All three Red Bull/KTM Factory Team riders placed inside the top ten at the ninth round of the AMA Supercross Series held at Daytona International Speedway.
In addition to the positive team result, team rider Andrew Short’s 4th place finish tied the best overall finish record for any KTM rider in Supercross history. His teammates, Ken Roczen and Mike Alessi finished 8th and 10th respectively.
Alessi was up first in Supercross heat number one. Unfortunately, Alessi made a mistake and bolted forward before the gate dropped. He was stuck in the gate and took off dead last from the start. He moved forward at a quick pace and had climbed up to a remarkable 7th place by the end of the second lap. He passed one more rider near the end of the race to finish 6th overall in his heat.
Roczen and Short were up next in heat number two. Roczen, in only his second Supercross heat race, took the holeshot on his KTM 350 SX-F. He was passed on the inside by Davi Millsaps at the exit of the first turn and missed a jump on the next rhythm section to drop to 4th place.
He quickly passed back into the top three behind Supercross leaders Millsaps and James Stewart. On the second lap, Stewart made a mistake and allowed Roczen to close the gap. A few turns later Stewart crashed, handing 2nd place to Roczen.
Stewart quickly rebounded and got back around Roczen on lap four. Meanwhile Short had started inside the top five and ran up as high as 4th place before making a few mistakes at the end of the race to finish 6th in the heat. Roczen went on to finish 3rd behind heat winner Stewart and the 2nd place ride of Millsaps.
The three Red Bull/KTM team riders were joined by another 350cc rider when JDR/J-Star/KTM Team rider Tye Simmonds qualified into the main event. This marked the most KTM 350 SX-F machines that had ever lined a Supercross main event gate.
When the gate dropped, Alessi had a great jump but got pushed to the far outside around the first corner and was run off the track. He quickly got back on and moved into the top fifteen at the end of the first lap. His teammates, Short and Roczen had better luck as Short came out 3rd off the start and Roczen was inside the top ten.
Andrew Short (Red Bull KTM Supercross) says: "I was definitely a little nervous off the start because I had 12th gate pick and was worried I wasn’t going to get out front. When the gate dropped, I hung it all out and was able to make some smart moves and get out front early. I know that getting a good start in a race this demanding is what definitely made my race tonight."
Short was able to capitalize on his great start by moving into 2nd on lap four after Stewart suffered a hard crash. He held 2nd position for two laps before Millsaps made a pass on him on lap five. Chad Reed and Ryan Dungey began to close in on him the following lap and he began to make mistakes as they continued to pressure.
Andrew Short says: "I got a little tight when Reed and Dungey were closing on me and I was trying to ride too hard which caused me to make a few mistakes. Once they got around, I calmed myself down and got back into my rhythm. That is when I started to get time back on Millsaps."
Short went on to run Millsaps down with three laps to go. He made the pass stick on lap seventeen and continued to pull Millsaps to the checkered flag. Short made history when he crossed the line in 4th position tying former KTM factory rider, Mike Fisher’s, best finish on a KTM and also earning the best overall finish for the KTM 350 SX-F in Supercross racing.
Back on the track, Roczen was riding a solid race inside the top ten. Roczen raced around in 9th place for the majority of the race. On lap twelve he was able to avoid a collision that happened when Bret Metcalfe cross-rutted in front of Trey Canard and took both riders out. Roczen snuck by them and moved into 8th place. He held 8th place through the remainder of the moto to earn his second top ten finish in the Supercross class.
Ken Roczen (Red Bull KTM Supercross) says: "I had a lot of fun tonight. I actually got a good start because I rode through the middle instead of off to the inside or outside and was able to move in front of a lot of people right from the beginning. After that, I just tried to remain consistent and maintain my position. I was really happy to get another top ten."
Alessi, who had been run off the track on the start, had climbed back to 11th place by lap four. He fell back to 16th at one point before turning up the heat after the halfway mark and working his way toward the top ten. When the checkered flag flew he had worked his way up to 10th place, putting the third KTM into the top ten.
Mike Alessi (Red Bull KTM Supercross) says: "It’s great to get three KTM’s in the top ten again. I like Daytona because it is as close to an outdoor race as we get in Supercross and I feel more at home on these type of tracks. I wish I could have had a better start to help my race, but I am happy to finish inside the top ten."
Ken Roczen says: All three riders reported that this was the longest Supercross main event they had ever raced. "The track was so long and tough. I am getting ready to head back to Europe to race the GP’s and I think this race was good training for that."
Next AMA Supercross event: Indianapolis, IN – March 12, 2011
AMA Supercross:: Daytona Overall Results Supercross Class:
1) Ryan Villopoto
2) Chad Reed
3) Ryan Dungey
4) Andrew Short – KTM
5) Davi Millsaps
6) Justin Brayton
7) Kevin Windham
8) Ken Roczen – KTM
9) James Stewart
10) Mike Alessi – KTM
11) Ivan Tedesco
12) Matt Boni
13) Trey Canard
14) Michael Byrne
15) Nick Wey
16) Fabien Izoird
17) Tye Simmonds – KTM
18) Brett Metcalfe
19) Chris Blose
20) Matt Goerke
Overall Point Standings Supercross Class (after Daytona):
1) Ryan Villopoto – 196
2) James Stewart – 173
3) Chad Reed – 172
4) Ryan Dungey – 165
5) Trey Canard – 154
6) Andrew Short – 128
7) Brett Metcalfe – 107
8) Justin Brayton – 105
9) Davi Millsaps – 104
10) Kevin Windham – 89