near San Diego, Calif. for the final round. With a 14-point lead, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Villopoto knows he has a small cushion in the standings, but he will need to push hard to bring home the title. Although Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Wilson has already locked in the 2011 AMA Motocross Championship in the 250 class, his teammates Rattray and Baggett will be racing for second and third in the standings.
2011 AMA Motocross Series
Steel City MX - Delmont, Pa.
September 3, 2011
AMA 450 Motocross Class Results (Moto Finishes)
1. RYAN VILLOPOTO, POULSBO, WASH., MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI (1-1)
2. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., Suzuki (2-2)
3. Brett Metcalfe, Mannum, Australia, Suzuki (3-4)
4. Chad Reed, Kurri Kurri, Australia, Honda (5-3)
5. JAKE WEIMER, RUPERT, IDAHO, MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI (6-6)
6. Mike Alessi, Victorville, Calif., KTM (8-5)
7. Justin Brayton, Fort Dodge, Iowa, Yamaha (7-7)
8. Kyle Regal, Howell, Mich., Suzuki (9-8)
9. Nick Wey, Dewitt, Mich., Yamaha (11-10)
10. Michael Byrne, Rockhampton, Australia, Suzuki (13-9)
AMA 250 Motocross Class Results (Moto Finishes)
1. DEAN WILSON, GLASGOW, SCOTLAND, MONSTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI (1-1)
2. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Honda (2-2)
3. Marvin Musquin, La Reole, France, KTM (3-3)
4. TYLA RATTRAY, DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA, MONSTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI (4-4)
5. Gareth Swanepoel, Johannesburg, South Africa, Yamaha (7-6)
6. BLAKE BAGGETT, GRAND TERRACE, CALIF., MONSTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI (5-8)
7. Justin Bogle, Cushing, Okla., Honda (6-10)
8. Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Honda (10-7)
9. Martin Davalos, Quito, Ecuador, Suzuki (11-9)
10. Malcolm Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Suzuki (8-14)
12. BROC TICKLE, HOLLY, MICH., MONSTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI (37-5)
AMA 450 Motocross Class Points Standings
1. RYAN VILLOPOTO, POULSBO, WASH., MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI, 481
2. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., Suzuki, 467
3. Chad Reed, Kurri Kurri, Australia, Honda, 402
4. Brett Metcalfe, Mannum, Australia, Suzuki, 342
5. Mike Alessi, Victorville, Calif., KTM, 272
6. JAKE WEIMER, RUPERT, IDAHO, MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI, 251
7. Andrew Short, Colorado Springs, Colo., KTM, 196
8. Kevin Windham, Baton Rouge, La., Honda, 193
9. Justin Brayton, Fort Dodge, Iowa, Yamaha, 191
10. Davi Millsaps, Murrieta, Calif., Yamaha, 173
AMA 250 Motocross Class Points Standings
1. DEAN WILSON, GLASGOW, SCOTLAND, MONSTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI, 488
2. TYLA RATTRAY, DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA, MONSTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI, 436
3. BLAKE BAGGETT, GRAND TERRACE, CALIF., MONSTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI, 427
4. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Honda, 290
5. Kyle Cunningham, Aledo, Texas, Yamaha, 283
6. Gareth Swanepoel, Johannesburg, South Africa, Yamaha, 270
7. BROC TICKLE, HOLLY, MICH., MONSTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI, 236
8. Martin Davalos, Quito, Ecuador, Suzuki, 197
9. Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Honda, 195
10. Darryn Durham, Butler, Pa., Honda, 181