MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Just one day after the dramatic conclusion of one of the most competitive American Motocross seasons in recent memory, MX Sports Pro Racing and Alli, the Alliance of Action Sports, welcomed hundreds of members of the motocross industry to Pechanga Resort & Casino, in Temecula, Calif., for the third annual Season Celebration. An enjoyable evening honored this season’s champions in the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship and the AMA ATV Motocross Championship by DWT, in addition to the many individuals who played an integral part in this summer’s success.
Sunday’s celebration served as the final opportunity for all members of the professional motocross community to come together as a whole and pay their respects to the members and moments that highlighted the most prestigious motocross championships on the planet. The top 10 finishers from each class of competition-the 450 Class, 250 Class, WMX Class, and ATV Pro-were given well-deserved recognition for their efforts, while SPEED and NBC Sports announcer Jason Weigandt emceed the evening’s festivities, taking a humorous look back at the 2011 season.
For the first time since 2008, Monster Energy Kawasaki claimed the premier-class title. Ryan Villopoto, who returned to American Motocross full-time this summer after two injury-marred years, earned his fourth AMA Pro Motocross Championship. Throughout the season, Villopoto was challenged relentlessly by Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey and TwoTwo Motorsports/Bel-Ray Racing’s Chad Reed. This trio of global superstars traded victories and points throughout the 12 rounds of competition, and the title wasn’t decided until the checkered flag flew for the final time at Pala Raceway.
In the end, Villopoto compiled an impressive season, led by three overall victories and podium results at each round. He also led the most laps in the 450 Class (144) and possessed the best average finish in the division (2.3). With the 2011 AMA Supercross title to his credit earlier in the season, Villopoto became the 12th rider in AMA history to sweep the season championships, and now, the coveted Edison Dye Motocross Cup will reside at Kawasaki’s headquarters in Irvine, Calif.
Kawasaki also took championship honors in the 250 Class, as Dean Wilson gave Mitch Payton’s Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team its ninth AMA Pro Motocross title. In just his second season of professional competition, the Scotland-born Wilson was statistically the best rider in American Motocross. Although he had the fewest overall wins in the division (three), Wilson led the entire series in moto wins (11), laps led (150), average finish (2.1), and total points (538). He also led the way for the most dominant season in history by one team in this class, as Pro Circuit won all 12 rounds of the season, took the top spot in 23 of 24 motos, and swept the championship podium with Wilson, Tyla Rattray, and Blake Baggett. As a result, the Gary Jones Motocross Cup will be on display at Pro Circuit’s global headquarters in Corona, Calif.
The Motorcycle-Superstore.com Women’s Motocross Championship once again featured a showdown between the division’s two biggest stars-American Honda’s Ashley Fiolek and DNA Shred Stix/Star Racing Yamaha’s Jessica Patterson-adding to their rivalry that has simmered since the 2008 season. After trading victories throughout all eight rounds of competition this summer, Fiolek came out triumphant in the end, securing her third title in four years as a pro and bringing the Women’s Motocross Cup back to Honda’s Torrance, Calif., headquarters following a one-year hiatus.
After one of the most competitive AMA ATV Motocross Championships in history, a familiar name was on top at the conclusion of 11 rounds. Motoworks/Can-Am’s John Natalie, one of the most recognizable names in ATV Motocross, secured his second career title in 2011, outlasting a young, talented field of riders. Natalie took three overall victories in a wild season that was missing the series’ previous two champions, giving the Canadian Can-Am brand its inaugural ATV Motocross Championship and the Gary Denton Motocross Cup.
While the champions of the sport were deservedly honored with special awards, MX Sports Pro Racing and Alli Sports also recognized the most successful first-year riders of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship and AMA ATV Motocross Championship. ARMA Energy/Suzuki City’s Malcolm Stewart was recognized as the Motocross Rookie of the Year, following an 11th-place finish in the 250 Class, while Marissa Markelon concluded her first season in women’s motocross with an impressive sixth-place finish, resulting in WMX Rookie of the Year accolades. In ATV Motocross, Makson Construction/JB Racing Honda rider Joel Hetrick’s two overall wins in the final three rounds vaulted him to fifth in the championship and earned him Rookie of the Year honors for four wheels.
MX Sports Pro Racing and Alli Sports also recognized Chad Reed with the 2011 Sportsperson of the Year award. Reed headed into the 2011 season without a ride for the first time in his career, but rather than walk away from the sport, he decided to embark on a new venture and start his own team, TwoTwo Motorsports. After a stellar AMA Supercross season, Reed took the first half of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship by storm, winning four of the first six rounds. At Spring Creek, he experienced what may have been the most frightening crash in the sport’s history, but despite a 30-foot fall, he reentered the race and salvaged his points lead. While his fortunes changed over the second half of the season, Reed never gave up, ultimately transforming from an underdog to a title contender. He experienced a rejuvenation of his career and also returned to the favor of the fans, ultimately becoming the most popular rider in the sport. As a result of his refusal to quit in the face of adversity, Reed was recognized for his successful venture and on-track success.
Other awards presented on Sunday evening included:
Moto Moment: Chad Reed’s Millville Crash
Decision of the Year: American Honda-Justin Barcia’s move to the 450 Class
Motocross Team of the Year: Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
Motocross Manufacturer of the Year: Kawasaki
ATV Sportsperson of the Year: Chad Wienen
ATV Manufacturer of the Year: Can-Am
Transport Driver of the Year: Scott Slocum
Motocross Team Manager of the Year: Christina Denny
ATV Team Manager of the Year: Mark Baldwin
For more information on the 2011 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, please log on to www.allisports.com/motocross. For more information on the 2011 AMA ATV Motocross Championship by DWT, log onto www.atvmotocross.com.