What Really Happened: Toronto Supercross

Photos by Jeff Kardas

12 races in to the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship, the title contenders are beginning to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. In the 250SX division, KTM’s Marvin Musquin, Factory Connection Honda’s Wil Hahn and Rockstar Suzuki’s Blake Wharton continue to dice for the top three positions on the podium and in the points standings. The 450SX class is also providing plenty of sparks, with Davi Millsaps and Ryan Dungey starting to feel pressure from a hard charging, points leading Ryan Villopoto. Heading in to the Toronto round, grabbing a win was critical for the top racers in both classes.

The expansive floor layout inside of the Rogers Center made for a larger-than-normal track, with multiple passing opportunities and one massive whoop section that was actually mellowed out by the Dirt Wurx crew after several top riders voiced their concerns. Several racers commented that the loamy dirt was better than they had ever seen in Toronto with less rocks than previous years, a result of being sifted more and the dirt not having been stored outside in the frozen terrain, prior to being loaded into the stadium.

Surprisingly, sparks flew even before the riders took to the track. Prior to the race, TwoTwo Motorsports’ Chad Reed made an announcement that he would be taking a break from the series following Toronto to have surgery on his knee. He felt that he hit a plateau with his rehab and it never got any better after that. The doctors are going to go in and clean some more cartilage out of Reed’s knee and he will try to be back before the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series ends.

In 450 heat race #1, Joe Gibbs Racing Yamaha’s Justin Brayton was credited with the holeshot, although it was N-Fab/ Ti-Lube’s Phil Nicoletti who opened up an early lead. Team Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart and KTM-mounted Andrew Short followed closely in third and fourth, with Stewart eventually passing for the lead on an aggressive outside line, maintaining first for the remainder of the heat. Meanwhile, Dungey had to work past a handful of riders to earn second position, which he would hold until the finish. The win was Stewart’s seventh heat race victory of the season, and set him up for a great starting position for the main event. The second 450 heat broke out with Villopoto in the lead being chased by an extremely aggressive Justin Barcia, Mike Alessi and Davi Millsaps. Alessi eventually fell off the pace leading to an all-out dogfight between Barcia and Millsaps, with the Honda rider coming out on top. Chad Reed fought his way into fifth place after working his way up after a bad line choice the first lap, missing a triple. After the race Villopoto commented on the track already breaking down, “There’s a lot of concrete already showing through, you have to make smart line choices.”

Before the 450 main event could take to the field, the 250SX main tore up the course for an exciting 15 laps. After a heartbreaking loss in Indianapolis, Blake Wharton came into Toronto looking for redemption; unfortunately, the Rockstar Suzuki racer was only able to manage third in the main event. Jeremy Martin came close to making a pass but couldn’t make it stick at the checkers. The race was also critical for Wil Hahn, who has had a breakout year but hasn’t been able to stop the momentum-filled two race-winning streak of Marvin Musquin, which was extended to three in Toronto as the KTM rider charged hard from the holeshot all the way to the checkers. The victory saw Hahn’s points lead dwindle down to six over Musquin, who still has a shot at the title with three rounds remaining. “I made bad decisions,” Hahn said. “I got frustrated. I plan on going home, putting my head back on and getting my starts back.” Wharton was third; Martin finished a close fourth and fifth went to Canada’s own Cole Thompson who has been turning some heads this year on his privateer Honda. Surprisingly, only two Canadians were entered in Toronto with Thompson being one, and Nick Beatty being the other.

Chad Reed rung in the 450 main event with an incredible start, obviously trying to go out with a bang before his upcoming knee surgery. Reed looked strong, although both Millsaps and Villopoto were able to sneak by. Still riding consistently, Reed ran third with Dungey hot on his heals before the two swapped positions on lap five. Out front, Millsaps opened up a two second lead on Villopoto, who steadily reeled in the Rockstar Suzuki rider with incredible corner speed and great lines. At the halfway mark, Villopoto began making some risky, inside-line pass attempts, showing a wheel or two to Millsaps but not making anything significant stick. Finally, Villopoto set up a pass and made it stick on lap 11 cutting in on Millsaps, with Dungey catching up right to Millsaps before stalling in a turn, missing a triple jump and falling back to fourth behind Reed.

Back in fifth place, James Stewart, who was celebrating his 100th supercross start, looked to be slightly off the pace. The Yoshimura Suzuki racer was not showing any major signs of bobbling, but he didn’t appear to be charging as hard as the four riders in front of him. His night went downhill with three laps to go with Stewart stalled his bike for the second time in as many weeks in a corner, struggling to restart his motorcycle before finally rejoining the race in ninth place. Another rider with poor luck was MotoConcepts Mike Alessi, who pulled off after a crash on lap five.

Due to longer laps, fitness played a key part in this race. Millsaps had reportedly been sick for a couple weeks coming into the race and didn't seem to have as much energy as Villopoto, who stretched out his lead by maintaining several tricky rhythm sections, including a triple-triple combination that Millsaps failed to complete later in the race due to the massive ruts in between the jumps. When the checkered flag came out, Villopoto secured his 31st career victory and seventh win of the season. Millsaps hung on for a second place finish and was visibly pleased, stating that having next weekend off would benefit his recovery after a rocky few weeks filled with injuries and illness. Rounding out the podium was Dungey, followed by Reed. Barcia, who scored his first career 450 main event in Toronto one year ago, was only able to work his way to fifth place on the night. Jake, Weimer—just getting back from injury— scored a sixth followed by Stewart, Broc Tickle, Short and Matt Goerke.

Monster Energy Supercross will observe the Easter holiday next weekend before returning to action on Saturday, April 6, from Houston’s Reliant Stadium. The action for the 13th race of the 2013 season will kick off at 8 p.m. ET. SPEED will provide live coverage of the race, beginning at 8:30 p.m. ET.