2011 AMA Supercross
This Saturday evening, the 2011 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season kick starts into action at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif. Representatives of the FIM Championship are saying this year is highly anticipated, considering the field of talented riders.
Last year’s Supercross season brought much fame to Rockstar Maktia Suzuki rider after he became the second rider in history besides Jeremy McGrath to take the SX title in his rookie year; Dungey also became the first rider in history to take both the AMA SX and Motocross titles in a rookie year.
Joining Dungey will be two former Supercross champions, seven-time champ James Stewart (Yamaha) and two-time champ Chad Reed (Honda). In the Supercross Lites class, five title holders will be on the grid.
Following is a FIM interview at the pre-race press conference with defending Supercross champion Ryan Dungey, who represented his Rockstar/Makita Suzuki team and accepted the coveted World Championship ring.
Joining Dungey on stage were the following Supercross riders: Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto, San Manuel Yamaha’s James Stewart, GEICO Powersports Honda’s Kevin Windham, TwoTwo Motorsports Honda’s Chad Reed and Red Bull KTM’s Andrew Short.
Dungey, who is coming off the most successful rookie Supercross season of all time, is aware that his title defense will be the toughest challenge of his young career. However, the Minnesota native is ready for it.
Ryan Dungey (Suzuki Supercross) says: "Last year was definitely one the best yet toughest years I’ve ever had. I just tried to give it my all at every given moment. Backing up that title this season I think is the hardest thing to do in any sport.
"I just need to do everything I can and control what I can control. There is a deep field this season and it’s going to take everything I’ve learned to defend the championship and I’m looking forward to it."
Villopoto was in the thick of the title fight in 2010 alongside Dungey, capturing the most wins in the championship. However, a late season crash forced him to sit out the final three races and now he is more prepared than ever before to redeem himself.
Ryan Villopoto (Kawasaki Supercross) says: "It was the most serious injury of my career last year and it took a long time to get back where I needed to be. I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to get where was at before when I got back on the bike but then things just started feeling better.
"It was as if my body had forgotten what happened in the past. I wasn’t able to jump back on the bike as quickly as I had with other injuries, but now I feel as if I’m more ready than I’ve ever been coming into a season."
After starting off the 2010 Supercross championship with a big win at Anaheim, Stewart found trouble the following weekend with two incidents that ultimately derailed his hopes of a third championship. With a long layoff and rejuvenated mindset, he’s back to show he still has what it takes.
James Stewart (Yamaha Supercross) says: "I’m just excited to be back racing. We’ve made a lot of changes to the team and overall I think it’s been a good offseason. What happened last year was an accident and I believe it will make me stronger.
"I’m not going to change how I ride for anyone. I’m going to be the champion I want to be because I can sleep better knowing I raced the way I wanted and gave it everything I had."
Despite a slow start to his 2010 Supercross campaign, Windham kicked it into high gear the second half of the season, winning back-to-back races with some of the most dominant performances in the history of the sport against competitors as much as 12 years his junior.
Ultimately, he posted his third runner-up effort in the championship and is excited about the possibilities of his 18th year of racing.
Kevin Windham (Honda Supercross) says: "For me it’s about weathering the storm and getting ready for Saturday. I need to do whatever I can (to win), but at the same time, keep the bike on two wheels.
"I really enjoy riding and being a part of this sport more than ever. I found what works for me and I’m going to stick with it. A lot of guys out there have the ability to win races and I think it’s going to be a good year."
After taking Stewart down to the wire in the 2009 championship, Reed had high hopes in 2010, but instead experienced his worst season since moving to the U.S. in 2002. This year, Reed is taking a unique path to a possible third championship by funding his own race team without factory support.
As a result, the Australian becomes the most successful and arguably the most talented privateer rider in history. Reed knows the obstacles that lie ahead, but he’s ready to take them on.
Chad Reed (Honda Supercross) says: "It’s been fun (starting the new team). I’m sure there will be ups and downs, but so far it’s been good. I truly believe in surrounding yourself with good people and I’ve done that here.
"We have what it takes to succeed. The most difficult thing this offseason was finding out what was real and what wasn’t. I was a true free agent for the first time but once it all came together I got to training and I feel ready."
Andrew Short heads a list of well-known riders making the move to a new team, joining the revamped Red Bull KTM squad in 2011.
After establishing a solid career with Team Honda, Short joins forces with longtime Rockstar/Makita Suzuki team manager and motocross legend Roger DeCoster, who helped navigate Dungey to the championship last season.
Additionally, Short will lead the first ever supercross campaign for the new 350cc motorcycle introduced by KTM last year. The change of scenery excites Short and he hopes it leads to big things for himself and the KTM organization.
Andrew Short (KTM Supercross) says: "Everything is exciting. A new bike, new team manager, new teammates and now I see all of my competitors. This is a great time of year for me. I think it’ll be a benefit to have Roger help me grow from what I’ve been accustomed to in the past.
"The 350cc bike is very capable and I feel more nimble than a 450. KTM has put a lot of effort into making it competitive and I’m looking forward to the season."
The buzz is huge and what could very well be the most competitive Monster Energy Supercross season of all time is just about here. It all goes down on Saturday night. Fans unable to make it out to Angel Stadium can catch LIVE coverage on SPEED, beginning at 7 p.m. (PST).