Ryan Villopoto Wins Fourth, Edges Closer to Supercross Title

Apr. 07, 2014 By Scott Rousseau
Ryan Villopoto inched himself closer to his fourth Supercross title in Houston.

Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto took one step closer to earning fourth Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship after earning his fourth win in Houston. The road to his recent victory was a bumpy one, however, as two crashes in practice and another in his heat race at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas, made it a tough night, but Villopoto rebounded to gut out the win.

Villopoto transferred into the main event through a semi and then quickly took the lead in the 20-lap race and ran away from the field to earn his 38th career Monster Energy AMA Supercross victory. Villopoto now owns a comfortable 45-points ahead of the second-place man, Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart, with just three rounds to go.

Villopoto’s win also marked an end to the impressive win streak Stewart had over the past three rounds. Stewart struggled with an illness all week and was not fully healthy heading into the race. Although he won his second heat race, his energy was depleted by the middle of the main event, but he still managed to muster a muster a fifth-place finish. The finish also moved him past Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey and into second place in the series standings.

James Stewart (7) managed a fifth-place finish inspite of being sick in Houston, and he moved ahead of Ryan Dungey (5) in the standings.

Stewart got off to a rough start in the main, as he and RCH Soaring Eagle Suzuki’s Josh Hill locked bars, which sent Hill crashing off the course and slowed Stewart enough that he was stuck outside the top five through the first corner. Villopoto grabbed the holeshot ahead of BTO Motorsports KTM’s Andrew Short, MotoConcepts Suzuki’s Mike Alessi, Muscle Milk Honda’s Justin Barcia and Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen.

The race  quickly took shape and riders jockeyed for position, as Muscle Milk Honda’s Trey Canard quickly moved inside the top five and teammate Barcia pushed all the way to second on the opening lap. Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey and Motosport.com Suzuki’s Weston Peick made contact over a jump, forcing Peick into JGR Yamaha’s Josh Grant, and all three riders crashed hard, with Grant getting the worst of it.

Meanwhile, Villopoto set a torrid pace up front, with Barcia, Roczen and Canard running close together in the second, third and fourth positions. Villopoto had a 4.3-second lead over Barcia by lap five. Barcia then began to put a lot of time on Roczen and Canard, the duo still clicking off steady laps in third- and fourth-place, respectively.

Stewart, meanwhile was cruising in sixth place, behind Short, and he didn’t put up much of a fight when GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac dropped him to seventh place on lap five. Stewart’s illness was clearly affecting him as he posted lap times as much as 1.8-seconds slower than Villopoto. Tomac then made a mistake and nearly crashed when he tried to pass Short for fifth place on lap 12. The mistake dropped him to 10th place. Stewart was able to pass Short and move into fifth place.

Justin Barcia was unable to catch Villopoto but earned a solid second-place finish in Houston.

No one could catch Villopoto, who had settled into a rhythm that would sustain him all the way to the finish. Villopoto’s final margin of victory over Barcia was aa impressive 13.669 seconds.

“It was a little bit tough, but we were able to get a great start,” Villopoto said. “We’re closing down here, and we’re just looking forward to getting this overwith.”

That’s a real possibility as early as next week. Villopoto could mathematically clinch the season championship at round 15 in Seattle.

“I feel good, but we have two critical rounds coming up,” Villopoto said. “As a rider you need to stay on your game and show up every weekend. If something doesn’t go as planned, like it did today, you have to bounce back and recover.”

Although Villopoto got away from him, Barcia still looked extremely strong and confident in the main event.

“The track was extremely tough tonight,” Barcia said. “I didn’t bust out the quad all day, but I busted it out in the main event, so that was pretty intense. But I did a few things out there that cost me some time. Ryan rode a great race. I’ve just got to keep on working. I’m getting better every weekend. I just have to keep on pushing.”

Roczen, the German-born rookie who started out the season strong but has since lost his early-season success, earned his first podium finish in four rounds.

“It feels awesome to be back up here,” Roczen said. “Obviously, I never grew a pair on the quad. If I could have done that, then I think I could’ve stayed a little closer to Justin. But the track was really tough out there. I went through the whoops pretty decent the whole race, and then just started jumping that with a couple laps to go. The riding was okay, nothing too good and nothing too bad. It was just another solid race, and I’m actually happy to be back on the podium. I’m going to California now, and I think I’m going to get in a couple of surfs next week and be back strong on the weekend.”

Jason Anderson (17) earned the 250 win this past weekend.

In the AMA 250cc Western Region title, a great battle was expected between Jason Anderson and Cole Seely. With the West series resuming in Houston after its long layoff, race fans had every reason to expect that the pair would wage a great battle in Houston. In the end, Rockstar Energy KTM’s Anderson prevailed in a last-lap battle over Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Dean Wilson, while Lucas Oil Troy Lee Designs Honda’s Seely finished fourth, putting his title hopes in serious jeopardy.

Lucas Oil Troy Lee Designs Honda’s Jessy Nelson pulled the holeshot, but Anderson immediately blitzed past him in the first whoop section to assume the lead, followed by Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki teammates Dean Wilson and Justin Hill. Wilson dropped to fourth, just ahead of MAVTV Troy Lee Designs Honda’s Malcolm Stewart. Seely was stuck back in eighth place off the start, but he passed his way to fifth place, behind Stewart, by lap four.

Out front, Anderson rode a smooth and mistake-free race, and he moved out to a 2.3 second advantage over Wilson by lap five. Hill would crash out of the top five in the whoops on the same lap, handing third place over to Stewart.

Jason Anderson (middle) earned the win, Dean Wilson (left) finished in second, while Malcolm Stewart (right) finished in third.

Seely was fourth, behind Stewart, and he simply wasn’t able to run the kind of lap times necessary to move past Stewart and Wilson to challenge the fleeing Anderson. However, as the laps ticked off, Wilson began to draw close to Anderson, and he latched onto Wilson’s rear tire with one lap remaining. Wilson gave the Houston fans a thrill as he attempted to outmaneuver Anderson through the final whoop section just before the finish line, but Anderson got to the checkered flag first, securing his fourth-win of the season. Wilson was second, followed by Stewart who landed his third podium finish of the season as well. Seely was fourth, and GEICO Honda’s Zach Osborne was fifth.

“I feel good,” Anderson said. “I feel like I used my brain really well and picked up on some things that I’ve been watching those [450] guys do during the races. It has been a good day, and I can’t thank my team enough.”

Wilson’s finish moved him to third in the points, but it didn’t come without a hard knock when he crashed earlier in the day.

“I’m actually in a lot of pain,” Wilson said on the podium. “That race was really difficult for me. In my crash through the whoops [earlier in the night], I almost had it saved, but it just slammed me into the ground. When I got going again there was just something feeling funny in my shoulder, and it really hurt. I gave it my best go. I mean, it was pretty painful. There’s a little bit of a separation. We’ll be okay. I gave it my best go. It’s pretty disappointing because I wanted that win.

Malcolm Stewart’s podium finish also advanced him in the series standings. He is now fifth.

“I’m definitely happy with the way I rode,” Stewart said. “This track has been beating me around. I had a couple bad practices. I’m just so glad to be ending on a podium. I’m speechless right now.”

Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series Results
Houston, Texas (round 14 of 17)

450 Main
1. Ryan Villopoto-Kaw
2. Justin Barcia-Hon
3. Ken Roczen-KTM
4. Trey Canard-Hon
5. James Stewart-Suz
6. Andrew Short-KTM
7. Ryan Dungey-KTM
8. Mike Alessi-Suz
9. Eli Tomac-Hon
10. Chris Blose-Hon
11. Nick Wey-Kaw
12. Josh Hill-Suz
13. Nick Schmidt-Hon
14. Cody Gilmore-Kaw
15. Jimmy Decotis-Hon
16. Ronnie Stewart-Suz
17. Jimmy Albertson-Hon
18. Kyle Regal-Hon
19. Ben Lamay-Yam
20. Weston Peick-Suz
21. Vince Friese-Hon
22. Josh Grant-Yam

Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series Points Standings (After 14 of 17 rounds)
1. Ryan Villopoto-293/4 wins
2. James Stewart-248/4 wins
3. Ryan Dungey-247/1 win
4. Ken Roczen-235/2 wins
5. Justin Barcia-198
6. Justin Brayton-196
7. Andrew Short-181
8. Broc Tickle-126
9. Wil Hahn-122
10. Josh Hill-112

250 Main
1. Jason Anderson-KTM
2. Dean Wilson-Kaw
3. Malcolm Stewart-Hon
4. Cole Seely-Hon
5. Zach Osborne-Hon
6. Cooper Webb-Yam
7. Shane Mcelrath-Hon
8. Jake Canada-Hon
9. Justin Hill-Kaw
10. Jessy Nelson-Hon
11. Zack Freeberg-Yam
12. Dakota Tedder-Kaw
13. Michael Leib-Hon
14. Scott Champion-Yam
15. Topher Ingalls-Hon
16. Preston Mull-Yam
17. Brandon Scharer-Suz
18. Chris Howell-Yam
19. Ruben Alanis-KTM
20. Cheyenne Harmon-KTM
21. Colton Aeck-Hon
22. Mark Weishaar-Yam

AMA Western Region 250cc Supercross Series Standings (After 7 of 8 rounds)
1. Jason Anderson-113/4 wins
2. Cole Seely-109/1 win
3. Dean Wilson-97/1 win
4. Cooper Webb-86
5. Malcolm Stewart-82
6. Justin Hill-74/1 win
7. Zach Osborne-69
8. Jessy Nelson-58
9. Shane Mcelrath-56
10. Dakota Tedder-41

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