AMA Press Release:
A crowd of 33,392 filled the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Saturday night, as AMA Supercross hosted its 14th race of the 2012 season in a return to New Orleans. One race after capturing back-to-back Supercross Class Championships, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto of Poulsbo, Wash. won his ninth win of the season with a convincing effort. In the Eastern Regional Supercross Lites Class, GEICO Honda’s Justin Barcia of Ochlocknee, Ga. secured his second-consecutive title with a fourth-place finish, while Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Darryn Durham of Butler, Pa. raced to the first victory of his career.
Villopoto was the first rider out of the gate in the 20-lap Supercross Class Main Event, grabbing the Holeshot Award with Kawasaki’s Nick Wey of Dewitt, Mich. and Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer of Rupert, Idaho, close behind. It didn’t take long for Villopoto to open a gap on the field, ultimately taking a wire-to-wire win.
“The track was tough, so the bike was a big key,” said Villopoto, who is in the midst of a four-race winning streak. “The track was breaking down and it had a lot of ruts, so it was easy to get caught off guard. You had to stay on toes and try to log consistent laps. I’m looking forward to returning home next week (in Seattle).”
All eyes were on the battle for the remaining spots on the podium, as both Jeff Ward Racing Kawasaki’s Josh Grant of Corona, Calif. and MotoConcepts Suzuki’s Mike Alessi, of Hilliard, Fla. were both in search of their first top-three efforts of the season. Grant set a strong pace in second after a good start, keeping a consistent gap over third. Alessi, however, wasn’t as fortunate, making contact with a lapped rider while running third on Lap 16, falling to the ground. That allowed Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Justin Brayton of Murrieta, Calif. to grab the final spot on the podium.
Grant’s runner-up effort was his best finish since winning the opening race of the 2009 Monster Energy Supercross season and also signified the inaugural podium finish for the first-year Jeff Ward Racing team.
As the gates dropped on the Eastern Regional Supercross Lites Class Main Event, Eleven10 Mods Honda’s Alex Martin of Millville, Minn. captured the Holeshot Award, with Barcia and Durham in tow. Prior to the conclusion of the opening lap, Durham made his way into second and proceeded to make what would be the winning pass on Lap 2 over Martin.
JDR/J-Star KTM’s Malcolm Stewart of Haines City, Fla. worked his way into second following a strong start and set his sights on Durham. Behind him, Barcia took advantage of his healthy points lead and settled into podium position, needing only to finish fourth or better.
On Lap 6, Stewart crashed out of second allowing a three-way battle for the position to ensue between Barcia, Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen of Murrieta, Calif. and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett of Grand Terrace, Calif. Baggett prevailed in this battle and after Durham bobbled heading into a triple jump on Lap 9, it became a duel between the teammates.
Baggett moved inside Durham several times in an attempt to make a pass during the closing laps but wasn’t able to secure the position and settled for second. It marked the first win of the season for Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki in the Eastern Regional Supercross Lites Class, capped off by a 1-2 effort.
“This is at the top of the list (of accomplishments),” said Durham. “I’m speechless. It was a great race and I couldn’t have done it without my team. I’m super excited, but just don’t know what to say. I had a rough practice and heat race, but got great start. I think I led all the laps, but I don’t even know.”
Barcia settled into fourth, his first finish off the podium this season, to guarantee back-to-back championships while his teammate Justin Bogle of Cushing, Okla. made a late charge to the front to tie his career-best finish in third.
“Tonight is mind blowing,” said Barcia, who has compiled a 1.4 finishing average in eight races this season. “To win two championships feels amazing. It was a tough season at times, but it took a lot of hard work and dedication to get here. I couldn’t have done it without everyone on my team. This is an awesome feeling.”
Monster Energy Supercross continues next weekend, hosting the 15th race of the 2012 season from Seattle’s CenturyLink Field.
MONSTER ENERGY AMA SUPERCROSS
1 1 Ryan Villopoto Seattle, WA, USA Kawasaki KX450F
2 33 Joshua Grant Corona, CA, USA Kawasaki KX450F
3 10 Justin Brayton Murrieta, CA, USA Honda CRF450
4 24 Brett Metcalfe Lake Elsinore, CA, USA Suzuki RM-Z450
5 29 Andrew Short Smithville, TX, USA Honda CRF450
6 18 David Millsaps Murrieta, CA, USA Yamaha YZ450F
7 54 Weston Peick Wildomar, CA, USA Yamaha YZ450F
8 11 Kyle Chisholm Valrico, FL, USA Kawasaki KX450F
9 58 Wil Hahn Decatur, TX, USA Honda CRF450
10 25 Broc Tickle Holly, MI, USA Kawasaki KX450F
11 27 Nicholas Wey DeWitt, MI, USA Kawasaki KX450F
12 48 Jimmy Albertson Ozark, MO, USA Suzuki RM-Z450
13 800 Mike Alessi Hilliard, FL, USA Suzuki RM-Z450
14 82 Justin Sipes Vine Grove, KY, USA Kawasaki KX450F
15 617 Gavin Faith Fort Dodge, IA, USA Honda CRF450
16 374 Cody Gilmore Blair, IA, USA Kawasaki KX450F
17 36 Kyle Regal Brighton, CA, USA Kawasaki KX450
18 81 Robert Kiniry Holland Patent, NY, USA Yamaha YZ450F
19 50 Nico Izzi Menifee, CA, USA Yamaha YZ450F
20 21 Jake Weimer Wildomar, ID, USA Kawasaki KX450F
1 35 Darryn Durham Butler, PA, USA Kawasaki KX250F
2 12 Blake Baggett Grand Terrace, CA, USA Kawasaki KX250F
3 49 Justin Bogle Cushing, OK, USA Honda CRF250
4 1 Justin Barcia Ochlocknee, GA, USA Honda CRF250
5 70 Ken Roczen Murrieta, USA KTM 250
6 19 Kyle Cunningham Aledo, TX, USA Yamaha YZ250F
7 57 Jake Canada Sun City, CA, USA Honda CRF250
8 74 Tyler Bowers Danville, KY, USA Kawasaki KX250F
9 981 Austin Politelli Sun City, CA, USA Honda CRF250
10 715 Phillip Nicoletti Cochecton, NY, USA Honda CRF250
11 714 Shawn Rife Mechanicsburg, OH, USA Honda CRF250
12 60 Matthew Lemoine Collinsville, TX, USA Kawasaki KX250F
13 404 Zackery Freeberg Clearwater, FL, USA Honda CRF250
14 956 Blake Wharton Pilot Point, TX, USA Suzuki RM-Z250
15 78 Tommy Weeck Menifee, CA, USA Honda CRF 250
16 93 A Catanzaro Portland, CT, USA KTM 250 SX-F
17 37 Malcolm Stewart Haines City, FL, USA KTM 250 SX-F
18 505 Sean Lipanovich Tallahassee, FL, USA KTM 250 SX-F
19 30 Alex Martin Millville, MN, USA Honda CRF250
20 96 Kyle Peters Greensboro, NC, USA Yamaha YZ250F