Saturday, 30 April 2011

Salt Lake City Supercross 450 Race Report

Over the last couple of rounds, the 2011 Monster Energy Supercross championship has seen 2 of its top riders fall out of realistic contention for the crown. It began a few weeks ago, before round 15 in Seattle, when Honda Racing's Trey Canard suffered an injury to his femur while testing for the Lucas Oil AMA Motocross series. At the time, Canard was 5th in the standings of the Supercross division, but was still within reach of the title, especially when his blazing speed, evidenced by 3 race wins, was counted into the equation. It was a tough blow to the series, and an even tougher blow to the rookie's season.

Coming in to the penultimate round of the series in Salt Lake City, there looked to be 4 riders who would do battle for the championship over the course of the final 2 races, but the track in Salt Lake, decided that only 3 would be leaving with a realistic shot at glory.

The big winner on the night was series points leader Ryan Villopoto. He started the main event in the top 5, quickly getting into 3rd place. On lap 7, Villopoto made the move on Chad Reed for 2nd. Reed had started the race in 2nd, right behind James Stewart. Out front, Stewart was beginning to pull away, and it looked like he would go nearly unchallenged for the victory. But, a lap after Villopoto took 2nd, he had the lead given to him when Stewart crashed hard and had to pull in to the mechanics area.

With that, the battle for the win was on, as the 1st and 2nd place riders in the standings controlled the same 2 spots in the main event. Villopoto at one point was able to open a sizeable gap of around 3 seconds, but with 5 laps to go, Reed went to work. When it was all said and done, Reed was able to get the gap down to less than a second, but could never complete the pass. Villopoto won the race, and padded his points lead heading into Las Vegas. Ryan Dungey rode a quiet race to finish on the podium in 3rd, and Stewart regrouped to salvage 10th. However, his mistake likely cost him any shot at the #1 plate.

It was a clutch performance by Ryan Villopoto. With so much pressure on him, it would have been easy to sit back and cruise for a 2nd or 3rd place tonight, but instead, he went out to prove a point and give himself some extra breathing room. He showed that when the chips are down, he can get the job done.

Next weekends race will bring a lot of excitement, but it will likely be a 3 man show as James Stewart now finds himself nearly a full race down. Still, we've seen some crazy events this season, and in Vegas, all bets are off for me.

Supercross Heat 1

1. Chad Reed
2. Kevin Windham
3. Ryan Villopoto
4. Jake Weimer
5. Kyle Regal
6. Justin Brayton
7. Tommy Hahn
8. Michael Byrne
9. Ben Lamay

Supercross Heat 2

1. James Stewart
2. Ryan Dungey
3. Davi Millsaps
4. Andrew Short
5. Nick Wey
6. Mike Alessi
7. Bobby Kiniry
8. Jason Thomas
9. Chris Blose


1. Tyler Bowers
2. Cole Siebler

Supercross Main Event

1. Ryan Villopoto
2. Chad Reed
3. Ryan Dungey
4. Andrew Short
5. Davi Millsaps
6. Kevin Windham
7. Jake Weimer
8. Tommy Hahn
9. Justin Brayton
10. James Stewart
11. Nick Wey
12. Kyle Regal
13. Michael Byrne
14. Chris Blose
15. Tyler Bowers
16. Jason Thomas
17. Bobby Kiniry
18. Cole Siebler
19. Ben Lamay
20. Mike Alessi

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Seattle Supercross 450 race report

The 2011 Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship suffered a big loss in the week leading up to round 15 in Seattle, when it was announced that Honda Racing's Trey Canard suffered a femur injury and would be sidelind for at least six weeks. Nevertheless, the race in Seattle was still taking place, regardless of which riders showed up, and we are now set for one of the most unpredictable finishes in the sports history.

The track in Seattle proved to be one of the toughest we've seen so far this season, as the soft dirt allowed ruts to form on the take-off and landings of every jump.  By the time the Supercross class main event took place, the whoops section had turned into a wild feet-off-the-pegs adventure nearly every lap. Because of the extreme technicality that the ruts and soft dirt created, speeds were significantly lower than what we have become accustomed to, but we were still treated to some excitement in the championship battle.

The main event saw Ivan Tedesco continue his string of good starts as he grabbed the holeshot with James Stewart and Chad Reed in tow. Also getting a good start was the days fastest qualifier, Geico Powersports Honda's Kevin Windham. Stewart and Reed quickly took over the top two spots, with Reed briefly passing Stewart to lead the race before being re-passed quickly by his rival. Stewart would begin begin building a large lead in the early laps on his San Manuel Red Bull Yamaha, while Reed and Windham would continue to hold down 2nd and 3rd. Meanwhile, the two other champonship contenders, Monster Energy Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto and Rockstar Makita Suzuki's Ryan Dungey, each got off to terrible starts and were working their way towards the front. Villopoto had gone down in the first turn and was extra motivated to get to the front with his homestate Washington fans cheering him on.

As the race wore on, the two Ryans were able to get themselves into the top five, with Villopoto in 4th and Dungey in 5th.  Chad Reed was able to get enough of a gap on Kevin Windham, and it was looking like things were going to play out this way to the finish. Then, on lap 19, Chad Reed went over the bars on one of the on-off sections that had become very rutted. The bike hit him as he landed on the ground, and for a moment, it appeared he may be lucky just to finish the race. However, he quickly remounted while only losing one position to Kevin Windham. The crash allowed 4th place Villopoto to close right in, and attempt an aggressive pass to the inside on the final lap. Chad and Ryan came together a couple of times as they battled hard for the final spot on the podium, and with about half a lap to go, Reed looked to have opened a little gap back up. At the same time, Villopoto made a big mistake in the whoops section and went down, but managed to get back up without losing a spot, no doubt thanks in part to the massive gaps seperating many of the riders on the nearly treacherous track.

A couple of notable finishes in Seattle were had by Red Bull KTM's Mike Alessi and San Manuel Red Bull Yamaha's Kyle Regal, each who had season-high finishes in 6th and 7th respectively. 

The big winner on the night was James Stewart, who saw his win streak reach two in a row as he led all 20 laps and closed the gap to the championship leader from 16 points to just 9. There are now 4 riders still in contention for this title, and all 4 of them are within an incredible 9 points with just 2 rounds left to run. Any of the 4 riders can still easily win this, and with the way things have been going, I wouldn't bet against any of them.

Supercross Heat 1
1. James Stewart
2. Andrew Short
3. Mike Alessi
4. Austin Stroupe
5. Kyle Regal
6. Chris Blose
7. Chad Reed
8. Cole Siebler
9. Jason Thomas

Supercross Heat 2
1. Kevin Windham
2. Ryan Villopoto
3. Ryan Dungey
4. Nick Wey
5. Ivan Tedesco
6. Tommy Hahn
7. Tyler Bowers
8. Davi Millsaps
9. Vince Friese

Supercross LCQ
1. Michael Byrne
2. Fabien Izoird

Supercross Main Event
1. James Stewart
2. Kevin Windham
3. Chad Reed
4. Ryan Villopoto
5. Ryan Dungey
6. Mike Alessi
7. Kyle Regal
8. Davi Millsaps
9. Tommy Hahn
10. Andrew Short
11. Michael Byrne
12. Nick Wey
13. Fabien Izoird
14. Ivan Tedesco
15. Jason Thomas
16. Vince Friese
17. Tyler Bowers
18. Cole Siebler
19. Chris Blose
20. Austin Stroupe

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The fastest rider on the track?

One thing about our great sport that has always kind of bothered me, is that a rider who doesn't win the race, is sometimes called the fastest. This, more often than not, happens when a rider who sets the fastest lap time of the race, doesn't win, usually due to a crash or bike problem. The winning rider, is then criticized for not being as fast, even though they won the race. While I can understand the sentiment behind the claims, I can't help but feel as though this was something concocted by someone looking for a way to feel good about losing a race.

The reason I think that this is so ridiculous, is that a race has both a beginning and an end. The beginning, in the sport of motocross, is usually the dropping of the starting gate, while the end, is the waving of the checkered flag. The goal of the race, is to be the fastest to reach the checkered flag, not to have the fastest time in one segment of the race.

When you watch a sprint race at a competition like the Olympics, such as the 100 meter dash, you don't see them call the runner with the fastest 25 meter segment the fastest runner. So, assuming we're talking about a 20 lap Supercross class main event, does it not seem a little foolish to call a rider who may have put down the fastest lap, but not won the race, the fastest?

I guess it's a small bone to pick with what is probably a fairly small amount of people, but it's something that always puzzled me. In my eyes, the guy who crosses the finish line first was the fastest. They run the full duration of the race for a reason!

Saturday, 9 April 2011

St. Louis Supercross 450 class race report

After so many weeks of non-stop excitement and drama in the AMA Supercross class, it was almost too predictable that this weekends race in St. Louis would be somewhat  tame in comparison to what we have seen recently. However, many, myself included, chose to believe that the series would continue to shock us at every turn. Unfortunately, from my perspective, the main event didn't quite live up to its billing.

A battered Ivan Tedesco grabbed the holeshot on his H&H/Dodge Motorsports Kawasaki with Rockstar Makita Suzuki's Ryan Dungey and San Manuel Yamaha's James Stewart hot on his heels. TwoTwo Motorsport's own Chad Reed followed in fourth, with the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider, and current series points leader, Ryan Villopoto rounding out the top 5. Winner of last weeks race in Dallas, Honda Racing's Trey Canard, got a poor start and rounded the first lap in 15th.

Stewart quickly moved past Dungey and then Tedesco and set out to end his career-high 8 race winless streak. Dungey was quick to also get by Tedesco and looked to keep Stewart in his sights in an effort to win just his 2nd race of the season. Chad Reed was the next to get around Tedesco and he brought points leader Villopoto with him. Reed looked to be getting ready to make a run at Dungey for 2nd, when he hit some tough blocks laying on the track. This mistake allowed Villopoto to get by for 3rd spot as Reed was pushed back to 4th.

Meanwhile, Canard was working quickly through the pack after his disastrous start in an effort to keep his championship hopes alive. Canard's impressive ride through the pack provided the majority of the excitement among the championship contenders, and he was able to salvage a very respectable 5th place finish at the end. In fact, Canard at one point was able to get within 2 seconds of 4th place Reed, but the veteran was able to regroup and hold the rookie off.

In the end, Stewart was able to hold on and lead 19 of 20 laps in winning his 4th race of the 2011 season and closing the gap to the championship points lead to 16 points with 3 rounds left to run. Defending series champ, Ryan Dungey came home in 2nd and passed Reed for 2nd in the standings. He is just 5 points back of the lead. Ryan Villopoto finished 3rd, finishing on the podium for the 2nd week in a row after missing it for 2 consecutive weeks in both Jacksonville and Toronto. Villopoto had a scary moment in the second qualifying practice as he crashed in the whoops and got up slowly, but he was able to shake it off and get the job done when it counted.

The next stop on the 2011 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM world championship calendar is in Seattle, Washington. Seattle is an open-roof stadium in an area of the country that gets a fair amount of rain this time of year. Mud could play a huge role in the championship moving forward, and perhaps we're on the brink of heading back to some more of that non-stop excitement and drama that the series has made famous in 2011.

Supercross Heat 1
1. James Stewart
2. Ryan Villopoto
3. Ivan Tedesco
4. Kevin Windham
5. Chad Reed
6. Tommy Hahn
7. Weston Peick
8. Michael Byrne
9. Fabien Izoird

Supercross Heat 2
1. Ryan Dungey
2. Trey Canard
3. Davi Millsaps
4. Austin Stroupe
5. Andrew Short
6. Mike Alessi
7. Kyle Regal
8. Chris Blose
9. Tye Simmonds

Supercross LCQ

1. Nick Wey
2. Bobby Kiniry

Supercross Main
1. James Stewart
2. Ryan Dungey
3. Ryan Villopoto
4. Chad Reed
5. Trey Canard
6. Kevin Windham
7. Davi Millsaps
8. Ivan Tedesco
9. Austin Stroupe
10. Andrew Short
11. Tommy Hahn
12. Chris Blose
13. Nick Wey
14. Kyle Regal
15. Michael Byrne
16. Bobby Kiniry
17. Mike Alessi
18. Tye Simmonds
19. Fabien Izoird
20. Weston Peick

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Toronto Supercross race report

I wrote this report a couple of weeks ago when I got home from the race. Unfortunately, I'm not going to any more of the Supercross races left on the 2011 calendar, but I'm going to do my best to recap the action right here the day after.

Well, I've just stepped in the door after spending today at the Rogers Centre for round 12 of the 2011 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM world championship, and am barely able to process everything I witnessed. What an exciting night of racing it was!

All day and night long the rocky, rutty technical track caused havoc, particularly the monstrous whoops section. Many of the Lites riders spent the majority of practice trying to figure out a way to get through them safely, while the Supercross class riders were searching for ways to keep their momentum up.

One of the key elements of the Toronto track, was the long start straight that led into a left handed first corner that quickly turned back into a right handed turn into a sand section. This combination made a good start even more important than usual, as it seemed to separate the pack quite early.  This was especially evident in the Lites LCQ, as the top 3 riders on lap 1, remained in the top 3 to the finish. Taylor Futrell and Ricky Renner took the transfer spots, with Tyler Bright just missing out and being handed the Asterisk Medic card awarding him $250 for his efforts.

Speaking of LCQs, the Supercross class last chance race was a real thriller, featuring great battles between factory riders Andrew Short and Fabien Izoird, and well-known privateers Jason Thomas and Vince Friese. The last lap battling between Izoird and Thomas for the final transfer spot was well-appreciated by the fans. KTM 350 mounted Andrew Short managed to turn a 4th place start into a win after passing aforementioned Friese, Izoird and finally Thomas for the lead. While Izoird pressured Thomas for second, it allowed Friese to close in on the battle for the final transfer spot. However, a last-lap pass allowed the factory Monster Energy Kawasaki rider, Izoird, to put his KX450F into the main event by a mere 4 tenths of a second over Brother's Suzuki mounted Jason Thomas.

Lites Heat 1
1. Dean Wilson
2. Blake Baggett
3. Malcolm Stewart
4. Darryn Durham
5. Blake Wharton
6. PJ Larsen
7. Hunter Hewitt
8. Les Smith
9. Brad Ripple

Lites Heat 2
1. Justin Barcia
2. Gannon Audette
3. Lance Vincent
4. Matt Lemoine
5. Ryan Sipes
6. Justin Sipes
7. AJ Catanzaro
8. Alex Martin
9. Jason Anderson

The Lites main event saw Blake Wharton grabbing the holeshot and the early lead, just ahead of Blake Baggett, who would quickly throw it away in the sand section. Also up front, was Wharton's teammate at Geico Powersports Honda, and current Lites East championship points leader, Justin Barcia, as well as DNA Shredstix Star Racing Yamaha's Ryan Sipes. Sipes, though, was involved in an early altercation with the Geico teammates that saw him forced off the track and onto the concrete stadium floor. Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider, Dean Wilson, began quickly working his way up, as Barcia put the pass for the lead on Wharton. Eventually, Wilson found his way into second and began setting his sights on his rival who was trying to run away in the lead. On lap 9, Wilson was able to make the pass, and quickly pulled a couple of seconds on Barcia. He would easily hold on to the lead, eventually pulling a nearly 4 second gap at the finish. Blake Wharton would hold on to round out the podium, and JDR J-star KTM rider, PJ Larsen, would finish a season and career best 4th. Ryan Sipes rebounded in a fantastic ride to come back up to 5th place at the conclusion of the race.

While I'm on the topic of Ryan Sipes, I wanted to commend him for something that happened during Lites heat race #2. While Sipes was attempting to work his way through the pack, he tangled just before the finish line with rider number 498, Cody Robbins. Robbins went down in a heap and he rolled unconscious down the berm. It was a very scary moment, it seemed as if the racing on the rest of the track almost stopped. As soon as the race was finished, Ryan Sipes rode right over to make sure he was okay. He stayed a while, until Robbins eventually regained consciousness. Cody would eventually walk to the medic Mule with some assistance. It was a nasty looking situation, and the crowd cheered and clapped as Cody stood up.

Supercross Heat 1
1. Trey Canard
2. Ryan Dungey
3. Kevin Windham
4. Davi Millsaps
5. Nick Wey
6. Cole Seely
7. Chris Blose
8. Austin Stroupe
9. Matt Boni

Supercross Heat 2
1. James Stewart
2. Chad Reed
3. Ryan Villopoto
4. Ivan Tedesco
5. Michael Byrne
6. Weston Peick
7. Justin Brayton
8. Tye Simmonds
9. Mike Alessi

As the gate dropped on the Supercross main event, it was Fabien Izoird grabbing the holeshot from the outside gate choice. Transferring out of the LCQ usually means a poor chance at a good start, but Fabien pulled it off. Defending series champion, Rockstar Makita Suzuki's Ryan Dungey, would take over the lead very early in the race and never relinquish it, despite a slight off-track excursion for himself, and a solid charge by Two Two Motorsport's Chad Reed who would finish 2nd and inherit the championship points lead in the process. Rounding out the podium in 3rd, was Honda Racing's Trey Canard, winner of the series' last race a week ago in Jacksonville. Trey set the fastest laptime of the main event and stayed in the hunt early on, but seemed to fade just a litte towards the end.  A great ride was put in by San Manuel Yamaha rider, James Stewart,  to come home in 4th place. While I'm sure he wanted to take the win, he had a nearly last place start, and while moving through the field, ran into Monster Energy Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto, who led the points race coming into Toronto. Both riders went down, but Stewart remounted much quicker and continued charging through the pack. Villopoto, meanwhile, had to pull into the mechanics area momentarily to correct something with his KX450F. Villopoto would eventually claw his way up to 9th place and now sits 3 points behind Chad Reed with 5 rounds still to be run in the series.

In a series that has had more ups and downs than any rollercoaster I've ever been on, it's starting to look like the consistency of Ryan Dungey and Chad Reed is going to keep them right in the title hunt to the end. It will be interesting now to see what defending champ Dungey can do now that he's got a win under his built. We saw last season how dangerous he can be when he's confident and gets on a roll.
After all that I witnessed tonight, the only thing I can think of now, is how much I can't wait until next Saturday! Somehow, I don't think we've seen the last bit of craziness yet...

Lites Main
1. Dean Wilson
2. Justin Barcia
3. Blake Wharton
4. PJ Larsen
5. Ryan Sipes
6. Blake Baggett
7. Gannon Audette
8. Hunter Hewitt
9. Darryn Durham
10. Matt Lemoine
11. Justin Sipes
12. Les Smith
13. AJ Catanzaro
14. Alex Martin
15. Lance Vincent
16. Ricky Renner
17. Taylor Futrell
18. Brad Ripple
19. Malcolm Stewart
20. Jason Anderson

Supercross Main
1. Ryan Dungey
2. Chad Reed
3. Trey Canard
4. James Stewart
5. Justin Brayton
6. Nick Wey
7. Andrew Short
8. Kevin Windham
9. Ryan Villopoto
10. Cole Seely
11. Davi Millsaps
12. Weston Peick
13. Fabien Izoird
14. Michael Byrne
15. Tye Simmonds
16. Matt Boni
17. Chris Blose
18. Ivan Tedesco
19. Austin Stroupe
20. Mike Alessi