2014 Daytona Supercross | Winners and Losers
By virtue of being past the halfway mark in the Monster Energy AMA Supercross season, the Daytona Supercross Presented By Honda can be an epic yawn, depending on rider attrition due to injury, or it can also be an epic battle if conditions are wrong (think 2008’s mud-fest). Last Saturday was somewhere in-between. Let’s see who won and who lost.
Ryan Villopoto. Monster Energy Kawasaki. Looking like the Villopoto of 2013, the KX450F pilot stole the holeshot from Mike Alessi and ran away with the race, winning by more than 12 seconds. He was never challenged, he never let up, and, other than a minor tipover, Villopoto never significantly faltered. Villopoto now has more than a one-race lead over KTM’s Ryan Dungey (who finished third), his closest competitor in the Monster Energy AMA Supercross series. Total and Complete Win.
Ken Roczen. Red Bull KTM. Roczen didn’t get a great jump off the start, so he lost time to the front-runners while getting around Andrew Short and Malcolm Stewart. Midway through the race he started working on Ryan Dungey, but by that time Villopoto was long gone. He earned the second step on the box, but there was not much more Roczen could have done. Win.
Dean Wilson. Discount Tire Racing Kawasaki. Wilson had a great Heat race on injured Chad Reed’s bike, grabbing the holeshot, and holding off James Stewart for the win. He had another great start in the Main, and ran second behind Villopoto for 14 laps before tightening up in the last quarter of the race. While not quite ready for the full 20 laps of the premier class on the longer Ricky Carmichael-designed Daytona course, 450-rookie fill-in Wilson is putting the rest of the class on notice for his likely move to the 450SX division next year. Win.
Malcolm Stewart. Troy Lee Designs Honda. Riding for the first time in the 450SX class, Malcolm Stewart looked comfortable and aggressive on his CRF450R, transferring straight into the main from his Heat. Stewart had a great start in the Main, running 4th for a while before being overtaken by Roczen. On Lap 9, Malcolm was taken out by an ill-advised pass attempt by Justin Barcia, which left Stewart’s radiator damaged and his night finished. While I didn’t like Stewart’s juvenile reaction – he shoved Barcia in frustration, costing Stewart a $5000 AMA fine – I was impressed with Malcolm’s speed on the big bike and what he’ll be bringing to the mix in the 450 class next year, if he can get a good ride and keep his composure. Win.
Broc Tickle. RCH Racing Dodge/Sycuan Suzuki. Finishing just one step—albeit a very long (25-second) step—off the podium, Tickle rode his RM-Z450 to a season’s-best 4th place finish. Win.
Andrew Short. BTOSports KTM. Having solidly staked out the middle of the finishing order in the first half of the season with seven 9th or 10th places finishes, Short is building some forward momentum. Last week he was 6th and this week he climbed to 5th. He passes Justin Barcia for 6th place in the series standings. Win.
James Stewart. Yoshimura Suzuki. James was unable to avoid connecting with Mike Alessi’s tumbling bike on the opening turn of the Main. Alessi’s handlebars bashed Stewart’s header pipe, which resulted in a trip to the mechanic’s pits to swap out said dented pipe. Stewart rejoined the race, salvaging three points by riding his RM-Z450 to an 18th place finish, but that certainly lets out any wind that was left in the Yoshimura Suzuki sail this Supercross season—Stewart is now more than two races behind Villopoto. Lose.
Eli Tomac. GEICO Honda. This is just not Tomac’s season. It started off unceremoniously at A1 with the shoulder injury, and then despite last weekend’s resuscitating 2nd place finish, he crashes twice in Saturday’s practice session, reinjuring the same shoulder. At this point it might be best to take an extended break, heal fully, and prep for MX. Lose.
Justin Barcia. Muscle Milk Honda. After missing the past two races due to a knee injury, Barcia was back in fighting form at Daytona—and that was the problem. Starting 8th and slowly working his way up a couple of spots, Barcia’s hard block pass on Malcolm Stewart on Lap 8 went wrong, and they both went down. It was completely unnecessary, stupid, and short sighted. Instead of racing for a podium, Barcia finished 12th. Lose.
Mike Alessi. MotoConcepts Suzuki. From season-best 6th place finish two weeks ago in Atlanta, to last week’s disappointment after cross-rutting and going down while running a solid 2nd place on lap 12, the mercurial Alessi will have to dig deep to maintain a positive outlook. His night started well with a direct transfer out of his Heat, finishing behind Villopoto. Unfortunately, Alessi went down in the Main’s first turn crush, going down and damaging his front brake perch. After a quick replacement, Alessi rejoined and finished 7th. Lose.
Photography by Simon Cudby and Jake Klingensmith