Kawasaki-Villopot-Off-Road-5-21-13Irvine, Calif. – Three weeks after wrapping up his third-consecutive Monster Energy Supercross championship, Ryan Villopoto kicked off the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship with a dominating 1-1 performance. Villopoto took over the lead before the halfway point in both motos and was unchallenged, winning by more than 20 seconds. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer finished 13th, while Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Tyla Rattray and Dean Wilson finished ninth and 14th, respectively. In the 250 class, defending champion Blake Baggett finished second overall. His teammates Justin Hill, Darryn Durham, and Martin Davalos finished 10th, 14th, and 17th respectively, to open the season.

Making it Look Easy
After fighting for a third straight supercross title the last four months, Villopoto did not have much time to prepare for his first outdoor season since 2011. You would have never known it though, as he handled the competition to take the lead in both motos and win by more than 20 seconds. Monster Energy Kawasaki are some of the few that are running the new triple chamber air fork, which Villopoto put to the test and demonstrated how well it worked on the rough Hangtown track.

Irvine, Calif. – In the mecca of motocross, Southern California’s own Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett secured the 2012 AMA Pro 250 Motocross Championship, Saturday at Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park in Lake Elsinore, Calif. Baggett took the final checkered flag on his KX™250F in style, taking his fifth overall win of the season with a 1-2 moto score. In the 450 class, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Broc Tickle finished the season out strong going 3-3 for third overall and finished sixth overall in the championship. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer came out on top of a tight points battle and secured third overall in the championship and fifth overall on the day. Teammate Tyla Rattray quietly finished fourth overall and climbed to 10th in the championship standings.

After finishing off of the podium the past two rounds, Baggett came into the season finale ready to show everyone why he has held the red-plate for all 12 rounds. The first moto saw Baggett ride a near perfect moto. He started amongst the top-three and immediately headed to the front, taking the lead on lap five and never looking back. In 100-degree heat, Baggett won by 14-seconds and while the other top finishers couldn’t even make it to the podium due to heat issues, Baggett high-fived the fans that lined the fence surrounding the podium. He only needed to finish 13th or better in the second moto to clinch the title, but Baggett prefers nothing but to win. Nearly last place off the start of Moto 2, Baggett charged to the front and was catching the leader until a tip-over forced him to settle for second. Baggett claimed his fifth overall win of the season and his first professional title.

Irvine, Calif. – Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett commanded his fourth overall win of the 2012 AMA Pro Motocross Championship at Moto-X 338 in Southwick, Mass., with an exciting late-race pass to steal the win with a 3-1 moto result. Baggett battled through erratic weather, a challenging track, and a field of hungry competitors to extend his point lead and keep the red plates on his KX™250F for the ninth-consecutive round.

In the 450 class, teammate Broc Tickle rode skillfully throughout the day to earn his second podium of the season, landing in third place with a 6-4 result. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Tyla Rattray grabbed the second moto win, his first moto win in the 450 class, but problems in the first moto saw him finish fifth overall with a 20-1 result.  Teammate Jake Weimer showed speed all day, but a few mistakes would leave him finishing 18th with a 13-19 moto result.

Irvine, Calif. – The AMA Pro Motocross Championships headed to the heart of Texas for Round 2 at Freestone County Raceway in Wortham, Texas for heated racing and hot temperatures. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett put in two strong rides to finish second overall with a 2-2 moto score and retains the red plate signifying his points lead. Teammate Ivan Tedesco had his work cut out for him after going down in the first corner of both motos, but rallied through to finish 19th overall. In the 450 class, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer finished 3-6 on the day for fourth overall after also coming back from a first turn crash. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Broc Tickle finished a strong seventh in Moto 1, but was unable to finish Moto 2. In the WMX class, Monster Energy Kawasaki Team Green’s Meghan Rutledge rode to a consistent 3-3 for third overall.

No Sweat
After going 1-1 last weekend at the season opener, Baggett felt confident coming into Freestone and knew that not even the heat could stop him from being up front. In the first moto, Baggett came around the first corner just outside the top-10 and slowly started picking off riders. By the halfway point, he had made his way into the top-five and was holding nothing back. One of the only riders to use the wall obstacle as a jump, Baggett launched his KX™250F into the sand whoops each lap, jumping over second place to claim the position. In Moto 2 he got shuffled back in the first turn and again started making his way to the front. Unable to air out the wall jump, Baggett started making up time elsewhere and was able to secure second place on the final lap. His 2-2 moto score allowed him to maintain the points lead and will continue sporting the red plate.

Irvine, Calif. – Babbitt’s Monster Energy Amsoil Kawasaki’s Tyler Bowers arrived at Livestock Events Center in Reno, Nev., looking to get a lock on the AMA Arenacross Class championship. Bowers did all he could to wrap up the title early by winning both nights, but came up just shy and now holds a 24-point lead. Teammate Chad Johnson started the weekend with a fourth-place finish on Friday, but could not replicate that performance on Saturday. Johnson finished ninth, but remains comfortably third overall in the championship points. Kawasaki privateer Zach Ames had another great finish, taking third on Saturday and currently sits fifth in the points standings.

Going into Reno, Bowers had an 18-point lead and was hoping to wrap up the Arenacross Class Championship a weekend early. The battle began early on Friday in the heat race as Bowers was pressuring for the lead and the racing started to get aggressive. He decided with the championship almost a wrap, he’d save his energy for when it counts in the main event. Bowers grabbed another great start on his KX™250F and it was game on. He battled wheel-to-wheel both nights giving the fans some of the best racing of the season.

“On Friday, I tried to pressure the leader into a mistake, but he wasn’t cracking,” said Bowers. “So about halfway through the main, I was able to do a couple sprint laps to get by him and sprint away to get the win. On Saturday, I slept on the gate and came out of the first turn barely within the top ten and had to chase down the leader. I made my way through the pack quick and tried to force the leader into a mistake. He bobbled at the end of the whoops where I got around, but he stayed close behind. All I could do was win the race and see if it was enough to wrap up the championship.”

With 12 wins under his belt, Bowers now has a 24-point lead and only needs to qualify for the main event next weekend to win the championship.

With two wins this season, Johnson was looking to climb back on top of the podium this weekend. He got a mid-pack start and started making his way forward on the longer than average track. Friday, he got within striking distance of a podium finish, but had to settle for fourth. On Saturday, Johnson had some issues adjusting to the higher elevation of Reno, Nev., but had everything sorted out for the main event.

“I got a pretty decent start on Saturday, but I put myself on the ground a few laps later,” said Johnson after a ninth place finish. “I made my way up into fifth and ran to shove it to the inside of the next guy and lost my front end. This week I’m really going to concentrate on starts so that I can stay out of the chaos and ride upfront.”

Usually the riders only have to worry about the track and the competition when they show up for a race. Livestock Events Center not only provided a longer, more challenging track, but Reno’s elevation of over 4,500 feet was an additional challenge for the riders and teams.

“This weekend we had a supercross triple which normally we’d be able to do no problem, but because of the elevation it made everything a bit tougher,” said Johnson. However, the elevation did not affect all riders adversely as Kawasaki KX250F rider Zach Ames got himself a podium finish on Saturday night, taking third.

Next weekend the AMA Arenacross Series heads to the final round at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minn., where Bowers will look to once again be crowned as Arenacross Champion.