News 17 Apr 2010

AMA SX: Dungey and Villopoto take title fight to St. Louis

As the 2010 AMA Supercross series hits the home stretch, the championship battle in the 450 class is heating up between the two winningest riders this season.

Dungey leads the AMA Supercross standings with four rounds remaining.

Dungey leads the AMA Supercross standings with four rounds remaining.

As the 2010 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, hits the home stretch, the championship battle in the premier AMA Supercross class is heating up between the two winningest riders this season.

Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey’s consistency, highlighted by four wins, has put him in position to become just the second rider in Monster Energy Supercross history to capture the title as a rookie. However, a second-half surge by Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto places him just 12 points out of the championship lead with a series-leading seven victories.

This weekend, Monster Energy Supercross heads to the Midwest to St. Louis and the Edward Jones Dome for round 14, marking the final event of the Eastern Regional AMA Supercross Lites class.

The Rockstar Makita Suzuki team went into Houston feeling good after a week to focus on practice and bike setup. However, the team left looking to rebound from a tough night. While Dungey is still leading the Supercross points race going into St. Louis, the whole team is looking forward to having some better luck and a good race at the Edward Jones Dome.

“We’re going to go test and get better in a few areas this week,” said Dungey. “We will be studying this week’s track and making some improvements. Our team is still holding onto the lead going into St. Louis, and I’ll learn from the last race and move on.”

“We need to go back to work and come back in St. Louis,” explained team manager Roger Decoster. “We gave up some points, but we’ll work it out this week and I think we can turn it around. It was a tough day in Houston with Austin getting hurt first and then with Ryan we had an off day. We didn’t hit the setting on the bike the way we should have and Ryan rode a little shy. It was a combination of things.”

AMA Supercross Lites class rider Austin Stroupe got hurt during practice in Houston and separated his shoulder, meaning his run to compete for the Eastern Regional Championship was over Saturday afternoon. Stroupe is still in second place in the standings, but won’t be racing in St. Louis. It’s a heartbreaking end to an overall impressive season for the third-year rider.

Villopoto’s performance in Houston was much like the rest of his seven overall wins, convincing. After a quiet practice and tough heat race, the sophomore rider dug deep to grab the holeshot in the main event and lead all 20 laps. His determination paid off and now he is in position to make a move for the championship.

“I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing,” said Villopoto. “This has been a hard season and there are still four races to go. Like I’ve been saying, I just need to win races and let whatever happens, happen. I’m going to St. Louis looking for my eighth win.”

After 10 races on the sidelines, Villopoto’s Monster Energy Kawasaki teammate Chad Reed returned to racing last week in Houston and overcame a rough start to finish fourth. Reed is continuing to recover from injuries suffered earlier in the year and also has the impending birth of his first child in the back of his mind.

“It looks like the birth can be any time in the next two weeks,” said Reed. “It’s tough trying to concentrate on racing, but also knowing the phone could ring at any minute. I’m so excited about becoming a dad, I can’t wait.”

Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Christophe Pourcel locked up his second straight AMA Supercross Lites Eastern Regional Championship last week in Houston. It was the Frenchman’s fifth win in seven races with one round still remaining, but just because he has the number one plate doesn’t mean he’s going to coast into the finale this weekend in St. Louis.

“I have two more Supercross Lites races to win,” said Pourcel. “The only way I know how to ride is to go for the win. So that is what I’m going to do this weekend. It’s a shame Austin [Stroupe] got hurt because he and I were putting on some good shows.”

After his long-awaited return to the series, Pourcel’s teammate Dean Wilson had a heartbreaking race in Houston as he pushed to finish second on the last lap. In the whoops section he crashed and ended up ninth, missing out on his second podium finish of the year.

“I really wanted to finish second,” said Wilson. “Missing those two races lit a fire in me and I wanted to do the best I could. I’m going to keep riding strong and hopefully get my best result of the year this weekend.”

Honda Red Bull Racing’s Davi Millsaps underwent surgery on his right elbow only days before the Houston supercross event and despite nursing a heavily bandaged arm still made a strong showing by winning his heat race and posting a seventh-place effort.

“I rode pretty solid during practice but I was really pumped to come out and win my heat race,” said Millsaps. “I knew going into the main that it was going to take a lot for me to hang in there for 20 laps with my elbow being so sore but I did my best. I’m expecting a much better result this weekend as my arm is definitely a lot better now than what it was this time last week.”

GEICO Powersports Honda’s Kevin Windham scored an inspiring second-place finish last weekend, giving him renewed confidence in his ability to win this season. The veteran rider has shown no signs of intimidation in mixing it up with his considerably younger competitors and his effort in Houston was arguably the most impressive this season.

“It was great to be back up on the podium,” said Windham. “It felt awesome to have my kids standing alongside me on the podium and to have the full support of my team cheering me on. I really felt good out on the track, which really motivates me to go after the win now. I proved to myself that I still have what it takes to stick with the much younger guys.”

After missing seven rounds due to injury, Honda Red Bull Racing’s Andrew Short made his return to the Supercross fray last weekend and he’s optimistic that it won’t take him long to get back up to race pace.

“I definitely need to race my way back up to competition pace again,” said Short. “It’s not an issue of bike set-up or anything – Trey proved that by putting my CRF450R on the podium nearly every weekend – but it’s a matter of me racing my way back up to speed. I was definitely sore by the end of the night but it will get better with every day that passes.”

GEICO Powersports Honda’s AMA Supercross Lites riders Justin Barcia and Brett Metcalfe have been fast all season long in Eastern Regional competition, but with the title wrapped up last weekend in Houston, they both head into St. Louis looking to secure the second and third spots overall in the series.

“I’ve finished on four podiums and won a race in my rookie season so I’m pretty happy with that,” said Barcia. “The title may be out of reach but with one round to go my goal is to finish second in the series; second spot in my rookie season is a good result.”

“I’ve been fairly consistent all season long and my goal is to finish on the championship podium,” said Metcalfe. “Barcia and I are well positioned to finish second and third in the series points and that would definitely make our team happy. I would, however, like to get a win under my belt. That’s the one thing that’s eluded me this season.”

The race will be contested Sunday morning, Australian time.