Photos by Drew Ruiz
After two rather uncharacteristic performances at rounds one and two, Ryan Villopoto finally put together a clean weekend and the end result was a dominating victory at Anaheim 2 – round three of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross series at Angel Stadium. And while the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider continues to struggle with starts, finishing the opening lap of the main in sixth place, RV1 seems to have finally found his mojo and was able to quickly knife his way through traffic to put himself at the rear wheel of early leader Trey Canard. RV1 made short work of Canard on the flowing but slick and tight course, passing the Muscle Milk Honda rider on lap six of the 20-lap final before pulling away to a 6.8-second margin at the finish.
Villopoto dominated the night, posting fastest time in qualifying, and winning his heat race before running away with the main event. And while it remains to be seen if Villopoto’s performance was a sign of things to come, if he can continue this level it will make for an interesting rest of the series, watching the defending champ work his way up the order in the series standings.
Once again, Canard was impressive, and for the third week in a row, he and Davi Millsaps were major players. This weekend’s race marked the one-year anniversary of Canard’s horrific accident at Dodger’s Stadium (which resulted in a broken back for Canard and put him out of contention for nearly a year), however, the redheaded Oklahoman didn’t seemed fazed by history and ran an impressive race, leading four laps before Villopoto eventually went by. For sure, he seemed more aggressive than he was at the first two races and didn’t experience a “hiccup” on the final lap like he did in those two rounds.
Canard currently sits second in the standings, just three points behind Millsaps, after three rounds. The Oklahoma rider led four laps in total of the main after passing holeshotter Jake Weimer on lap two. It’s surly just a matter of time before Canard gets his first win of the year.
As for Millsaps, the Rockstar Energy Suzuki rider overcame misfortune in his heat race to grab a fourth place finish and hold onto the Red Plate, which designates he’s the series points leader for another week. In his heat race, Millsaps hit the ground on the run-up to the first turn and was relegated to transferring to the final via the LCQ, where he came out on top of an unusually fierce battle with Justin Barcia to take the win. In the main, Millsaps was in podium position until throwing it away with a slide-out late in the race. Like at the first two rounds, Millsaps looks smooth and fast and seems to have found the consistency he has lacked in the past. Don’t count out another win for the Georgia rider, especially at his home race in the Georgia Dome.
Rounding out the podium was Chad Reed, the TwoTwo Motorsports owner and rider taking advantage of the Millsaps slip to move into third just two laps before the finish. Reed didn’t look happy on the podium and admitted that he has work to do to get where he and the team hope to be. Like Millsaps, don’t count Reed out of getting a win this year. Rumors have it that he’s not totally satisfied with his 2013 Honda and he’s still making tweaks. Once he gets things sorted out, however, he could be a threat for a win, especially back east.
Justin Barcia was running near the front in the main event when he came up short on a triple and hit his chin on his cross bar. Dirt Rider’s man on the track, Sean Klinger, got a first-hand look at Barcia’s incident and the aftermath: He came up short on a triple then went through the whoops then ditched his bike and stumbled into the infield, clutching his face and asking for help. When an Asterisk medical team member ran to him Barcia grabbed the medic by the shoulders, visibly shaking… he was really scared. He was bleeding from a big gash on the bridge of his nose and from both corners of his left eye. Bleeding from the eye is never good. When he was sitting on the asterisk mule, his eyes were closed and he was breathing hard. Later, when I was walking through the pits I saw him leaving the Asterisk medical semi. I couldn’t see his face, but the fact he didn’t go to a hospital probably means it wasn’t a vision threatening injury. Scary stuff.
James Stewart announced during the week that the knee injury he incurred at Phoenix the week before actually involved a torn ACL. Despite the news, the Yoshimura Suzuki rider went out and posted the third fastest qualifying time behind Villopoto and Dungey. Like he has been all year, Stewart was fast at A2, but could he maintain that pace during the actual race? JS7 got off to a mid-pack start, 12th after lap one, and moving up to sixth on lap four. However, Stewaie went down in a corner while dueling with Josh Grant and dropped off the pace until eventually finishing ninth.
Before the race, supercross legend and perennial fan favorite Kevin Windham unexpectedly announced his retirement. The 34-year-old steps down from a 19-year career after a lifetime of contributions, including 18 Supercross main event wins. Additionally, KDub is second behind Mike LaRocco in career main event starts. Many of the top riders paid tribute in some form to Windham before or after the race.
On a side note: Unlike the course at last week’s round in Phoenix, which was tight and slick and difficult to pass on, the course the Dirt Wurx crew set up for the second trip to Angel Stadium made for excellent racing in both classes. There were several great passes in the turn heading onto the start straight, with multiple line combinations that allowed for plenty of passing. If you remember, this race was originally slated for Dodger Stadium, and the Dirt Wurx crew did a great job of adapting the layout that was originally planned for Dodger Stadium into Angel Stadium. Interestingly enough, this dirt has been sitting in Angel Stadium since the beginning of the year (Feld uses it for all the Anaheim SX races as well as the Monster Jam events), and due to the warmer weather in California this week the dirt base had visibly dried out more compared to the first Anaheim event.
Eli Tomac seems to be making a statement in the 250 class, the GEICO Powersports Honda rider taking his third consecutive 250 main event win at A2 and looking almost unbeatable in doing so. Despite having the flu all week, Tomac looked extremely strong. One thing that Eli is doing that is definitely helping him is that he knows when to attack and when to hang back. This week, Tomac approached the first three laps of the main event with an aggressive urgency, not allowing anyone else to push him around while staying out of traffic (and trouble). He then settled into a smooth flow and began ticking off consistent laps before once again wicking up the pace near the end of the main. Tempo is an important aspect of Supercross racing, and Eli has it down.
Ken Roczen is soooo close to getting a win in 2013, but just can’t seem to hold off Eli Tomac. The Red Bull KTM rider has started out ahead of Tomac in each of the first three main events and is able to put himself in position to get a win, but just can’t seem to match the speed that Tomac is bringing. Roczen is making little mistakes that are costing him, while Tomac seems to be able to put together error-free races.
Interesting observance: Ken Roczen speaks better English than some of the American racers!
Cole Seeley led the first 10 laps of the 15-lap 250 main on his Lucas Oil Troy Lee Designs Honda before giving way to Tomac and Roczen. Seely grabbed the holeshot to start the race and did a good job of holding off Roczen for the lead. But in the end, Tomac and Roczen were finally able to get by. Seely put up a good fight and appear not to be intimidated.