2011 AMA Supercross
The Supercross season many are calling the most exciting, most demanding, most competitive, and most unpredictable has come to an end.
After a grueling 2011 AMA Supercross season, Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto was crowned champion last night in Las Vegas. Coming into the final round with a nine point advantage over Chad Reed, the Washington-born Supercross rider rode a smart race to sew up the title.
The night had a palpable electricity in the air as three riders were in serious position to take the title. Villopoto, followed by Chad Reed, and Ryan Dungey were separated by twelve points. In the world of racing this kind of spread doesn’t mean much in the way of safety margins.
Trailing these three was fast man James Stewart, who, although trailing by 23 points, was still mathematically in a position to win-if catastrophe were to happen (and it has in the past).
All the main Supercross protagonists transferred through their respective heat races to secure their spot in the main event. When the gate dropped it was Kevin Windham that took the lead. Stewart stalked him for a few laps before getting past.
However, Windham (the veteran of the Supercross series) stayed glued to Stewart’s rear wheel and the two were starting to gap the field. But on lap seven of the twenty-lap main, Stewart, as he has done so many times this season, crashed. Stewart got off hard in the whoop section and his Yamaha ended up perpendicular to the whoops, directly in the path of Windham. With no where to go Windham tried to ride over the Yamaha but the Honda rider got thrown over the bars.
With Stewart and Windham on the ground, Villopoto, who had been biding his time in third, was handed the lead, followed by Reed and Dungey. There were a few scary moments as neither Stewart or Windham was quick to get up. Eventually they did, but by the time they were up they were both out of contention.
Villopoto, Reed, and Dungey circulated in the same order they were in for the AMA Supercross points chase until lap twelve when Reed got past Villopoto. The Kawasaki rider retook the lead but Villopoto, showing real maturity in the heat of action, let Reed past. He was thinking championship as opposed to race win. That said, Reed was riding more confidently then ever and was on a real tear. Certainly in the back of his mind he was thinking to secure the lead and be in the best position he could be should some horrible luck befall Villopoto.
On lap later Dungey closed the gap on Villopto and once again the Kawasaki rider showed his smarts, allowing the Suzuki rider past. After Dungey went past, Villopoto took a long look back to see where fourth place was. You could see him relax. It was now just a matter of staying where he was, not doing anything stupid, and avoiding getting tangled with lappers. Certainly those last eight laps were the longest in Villopoto’s career.
Dungey caught Reed and made several attempts at a pass but Reed had the bit between his teeth. At the checkered it was Reed, putting in an excellent ride, followed by Dungey. A good way back Villopoto crossed the finish line in third to secure the 2011 Supercross Championship.
One has to appreciate what this kid has done, coming back from a horrendously broken leg last season. When he got back on a bike shortly before the season started, many were wondering if he would be able to ride, let alone compete for the title.
Ryan Villopoto was elated, sharing the victory and the championship title euphoria with his team and supporters.
With that big grin of his, Villopoto said, “I can’t thank everybody at Monster Energy Kawasaki and the team enough. They believed in me. We’ll enjoy this one. Luckily I was able to go around Kevin and James.
“At the beginning of the year I was able to hire Aldon Baker as my trainer, probably the best move of my career. My fitness has greatly improved, we are a good team, along with Monster Energy Kawasaki. I just have to thank everyone at Kawasaki. The team believed in me through thick and thin. It was a hard-fought battle. I wasn’t pulling away form Chad, so I just let him by and Ryan Dungey was right behind him, so then I let him by. I just cruised from there.”
Considering Villopoto didn’t qualify for the Supercross main in Florida it’s amazing he was able to maintain his point lead, slim at times, and ride to the title.
Here’s how the field ended up in the 2011 AMA Supercross main event at Sam Boyd Stadium:
- Chad Reed, Honda
- Ryan Dungey, Suzuki
- Ryan Villopoto, Kawasaki
- Chris Blose, Kawasaki
- Andrew Short, KTM
- Jake Weimer, Kawasaki
- Austin Stroupe, Yamaha
- Nick Wey, Yamaha
- Kyle Regal, Yamaha
- Tye Simmonds, KTM
And the final standings for the 2011 Supercross Championship:
- Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki – 338
- Chad Reed, Tampa, Fla., Honda – 334
- Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., Suzuki – 328
- James Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Yamaha – 301
- Trey Canard, Shawnee, Okla., Honda – 255
- Andrew Short, Smithville, Texas, KTM – 230
- Kevin Windham, Centreville, Miss., Honda – 207
- Davi Millsaps, Carlsbad, Calif., Yamaha – 180
- Justin Brayton, Cornelius, N.C, Yamaha – 155
- Wey, Dewitt, Mich., Yamaha – 152