Words by Michael Antonovich
Photos by Michael Sierens and Bayo Olukotun
With the Monster Energy/FIM/AMA Supercross Series’ annual stop in Indianapolis, tonight was set to be great racing in the brand new Lucas Oil Stadium. In a place built for the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, walking inside you soon see the racing influence is very evident. Two Top Fuel dragsters, an exploded engine diagram, and various other race cars make you forget this is Peyton Manning’s winter home. This week’s Mike Larocco-designed track was one of the most technical of the season, and it required a smooth flow every lap to maintain position. With a short start straightaway into a jump that seems like it was lifted out of MX Vs. ATV Unleashed, multiple rhythm sections, and a few obstacles that are rarely seen such as an off chamber jump, a tight chicane, and a basic yet still very difficult tabletop as the finish, the riders were on their toes all night. The tight confines of the stadium were evident in the layout, but that only made for closer racing in the Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Lites class was the first to set the pace for the day, and many needed all the track time they could get to find the lines around the floor. After a few get offs and collisions, namely Martin Davalos landing on Jacob Saylor after the dragon back and Darryn Durham pulling off after hitting his nose, getting off the track unscathed was necessary for getting locked in to a heat race. The top 5 riders all posted sub 52 second lap times, with Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Nico Izzi, Star Racing’s Matt Lemoine, Monster Energy Pro Circuit rider Austin Stroupe, Muscle Milk KTM’s Martin Davalos, and Monster Energy Pro Circuit rider Christophe Pourcel setting the pace for the small bore bikes.
It seemed all eyes were on the 450 bikes as they took to the track for practice, and it was for good reason. They proved to be the premiere class, using a few different lines and sheer power to move around the track at a blitzkrieg place. Even still, many of the top riders found in difficult to settle in. Geico Powersports Factory Connection Honda’s Kevin Windham and Rockstar Makita Suzuki rider Mike Alessi timed below the top 12 spots, and Monster Energy Kawasaki rider Ryan Villopoto was low in the top 10 until the end of the second practice session. Practice seemed like it was the a sign of things to come in the next few years with three of the top five spots belonging to guys who had been child prodigies. Team Yamaha’s Josh Hill, Factory Honda Red Bull rider Davi Millsaps, and Monster Energy/AM PM/ Troy Racing Jason Lawrence showed they were ones to watch when the gates dropped. Millsaps even had the quick time for a few laps, until San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Yamaha pilot James Stewart knocked him down a peg by just over half a second. Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s defending champion Chad Reed clocked in forth quick, and Josh Hill found himself in third when timed qualifying came to a close. At it wouldn’t be a Jason Lawrence day without a bit of on track tomfoolery; he had some contact with Team Yamaha’s Broc Hepler and then did a fist pump ala Jeff Ward at the wall after bobbling in the whoops. All this built the anticipation for the night’s races, and it surely lived up to it.
Photos by Michael Sierens