Irvine, Calif. – In the frigid air of the desert in Phoenix, Ariz., Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto fought to his first podium of the season at Round 2 of Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM Championship at Chase Field on Saturday. Villopoto started the night with a third-place finish in his heat race to transfer to the main event. When the gate dropped for the main, Villopoto was battling his way to the front before sliding out in a corner. Destined for the podium, he quickly remounted his KX™450F and fought to take second place. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer rode consistent to sixth place. In the 250SX class, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Martin Davalos recovered from a spectacular crash in his heat race to finish on the podium in third. Teammate Tyla Rattray recovered from a first lap incident to finish 12th. Blake Baggett injured his wrist last week in Anaheim and after trying to ride in practice, decided not to race.
Don’t Call it a Comeback
After a disappointing start to the season in Anaheim, Villopoto began his mission to regain the points lead. He was at the top of the charts all day, qualifying hundredths of a second off of the fastest time. In the heat race Villopoto overcame a mid-pack start and finished third. When the gate dropped for the main event, he quickly made some passes and rounded the first lap in third. Pushing the limits and making time on the leaders, Villopoto made a small mistake and lost the front end on the slick and difficult dirt. Remounting just inside the top-10, he put on a charge to the front. Villopoto methodically made his way through the pack, passing for the second on the last lap. He now sits seventh overall in the points standings.
“Tonight was a lot better than Anaheim,” said Villopoto. “I wasn’t too happy with my heat race, but the main was a step in the right direction. It still wasn’t quite what I wanted, but the potential is there. We’re continuing to work on the bike during the week and working to adapt to the different conditions each week. If we can stay on the box every weekend we should be in good shape.”
Determined and Driven
Davalos showed impressive speed at last week’s season opener, but was unable to get the results he deserved due to a first turn pile-up. In Phoenix, he was ready to get back on top. In his heat race, Davalos got off to a great start on his KX™250F and latched on to the rear wheel of the leader. Searching for a place to pass, he made a move with two laps remaining, but a mistake in the rhythm section sent him flying through the air in spectacular fashion off the track. Although physically beat up from the crash, Davalos went out and won the last chance qualifier and lined up for the main event in the very outside gate. As the gate dropped he rocketed down the start straight and swept around the outside, nearly missing the holeshot but taking the lead shortly after. Davalos led for more than half the 15-lap race before dropping third place and taking his first podium of the season in third.
“My day started really well,” said Davalos. “Everything was going great until I made a mistake and got kicked over the quad. I got a great start in the main and led for a while, but started to tighten up and finished third. Considering my night I’m really happy with third and we’ll rest up this week and be ready next weekend.”
Unlike many of the top contenders having one off-weekend so far, Weimer has been very consistent. In Phoenix he hovered around the top-five times in qualifying and in his heat race he raced to third place. In the main event, Weimer got a good start from the inside on his KX450F and rounded the first turn in the top-five. He dropped to sixth and held a steady gap over the rest of the field to finish there. Weimer sits sixth in the points standings and remains itching to make the podium.
“I was in good position off the start of the main,” said Weimer. “The first lap I struggled getting into a flow and was coming up short in spots and over-jumping in others. I couldn’t quite get into my groove and made too many mistakes. I need to step it up and continue to improve during the week so I’m ready to race on Saturday.”
Rattray’s day started slow as it took him a few laps to get a good feel for the slick conditions at Chase Field. In his heat race he quietly raced to a solid fifth place finish and was ready for the main event. Rattray hugged the inside around the first turn and came out inside the top-10, but moments later he tangled with another rider before the whoops, which ruined his momentum and shuffled him to the back of the field. Rattray was able to climb back to 12th place and sits seventh overall in the points standings.
“I struggled with the track tonight,” said Rattray. “After tangling with a guy before the whoops, my hand came off the bars and set me way back. It was really tough to pass and the only time you could make a clean pass was if someone made a mistake. The track was really slick, but I’m going to keep my head up and try to do better at Anaheim 2.”
Wrong Place, Wrong Time
Last weekend in Anaheim, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Baggett was clipped by another rider’s rear wheel amongst a pile-up, dislocating his wrist. In agonizing pain, Baggett soldiered through the full 15 laps in hopes of salvaging points and being able to continue. Unfortunately, after riding the first two qualifying practices, the track was too strenuous on his wrist and he was forced to pull out of competition. He will have his wrist further diagnosed this week and will be back in action as soon as possible.
Top Tech Award
After Davalos rebounded from such a horrific crash in his heat race to win the LCQ and finish on the podium, his mechanic Dave Feeney was awarded the Top Technician Award this weekend recognizing him for his work on Saturday. After the heat race, Feeney was forced to work quickly to repair the bike and get him down to the start line for the LCQ. After a LCQ win and a podium finish in the main event, his hard work was well worth it.
Twitter Fan Question of the Week
Each week we will feature a question submitted by fans following us on Twitter @Kawasaki_Racing. Using the hashtag #MEKQA, fans can submit questions they’d like to ask their favorite Kawasaki riders. This week @mxmichelle191 asked where the riders stay when they travel each weekend to the races?
“Most of the races we stay at hotels,” said Villopoto. “We can sleep at home during the SoCal races, but every other race we stay at a hotel nearby. Myself and some of the top riders, will also bring motorhomes to the track to have somewhere to relax and get ready in between races. This weekend in Phoenix was super cold, so it was great to have somewhere warm to escape the cold.”
A cold front hit the Phoenix area leading up to Saturday creating below freezing temperatures. Experts claim it had been over 20 years since the Phoenix area had seen such frigid weather. Riders on Saturday could be seen bundled up to stay warm and taking a few extra minutes doing warm-up exercises before taking to the gate. Chase Field was the first stadium built in the United States with a retractable roof, but with temperatures that low, the roof remained closed throughout the day.
Back to Cali
Round 3 of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship returns to Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif., for the second of three visits, dubbed “A2”. Villopoto will be looking to continue to climb up the standings and return to the familiar spot on top of the podium on January 19, 2013.