Ryan Villopoto once proved unstoppable at the Daytona Supercross, walking away with his third career win at the legendary venue. The reigning double champ was clearly the class of the field on Saturday night, racing to his fifth victory of the 2013 Monster Energy Supercross season in lopsided fashion.
Building upon his surge in recent weeks while taking full advantage of another disappointing outing from title rival Davi Millsaps, the superstar also took ownership of the red plate in what could prove to be the season's pivotal race.
Villopoto powered to the hole-shot but made bobbled on the second lap, sliding off track and handing the lead over to spirited wild card Ken Roczen. Villopoto recovered quickly enough to re-enter the fray in third, just behind Justin Barcia.
Villopoto immediately sliced back by the rookie and set his sights on the interloper in first. Roczen did well riding under pressure from the developing legend but was ultimately overhauled by both Villopoto and Barcia.
By half distance, Ryan Dungey had also moved ahead of Roczen and Barcia to take hold of second, albeit some eight second back of rival Villopoto in first.
250SX regular Roczen next found himself challenged by 450SX stars Chad Reed and Trey Canard. Reed momentarily found a way past but crashed out of fourth seconds later.
However, it was another 250 pilot who came on strong over the race's second half. Roczen's Western Regional title rival Eli Tomac blasted his way up past Canard and Roczen to move into fourth with eight laps remaining.
By lap 15, Roczen, Canard, and Reed found themselves embroiled in another three-way scrap, with Daytona master Reed zapping them both in a series of decisive corners. Canard also got the better of the fading Roczen in the end, who held on to finish a solid seventh.
James Stewart, who picked up yet another heat race win, crashed while running fifth early and could never mount a serious charge back up through the field on the brutally difficult course. He finished eighth, one spot ahead of Broc Tickle.
Millsaps, meanwhile, was never a factor. The Rockstar Energy Racing runner, who was in need of a bounce-back effort following his sixth-place ride in St. Louis, got away in 10th, dropped to 12th, and ultimately worked his way back into the top ten at the checkered flag… but only just.
His tenth-place results proved costly; Millsaps' long-held title lead is now a title deficit, retracting from a 20+-point advantage to a two-point disadvantage in a matter of just a couple weeks.
The dominating victory was the 29th of Villopoto career, moving him ahead of Ricky Johnson and into sole possession of fifth all-time. After the race he said, "I got a great start. I gave it up and had to pass my way back up into the lead. Everything was really good; the team works really hard. Daytona is a very unique place to race -- it's very rough and gnarly."
Dungey came home in second and similarly made up a huge chunk of ground for his title campaign. The Minnesotan, who now trails by just 14-points in third, admitted, "Mentally, it's a tough track. But that's where our preparation and bike set-up comes in. We fought it in practice today. I didn't know how it was going to go but we hoped for the best. It feels good. All that hard work pays off."
Rookie Barcia came home third with another impressive outing. He said, "It was brutal for sure. The track was really gnarly. I had a lot of fun out there."
Villopoto will put his freshly-earned points lead and red plate on the line next weekend in Indianapolis.
450 Main Event Results:
1. Ryan Villopoto – KAW
2. Ryan Dungey – KTM
3. Justin Barcia – HON
4. Eli Tomac – HON
5. Chad Reed – HON
6. Trey Canard – HON
7. Ken Roczen – KTM
8. James Stewart – SUZ
9. Broc Tickle – SUZ
10. Davi Millsaps – SUZ
11. Matt Goerke – KTM
12. Andrew Short – KTM
13. Jake Weimer – KAW
14. Les Smith – KTM
15. Josh Hill – SUZ
16. Mike Alessi – SUZ
17. B Lamay – YAM
18. Weston Peick – SUZ
19. Phil Nicoletti – YAM
20. Justin Brayton – YAM
450 Point standings:
1. Ryan Villopoto – 202
2. Davi Millsaps – 200
3. Ryan Dungey – 188
4. Trey Canard – 163
5. Chad Reed – 163
6. Justin Barcia – 152
7. James Stewart – 135
8. Andrew Short – 122
9. Justin Brayton – 104
10. Broc Tickle – 99
11. Matt Goerke – 95
12. Mike Alessi – 79
13. Jake Weimer – 78
14. Weston Peick – 45
15. Eli Tomac – 40
16. Josh Grant – 40
17. Jimmy Albertson – 38
18. Kyle Chisholm – 38
19. Matt Lemoine – 34
20. Vince Friese – 30
21. Rob Kiniry – 28
250SX: Musquin Dominates Daytona
Red Bull KTM's Marvin Musquin registered a flawless ride to claim his first-career 250SX victory on Saturday night at Daytona.
Frenchman Marvin Musquin put forth a dominant effort to claim his first-career 250SX victory in style under the lights at Daytona International Speedway.
Musquin stole the hole-shot with an absolutely blistering launch, timing the drop of the gates to near-perfection. The KTM ace took full advantage of his quick reaction, blasting out front and putting his head down with clear track ahead to work through the deep Daytona ruts.
Desperate to get back on top of the podium after being defeated by Eastern Regional 250SX Class title rival Wil Hahn in consecutive weeks coming into Daytona, Dean Wilson hammered by Zach Bell to move into second on lap 2 of 15. Bell didn't come away from the clash unscathed, however, as the young rider found himself on the dirt when his bar was hit and his bike knocked out from underneath him as the Kawasaki man made the tight outside maneuver.
Wilson was on the charge, slashing Musquin's 2.6 second lead to one of just a half second with a torrid run on the race's fourth lap, but the Frenchman upped his pace in response. Soon enough Wilson found himself increasingly under fire from rival Hahn after making a couple mistakes in pursuit of the escaping Musquin.
By mid-distance Musquin had effectively cleared off, secure with a seven-second advantage in hand, while Wilson and Hahn were stacked up in a battle for second place.
Hahn made his move with five to go on the strength of a well-timed triple. Wilson immediately countered, but Hahn struck right back again and took hold of the runner-up spot. Again, the Kawasaki man had to focus behind him as the charging Jeremy Martin was the next to challenge for his position.
Martin moved into third with four to go and -- similar to the melee with Hahn -- Wilson made an aggressive bid to retain the spot, but ultimately found himself displaced.
Up front, Musquin took the checkered flag with no challengers anywhere in sight. In doing so, he became the 88th winner in the class' history. He said, "I had so much fun riding the track. Dean Wilson was right behind me, and I knew he was going to be really fast, but I just tried to have fun and stay calm. I just started to pull away. I was looking back and I was pulling away every lap. I stayed so relaxed. I don't want to say it was easy, but I had so much fun."
Hahn opened up his title lead with a strong second-place effort after again beating Wilson in head-to-head competition. "That was a tough main event," he said. "Daytona is always brutal -- it's rough. I'm happy to do with it for GEICO Honda team; we've got the red plate and we'll roll to Indy."
Rookie Martin held on for a very impressive third, while Wilson finished in fourth, one spot ahead of Blake Wharton.
Martin said of his podium result, "It means a lot. The dirt is kind of like riding at Millville by my home in Minnesota. I know I'm in good shape and I have good people behind me... It's definitely a confidence booster."
Wilson's Pro Circuit teammate, Justin Hill, finished sixth, with a foursome of Honda riders, Kyle Peters, Zack Freeberg, Cole Thompson, and Vince Friese, completing the top ten.
Hahn will carry a 5-point advantage into next weekend's showdown in Indianapolis.