Villopoto Earns Daytona Supercross Win, Extends Points Lead

Mar. 10, 2014 By Scott Rousseau
Ryan Villopoto's victory extends his points lead in the 450 class.

After a solo crash while leading the race nearly cost him the win, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto bounced back to earn his second consecutive Daytona Supercross by Honda win at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida.

“It’s pretty big,” Villopoto said of fourth Daytona Supercross win in five starts. “This is a unique track, and to get a win here with the way the track is—it’s kind of outdoors, it’s supercross, it’s very technical—to get a win here is awesome. This is kind of like a turning point in the season.”

Villopoto, who has the most wins in 450 this season and has only finished worse than fourth once this season, will look to join seven-time AMA Supercross Champion Jeremy McGrath in winning four consecutive championships. So far, he appears well on his way to matching McGrath’s historic feat.

When the 20-lap main started Saturday night in Daytona, it was TwoTwo Motorsports/Discount Tire Kawasaki’s Dean Wilson who grabbed the holeshot, backing up his fastest qualifying lap earlier in the day. An early crash at the start of the race piled up a few riders, as Mike Alessi fell off his Suzuki in the middle of the track and forced Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart, Muscle Milk Honda’s Justin Barcia and a number of others to check up to avoid him. Those able to avoid the melee included BTO Motorsports KTM’s Andrew Short and Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey, who ran around the outside of the first turn, while defending series champ Ryan Villopoto dropped down low on his Monster Energy Kawasaki.

Ryan Dungey is still in the hunt for the championship after Daytona.

Villopoto went to work passing Wilson by railing around the first right-hander to lead the young Scottish rider into the first rhythm section. Short and Dungey ran third and fourth, ahead of Lucas Oil/Troy Lee Designs Honda’s Malcolm Stewart. His brother, James Stewart, was mired back in eighth place, and he suddenly dropped off the pace with exhaust system damage caused when he caught the handlebar on Alessi’s fallen bike while trying to avoid it at the start. James was forced to head to the mechanic’s area for hasty repairs, but brother Malcolm did pass Short to run in fourth place on lap four.

By lap five, Villopoto opened up a 6-second lead. While Villopoto started to check out, a number of battles raged on behind him. Dungey charged after Wilson for second place while his Red Bull KTM teammate Ken Roczen passed Short to engage Stewart in a battle for fourth place. Further back, Barcia fought his way past Short for sixth place in a three-rider battle that also included RCH Soaring Eagle Suzuki’s Broc Tickle. Roczen was able to slip past Malcolm Stewart over the step-up wall jump to move into fourth place on lap seven.   

There were fireworks between two Honda riders on lap 10, as Barcia came from behind through a whoop section and knifed under Stewart in a corner while attempting to take fifth place. Barcia cleaned out Stewart’s front wheel, and both riders hit the deck, with Stewart clearly upset as he pushed Barcia when both men got to their feet. Stewart then picked up his bike and wheeled it into Barcia’s Honda, knocking Barcia to the ground again. Stewart was up and away first, but his Honda was trailing steam and was clearly no longer in race shape. As Stewart coasted over one of the triples, Barcia jumped past him, looked over and flipped him a hand gesture.

Villopoto continued to maintain his lead at the front of the pack, but the battle for the remaining two podium spots raged on. Wilson attempted to hold off Dungey and Roczen, and eventually Roczen edged past Dungey for third place on lap 11, which is about the same time Villopoto stuffed his front end in a rutted right-hand corner and crashed. Somehow, Villopoto was able to minimize the time loss and quickly get back to his feet to maintain his lead.

The battle was still on for second place, as Roczen was still trying to work past Wilson on lap 13. One lap later, both Roczen and Dungey were able to snake past Wilson in the same corner to lock down the final two podium spots.

In spite of his crash while leading, Villopoto stayed out front to earn his 37th career Monster Energy AMA 450cc Supercross win. The win places him fifth on the all-time winner’s list. Of course, the win also piled on the points. Villopoto now leads 2010 series champion Dungey by 28 points, giving him a one-race advantage over his title rivals.

“I felt really good tonight,” Villopoto said. “Everything was clicking. We’ve worked so hard.” 

Ryan Villopoto (center) holds a 28-point over third-place finisher Ryan Dingey (right), and a 29-point lead over Ken Roczen (left), so he can technically miss a round of the series without losing the points lead.

After a tough prior race where he finished 21st, Roczen was happy to be back on the podium, although he has to wonder if he can claw his way back into contention for the title in his rookie 450cc season.

“I had a pretty solid week,” Roczen said. “I struggled the first two days of training this week, but I got back strong. It was a good race for me, you know. I came a little bit from the back and had a goggle problem with about four laps to go. I had a lot of sweat inside, and I could barely see. I was about to take it off. So, I couldn’t push all the way through, but RV was gone anyways, and I had a solid second place. I am satisfied with my performance tonight.”

The third-place finish appeared bittersweet for Dungey, who didn’t appear to be very happy Villopoto earned more points with his Daytona win. Villopoto leads Dungey, 209-181, in the series standings. Roczen is third, with 180.

“We can always be better, but solid and on the podium is good,” Dungey said. “The track was really tough today. We fought it a lot in practice and struggled coming up with setups. It totally caught us off guard, but we did the best we could. The track was tough. They did some maintenance there that helped us out. The track would have been gone if they didn’t do that. Third place—we’ll take it, and we’ll keep moving forward. We’ve got to keep plugging away at that championship lead.

Blake Baggett put his Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki on top of the podium in the 250cc class.

The Kawasaki brand had another great night in the 250cc class, as Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett earned his Daytona Supercross by Honda win, which was also his first AMA Eastern Region Supercross win since the 2011 Las Vegas Supercross. With the win, Baggett joins Travis Pastrana, Brian Swink and Christophe Pourcel as a two-time Daytona Supercross winner in the 250cc Eastern Region class.

At the start of the 250 main, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Martin Davalos and Adam Cianciarulo both got excellent starts to run one-two as the field funneled through the first turn. By the third turn, Baggett had joined them at the head of the. Trying to keep the Kawasaki rider honest was GEICO Honda’s Blake Wharton who ran in fourth, Vince Friese sat in fifth a little ways behind the lead pack.

Baggett quickly went to work and passed Cianciarulo to move to second and put the pressure on Davalos on lap two, and he took over the lead when Davalos bobbled after landing from the step-up wall jump that was located perpendicular to the start straightaway.

Another podium sweep for the Monster Energy Kawasaki team in Daytona.

Five laps in, Baggett had built up a 3.3-second lead on pack of Davalos, Cianciarulo and Wharton who were fighting for second, third and fourth place. Cianciarulo was clearly letting it all hang out, and he managed to pass Davalos and regain second place despite getting out of shape through a treacherous whoop section just before the two crossed the finish line two laps later.

“Martin is really fast in the whoops, so I knew that I had to pin it through there,” Cianciarulo said. “He tried to square me up, and I just had to outrun him down the start straight. It was a good race, a good pass.”

Baggett had already checked out by this point, having pulled out over 11 seconds on second-place finisher Cianciarulo. Davalos was able to hold onto third, giving Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki team its second Eastern Region podium sweep of the season.

“It’s Daytona,” Baggett said. “You’ve got to block out anything that’s bad. This place is awesome. There’s no other place like this. I love coming here. I love racing here. I won this race in 2011 and now again in 2014. [I am] just excited. I was down in the slumps a little bit, and now I can believe I can do it again, and I’ve just got to plug away from here.”

Cianciarulo’s runner-up finish helped him to retain the Eastern Region 250cc points lead in a three-rider log jam that is almost certain to guarantee the title to a Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider. Cianciarulo leads the way with 92, over Davalos with 87 and Baggett with 79. More than that, however, the talented rookie was thrilled to be racing at Daytona for the first time as a professional.

“It’s a great experience for me,” Cianciarulo said. “Growing up here, watching Jeremy McGrath, Ricky Carmichael, it’s a dream come true to be up on the podium. I’ve got to give it up to Blake Baggett. He rode unbelievable. He had me covered. We overcame a little bit of a bike malfunction in the heat race, got not so great of a gate pick [and I] was able to pull a decent start. Blake just made it happen quicker than I did last night.”

Davalos is happy to be staying consistently on the podium, but he is also hungry for more wins.

“I just wanted to salvage some points,” Davalos said. “We still have some rounds left. But I don’t want to get these guys a little more confidence. I want to be there for the championship, and I want to be consistent, but I want to get on top of the box.”

Daytona Supercross by Honda Results
Results: March 8, 2014 (Round 10 of 17)

450 – Daytona Results
1. Ryan Villopoto-Kaw
2. Ken Roczen-KTM
3. Ryan Dungey-KTM
4. Broc Tickle-Suz
5. Andrew Short-KTM
6. Wil Hahn-Hon
7. Dean Wilson-Kaw
8. Matt Goerke-KTM
9. Justin Brayton-Yam
10. Josh Grant-Yam
11. Cole Seely-Hon
12. Juston Barcia-Hon
13. Phil Nicoletti-Yam
14. Mike Alessi-Suz
15. Josh Hill-Suz
16. Chris Blose-hon
17. Jimmy Albertson-Hon
18. James Stewart-Suz
19. Nicholas Schmidt-Hon
20. Ronnie Stewart-Suz
21. Malcolm Stewart-Hon
22. Nick Wey-Kaw

450 Standings
1. Ryan Villopoto-209
2. Ryan Dungey-181
3. Ken Roczen-180
4. James Stewart-157
5. Justin Brayton-155
6. Andrew Short-125
7. Justin Barcia-118
8. Broc Tickle-111
9. Chad Reed-111
10. Wil Hahn-108

250 – Daytona Results
1. Blake Baggett-Kaw
2. Adam Cianciarulo-Kaw
3. Martin Davalos-Kaw
4. Blake Wharton-Hon
5. Justin Bogle-Hon
6. Jeremy Martin-Yam
7. Matthew Bisceglia-Hon
8. Vince Friese-Hon
9. Kyle Cunningham-Hon
10. Matthew Lemoine-Kaw
11. Kyle Peters-Hon
12. James Decotis-Hon
13. Cole Thompson-KTM
14. Alex Martin-Yam
15. Mitchell Oldenburg-Hon
16. Gavin Faith-Hon
17. Jackson Richardson-Hon
18. Justin Starling-Hon
19. AJ Catanzaro-Hon
20. Jacob Baumert-Kaw
21. Auston Albers-Suz
22. Jace Owen-Hon

250 Standings
1. Adam Cianciarulo-94
2. Martin Davalos-87
3. Blake Baggett-79
4. Justin Bogle-72
5. Vince Friese-61
6. Blake Wharton-51
7. Cole Thompson-48
8. Kyle Cunningham-45
9. James Decotis-43
10. Matthew Lemoine-37 Newsletter
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