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Update from the Monster Energy Kawasaki Supercross Team.
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto thrilled his hometown crowd at Qwest Field in Seattle with an electrifying win on Saturday night. Villopoto took the lead early and never looked back as he scored his first-career AMA Supercross win. Billy Laninovich won the Canidae Last Chance Qualifier to make the main event where he finished 20th. In the AMA Supercross Lites class, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Ryan Morais finished second just ahead of his teammate Jake Weimer who finished fourth.
Though Villopoto is only 20-years-old, he already has a laundry list of career accomplishments and his win in Seattle ranks right among the top. Villopoto led 16 of the 20 laps in the main event in front of a very partisan crowd that was on its feet throughout the race.
"This is definitely awesome," said Villopoto. "It really is a double whammy with the win coming in front of the home crowd. This is something that is special. I’m going to remember this for quite a while."
For the fifth time this season, Morais stood on the second tallest step of the podium. After winning his heat race in Seattle, Morais got out to a good start in main event, but just didn’t have enough to catch the race winner.
"Second place is good," said Morais. "Though I like it on the podium, I want to get my first win. I’m trying so hard. This is a great season for the team and me. They are working so hard and I can’t thank those guys enough."
With just one race left, Weimer now trails the championship leader by nine points. After getting a bad start, Weimer proved to be one of the fastest riders on the difficult track, working his way up through the field to finish just one spot off of the podium.
"Tonight was just one of those nights for me," said Weimer. "I didn’t get a good start, and I had to pass a few people. It was a tough track and there were a lot of ruts. From here we just have to regroup and win the last race."
Morais’ run to second place was very eventful as he battled Trey Canard during the first half of the main event.
"Trey was sweating me back there big time," said Morais. "I was riding a little defensive. I didn’t want to leave the door open. I felt like I was riding well. We were chipping into the lead while we were battling, but it wasn’t enough."
Making it Better
After missing the last three events, Villopoto showed he hadn’t lost a step coming out fast in the first practice session. He kept his speed up throughout the day, nearly winning his heat race before riding to his first career win.
"I had a good heat race," said Villopoto. "I got a good start. I was able to ride really well. We worked on the bike this last week when I wasn’t worried about being sick anymore. As tonight showed we made it better. I can’t thank the team enough for sticking by me these last few weeks. They give 100 percent all the time and this is the best way to repay them."
Everyone was talking about the dirt at Qwest Field as the sandy surface produced a lot of ruts during every session. Despite the difficult conditions the riders were able to still put together fast laps.
"It was really sandy on top," said Morais. "Deep down it was pretty hard though. There were some big rocks and some bricks out there. On one lap you would go over the triple, then on the next there would be a brick sticking out of the rut. It was pretty gnarly. I was surprised with how fast and how much we could sprint on the track."
Making the Main
In just his fourth race with the team, Laninovich qualified for the main event after winning the Canidae Last Chance Qualifier. During the LCQ, Laninovich grabbed the holeshot and then built a five-second lead before cruising to the victory.
"I crashed in the heat race," said Laninovich. "Someone went down right in front of me and I ended up going over the bars. I got a really good start in my LCQ and ended up winning that. I was happy just to make it into the main event. The track was really sandy and rutty. If we could get to a hard pack track I think I’ll be okay."
On the difficult track, Morris knew his start would be key. He grabbed the holeshot in his heat race and was in position for another in the main event.
"It was awesome to get the holeshot in the heat race," said Morais. "I just laid down some fast laps. I think I could have got the holeshot in the main event, but Dungy and I hit really hard going down the start straight. It messed both of us up, but that is part of racing."
On Thursday before the event, Villopoto and Laninovich visited the Seattle Children’s Hospital in conjunction with MX Children’s Charities. The duo signed autographs for a group who raised funds for the hospital.