Newly Crowned AMA Supercross Lites Eastern Region Champion
Christophe Pourcel showed his champion’s prowess by winning his fifth race of the season in dominating fashion. His Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki teammate Austin Stroupe charged through the field to finish on the podium in third. In the supercross class, Canidae/Motosport/Kawasaki’s Tommy Hahn finished a season-best seventh with Billy Laninovich putting his Monster Energy Kawasaki in the top-10.
With the championship trophy already sitting on his mantle, Pourcel came to Jacksonville with his sights set on claiming another win. In his heat race, the French rider didn’t get a good start and fought his way up to fourth before the checkered flag. The main event was a different story though as Pourcel came out of the first turn near the front and then set his sights on claiming the lead. When he made it to the front, he began gapping the rest of the field. Pourcel quickly built a four-second lead before settling into a comfortable pace.
“It isn’t any better than celebrating a title with another win,” said Pourcel. “It is just awesome. Even though I was riding smooth and I built a good lead, the track wasn’t easy tonight. I was working really hard. I was focused on the start and I almost got the holeshot and then I just kept charging to take the win.”
Stroupe jumped out of the starting gate in the main, but as he exited the first turn he was mired deep in the pack running 11th at the end of the first lap. The 18-year-old methodically made his way up to fourth by the final lap and then was able to get the final podium spot just three turns before the finish.
“I got a good jump out of the gate, but I kind of lost my balance and went to the right on the way down the start straight,” said Stroupe. “I just fought my way up through the pack and I was happy to get as many guys as I could by the end of the race. I felt really strong the whole race. I just waited for someone to make a bobble and capitalized on it. I didn’t pay enough attention to how many laps were left and I started my attack a little too late.”
In just his third race with the team, Laninovich combined smooth riding with timely speed to earn his best finish of the season. Laninovich and the team have been working hard to improve his fitness and get him comfortable racing. The hard work during the week has begun to pay dividends as Laninovich put in a great ride.
“My Kawasaki worked really well this weekend,” said Laninovich. “We’ve been working on some things during the week and everyone on the team is supporting me. This is a pretty good feeling getting a top 10. I made a couple of passes and a couple of guys crashed in front of me. My goal was to get in the top 10 and I did that in my third race. Now I want to stay in the top 10 at the next three rounds.”
After moving into fourth place, Stroupe continued to charge and was catching third place. On the last lap, Nico Izzi crashed right in front of Stroupe, with the Kawasaki rider landing on Izzi’s bike. Stroupe was able to stay upright to earn the podium finish.
“I caught Nico a little bit on the last lap,” said Stroupe. “I saw him hit neutral on the face of the jump and I landed right on his bike. I don’t know how I saved it. Luckily I did and I made it to the podium.”
With the East Coast season in the books the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team claimed the top-two spots in the championship standings. During the eight-race season, Pourcel and Stroupe combined to win seven events.
“I’m really happy for both of my East Coast guys,” said Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki Team Manager Mitch Payton. “They both put in a great series this year. Christophe was good and consistent. He was at the front all the time. Austin had the speed and he won races. If he hadn’t crashed out at Daytona it could have been a heck of a fight for the title. I’m pumped because they both rode awesome.”
Though he wasn’t able to race in Jacksonville, Ryan Villopoto was in town to sign autographs and also helping his grandparents celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. With the Villopoto’s golden anniversary falling on race day, Ryan rented a suite at the stadium and his entire family flew in for the party.