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

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