Irvine, Calif. – Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto extended his points lead with a dominant overall victory on his 23rd birthday at Unadilla Sports Valley Center in New Berlin, N.Y. during the ninth round of the AMA Motocross Championship series. The win was his second of the season, but the first aboard the 2012 Kawasaki KX™450F. Teammate Jake Weimer also debuted the new bike and tied his best finish of the season in sixth overall with a 5-6 result. In the 250 class, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Dean Wilson made no mistake that his moto score would add up to his first overall victory as he dominated the day with a 1-1 result. Teammate Blake Baggett finished in the runner-up spot with a come-from-behind 2-3 moto score, while Tyla Rattray and Broc Tickle overcame tough moto scores to finish 11th and 18th, respectively.
Villopoto started his birthday scoring the fastest qualifying time and those fast times carried over into the two grueling motos. Although the weather was beautiful, the track was tough, but Villopoto quickly made his way to the front to lead both motos before the halfway mark.
“I knew that I would be bummed today with anything less than a win and I was able to put two good motos together,” said Villopoto. “It was great to get the opportunity to try out the new KX450F and it seems to fit me well already. This win came at a great time and helped me move six more points into the lead.”
With podium finishes in all but one race this season, Wilson has proven to be a constant threat with his consistency. His moto scores have been close to overall victories, but it was at Unadilla, with a 1-1 moto score that Wilson felt the bliss of victory.
“It feels amazing to finally get my first win,” said Wilson. “I have been chasing for nine rounds now and I was thinking it might never come. One thing that seemed different today was that I told myself to have fun and enjoy myself out there. I was whipping it and trying to have the best time I could. It seemed to work. I felt good in both motos. Hopefully this confidence can carry over into the final three rounds.”
Not far behind Wilson was his teammate Baggett who was able to run down the top competitors on the track to make his way onto the podium once again. In both motos, he had a tough time getting into a groove, but that didn’t stop him from making his usual charge to the front to finish the day with a 2-3 moto score for second overall.
“I didn’t really feel like myself today and I think that made me a little more cautious when I tried to push to the front,” said Baggett. “Dean rode really good today and I am happy to at least have gotten on the podium again. I could have lost a lot more points with the way I felt today and it’s good to know that I still have three races left to give it everything I’ve got.”
Another Great Debut
Along with Villopoto, Weimer was also debuting the 2012 Kawasaki KX450F at Unadilla. Right away Weimer showed that he was able to put the power to the ground with two great starts and rode with some of his best speed of the season. Although a collision with another rider in the second moto pushed him outside the top-five, he was still able to tie his season-best finish of sixth with a 5-6 moto score.
“I am really having fun with the new bike and I know it showed out there on the track,” said Weimer. “I was really hoping to break into the top-five, but we were almost there and I am really looking forward to getting back out on the track in two weeks.”
Still Showing Speed
Overall the day didn’t go how Rattray had planned, but despite it all, he showed heart and his true grit spirit. In the first moto, he came from outside the top-10 to fight his way onto the podium in third. The second moto started out with a crash on the opening lap that forced him to retire from the race a few laps later.
“It was hard to pull in because I knew it was pretty much going to cost me the championship, but I didn’t feel like I was good enough to keep going. I hit my head pretty good, but I’m doing better. All I can do now is go back out there in the final three races, do what I can to win, and get as many points as possible to give myself a chance. I won’t give up until the end.”
Don’t Back Down
AMA Supercross Lites, Western Region Champion Broc Tickle continues to show his competitive spirit, despite coming across bad luck several times over the season. In the first moto, Tickle was forced to retire early with a bike issue after colliding with another rider. In the second moto a tough start had him pushing his Kawasaki KX250F through the field to finish 13th and end the day with 18th overall.
“This motocross season has been tough on me with bad luck pulling me out of a several motos,” said Tickle. “I can’t get too down on myself over random mishaps, but I know I should be in the top five, so I get a little frustrated when I am sitting on the sidelines. I’ll do all I can do and hope that I can make my move to the top five over the next few races.”
With six motos left, the points battles in both the 250 and 450 classes continue to heat up. With their wins, both Villopoto and Wilson extended their points lead over their competition. Villopoto now leads the 450 class by seven points over second place, while Wilson continued to put a gap on his teammates to lead Baggett by 25 points.
“At this point in the season, it’s definitely good to have the points lead, but it isn’t over until the last checkered flag,” said Villopoto. “I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing and try to put more points on the board.”
One Win Already
The race at Unadilla was a special one for the riders of the Monster Energy Kawasaki team as their hard work over the break resulted in a big debut of the 2012 Kawasaki KX™450F. With several improvements including improved chassis and enhanced ergonomics, both Villopoto and Weimer proved the bike is capable of pushing the limits on the track.
“The bike has been really easy to transition to from the 2011 model,” said Villopoto. “Obviously the 2011 bike has been good to me since I won the AMA Supercross championship on it, but Kawasaki has found a way to make the bike even better. I’m really happy that we get to finish out the season on it.’
Another big moment that took place during a busy day of racing was the announcement of Team USA for Motocross of Nations. Villopoto and Baggett were asked to be a part of the three-man team in September at Le Circuit du Put de Poursay in Saint Jean D’Angely, France. The riders will join Wilson at the event as the team representing Great Britain selected the Scottish rider for the second-straight year.
One More Break
The series will get its one more break before the final stretch for the remaining three races. After one weekend off, the AMA Motocross Championship series will stay in the Northeast as the riders make their way to MX338 in Southwick, Mass.