This Week in Monster Energy Supercross: Toronto
With his third win of the 2014 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, season, Team Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart tied Ricky Carmichael for second on the all time 450SX Class wins list with 48 victories. This weekend, Stewart will be in search of further cementing his place in history with another win in Toronto as the season makes its lone international stop inside the Rogers Centre on Saturday night. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto continues to lead the championship standings on the heels of his seventh podium finish of the season in Detroit one week ago, continuing his pursuit of a fourth consecutive title.
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Villopoto added to his comfortable points lead in Detroit with a solid runner-up effort, coming just one week after he secured his third win of the season at Daytona. He enters Toronto with a 30-point advantage and will be looking to capture his fourth Rogers Centre win in five years. Villopoto is the winningest rider in Toronto, taking the checkered flag in half of the races contested in Canada’s largest city.
“Detroit was a good weekend for us,” said Villopoto. “As much as we’d like to win every race, our main focus is the championship as we start to get down towards the end of the season. Toronto is always a fun race and the dirt can be unpredictable.”
Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey did all he could to keep pace with Villopoto in the title fight, also securing his seventh podium result of the season in Detroit in third. While he lost a couple points to Villopoto with that result, Dungey has been the most consistent rider in the championship over the last five weeks and thanks to a five straight podium finishes he has solidified himself as Villopoto’s main rival.
Dungey’s Red Bull KTM teammate Ken Roczen didn’t fare as well in Detroit. After a pair of 20th-place finishes over the last three weeks, his rookie campaign has hit a bump in the road. Roczen has dropped to third in the standings after an errant rock locked his rear wheel in the early stages of last week’s Main Event and relegated him to 20th. He now faces a 50-point deficit to Villopoto.
Stewart’s dominant victory ended a challenging string of races in which the former champion went from just a 14-point deficit in the standings to a 52-point margin after Daytona. Stewart has now equaled the class leading win total of Villopoto and will look to start a string of dominance in hopes of getting back into the title hunt.
“I had a great night in Detroit,” said Stewart. “I was able to get a victory and we didn’t have any weird situations. This is the first time we haven’t been down on the first lap in three races and it feels good. I really felt like we got better and better all day, and then in the Main Event we really nailed it. I’ve got to thank the Yoshimura Suzuki team, they’ve been solid and behind me the whole time, and it’s been a rough couple of weeks. It was great to tie a legend like Ricky Carmichael for second on the all-time wins list and now we’ll come back for Toronto and see what we can do up there.”
Toyota/Yamaha/N-Fab/JGRMX rider Justin Brayton endured a challenging outing in Detroit, battling his way through the field following a 14th-place start to finish in ninth on a challenging track. Brayton has endured a trying stretch of races over the last three weeks with 8-9-9 results but has had success in Toronto, grabbing a runner-up finish back during the 2012 season. Brayton currently sits fifth in the 450SX Class standings.
BTOSports.com KTM’s Andrew Short has hit his stride in recent weeks, grabbing his best two finishes of the season over the last two weeks with a fifth in Daytona and fourth in Detroit. As a result, Short has surged up the 450SX Class standings, currently sitting sixth heading into Toronto.
Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Justin Barcia rebounded from a tough outing in Daytona by finishing fifth in Detroit. Barcia is just two races removed from an injury that forced him to miss some action this season but is getting back into top form. He’ll look for a return to the podium in Toronto.
“Tonight didn’t end how I wanted,” Barcia stated. “I finally got a good start in my Heat Race, which was awesome because that’s what I have been struggling with. I got around Cole [See[Seely] led the rest of the race. I definitely didn’t make it easy on myself in the Main Event. I got another bad start and had to work my way through a lot of people. I started to get really tired and tight towards the end of the race and was only able to make it up to fifth.”
In his third start for Team Honda Muscle Milk, Cole Seely once again put himself in contention for the podium by grabbing a good start inside Ford Field. He kept pace with the lead group for the majority of the Main Event before ultimately experiencing misfortune with a little over a handful of laps remaining and finishing 15th, his worst result in three starts. Seely’s endeavor in the 450SX Class is likely over, but he made his presence felt during that time.
“I’m really grateful for the opportunity that Team Honda Muscle Milk has given me the last couple weeks,” said Seely. “I’m bummed with how tonight went but overall think I rode really well. My starts were dialed tonight, I got the holeshot in both my Heat Race and Main Event. In the Main I started making some little mistakes, which allowed a couple guys by me. Then while in fourth I got taken out, which sucked but I guess that is racing. I felt good though and I think the 450 suits me really well. With time I think I can be a threat in the class.”
GEICO Honda’s Wil Hahn brought a lot of momentum into Detroit after some strong performances that showed his comfort aboard the big bike. Hahn showed promising speed but had his work cut out for him in the Main Event when misfortune on the opening lap landed him in dead last. The first year 450SX Class rider put on a charge and was able to battle back to a 14th-place result. He’ll look to get back into the lead group tomorrow night.
Fellow 450SX Class rookie and GEICO Honda rider Eli Tomac missed his sixth race of the season in Detroit after reinjuring his shoulder in a crash at Daytona. The team has confirmed Tomac is working to try and come back for Toronto, but a decision won’t be made until closer to the race.
Discount Tire Racing/TwoTwo Motorsports rider Dean Wilson’s raw speed continued to impress in Detroit, once again putting the fill-in rider in the upper echelon of 450SX practice. Wilson put himself into podium position at the start of the Main Event, but ultimately dropped to 12th at the end. He’ll return to his adopted hometown race this weekend, where the Toronto fans will surely be cheering him on.
Rockstar Energy Racing’s Ivan Tedesco hoped to return to action in Detroit after missing Daytona as a result of an injury. Tedesco ultimately chose to sit out of action for another week but should be back on track in Toronto.
“I had a crash in Daytona and busted my finger so I wasn’t able to ride all week,” said Tedesco. “I came up to Detroit to give it a shot but just couldn’t hold on, so I decided not to race. Going to do therapy on it all week and hope to be able to race up in Toronto.”
In the 250SX Class, the dominance from Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki continued in Detroit as rookie Adam Cianciarulo raced to his third win in five starts and extended his points lead. Cianciarulo has finished no worse than second this season and will look to keep the momentum rolling in his first visit to Toronto.
“I’m excited to go to Canada,” said Cianciarulo. “My strategy all season has been to look at each race individually. Each week we start fresh and look to get the win. My teammates have been keeping me honest and we plan to keep going strong in Toronto.”
Blake Baggett secured his second straight podium finish in Detroit in third, giving Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki two riders on the podium at every stop of the Eastern Regional Championship. Baggett had his work cut out for him in the Main Event, but worked his way from a ninth-place finish to grab third and move to within three points of second in the point standings.
“We’ve been able to turn a couple bad starts into podiums, but, that’s not going to cut it,” said Baggett. “I know I have the speed each week so it’s a matter of getting the start and begin up front from the get go.”
Martin Davalos had kept pace with his rookie teammate Cianciarulo for the bulk of the Eastern Regional Championship, but in Detroit the veteran experienced his most challenging outing of the season. A hard practice crash left Davalos with some bumps and bruises entering the night show, but he managed to put himself up front and in position to win. A tip over dropped Davalos from the lead and a later crash dropped him even further in the running order, but his relentless pursuit of the front helped him grab a sixth-place finish. As a result, Davalos faces a 17-point deficit in the standings.
“Last weekend I was lucky to be able to race,” said Davalos. “The track was tricky all day and I made a couple mistakes in the Main Event. I’ve enjoyed going to Canada in the past and am looking forward to getting back on the podium.”
Justin Bogle helped put the spotlight on GEICO Honda in Detroit, capturing a career-best runner-up finish and pressuring Cianciarulo for the lead for the bulk of the Main Event. Bogle has risen to the forefront of the class in recent weeks and is arguably the biggest threat to ending Pro Circuit’s dominant run. He’s feeling optimistic heading into Toronto.
“This feels so good and is certainly a step in the right direction,” explained Bogle. “It’s great to get GEICO and Honda up on the podium. I finally put myself in a good place at the start. I’ve got the speed and fitness to run with these guys. I’ve got a really good feeling heading into Toronto. I think it will be a good weekend, especially because it’s my birthday.”
Fellow GEICO Honda rider Blake Wharton was looking to continue his solid start to the season in Detroit, but a crash in practice took Wharton out of action for the evening. He’ll also miss Toronto.
GEICO Honda rookie Matt Bisceglia had shown consistent improvement heading into Detroit and was hopeful for a strong result, but misfortune on the opening lap put Bisceglia dead last in the Main Event. He battled his way through the field throughout the 15 laps, ultimately finishing 19th.
Rockstar Energy Racing’s Cole Thompson is arguably looking forward to Toronto more than any rider in Monster Energy Supercross. The Canadian native hails from nearby Brigden, Ontario, and would like nothing more that to achieve a great result in front of family, friends, and the hometown crowd. In Detroit, Thompson overcame a 15th-place start to finish 11th but is hoping to put himself up front on Saturday night.
“I had a bad start in the Main Event and then had some trouble in the first rhythm,” said Thompson. “I started to make my way up and then had a slide out on lap 11. There was a group of guys in front of me I was trying to get around. I ended up in 11th.”