Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto is on the verge of adding yet another achievement to his rapidly rising career. The 18-year-old racer from Poulsbo, Wash., could clinch the AMA Supercross Lites West Series this weekend when the series visits Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, this Saturday, Feb. 17.
The spotlight so far this season has been on Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross Series leader James Stewart during his remarkable run of five wins in six races. While Stewart will again be the main attraction in the San Diego Supercross this Saturday, he’ll share the attention with fellow Kawasaki rider Villopoto, who like Stewart, has won all but one race in his division, the Lites West class.
Villopoto overcame a nasty practice crash and a tangle with a lapped rider in last Saturday’s race in Houston’s Reliant Stadium to earn a come-from-behind victory. The Houston win puts Villopoto in a very enviable position. He needs only to finish fifth or better in San Diego to clinch the 2007 AMA Supercross Lites West crown. Just two races, including San Diego, remain in the series.
“I was just trying to get the most points I could going into San Diego, Villopoto said after his dramatic win in Houston. “Running into the lapper was a bummer, but fortunately I was able to recover and take it [BRACKET “the win”].
Villopoto is quick to share the credit for his success.
“I’m lucky to have the fastest bike out there and a great team behind me, he said. “My trainer Randy Lawrence has really helped me be able to push hard at the end of races. I’m in a great position to win the championship and that’s all I can ask.
Jason Lawrence, of the Boost Mobile Yamaha squad, is the only other rider with a mathematical chance to catch Villopoto. Lawrence is 34 points behind — 50 points remain up for grabs in the final two rounds.
While Villopoto is on the verge of winning a Lites title this weekend, last year’s San Diego Supercross winner James Stewart is working methodically towards winning his first championship in the premier AMA Supercross class. Stewart won last week’s race in Houston etching a permanent place in the record books by reaching the top-10 all-time on the AMA Supercross wins list.
Like Villopoto, Stewart had to make a come-from-behind run in Houston last week to secure his fifth win in six starts. The Floridian did not panic after a poor start.
“I took my time tonight, Stewart said in a press conference after the Houston win. “I didn’t want to rush it. When I caught Chad [BRACKET “Reed”] I put a few good laps down and was able to pull it out. I struggled in practice and to put in a race like that and build that kind of lead… I was just really excited.
Stewart won Houston by over 17 seconds ahead of Yamaha’s Chad Reed. That gives Stewart a 21-point lead in the AMA standings over Reed coming into San Diego.
Reed battled a stomach ailment in Houston and admitted he didn’t show his best.
“I struggled in Houston, said the three-time San Diego Supercross winner. “I’m happy to be on the podium, but second is getting old. I’d like to get a win. I’m going to do my homework and come back stronger.
Monster Kawasaki’s Tim Ferry earned his second straight podium result last week and comes to San Diego more confident than ever. “I stayed closer to Chad this week, so I’m making progress, he said.
Kevin Windham also put in his strongest showing of the season last week, leading the early part of the race. The Honda ace will be gunning for his first podium of the season in San Diego.
The Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross Series round from San Diego will air on SPEED, Sunday, Feb. 18, at 6:00 pm eastern.
The San Diego Supercross at Qualcomm Stadium is brought to you by Big-O Tires and AMPM. Tickets are available at all Ticketmaster outlets, including Robinsons – May, Tower Records, Wherehouse Music and Ritmo Latino, select partticipating Yamaha dealers or charge by phone at 619-220-8497.
Doors open at 12:30 pm for fans to watch practice and qualifying. A special Family Section is also available for non-alcoholic family fun. When ordering tickets through Ticketmaster, request Family Section for an alcohol-free family atmosphere.