AURORA, Ill. (April 8, 2013) – Despite winning the title in Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, for the past two seasons, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto has never experienced the sort of dominance he’s carrying in to Saturday’s first visit to Minneapolis since the 2008 season. The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome will be the sight of the 14th race of the championship, which will signify the highly anticipated return of the world’s fastest riders to the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.”
Broadcast coverage of the 450SX Class can be seen via next-day coverage on CBS, beginning at 12 noon EST. Coverage of the 250SX Class can be seen on SPEED at 4:30 p.m. EST.
Media day is Thursday, April 11, from Noon-2:00 p.m., featuring Red Bull KTM riders Ryan Dungey, a Minnesota native, and Marvin Musquin. Additionally, MyPlash/Metal Mulisha/Star Yamaha rider Jeremy Martin, a Minnesota native, will be on hand.
During his two championship-winning efforts in 2011 and 2012, Villopoto captured a total of six and nine races, respectively. However, prior to last Saturday night Villopoto had never won more than four races consecutively. This past weekend in Houston, Villopoto led all 20 laps of the Main Event to win his fifth straight race and extend his points lead to 21 points over Rockstar Energy Racing’s Davi Millsaps.
“Getting five in-a-row is incredible,” said Villopoto, who now has a class-leading eight wins this season. “We’ve come a long way since Anaheim and have constantly improved to the point where we are now on top. The field is so close that you really need to have everything dialed in order to win and we’ve been able to do that these past few weeks.”
The victory continues a dominant second half of the season for Villopoto, who faced a 27-point deficit in the championship following the sixth race of the season. Since then, Villopoto has won six of the last seven races with a worst finish of second, resulting in a virtually unbeatable 1.14 finishing average. Villopoto has outscored Millsaps, who led the championship for the first nine races of the season, by a 48-point margin over his impressive seven-race stretch, which now puts him into a comfortable position in the standings heading into the final month of competition. Villopoto has the opportunity to equal his career-best season win total of nine on Saturday night in Minneapolis.
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Villopoto’s most formidable challenger over the last seven races, and again in Houston, was Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey. The former champion still sits third in the championship standings, but has moved to within four points of Millsaps for second. His runner-up effort in Houston extended his current podium streak to four races, giving him a total of nine podium finishes this season. Dungey now sits 25 points behind Villopoto heading into what is arguably his most anticipated race of the season.
A native of Belle Plaine, Minn., Dungey grew up mere minutes outside of Minneapolis. The Monster Energy Supercross race inside the Metrodome was attended regularly by the Dungey family and it also served as the sight of a breakout performance for the KTM rider who stole a surprise runner-up finish during the 2008 race during a guest appearance in the 450SX Class. This marks the championship’s first visit to the state since that memorable night for Dungey.
Since winning his second race of the season at the sixth stop of the championship, Millsaps has experienced the ups and downs that comes with racing for a title. Through the first eight races of the season Millsaps averaged a second-place finish. Since then, he has finished on the podium once and his average finished has dropped to 5.4 over the past five races. In Houston, Millsaps had to overcome getting caught up in an incident on the opening lap of the race, eventually battling his way from ninth to fifth.
The trio of riders has separated themselves from the rest of the 450SX Class field in the standings and the championship will likely be won by one of them. While 25 points separate Villopoto, Millsaps, and Dungey, 50 points sit between Dungey and Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Justin Barcia in fourth.
The last time Monster Energy Supercross visited Minneapolis in 2008, Dodge/Sycuan/RCH Racing Suzuki’s Josh Hill broke through for his first career victory, fending off Dungey and his home crowd push.
The Eastern Regional 250SX Class Championship welcomed its fourth different winner in Houston as Rockstar Energy Racing’s Blake Wharton captured his third career victory with an impressive performance. After grabbing the early lead, Wharton gave up the position to Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musqin on the opening lap, but fought back to reclaim the position a lap later and lead the final 14 laps of competition.
“We had a weekend off with Easter, but I trained and did my thing,” said Wharton. “There’s no rest even with a weekend off; these guys are riding good. It’s the first win of the season for me. It was a little slower than I’d like to have done it, but it’s a win and it’s Houston, which is always awesome.”
In his attempt to track Wharton down again and resume the battle for the lead, Musquin lost control in the whoops and careened off the track, giving up second place to GEICO Honda’s Wil Hahn. Musquin carried a three-race winning streak into Houston, but saw his hopes of continuing that streak come to an end with the incident.
Hahn closed to within a wheel of Wharton and made multiple attempts to pass for the lead. The pair battled for several laps, bringing the crowd to its feet. Several mistakes by Hahn in the duo’s heated battle ultimately prevented him from making the pass, but his runner-up finish maintained Hahn’s distinction as the only rider in the Eastern Regional Championship to finish on the podium in every race.
Musquin held on to the third position, but now sits eight points behind Hahn in the championship standings. Wharton, who sits third, moved to within 23 points of Hahn.
Only two races remain in the Eastern Regional Championship, but the return to Minneapolis will be lead into a two-week break from competition before the season finale in Las Vegas. The rider able to gain an edge in Minneapolis will have much needed momentum heading into the last race of the year.
The last 250SX Class race in Minneapolis in 2008 saw Villopoto edge out Josh Grant for the win. It was Villopoto’s first win of that season and led to a three-race winning streak en route to finishing second in the championship.
Tickets are available at all Ticketmaster Outlets, charge by phone at (800) 745-3000, www.supercrossonline.com, or online at www.ticketmaster.com. Practice and qualifying begin at 12:30 p.m. and the main event starts at 7:00 p.m. Club tickets are $52, Gold Circle tickets are $40, 400 Lower Level Loge tickets are $28, Upper View Sideline tickets are $20, and Treadhead seats are $10. Fans can also get into the Pits for FREE from 12:30-6 p.m. race day when they recycle a MONSTER Energy Can at the stadium’s can redemption locations at either Plaza Central or Broadway Central (valid only with event ticket).