Pourcel Celebrates Championship With Fifth Win Newly Crowned AMA Supercross Lites Eastern Region Champion Christophe Pourcel showed his champion's prowess by winning his fifth race of the season in dominating fashion. His Monster Energy/Pro ...
Pourcel Celebrates Championship With Fifth Win
Newly Crowned AMA Supercross Lites Eastern Region Champion Christophe Pourcel showed his champion's prowess by winning his fifth race of the season in dominating fashion. His Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki teammate Austin Stroupe charged through the field to finish on the podium in third. In the supercross class, Canidae/Motosport/Kawasaki's Tommy Hahn finished a season-best seventh with Billy Laninovich putting his Monster Energy Kawasaki in the top-10.
With the championship trophy already sitting on his mantle, Pourcel came to Jacksonville with his sights set on claiming another win. In his heat race, the French rider didn't get a good start and fought his way up to fourth before the checkered flag. The main event was a different story though as Pourcel came out of the first turn near the front and then set his sights on claiming the lead. When he made it to the front, he began gapping the rest of the field. Pourcel quickly built a four-second lead before settling into a comfortable pace.
"It isn't any better than celebrating a title with another win," said Pourcel. "It is just awesome. Even though I was riding smooth and I built a good lead, the track wasn't easy tonight. I was working really hard. I was focused on the start and I almost got the holeshot and then I just kept charging to take the win."
A Long Fight
Stroupe jumped out of the starting gate in the main, but as he exited the first turn he was mired deep in the pack running 11th at the end of the first lap. The 18-year-old methodically made his way up to fourth by the final lap and then was able to get the final podium spot just three turns before the finish.
"I got a good jump out of the gate, but I kind of lost my balance and went to the right on the way down the start straight," said Stroupe. "I just fought my way up through the pack and I was happy to get as many guys as I could by the end of the race. I felt really strong the whole race. I just waited for someone to make a bobble and capitalized on it. I didn't pay enough attention to how many laps were left and I started my attack a little too late."
Putting it all Together
In just his third race with the team, Laninovich combined smooth riding with timely speed to earn his best finish of the season. Laninovich and the team have been working hard to improve his fitness and get him comfortable racing. The hard work during the week has begun to pay dividends as Laninovich put in a great ride.
"My Kawasaki worked really well this weekend," said Laninovich. "We've been working on some things during the week and everyone on the team is supporting me. This is a pretty good feeling getting a top 10. I made a couple of passes and a couple of guys crashed in front of me. My goal was to get in the top 10 and I did that in my third race. Now I want to stay in the top 10 at the next three rounds."
Last Lap Drama
After moving into fourth place, Stroupe continued to charge and was catching third place. On the last lap, Nico Izzi crashed right in front of Stroupe, with the Kawasaki rider landing on Izzi's bike. Stroupe was able to stay upright to earn the podium finish.
"I caught Nico a little bit on the last lap," said Stroupe. "I saw him hit neutral on the face of the jump and I landed right on his bike. I don't know how I saved it. Luckily I did and I made it to the podium."
With the East Coast season in the books the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team claimed the top-two spots in the championship standings. During the eight-race season, Pourcel and Stroupe combined to win seven events.
"I'm really happy for both of my East Coast guys," said Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki Team Manager Mitch Payton. "They both put in a great series this year. Christophe was good and consistent. He was at the front all the time. Austin had the speed and he won races. If he hadn't crashed out at Daytona it could have been a heck of a fight for the title. I'm pumped because they both rode awesome."
Though he wasn't able to race in Jacksonville, Ryan Villopoto was in town to sign autographs and also helping his grandparents celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. With the Villopoto's golden anniversary falling on race day, Ryan rented a suite at the stadium and his entire family flew in for the party.
Jacksonville marked Pourcel's 10th AMA Supercross Lites race and in those 10 races Pourcel has been on the podium nine times and on the top step six times.
"Everything is working for me," said Pourcel. "I have been really focused this season. After my big crash I was happy to be on the bike. And then I wanted to be on the podium. It is never easy to come back from this injury. My main goal is to keep my Kawasaki on two wheels, even if it means settling for the position I'm in at the time."
Canidae/Motosport/Kawasaki's Hahn fought hard for his season best finish in the AMA Supercross class. After not transferring to the main from his heat race, Hahn earned one of the two Canidae Lucky Dog transfer positions in the Canidae Last Chance Qualifier. Hahn then parlayed his good ride in the LCQ into a top-10 finish.
Feeling at Home
After two races on tracks that were anything but usual, Laninovich was happy to see a more normal supercross layout when he went down for the track walk at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium. Laninovich shined on the difficult rhythm sections and on the tall whoops to earn his first top-10 finish of the year.
"I enjoyed the track this weekend," said Laninovich. "The first two tracks I raced on were difficult for me. This track suited my style better. I ride a lot in California and even though we were in Florida, the dirt didn't get too rutty. I like this type of track for sure."
During his heat race Stroupe looked to be in command, grabbing the holeshot and leading early. A small mistake saw him go over the bars and he then had to fight just to transfer to the main event. That experience came in handy in the main event as he had to once again ride through the field.
"I was a little sore after the heat race," said Stroupe. "I tried a little jump and made a big mistake. It put me in a bad position for gate pick in the main, but everything ended up okay."
After returning to the practice track on Thursday, Villopoto is confident he will be able to compete at his home race in Seattle.
Pourcel and Stroupe weren't the only Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team members celebrating on the podium this weekend. Kyle Bentley, Pourcel's mechanic earned a $500 bonus from MMI as the top mechanic of the race.