— AMA Monster Energy Supercross – Round 12 – Toronto
— Ryan Villopoto Carries Three-Race Win Streak, and Championship Lead into Monster Energy Supercross’ International Stop from Toronto
— Eastern Regional 250SX Class Battle Heating Up
In the span of five weeks, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto has climbed from a 24-point deficit and sitting third in the 450SX Class standings, to carrying a nine-point advantage as the points leader into this weekend’s Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, visit to Canada’s largest city of Toronto. The lone international race of the 2013 season will return to the Rogers Centre for the 12th race of the championship on Saturday night.
The key to Villopoto’s resurgence in the championship has been a result of a string of victories that reached three straight last weekend in Indianapolis. The reigning back-to-back Monster Energy Supercross Champion has won four of the last five races and now boasts a class-leading six victories this season.
In Indianapolis, Villopoto positioned himself inside the top three out of the gate, following Team Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart and Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki’s Davi Millsaps. This trio set a fast pace early and Villopoto was able to move past Millsaps for second on Lap 5 and set his sights on Stewart out front. Just one lap later, Stewart stalled his motorcycle while navigating the slowest turn on the track, which allowed Villopoto to take over the lead. Once out front, Villopoto never relinquished his hold of the top spot.
Behind Villopoto, a battle for second ensued between Millsaps and Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey. At one point it appeared as though Dungey and Millsaps may have made contact after landing from one of the largest jumps on the track, but it gave Dungey just enough of an edge to take over the position and look to track down Villopoto out front.
Dungey narrowed his deficit to mere bike lengths on several occasions and looked like he could have enough momentum to attempt a pass on Villopoto as the 20-lap Main Event began to wind down. However, a slight bobble by Dungey late in the race separated the duo and allowed Villopoto to take the win with relative ease. The win was Villopoto’s fourth consecutive inside Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium.
“Lucas Oil Stadium has been great to me,” said Villopoto on the podium. “It’s an amazing stadium and I love coming here. Ryan [Dungey] was able to make up some time on me here and there, but I just kept pushing hard until the end.”
The Toronto stop will mark just the third race this season in which Villopoto’s bike will carry the red number plate that signifies the championship leader. After losing possession of the plate at the first race of the season in Anaheim, Calif., Villopoto has overcome a 16th-place start to the championship to make up a deficit in the standings that was as large as 27 points following the sixth race of the season. After taking over the points lead from Millsaps for the first time two races ago, Villopoto has almost opened a double-digit margin over his Suzuki-mounted counterpart.
After back-to-back weeks in which he posted consecutive season-worst finishes, Millsaps was back in the thick of the battle for the podium in Indianapolis. The two-time winner this season held the third and final spot on the podium on the final lap of the Main Event, but lost traction and tipped over just after the finish, forcing him to settle for fourth. However, it was the best result in three weeks for Millsaps and a much-needed boost to his hopes to reclaiming the championship lead.
With his second consecutive runner-up finish Dungey is quickly becoming an established third player in the championship, despite sitting 17 points out of the lead and eight points behind Millsaps in second. Dungey has one win already this season and the speed he showed in Indianapolis by catching Villopoto made for a competitive final half of the Main Event. He is a former winner in Toronto and has arguably been Villopoto’s biggest rival for the past three seasons, making this familiar territory.
Once again, these three riders will lead the world’s fastest riders into Canada in what is always one of the most unique and anticipated stops of the season. During the 2012 stop from the Rogers Centre, over 47,000 Canadian fans watched at Villopoto raced to his seventh win of the season. Coincidentally, he has the opportunity to capture win number seven once again in Toronto.
The Eastern Regional 250SX Class Championship has shaped up to be a competitive battle to the finish on the heels of a second consecutive win by Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin in Indianapolis. Just one week after capturing his first career Monster Energy Supercross victory, Musquin overcame an incident in the first turn of the Main Event inside Lucas Oil Stadium to pass virtually the entire 20-rider field and take over the lead on the final lap and steal another win.
“We have been talking about confidence, and tonight I had it,” said Musquin. “I fought really hard, and I believed in myself. Anything can happen out there, and tonight was kind of lucky but I got the win.”
Musquin’s fortune was Rockstar Energy Racing rider Blake Wharton’s heartbreak. The Suzuki rider was the first rider out of the gate and led 14-and-a-half laps of the Main Event only to make a mistake on the last lap and crash. He ultimately finished ninth.
In the championship, Musquin moved to within nine points of GEICO Honda’s Wil Hahn, who finished third in Indianapolis and has finished on the podium in all five races this season. Musquin also took over second in the standings after Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Dean Wilson was unable to compete following a crash on the opening lap of his Heat Race. Wilson was taken to the hospital for further evaluation and reportedly suffered a broken rib, broken back, broken shoulder, and punctured lung as a result of the incident.
With Wilson seemingly out of the picture for the remainder of the Eastern Regional Championship, this appears as if it may be a two-rider battle for the title. Both Hahn and Musquin had never won a Main Event prior to the 2013 season, and both will be going for his first career championship.
Last season’s Eastern Regional 250SX Class race in Toronto featured a great battle for the win between Justin Barcia and Ken Roczen, with Barcia prevailing.
The first 450SX Class race held in Toronto was March 8, 2008, when Chad Reed won aboard a Yamaha. Villopoto is the only rider to win more than once inside the Rogers Center, winning two of the last three seasons. No rider has ever won in both the 450SX Class and 250SX Class in Toronto, but Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Justin Barcia will look to become the first on Saturday night. Christophe Pourcel claimed the first 250SX Class victory in Toronto in 2009 while riding a Kawasaki. With the injury to Dean Wilson, the 250SX Class will feature its fourth different Toronto winner in five years of racing from the Rogers Centre.
450SX Class Results: Indianapolis
1. Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki
2. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM
3. James Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Suzuki
4. Davi Millsaps, Murrieta, Calif., Suzuki
5. Justin Barcia, Ochlocknee, Ga., Honda
6. Chad Reed, Australia, Honda
7. Andrew Short, Smithville, Texas, KTM
8. Matt Goerke, Lake Helen, Fla., KTM
9. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Honda
10. Weston Peick, Wildomar, Calif., Suzuki
450SX Class Season Standings
1. Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki, 227
2. Davi Millsaps, Murrieta, Calif., Suzuki, 218
3. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM, 210
4. Chad Reed, Australia, Honda, 178
5. Justin Barcia, Ochlocknee, Ga., Honda, 168
6. Trey Canard, Shawnee, Okla., Honda, 165
7. James Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Suzuki, 155
8. Andrew Short, Smithville, Texas, KTM, 136
9. Justin Brayton, Fort Dodge, Iowa, Yamaha, 112
10. Broc Tickle, Holly, Mich., Suzuki, 109
Eastern Regional 250SX Class Results: Indianapolis
1. Marvin Musquin, France, KTM
2. Kyle Peters, Greensboro, N.C., Honda
3. Wil Hahn, Decatur, Texas, Honda
4. AJ Catanzero, Portland, Conn., Kawasaki
5. Justin Hill, Yoncalla, Ore., Kawasaki
6. Vince Friese, Cape Girardeau, Mo., Honda
7. Mitchell Oldenburg, Alvord, Texas, Honda
8. Gavin Faith, Fort Dodge, Iowa, Honda
9. Blake Wharton, Pilot Point, Texas, Suzuki
10. Peter Larsen, Menifee, Calif., Honda
Eastern Regional 250SX Class Season Standings
1. Wil Hahn, Decatur, Texas, Honda, 112
2. Marvin Musquin, France, KTM, 103
3. Blake Wharton, Pilot Point, Texas, Suzuki, 88
4. Dean Wilson, Scotland, Kawasaki, 87
5. Kyle Peters, Greensboro, NC, Honda, 67
6. Justin Hill, Yoncalla, Ore., Kawasaki, 67
7. Vince Friese, Cape Girardeau, Mo., Honda, 65
8. Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Yamaha, 53
9. Gavin Faith, Fort Dodge, Iowa, Honda, 53
10. James Decotis, Peabody, Mass., Honda, 52
Past Winners in Toronto
March 24, 2012: Ryan Villopoto
March 26, 2011: Ryan Dungey
March 13, 2010: Ryan Villopoto
March 28, 2009: James Stewart
March 29, 2008: Chad Reed
March 24, 2012: Justin Barcia
March 26, 2011: Dean Wilson
March 13, 2010: Justin Barcia
March 28, 2009: Christophe Pourcel