Monster Energy Kawasaki's Villopoto Fights to the Top Step of the Podium in St. Louis
Irvine, Calif., (March 2, 2013) - Although snow and sub-freezing temperatures bombarded St. Louis, Mo., the Edward Jones Dome was heated by the fierce competition of Monster Energy AMA Supercross on Saturday night. Monster Energy Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto sliced his points deficit in half by taking his fourth win of the season, despite restarts and penalties during the main event. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Dean Wilson was the fastest rider in the 250SX class, but a bad start kept him from the win, finishing second. Monster Energy Kawasaki's Jake Weimer continues to get back up to speed and finished 12th, while Justin Hill recovered from a first lap crash to place 16th.
Overcoming the Carnage
Villopoto started the day off strong as he clocked top times all afternoon in qualifying. In his heat race he jumped out to the early lead on his KX™450F and never looked back. He laid down consistent sub-50 second lap times and took the win, giving him first gate pick for the main event. Villopoto got off to a top five start in the main and began picking off riders until a red flag stopped the race on lap three. They restarted the race in a staggered start and he continued his quest for the lead. Villopoto was able to make quick passes and began to battle for the win. After multiple attempts, he was able to make a clean pass and build a gap to win by three seconds. Villopoto's fourth win this season helped make up valuable points in the championship standings.
"It was a crazy race," said Villopoto. "When the red cross flag came out, I made a costly mistake of jumping the double and as we lined up for the restart they docked me three positions. I knew I needed to make something happen and when I saw the leaders were right there, I knew it was on and it was going to get gnarly. I started pressuring the leader and we went back and forth before I was able to make a clean pass and get away."
Confident & Motivated
Wilson's afternoon started off a little rocky, as he was not able to get in a solid lap in the first qualifying practice. He quickly rectified that problem by laying down the fastest lap in the next qualifying practice, besting the field by 1.1 seconds. In his heat race, Wilson benefitted from an early red flag resulting in a restart. He got a much better start the second time around and quickly took over the lead to take his third heat race win of the season. In the 15-lap main event, Wilson got a poor start and was buried in the back of the field, but his aggression and speed saw him cross the line in fifth by the end of lap one. Once he made his way into second place he continued his charge to catch the leader. Wilson was able to get close enough to make pass attempts, but could not make any of them stick and finished the night in second.
"The day started off really well," said Wilson. "I felt really good and loose on the bike and rode well during qualifying, but got a horrible start in the main event. I tipped-toed through and avoided the carnage and got to the leader. I ended up losing time when I tried to make the pass. I was so close, it's frustrating."
Still recovering from broken ribs, Weimer took his time pushing the pace. In his heat race he was pinched off on the start and had to fight from the back of the pack. He searched for good passing options and finally made his way into a qualifying position on the last lap. With a less than ideal gate pick, Weimer started near the back of the pack. He strung together consistent laps and climbed to a 12th place finish.
"I didn't ride like myself all day," said Weimer. "I felt comfortable, but I just didn't have that edge to push the limits. I know where I want and should be, and that's battling for the podium. Next week in Daytona the track is always different and fun, so I'm looking forward to that."
Although Hill has had impressive finishes this season, he hasn't been completely satisfied. In his heat race, Hill got aggressive early and made passes to finish in second, his best heat race finish yet. Calm and confident leading into the main event, Hill came into the first turn on the gas and came around just outside the top-five. With speed to put his Kawasaki on the podium, Hill went for a pass on the first lap through the sand section, but a small mistake put him on the ground. He remounted in the back of the pack and did his best to pace the leaders, finishing 16th.
"I felt really strong all day," said Hill. "I got two great starts in the heat race and the main event. I cut loose a bit tonight and tried to get more aggressive and take it to a new level. I was up front on the first lap of the main and was setting up a pass when I made a mistake in the sand. At that point I was so far back I just tried to gage the leaders and not let them pass me."
The Edward Jones Dome sits in downtown St. Louis, under the shadow of the Gateway Arch. The arch sits at an astonishing 630-feet tall and is the tallest man-made monument in the United States. With such an iconic monument steps away from the stadium, the riders were excited to be in St. Louis which showed as the action was non-stop all night.
After a red flag caused a normal restart from behind the gate in the 250SX heat race, the 450SX main event was red flagged as well. Although because they had already ridden three laps, the field lined up down the start straight in staggered position based on the previous lap. Villopoto benefitted from the restart, but had to be on his toes to avoid the carnage that surrounded him.
"It was crazy as we restarted," said Villopoto. "There were guys passing each other, blocking, and roosting all in the first turn. I was able to get around a few guys but it was chaos once we passed the start barriers."
As the halfway flag came out on Saturday night during the 20-lap main event, it also marked the halfway point of Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship. With nine of 17 rounds complete, the points battle in both classes is heating up. Round 10 takes Monster Energy Kawasaki to Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., where riders will have to conquer a more outdoor-inspired supercross track on March 9, 2013.
Monster Energy AMA Supercross - Round 9
Edward Jones Dome - St. Louis, Mo.
March 2, 2013
450SX Main Event
1. RYAN VILLOPOTO, MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI
2. James Stewart, Suzuki
3. Chad Reed, Honda
4. Ryan Dungey, KTM
5. Justin Barcia, Honda
6. Davi Millsaps, Suzuki
7. Mike Alessi, Suzuki
8. Trey Canard, Honda
9. Justin Brayton, Yamaha
10. Andrew Short, KTM
12. JAKE WEIMER, MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI
450SX Points Standings
1. Davi Millsaps, Suzuki, 189
2. RYAN VILLOPOTO, MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI, 177
3. Ryan Dungey, KTM, 166
4. Trey Canard, Honda, 148
5. Chad Reed, Honda, 147
6. Justin Barcia, Honda, 132
7. James Stewart, Suzuki, 122
8. Andrew Short, Honda, 113
9. Justin Brayton, Yamaha, 103
10. Broc Tickle, Suzuki, 87
13. JAKE WEIMER, MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI, 70
250SX Eastern Regional Main Event
1. Wil Hahn, Honda
2. DEAN WILSON, MONSTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI
3. Blake Wharton, Suzuki
4. Marvin Musquin, KTM
5. Jeremy Martin, Yamaha
6. Vince Friese, Honda
7. James Decotis, Honda
8. Cole Thompson, Honda
9. Zach Bell, Honda
10. Peter Larsen, Honda
16. JUSTIN HILL, MONSTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI
250SX Eastern Regional Points Standings
1. Wil Hahn, Honda, 70
2. DEAN WILSON, MONSTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI, 69
3. Blake Wharton, Suzuki, 60
4. Marvin Musquin, KTM, 53
5. Vince Friese, Honda, 39
6. Gavin Faith, Honda, 38
7. JUSTIN HILL, MONSTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI, 36
8. James Decotis, Honda, 34
9. Jeremy Martin, Yamaha, 32
10. Kyle Peters, Honda, 31