The Phoenix round of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross series proved to be an exciting showdown between James Stewart and Ryan Villopoto, the two riders who have established themselves as the early season favorites in this year’s series. In the end, Villopoto seemed to have more than enough speed but it was Stewart who came away with the win – his first in over a year.
After finishing third at the opener in Anaheim, Stewart came into Phoenix intent on improving his stock in the series. The San Manuel Yamaha rider set the pace in practice, turning the fastest overall time, although only .2 faster than Villopoto, who set the second and third fastest times of the session. Stewart was quickest off the line and led the 20-rider field into the first turn to start the main event. And while he was pushed hard by Villopoto during the early going, Stewart rode a mistake-free race and held on to take a well deserved flag-to-flag win.
Villopoto came into Phoenix with a confident outlook on the series, having easily won the opening round a week before. After getting off the line in third, the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider quickly moved into second, passing GEICO Powersports Honda’s Kevin Windham on lap three and closing the gap between himself and Stewart. According to the time sheets, Villopoto turned the fastest lap in the main event, but Stewart was patient and ultimately it was the green number two that made the mistake that determined the outcome of the race.
On lap seven, Villopoto lost the front wheel in this flat and slippery corner, just before the mechanic’s area. And by the time he remounted, Stewart was long gone. In spite of the momentary lapse, Villopoto still managed a second place finish and left Phoenix with a two-point lead in the series standings. “That was a tricky part of the track,” Villopoto said after the race. “James bobbled there in the heat race and I was the one to make the mistake in the main. It was a tricky track and you had to stay focused for the whole race.”
Trey Canard has established himself as a legit contender. The redheaded Okie is in his first full season of Supercross in the 450 division and he’s showing that he’s not afraid to tangle with the big dogs. In Phoenix, Canard worked through the pack after a so-so start, passing Ryan Dungey and Windham to move into third. At that point, Canard says that he could have done a lot better. “I’m a little disappointed in how I rode once I got up to third,” said Canard. “I just kind of floundered and I know I could have done a lot better.” With 15 more rounds to go, look for Canard to be on top of the podium before the year is done.
Chad Reed made a lot of progress during the course of the day at Chase Field. He was a disappointing 11th after qualifying, but got a decent start in his heat and took the win when Stewart crashed while leading. In the main, Reed was eighth after the first lap and battled back and forth with Dungey for most of the race, before settling into fourth just after the halfway mark. This was another positive step for Reed and Two Two Motorsports, and it looks like all the pieces are starting to fit into place for the Aussie.
Ryan Dungey was red-faced and upset after finishing fifth in the main event. It wasn’t articulated to the press, but it was obvious that he and his Rockstar Makita Suzuki struggled with the tricky track conditions, which were slippery and hard to judge. After the race, Dungey had a meeting with team manager Mike Webb, along with mechanic Goose Gosselaar and when he emerged this is what he had to say: “It was definitely a rough night,” said Dungey. “I think it’s a little bit of a wakeup call for us, and hopefully we can learn from this and improve.”
Just like at Anaheim 1, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Broc Tickle took the early lead in the Lites main event. And just like at the opener, he yielded the win to teammate Josh Hansen. Tickle looked well on his way to his first win, but slid out in another of Chase Field’s slippery turns. After dropping back to third behind Rockstar Suzuki’s Ryan Marais, Tickle managed to regain the runner-up position, where he finished the race.
KTM’s Ken Roczen had another bad weekend. After turning the second fastest time in qualifying behind Hansen, Roczen got off to a mid-pack start in the main and crashed hard while making his way through the pack. And while the crash was terrifying to watch, a KTM spokesperson reported that Roczen was fine and should be ready for Dodger Stadium.
Josh Hansen is making the most of the opportunity that Pro Circuit’s Mitch Payton is giving him, and after winning the opening two rounds of the Lites West series, he now leads the standings by six points over Tickle. “I’m really stoked to get the win,” Hansen said on the Lites podium. “I didn’t get the start I needed to, but I tried my best to be patient and it worked out for me.”
1. James Stewart (Yam)
2. Ryan Villopoto (Kaw)
3. Trey Canard (Hon)
4. Chad Reed (Hon)
5. Ryan Dungey (Suz)
6. Justin Brayton (Yam)
7. Andrew Short (KTM)
8. Brett Metcalfe (Suz)
9. Kyle Chisholm (Yam)
10. Kyle Regal (Yam)
1. Josh Hansen (Kaw)
2. Broc Tickle (Kaw)
3. Ryan Morais (Suz)
4. Cole Seely (Hon)
5. Eli Tomac (Hon)
6. Tyla Rattray (Kaw)
7. James Decotis (Hon)
8. Travis Baker (Hon)
9. Martin Davalos (Suz)
10. Kyle Cunningham (Yam)