Story by Shan Moore
Photos by Jeff Kardas
Up until this weekend, Justin Barcia has struggled to repeat the dominating performance he threw down at the second round of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series in Phoenix where he took a wire-to-wire win. However, the slick and challenging conditions at Saturday’s race at CenturyLink Field in Seattle must have favored the Team Honda Muscle Milk rider as he once again wowed the field with his “wild child” style by leading every lap, including the “money” lap, of the main event for win number two if his 450-class career.
Barcia grabbed the holeshot to start the 20-lap main event and then held off repeated advances by Ryan Villopoto before pulling away over the final few laps to take a well-deserved “W”. All in all, the Seattle course was not a very forgiving one, with deep ruts developing in the slippery mud after off and on showers pelted the area throughout the day.
“Villopoto made some charges at me and he kept me on my toes,” said Barcia. “Being in the lead is always stressful, but I put in a strong ride, the bike was awesome after the changes we made, and I just really enjoyed the race.”
After the race, Barcia credited his good start for his success on the night. “I tell you what, that holeshot is so key,” said Barcia. “We made some great changes today on the bike. It was a tough track with so many lines, but there was one main line that was so much better than any other. I’ve been waiting for this since Phoenix.”
Barcia’s win solidified his fourth place status in the series standings.
It wasn’t the win that Ryan Villopoto was hoping to get in front of a hometown crowd, but the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider’s runner-up finish put him in good position in the overall standings, now sitting a full race (25 points) ahead of Davi Millsaps with just two rounds to go.
RV2 moved into second place on lap three of the main event and then closed on Barcia, shadowing the Honda rider for three-quarters of the race before backing off when the two riders encountered lappers over the course of the last few laps.
“In these conditions, a second is as good as a win,” Villopoto added. “I tried to put in a charge to catch him, but Justin was just riding too well. I didn’t get the start I wanted, so to come out the way I did and salvage that was awesome. I rode 20 solid laps but Justin was on it. I just really couldn’t do anything with him. The way it turned out tonight was pretty good for what we were up against at the start.”
Next up on the schedule is Salt Lake, which is another “open-air” stadium, and we’ve had foul weather at that race in the past. Earlier in the year, at Indy, Villopoto had said that he was hoping to get a safe lead before the series goes into the two open-air races, because “anything can happen at those races – depending on the weather.”
For the most part, Davi Millsaps had a good weekend. He dominated his heat race, taking the win ahead of Justin Barcia. And in the main event, the Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki rider posted the fastest lap of the race en route to third. Early in the race, he actually reeled in Barcia and Villopoto. But in the end, the Georgia Honda rider settled for the final podium spot, some 20 seconds behind RV.
“This weekend was a struggle for me, but other than that, being on the podium was nice,” said Millsaps. “Seven heat race wins and 10 podiums, that’s the most I’ve ever had in a season, and I can’t complain about that.”
Ryan Dungey and Chad Reed both went down in the first turn of the main event, with Dungey rejoining the race and finishing the first lap in 16th place. Meanwhile, Reed wound up walking back to the pits and calling it a day. Dungey put in a valiant effort, the Red Bull KTM rider eventually coming from the back to finish fourth, however, the position ultimately cost him as he dropped from third to fourth in the series standings, one point behind Millsaps.
Jake Weimer has had his share of problems in the 2013 season, but in Seattle, the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider ended the race in fifth, 22.4 seconds behind Dungey, to match his best performance of the season. Despite the tough track conditions, Weimer showed confidence and speed after starting outside the top 10.
Ken Roczen took advantage of a crash by Eli Tomac on lap 10 of the 250 main event to claim his third win of the season. Roczen seemed unable to catch Tomac early in the race, as the Honda rider slowly pulled away out front. However, Tomac’s crash handed Roczen a 10-second lead with four laps to go, and the former MX2 champ put his Red Bull KTM on cruise control for the remaining four laps and crossed the finish line with a 9.6-second gap for the win. With two races remaining in the 250 West series, Roczen stretches his lead to 20 points over Tomac in the standings.
“It’s good to bounce back from a bad Heat Race with good start,” said Roczen. “I just put my head down and rode smart. The track was really technical out there, with a lot of ruts. It feels good to get a win after such a long break; it’s tough to get in a groove after so much time off, but I’m so happy I was able to walk away with this one.”
Tomac came into the race needing desperately to take a win in order to close the points gap on Roczen, and through the first nine laps it looked like he would do exactly that. However, on lap 10, the GEICO Honda rider came up short on a jump and went over the bars, handing the lead to Roczen.
“The track was getting tough in the Main Event,” said Tomac. “I got a good start and started pulling away, but then I made a big mistake. It’s kind of a bummer, but that’s racing. I was lucky enough to be able to get up in second and still finish on the podium.”
Seattle Tid Bits:
With an average finish of 3.1, Villopoto has more than made up for his 16th place finish at the season opener in Anaheim. Following Anaheim, he’s been on the podium at 11 races, which includes a season-leading eight wins. With the exception of the last two races in Minneapolis and in Seattle, Villopoto has gone virtually unchallenged since starting a five-race win streak that started in St. Louis.
Rockstar Energy Racing’s Davi Millsaps, who led the point standings through the first nine races, has been struggling with a knee injury.
“We’ve got to go back and make a few tweaks on my bike and myself to improve and move forward,” said Millsaps after last week’s race in Minneapolis. “A lot of people are looking at the bad this year because I was in the points lead and now I’m in third. I’ve never led the points. I’ve never been on the podium nine times in one season. It’s really been an accomplishment for myself and my team to be up in the front as much as we are. I still feel like we’ve made a statement. We’re here and we’re not going anywhere, and we’re going to keep pushing to move forward.”
As reported earlier in the week, Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart elected to skip the Seattle race, as well as the final two races of the series, due to a wrist injury he suffered in Minneapolis.
“The decision to sit out of the last three races is a tough one for all of us,” said Stewart. “The supercross season hasn’t been going the best, but I’ve been having a great time racing, thanks to the fans and my Yoshimura Suzuki team. They’ve all been supporting me the whole time. So to have this last little injury – I hurt my wrist in the Heat Race and then again in the Main Event – was a disappointment. I think this is the smart decision for us overall, and now I am going to focus on recovering and getting ready for the motocross season.”
1. Justin Barcia (Hon)
2. Ryan Villopoto (Kaw)
3. Davi Millsaps (Suz)
4. Ryan Dungey (KTM)
5. Jake Weimer (Kaw)
6. Mike Alessi (Suz)
7. Broc Tickle (Suz)
8. Justin Brayton (Yam)
9. Andrew Short (KTM)
10. Phillip Nicoletti (Yam)
250 West Regional
1. Ken Roczen (KTM)
2. Eli Tomac (Hon)
3. Zach Osborne (Hon)
4. Cole Seely (Hon)
5. Tyla Rattray (Kaw)
6. Austin Politelli (Hon)
7. Ryan Sipes (Suz)
8. Joey Savatgey (KTM)
9. Martin Davalos (Kaw)
10. Jason Anderson (Suz)