Irvine, Calif. – Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Justin Hill earned his first career Monster Energy Supercross victory on Saturday night at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. Hill rode smooth all day and withstood the pressure of leading late in the race to capture his first victory on his KX250F™. Hill took over the lead when Dean Wilson crashed on the second lap and damaged his bike. After some quick work in the mechanics’ area to get back out on track, Wilson finished 21st.
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto battled with the leader all night on the tough technical track and finished in second place, leaving California with the series points lead. His teammate Jake Weimer had a crash in practice and was unable to race after chipping a bone in his wrist and having his shoulder pop out. Weimer will be evaluated this week to find the full extent of his injuries.
Feels Like the First Time
Hill has been riding strong all season and even led laps at Oakland, and on Saturday night he was able to cross the finish line ahead of everyone and feel the joy of winning a supercross race. Hill learned a lot the first time he led a race in Oakland and he put those lessons to good use in San Diego leading 14 laps en route to his victory.
“This is just an awesome feeling,” said Hill. “Wow, I’m so excited right now to get the win. The track was difficult and I knew I had to stay focused the entire race. I was so focused I missed the white flag so I thought I still had another lap to go when I got the checkers. Tonight has just been amazing.”
All day long Villopoto and all of the riders battled a technical track that was poised to force mistakes. In the main event, the Washington native rocketed out of the starting gate and nearly grabbed the holeshot. As they crossed the line on the first lap RV was sitting in second and keeping pressure on the leader. For the entire 20-lap main event, Villopoto stalked the leader and was able to pull up right to his rear fender on multiple occasions. But with the deteriorating dirt it was nearly impossible to find a spot to make a pass. With his runner-up finish, Villopoto extends his points lead to nine markers.
“The track was really tough to find a spot to make a pass,” said Villopoto. “We had a good race and I was right on James the whole time but catching him is one thing and passing him is another. I think we were both riding the track to its maximum and if I pushed any harder it could have meant a mistake. Right now we have the points lead as the series heads East and I’m going to keep racing and hold on to this red number plate.”
Wilson was looking to ride the momentum of his win last week in Anaheim, and he looked to be on pace after winning his heat race. The Scottish rider looked good all day on the track and in the main event, he got a good start and was able to lead the first lap. After a crash on the second lap where his bike was landed on, he had to go to the mechanics’ area and his team quickly removed a broken front brake disc so he could continue.
“Tonight is disappointing,” said Wilson. “After last week’s win, I thought we would be in a better position but the crash really set me back. My guys did a great job fixing the bike so I could get back out, but in supercross, anytime in the mechanics area is just too much to overcome.”
As the main event progressed, Villopoto was looking for any advantage he could get to get around the leader. One spot where he was doing something different was after the big double. Most riders would stay inside on the left hand turn but Villopoto started railing the outside and tripling out of the corner.
“I’m not sure if that line was any faster, but it felt a little more secure,” said Villopoto. “The inside was getting more slick as the race went on and it looked like if you were too aggressive you might make a mistake. I started taking the outside and tripling because I felt I could stay aggressive and charge.”
With the San Diego round serving as a Military Appreciation Supercross the Monster Energy Kawasaki team showed their support with a special graphics scheme. Both riders also displayed their support through themed gear and patches. Also Villopoto, Weimer, Wilson, Hill and Darryn Durham visited with former service members at Operation Homefront on Friday before the race.
Monster Energy Supercross heads to Texas next Saturday, with the Dallas event marking the first Eastern Regional race. A fresh crop of faces will be racing in the 250SX class including Blake Baggett, Adam Cianciarulo and Martin Davalos for the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team.