Just one week after Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto became the second rider in Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, history to win four-consecutive titles, the 17-race season will come to its dramatic conclusion on Saturday night in Las Vegas. A capacity crowd is expected to cheer on the world’s fastest riders inside Sam Boyd Stadium on one of the most anticipated nights of the year.
Last weekend Monster Energy Supercross ended a 23-year absence from the New York metro area by making its anticipated return to East Rutherford, N.J., and the inaugural race inside MetLife Stadium. On one of the biggest nights in the history of the sport, Villopoto dominated with his third straight wire-to-wire effort to not only claim his class leading sixth race of the season, but also secure his historic fourth-consecutive world championship.
“It’s been an awesome day here at MetLife Stadium,” said Villopoto, who also achieved the 40th win of his 450SX Class career. “We had a little bit of rain, but I couldn’t believe how well the track held up. It feels great to lock in my fourth-consecutive championship. It’s been a hard-fought season with a few ups and downs, but it was obviously my most consistent, so I’m glad to be able to close it out on top.”
Villopoto’s memorable night capped off an impressive 2014 championship campaign that was arguably the most successful of his four-year reign. While Villopoto’s win total this season is currently the lowest it’s ever been over the last four years, he’s been more consistent than ever before, boasting a 2.13 finishing average and a lowest result of sixth. With a three-race win streak in tow, he’ll come into Las Vegas as the favorite and will look to cement his historic season with a dominant run through to the finish.
With the pressure of the championship now over, the entire 450SX Class field will also be in search of a win to end their respective seasons on a high note. Spearheading that group are Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey, Team Yoshimura’s James Stewart, and Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen. The pair of former champions and star rookie has each won previously this season, but more importantly they are engaged in battle for the runner-up spot in the final championship standings. Stewart appeared to suffer a knee injury in East Rutherford, bowing out of competition during the Main Event. However, his status is uncertain as it is assumed he will be on the gate. Dungey didn’t have the result he was hoping for at MetLife, dropping positions en route to a sixth-place finish, while Roczen was only able to parlay the fastest lap in practice to a fifth-place effort.
Based on their respective outings in East Rutherford, motivation will be high for these three riders to get back to the front of the field and battle for the win, or at least a spot on the podium. All three riders have won before in Las Vegas and will look to take advantage of that experience. Additionally, the Team Honda Muscle Milk duo of Justin Barcia and Trey Canard have shown impressive speed in recent weeks and each will be looking to do all he can to break through for his first victory of 2014.
Even though the championship has been decided, the excitement in Las Vegas will be as big as ever thanks to one of the fastest and most thrilling tracks of the season. Las Vegas is known for producing memorable racing and with the motivation the biggest names in the sport are carrying into Sam Boyd Stadium, that trend is sure to continue. Here are additional talking points for the season finale:
The 16 weeks of competition within each of the respective 250SX Class Regional Championships have led to this, one final night in which champions will be crowned and the world will learn which 250SX Class rider is the fastest on the planet. The Eastern and Western Regional Championships are both undecided heading into Las Vegas.
Back East, GEICO Honda’s Justin Bogle is carrying a surge of momentum into the finale following his second career win in East Rutherford combined with the heartbreak suffered by Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki. The Kawasaki-mounted duo of Martin Davalos and Blake Baggett both missed the action inside MetLife Stadium following injuries. Davalos was the points leader coming into last weekend but is officially out for Las Vegas, while Baggett sat third and could still come back to line up on the gate Saturday night. As a result, Bogle took over the points lead and now has a 17-point lead over Davalos and a 54-point margin on Baggett and The Factory Metal Works Honda’s Vince Friese, who moved into a tie for third. While Davalos is the only rider still mathematically eligible to win the title, knowing he will not be in action in Las Vegas has essentially secured the title for Bogle, who will likely use the race as a celebratory effort.
Out West, Rockstar Energy Racing’s Jason Anderson sits in position to earn his first career title with an eight-point lead over Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil Honda’s Cole Seely, who is also in search of his inaugural championship. Seely brings the momentum into Las Vegas after winning at the West Region’s previous race in Seattle, but Anderson has four wins this season and a 2.13 finishing average. If he maintains the consistency he’s displayed all season, a fourth-place finish for Anderson will secure the title if Seely is able to grab another win. Together, Anderson and Seely have dominated the Western Regional Championship with six combined wins, 11 podiums, and a finish no worse than fifth. Their battle will be in the spotlight in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
Following the final Main Events of both the Eastern and Western Regional Championships, the top competitors in each division will round out a 22-rider field to determine who stands above the rest in the annual East/West Shootout. The Shootout has consistently been one of the most anticipated races each season as it serves as the one and only opportunity the two regions come together. The winner walks away with bragging rights as the best 250SX Class rider in Monster Energy Supercross. Previous winners of the East/West Shootout is a who’s who of the sport, including Kevin Windham, Ricky Carmichael, Travis Pastrana, James Stewart, Andrew Short, Davi Millsaps, Ryan Dungey, Justin Barcia, and Ken Roczen. Riders who have emerged victorious in this 250SX Class showcase have more often than not gone on to enjoy hugely successful careers, meaning a lot will be on the line this Saturday night.
Last season in Las Vegas, Villopoto capped off his dominant third-straight title run with his 10th victory of the 2013 season. In the 250SX Class, Roczen earned his first career title in the Western Regional Championship while GEICO Honda’s Wil Hahn did the same in the Eastern Regional Championship. Roczen carried the momentum of his title win into the East/West Shootout, where he emerged victorious.
The first race held in Las Vegas was on March 17, 1990, when Jeff Matiasevich won the 450SX Class on a Kawasaki and Jeremy McGrath won in the 250SX Class, also on a Kawasaki. McGrath, a seven-time Monster Energy Supercross Champion, also holds the all-time win record in both classes at Sam Boyd Stadium with four in the 450SX Class and three in the 250SX Class.
Previous race results:
450SX Class Results: East Rutherford
Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki
Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Honda
Josh Hill, Yoncalla, Ore., Suzuki
Justin Barcia, Pinetta, Fla., Honda
Ken Roczen, Murrieta, Calif., KTM
Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM
Mike Alessi, Hilliard, Fla., Suzuki
Andrew Short, Smithville, Texas, KTM
Trey Canard, Shawnee, Okla., Honda
Weston Peick, Wildomar, Calif., Suzuki
450SX Class Season Standings
Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki, 343
Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM, 282
James Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Suzuki, 271
Ken Roczen, Murrieta, Calif., KTM, 265
Justin Barcia, Pinetta, Fla., Honda, 232
Andrew Short, Smithville, Texas, KTM, 207
Justin Brayton, Cornelius, N.C., Yamaha, 196
Josh Hill, Yoncalla, Ore., Suzuki, 144
Broc Tickle, Holly, Mich., Suzuki, 126
Wil Hahn, Menifee, Calif., Honda, 122
Eastern Regional 250SX Class Results: East Rutherford
Justin Bogle, Cushing, Okla., Honda
Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Yamaha
Vince Friese, Cape Girardeau, Mo., Honda
Matt Bisceglia, Weatherford, Texas, Honda
Matthew Lemoine, Pilot Point, Texas, Kawasaki
Kyle Cunningham, Aledo, Texas, Honda
Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Yamaha
Mitchell Oldenburg, Alvord, Texas, Honda
James Decotis, Peabody, Mass., Honda
Jackson Richardson, Australia, Honda
Eastern Regional 250SX Class Season Standings
Justin Bogle, Cushing, Okla., Honda, 166
Martin Davalos, Cairo, Ga., Kawasaki, 149
Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, Fla., Kawasaki, 120
MCNEWS.COM.AU is a specialist on-line resource that provides motorcycle news for motorcyclists. MCNews covers all areas of interest for the motorcycling public including news, reviews and comprehensive racing coverage.