Villopoto becomes first 2012 two time winner, retakes series lead

. By Lance Thruxton
Tomac continues West Lites domination run

By Jon Row

No one predicted it would take five race rounds to see a repeat winner in the 2012 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, but that’s what happened. Series promoter Feld Entertainment hyped the impressive four-races, four-brands, four-winners clash all week in its promotions. The advertising along with some discounted seats resulted in a well-filled stadium. The near-capacity 45,000+ fans were assured their money’s worth as the series points tie between Ryan Dungey and Chad Reed among other things, guaranteed a turning point event for the top contenders.

Track builder Dirt Wurx made interesting last minute changes to the course layout. Unlike some other stadiums, Anaheim uses the same dirt every year, imported from their employee parking lot where it masquerades as pavement all summer long. Dirt Wurx used Anaheim’s adobe to give A-2 the deepest whoops seen so far this year. The track is typically harder packed than A-1 because Monster Truck races are held in between. Dirt Wurx offset the hard stuff by hauling in two sand sections. The overall result provided spectacular rooster tails and enough outdoor-like features to make it almost feel like real Motocross.

Supercross Class

Ryan Villopoto indeed demonstrated a mastery of Anaheim again but not without some challenges. RV had to overcome a miserable heat start running as low as ninth until Millsaps, Alessi and Weimer sequentially crashed out of the lead in front of him.

Oakland winner James Stewart rode only 3 ½ laps of his heat before stupefying everyone and himself by turning a runaway, six-second lead into a DNF. With a clean track in front and no pressure behind, Stewart inexplicably rode on the ragged edge until he launched off a whoop face and burrowed himself into Anaheim’s smog scented soil. It was a hard crash. After receiving Asterisk medical team attention Stewart was able to walk off the track slowly but unaided. The crowd reaction however made it evident that James’ 4,778 Facebook friends were all somewhere else. His transfer to the final was only salvaged by winning the Last Chance Qualifier and then overcoming its correspondingly lousy gate pick in the main. All of which must have raised the Gibb’s team stomach acid levels to the point of needing some Muscle Milk of their own.

Ryan Dungey capitalized on Stewart’s crash and held off the slightly ailing Chad Reed to win the heat. (Reed reportedly had a mild flu bug.) Both also had to get past fast qualifier and lone Team Honda survivor Justin Brayton. Brayton rode brilliantly the whole night. No one bested his qualifying time and his tenacity showed he can probably steal a main event win this year.

After so much heat race drama, the SX main seemed downright orderly. RV nailed the start but let Reed by momentarily before retaking the lead on the first lap and then steadily pulled away from the field. RV was in complete control, using more of the track than his challengers and pushing the berms further out on each lap. Brayton gave both Stewart and Dungey plenty to deal with as they each worked up from poor starts. Stewart was up to third quickly and made an almost courteous pass on Reed to take over second place on lap 8. Reed didn’t let Stewart gain much ground, keeping the pressure on in hopes of another Stewart gaffe. Dungey had a tougher time getting past sixth place finisher Kevin Windham and took a full 12 laps to dislodge Brayton from fourth. After that, the top four all appeared to remember it was only race 5 of 17 and decided to forego late lap heroics. They left Anaheim with only 13 points separating them.

Anaheim 2’s antics and results gives some insight for the remainder of the year. Barring injury, the heavyweight series will likely remain a four-way battle till the end. The top four are still vulnerable to bad starts and early lap mayhem. Stewart the most, Reed perhaps the least. Injuries have taken SX winners Canard, Hill and Grant out of the fight plus Stroupe, Morias, Tedesco and Blose. Mid-pack starts now present a less talented field to work through. This means the top four will be battling each other more at the front regardless of their starts. The bottom line: RV, Dungey, Stewart and Reed are about as closely matched as it gets and can all prevail on a given night. With the season’s second dominant win Villopoto has reinforced he’s unbeatable when given the slightest breathing room. Expect the other three to each demonstrate the same thing before the season is over. It’s going to be fun watching.

Western Regional Supercross Lites Class war nearing the end?

Eli Tomac’s Anaheim 2 win was exactly what the Factory Connection/Geico Honda team needed from him to put the pressure on Dean Wilson and archrival Pro Circuit Kawasaki. If A-1 winner Cole Seely hadn’t stepped off in a sweeper A2 could have been a real cliffhanger. Seely headed Tomac for three laps before sliding out but remounted quickly enough to retain second place. KTM’s Marvin Musquin in 3rd overall held series runner up Wilson to a disappointing fourth which now tips the championship odds significantly.
With just three West Lites Series rounds left, Tomac now has enough points over Wilson to clinch the title without having to win an additional event.

Why the young guns fly

The Supercross Lites class is producing fever pitched events at every round again this year. Part of that is thanks to OEM support team relationships. Primarily Kawasaki and Honda. Incentives and bonuses for post recession “Lites Land” is now focused almost exclusively on event wins and championships. Heroic seconds and thirds in this class pay little more than lunch money, which is why these guys are on flat-out win missions every race. In railing A-2, Tomac’s best lap time would have had him ahead of all the 450s except Villopoto. If Seely had been riding against the big guys he’d have been a mere .03 seconds off Stewart’s best pace. Pretty impressive!

The battlefield moves to San Diego’s Qualcomm stadium next weekend.

Supercross Class Final

1. Ryan Villopoto (Kawasaki)

2. James Stewart (Yamaha)

3. Chad Reed (Honda)
4. Ryan Dungey (KTM)

5. Justin Brayton (Honda)

6. Kevin Windham (Honda)

7. Davi Millsaps (Yamaha)

8. Mike Alessi (Suzuki)

9. Brett Metcalfe (Suzuki)

10. Broc Tickle (Kawasaki)

Supercross Lites Class Final
1. Eli Tomac (Honda)

2. Cole Seely (Honda)

3. Marvin Musquin (KTM)

4. Dean Wilson (Kawasaki)

5. Nico Izzi (Yamaha)

6. Michael Leib (Honda)

7. Matt Moss (KTM)

8. Vince Friese (Honda)

9. Travis Baker (Honda)

10. Martin Davalos (Suzuki)

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Tags: 2012, supercross, anaheim 2