Toronto AMA Supercross Pre-Race Conference
The 2013 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship makes its only international spot tonight at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Calif.
One week ago in Indianapolis, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto raced to his sixth win of the season extending his points lead in the process.
Villopoto extended his current winning streak to three races in Indy, taking advantage of an early mistake by James Stewart and fending off some pressure from Ryan Dungey. The win gave Villlopoto six victories for the fourth consecutive season and extended his points lead to nine over Davi Millsaps. Villopoto is the defending race winner in Toronto and expects to keep the momentum going on Saturday night.
“We’re starting to gain momentum,” said Villopoto. “Indy was one of the most challenging tracks thus far so it was great to get the win. Toronto has always been a challenging track as well. The dirt tends to break down and sometimes has a lot of moisture in it. With another win in Toronto we’ll have some breathing room in the points standings.”
Fellow Monster Energy Kawasaki rider Jake Weimer experienced misfortune in Indy when several riders came together in the first corner of the Main Event. Weimer’s bike suffered enough damage to prevent him from continuing, resulting in a DNF. He’ll look to bounce back this weekend.
“I’m feeling like I’m back to where I was when the season began,” said Weimer. “Last weekend started great, but the Main Event did not go my way. This weekend in Toronto I hope to have a great day and night, through to the checkered flag.”
Rockstar Energy Racing’s Davi Millsaps was in the thick of the hunt for a podium finish in Indy. After a couple weeks of tough outings, Millsaps returned to the form that helped him lead the championship for the first nine races of the season. A late crash while running third ultimately left Millsaps off the podium, but he’s ready to start challenging for wins again.
“Bad night, but it could have been worse,” said Millsaps. “I need to keep riding more. It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve been able to ride a lot due to my knee. I’ll shake that rust off. This is a better race than I’ve had the last two weeks, so I need to work on that and keep pushing forward.”
Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey raced to his second straight runner-up finish in Indy, continuing a recent surge that has made him the third member of the battle for the championship. Dungey has finished off the podium just twice in the past seven races and is looking to keep that trend going as he seeks to track down both Millsaps and Villopoto. As a former winner in Toronto, Dungey knows what it takes to be successful inside the Rogers Centre.
TwoTwo Motorsports Honda’s Chad Reed celebrated his 31st birthday last week and despite being the oldest competitor in the field, Reed feels like he still has plenty of speed to run at the front of the field. In Indy, Reed had to overcome a mid-pack start and battled his way into sixth. Reed has not won since early in the 2012 season, so he is eager to get back to the top of the podium.
Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Justin Barcia posted a solid top-five effort in Indy and has finished fifth or better over the last four races. Those results have helped Barcia move into fifth in the championship standings, where he sits just 10 points behind Reed for fourth.
“I’m not completely happy with how Indy went,” stated Barcia. “The track was pretty tough and it was really hard to pass on, which made it difficult. I have some things I need to work on heading into Toronto, so hopefully things will end better.”
Barcia’s Team Honda Muscle Milk teammate Trey Canard experienced a frightening crash in Indy that not only took him out of action for the remainder of the Main Event, but also has left him on the sidelines for Toronto as a result of a concussion. Canard dropped from fourth to sixth in the standings as a result of his DNF and will likely be seventh by the time he returns to the track.
Team Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart looked to be the rider to beat in the early stages of the Main Event in Indy, but a slight mistake in the slowest part of the track resulted in a stalled bike. He fell from first to fifth as a result, but still managed to battle his way back into podium position. Likely feeling like he let one slip away, Stewart will be looking for a win on Saturday night.
“I almost stalled it in that same place twice,” said Stewart. “But, I just stalled it. I don’t know if I hit the brakes. I don’t know what happened, but it’s definitely a bummer because races like that, they’re fun to be in. I was on it from Lap 1. I felt good [and] I was pulling away, but that happened and I just had to regroup and come back. My Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450 worked great in my Heat Race, and even better in the Main Event. That was just a stupid move. That’s what you do when you first get on a motorcycle is stall it. But, we’ll regroup and come back strong for Toronto.”
Andrew Short enjoyed is best performance since joining BTO Sports KTM in Indy with a seventh place finish. Short has shown consistent improvement as he continues to get acclimated to the KTM and is looking to become a regular presence in the battle for the top five.
GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac concluded his foray into the 450SX Class last weekend following a ninth-place finish in Indy. The current Western Regional 250SX Class points leader has gained valuable experience by racing against the best riders on the planet, which he hopes will pay off when the Western Regional Championship returns to action in Seattle in April.
“There was a big mess in the first turn of the Main and I had to get around all that,” explained Tomac. “I still rode pretty well and made my way up to sixth, until a little mistake cost me a few spots and I finished ninth. I’m excited to head back into the 250SX Class because I feel like I am going to be really strong confidence-wise. I have learned a lot these last few races in the 450SX Class, and that is going to be very helpful when I move up to the class full-time.”
Toyota/Yamaha/JGRMX’s Justin Brayton didn’t have the night he was hoping for in Indy, but made the most of it en route to a 13th-place finish. One year ago in Toronto, Brayton challenged Villopoto for the win for one of the best races of his career. He’ll look to use that experience to his advantage tomorrow night.
The Eastern Regional 250SX Class Championship continues to take shape five races into the season. Last weekend, the title fight intensified after a wild night of racing and that is sure to continue in Toronto.
Despite starting at the tail end of the field in the Main Event as a result of a first-turn incident, GEICO Honda’s Wil Hahn was able to battle his way through the field and claim the final spot on the podium. Hahn remains the only rider to finish on the podium in each race thus far, which has helped keep him in control of the championship. With a nine-point lead to his credit, Hahn will be in search of his third victory tomorrow night.
“I honestly am disappointed in the way I rode [in Indy] because I was tight and cautious all the way around,” said Hahn. “Looking at the positive, I’m still came out with the points lead and the red plate is staying on my GEICO Honda, so I am happy with that. I need to refocus this week in Toronto so I can come out with another win.”
Fellow GEICO Honda rider Zach Bell showed some speed in Indy and was in search of a strong result, but suffered from misfortune en route to a 13th-place finish. He’ll look to turn things around in Toronto.
“I couldn’t really push the way I wanted to because I felt like I was going to be sick,” said Bell. “My energy wasn’t there, so I am okay with how I finished based off how I was feeling.”
Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin brings a two-race winning streak into Toronto, following an impressive come-from-behind victory in Indy. Like Hahn, Musquin was a part of the incident in the first corner of the Main Event, but managed to fight his way into second place by the last lap. On the final lap, a crash by leader Blake Wharton gave Musquin the lead, which he carried through to the finish. The win moved Musquin to second in the championship, just nine points behind Hahn.
Rockstar Energy Racing’s Blake Wharton appeared to have his first win of the season well within reach after grabbing the holeshot and leading the first 19 laps of the Main Event. Wharton enjoyed a comfortable lead on the final lap, but lost control of his bike in a rhythm section, ultimately relegating him a fifth-place result. Despite that, Wharton still moved into third in the championship.
“I had a rough day with a practice crash, but I knew I needed a good start in the Main,” said Wharton. “I got the holeshot and was riding solid until my mishap. I have the speed, I just need to put every lap down.”
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki will be without the services of title favorite Dean Wilson for the time being following a frightening crash in his Heat Race in Indy. Wilson suffered a broken rib and punctured a lung as a result of the crash and for now his return is uncertain. Wilson fell from second to fourth in the standings and it looks as though his 250SX Class career might be coming to a heartbreaking conclusion.
Wilson’s Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki teammate Josh Hill has enjoyed solid results in the first five races of his pro career and will now take the reigns as lead rider for the team in Wilson’s absence. In Indy, Hill’s fifth-place finished tie his career best and he currently occupies sixth in the championship heading into his debut ride in Toronto.
“I’m excited for Toronto,” said Hill. “It’s my first time racing in Canada. We came up early and rode for the Canadian press and I felt really comfortable. The dirt is good and I like to track layout.”
Broadcast coverage of the 12 race of the 2013 season will air live on SPEED, tomorrow night, March 23, beginning at 7:30 p.m. SupercrossLIVE! will stream three hours of practice and qualifying at SupercrossOnline.com beginning at 2 p.m. ET.
Supercross LIVE! is back in 2013 with a three-hour mid-raceday program from 2 – 3 p.m. local time. Hosts, Jim Holley, a former World Supercross Champion, and Kevin Barnett, a former member of the U.S. Men’s Olympic Volleyball Team and professional broadcaster, will provide in-depth analysis of the afternoon’s practice and qualifying sessions as the riders and teams prepare for the night racing, in addition to interviews and behind-the-scenes coverage.