Anaheim Supercross: Pre-Race Conference
2012 AMA Supercross
Following what was coined as the “Greatest Season Ever,” the AMA Supercross, a FIM Championship, returns for 2012 this Saturday at Anaheim, Calif., for the first of 17 rounds.
The 2012 season will once again be packed with top-SX talent, with the most battles expected between the reigning champion, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto, and TwoTwo Motorsports/Bel-Ray Racing’s Chad Reed, Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey, Toyota/Yamaha/JGR’s James Stewart, and American Honda Muscle Milk’s Trey Canard.
And on Thursday, these five Supercross racers participated in a pre-season conference at Anaheim, discussing the upcoming season of AMA Supercross.
All five competitors – Villopoto, Reed, Dungey, Stewart and Canard – scored wins last season, and were a major threat to one another for most of the season. But Canard ended his season three-rounds early due to injury, and as we all know, Villopoto took his first-career SX championship.
Villopoto followed the Supercross feat with taking the Motocross championship, and the Million-Dollar Monster Energy Cup in October. He returns in 2012 to defend his title and hopefully become the first rider since Ricky Carmichael to claim back-to-back championships.
Ryan Villopoto (Monster Energy Kawasaki KX450F) says: “It’s tough to defend the title. Every year is a new year. But, I think a lot of it is based on what you did in the offseason to prepare and coming into the season ready so that on the weekends (at the races) it’s fun.
“We’re out there to get a job done, and that’s to win. We need to minimize mistakes, and Anaheim has a lot of hype, but you can’t win the championship here. You can definitely lose it though. I’ve put in the work this offseason. I’m ready; the bike is 100%, so I think we’re there. I think we’re all just ready to bring it on.”
Last season, the Australian Chad Reed had his first experience on his own creation, the Two-Two Motorsports Honda team. He had two wins and many podium finishes, earning him second in the championship.
For 2012, he continues on his self-owned team but not has full support of American Honda.
Chad Reed (Two-Two Motorsports Honda CR-F 450 Supercross) says: “We’ve had a lot more months to prepare for the season this time around. As a rider, coming into the season, I haven’t been with the same bike and group of people in a long time. We have more support from Honda and I think we have the best bike.
“I think you need to win races now in order to win a championship. Year after year, I’ve been there on the podium, but I’ve only had a couple race wins. I think you need about five this year to be there, so its going to take that effort week in and week out to be a contender.”
In 2011 Supercross, Dungey also had many podiums, but only one victory aboard the Rockstar Makita Suzuki. Due to his efforts, he finished 2011 SX in third overall. For 2012, though, Dungey will be competing on a new machine – the KTM SX-F 450.
He rejoins his lifelong mentor and former team manager Roger DeCoster on the Red Bull KTM team; he debuted on the machine at the Monster Energy Cup in October, earning second overall.
Ryan Dungey (Red Bull KTM SX-F 450 Supercross) says: “The opportunity that presented itself at KTM led to the change in teams. It was a lot of fun at Suzuki, but in going to KTM, there was that level of commitment. It was the perfect fit for me. What they’ve accomplished in the time we’ve had, and being back with Roger and Ian (Harrison) has been a lot of fun. Preparations are going well and we had a great offseason. I feel rested and I feel fit, so I’m looking forward to Saturday.”
Taking fourth overall was James Stewart, who had five victories but remained inconsistent throughout the season. For 2012, Stewart made a high-profile move from San Manuel Yamaha to the Joe Gibbs Racing team, where he will once again context on a Yamaha YZ 450 F.
James Stewart (Joe Gibbs Racing/Toyota/Yamaha YZ450F Supercross) says: “The biggest change for me this season is going to JGR. It was a good change and one that I needed. I spent a lot of time in the offseason trying to decide what was best for me.
“The team is good, so we’ll find out. Although it’s been 10 years (as a pro), I’ve had the opportunity to be rejuvenated and refreshed, but I knew I had to make some changes for 2012. We won five races last season, but it still wasn’t where we needed to be. I went to the drawing board and did what I needed in order to make it happen.”
Canard took three wins aboard the American Honda CR-F 450 during his rookie season, but suffered a late-season injury that forced him out of the championship. He also broke a collarbone while training during the off-season, that will force him out of the early rounds, but he’ll be a major threat once he returns on track.
Trey Canard (American Honda CR-F 450 Supercross) says: “Unfortunately, I’ve learned what to do with my down time because I’ve had so much opportunity to do so (due to injuries). On the plus side, I’ve been able to do things I don’t always get to do.
“I also keep training to stay in shape, so I can come back strong. Through all the adversity, I’ve become a stronger person and a stronger athlete. I’m going to continue to strive whether it means more injures or more success.”
All the action begins this Saturday at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif. SPEED TV will cover Anaheim I live, with coverage beginning at 10 p.m. (EDT) Saturday.