News 13 Feb 2010

AMA SX: Dungey leads tightest season start in decades

Dungey still leads the AMA SX points in his rookie season.

Dungey still leads the AMA SX points in his rookie season.

For the first time in two decades, Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, has seen four winners through the first five rounds of the season.

Not since 1990 has there been so much parity in the premier AMA Supercross class and coming into Saturday night’s final race from Southern California at Anaheim’s Angel Stadium, the championship battle is heating up between Ryan Dungey, Josh Hill and Ryan Villopoto.

After a tough outing last weekend, Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki’s Dungey carries just a four-point lead over San Manuel Yamaha’s Josh Hill coming into Anaheim III. Dungey still leads all riders with two victories, but has finished off the podium the last two weeks, watching his points lead dwindle into the single digits. Hill has done what he needs to so far in 2010, riding consistently and taking advantage of the opportunities to capitalize on Dungey’s misfortune.

Last weekend in San Diego, Dungey was forced to overcome a pair of falls on the opening lap of the main event en route to his worst finish of the season in sixth. The slippery conditions thanks to a day of rain caused the points leader’s wheel to slip out from under him off the holeshot and from there he rode in an effort to salvage as many points as possible.

“I put us in a good position off the start last weekend in San Diego,” explained Dungey. But I ended up losing the front end, which made for a very long night coming from the back. I just carried too much speed in there I guess. There are 12 more races and the season is a long one, so in the end a sixth-place finish still keeps me in the points lead and right there in the mix.”

Suzuki team manager Roger DeCoster knows all too well that sometimes accidents happen and when the team discovered that Dungey’s bike had a hole in its radiator throughout the entire 20-lap main event, he also acknowledged how much luck can play into winning a championship.

“Ryan was patient in his heat race in San Diego, but in the main event he hit a slick spot in the first turn,” said DeCoster. “He went down, got back up, and then went down and broke the radiator. He just kept plugging away, and went from last to 6th. We still have a four-point lead, and Ryan is fine. There’s still a long season to go. We’re looking forward to going to Anaheim and do well there…and leave California on a good note.”

Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto is looking to continue to close the gap to the championship leader after cutting his deficit to 10 points last weekend. Despite getting caught in a first turn crash, Villopoto worked his way through the field and finished just one spot off the podium.

“We’re going in the right direction,” said Villopoto. “Last week was tough with the weather and getting caught up in the first turn. I’m riding really well right now and things are coming together nicely. I’m going to keep working during the week and hopefully I’ll be back on the podium in Anaheim.”

Villopoto’s teammate Nick Wey has scored two consecutive top-10 finishes on board his Monster Energy Kawasaki and he feels confident he can continue to move forward.

“We made a couple of more changes to the setup of the bike,” stated Wey. “This is only my third race with the team and now we are getting the bike closer to how I like it. We’re going to keep working hard and try and crack the top five.”

For Honda Red Bull Racing, San Diego was a circumstance of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. The team returned to the top step of the podium for the first time since 2008 with a dominating victory by Davi Millsaps. The two-time winner in 2008 capitalized on a strong start and never looked back, going relatively unchallenged on the way to his third-career victory.

On the flip side, a potential 1-2 finish for the red riders came to a crashing halt when Andrew Short came up short on a triple that became increasingly tricky in the conditions while running second. The veteran rider looked as though he would challenge his teammate for that elusive inaugural win, but instead will miss the next six weeks of action with injuries suffered from the crash.

“It was awesome to get the win last weekend,” boasted Millsaps. “I felt good heading into the event and knew the key to being upfront was to ride smart and not make mistakes, and that’s what I did. It definitely feels good to be back on top. It was a night of highs and lows for the team—with my win and then Shorty’s injury—but I plan to deliver plenty more highs for the team throughout the season.”

In the AMA Supercross Lites class, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer is riding at the top of his game as he holds a commanding lead in the championship standings. Weimer has won four of the five races and he is hoping to win for the third time at Angel Stadium this year.

“We have a long break after this race so I want to close with a win,” explained Weimer. “I’m still focused on the championship so I’m going to go out and ride smart and not take unnecessary chances. I still want to be on the top of the box, but I’m going to do it conservatively.”

Josh Hansen is still looking for his first podium of the season. Hansen has shown he has the speed to run up front, he just hasn’t been able to put together a 15-lap main event.

“I know I can win races,” asserted Hansen. “I’m just working hard to be consistent throughout the race and get back up on the podium.”

GEICO Powersports Honda’s Trey Canard was hoping to make it two wins in a row in San Diego and it looked as though he would have a chance at doing so after he grabbed the holeshot in the 15-lap main event. However, the 2008 Eastern Regional Champion lost traction at the tail end of the first lap and found himself on the ground. He did his best to recover, bringing home a sixth-place finish, but he also lost ground to Weimer in the championship fight. He looks to rebound this weekend with a solid podium effort before the Western Regional Championship takes its midseason break.

“After getting the holeshot in San Diego I made a costly mistake,” said Canard. “I was really fast out of the gate and was in the lead when I crashed. There are a lot of fast guys in this competition that are always right there ready to take advantage of any mistakes you make. I’m second in the series points with three rounds to go so it’s crucial I finish on the box this weekend to be in the point’s race at the end.”