Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Morais Produces a Podium in Phoenix Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider Ryan Morais finished on the podium for the second consecutive race, finishing third in the AMA Supercross Lites main event at...
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Morais Produces a Podium in Phoenix
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider Ryan Morais finished on the podium for the second consecutive race, finishing third in the AMA Supercross Lites main event at Chase Field in Phoenix, Ariz. Morais' teammate Jake Weimer won his heat race and led early in the main event before finishing fourth. In the Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM Championship Supercross class, Ryan Villopoto finished seventh and Timmy Ferry came home ninth for Monster Energy Kawasaki.
Back on the Box
Morais once again rode a strong race coming out of the starting gate in fifth and biding his time before moving into the top three. On the fast layout, Morais was able to hold off his teammate Weimer to earn his second-straight podium finish and is third in the championship standings, just three points back of leader.
"Being on the box again is great," said Morais. "Consistency wins championships and that is the ultimate goal. I've been in the lites class for a while and this is a great chance for me. I'm giving it all I've got and I'd love to win the championship and that's what I'm fighting for. I was a little too patient at the beginning. I knew it was going to get a little crazy. I was watching some people and they scared me, so I just wanted to be patient. Once we could get going, I kind of got locked into their pace and I tightened up a little bit. Through all of that I still was able to get the job done."
Weimer looked good all day finishing the afternoon practices with the second fastest time. In his heat race he came out of the gate in second and took over the lead, earning his second heat win in as many races. Everything was looking good in the main event as Weimer rocketed to the holeshot and led the first five laps. On the sixth lap, Weimer went down in the tricky sand section, but quickly recovered and he was able to finish fourth.
"Getting the holeshot was great," said Weimer. "It is really good for your confidence to get the holeshot and I pulled a little lead. I was feeling strong. I just made that mistake in the sand. I think this is a good round for me, confidence wise. I felt really good all day, my speed was good and I know I'm ready for next weekend."
Though Weimer didn't leave Phoenix with the finish he wanted, he is leaving the desert with confidence. The number 19 was on top of the scoring pylon at least once in each session and Weimer put himself in position for a good result.
"I felt really good all day on my Kawasaki," said Weimer. "I was really comfortable. I got a decent start in the heat and moved up to the lead. I just tried to ride smooth and get the win. In the main I felt really, really good and just a little mistake cost me. I wish we had one more lap. I think I could have got back on the box. That's the name of the game, it's a 15 lap race and I just came up a little short."
Villopoto overcame a slow start in the main event and was methodically working his way to the top five when he came together with another rider and went down. The 20-year-old was able to get up and rejoined the field in 12th. He rode hard the rest of the race to get back to seventh.
"In the main I got a gate that was okay," said Villopoto. "Right where my rear tire sat was a little blue groove, it was kind of hard. When the gate dropped I kind of spun and got a bad start. I was working my way up and then I went down trying to pass another rider. I got back on the bike and worked my way up to seventh. I would say I rode better than last week, but my results just don't show it."
With just a limited number of good gates at the start, Ferry fought for traction on the starting line of the main event. Despite coming out of the first turn at the back of the pack, Red Dog rode with the tenacity that earned him the nickname and fought his way inside the top 10.
"It was just an okay night," said Ferry. "I passed some good riders on my way through, but it was frustrating to spin on the gate like that. I think there were only about three or four good gates. It seemed like the rest of them were blue groove. I found one on the inside, just inside Ryan, that looked good but sure enough we spun the rear tire. It was a rough start to the main event. My Kawasaki is too fast, I guess. I knew it could spin, because of the dirt."
Though one of the last thoughts in Weimer's mind when he went down in the sand was the championship fight, he knew he had to salvage the best finish he could. After quickly getting his bike started, Weimer rode some of the fastest laps of the race to make up the time he lost. The effort kept Weimer second in the points standings just two points back of the leader.
"I'm trying to not think about points," said Weimer. "But you kind of do because the season is short. I got up and got my Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki started. I just put my head down and finished as best I could. It's just one of those races where you keep your chin up afterwards and do your best the next weekend."
Last Lap Battle
The final lap of the lites main event was exciting for the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki squad. Morais was just on the back wheel of second place and his teammate Weimer was pressuring him throughout the white flag lap.
"Jake was all over me on the last lap," said Morais. "It got really close, but I was able to pull it off. I trust him so that's why I left it on; if it were somebody else I probably would have hit the brakes. On the last lap I'm willing to take us both down for the podium. If I'm on the outside and he runs it in, I'm not going to let off no matter who it is."
Class in Session
Though Villopoto has won four lites class championships, he is still looking to learn as much as he can in his rookie season on the Kawasaki KX?450F. For the second straight week Villopoto led his heat race and once he was passed, he stayed right behind Chad Reed to find the fastest lines.
"The heat race was good." Said Villopoto. "I got a good start and rode some really good laps. Once Chad (Reed) caught me, I didn't fight him too bad, because I wanted to see where he was faster than me. Even in the main event, once I get a good start I'm going to run with the fast guys as long as I can and stay within myself. I want to run with those guys and see what they have speed wise. I know they are fast and I know I can learn from their lines."
Villoptoto's gate selection in the main event was pushed back two spots after he was penalized one position in his heat race. On the final lap of the heat, Villopoto was coming through the tight sand section just before the triple jump. As he was entering the right hand corner before the triple jump, the red lights came on signaling all riders to roll the obstacle. Unfortunately for Villopoto he was already committed to jumping the triple and he couldn't roll off the throttle. Officials penalized him one finishing position for the infraction dropping his gate pick from fourth to sixth.
Trying to get a handle on the track surface at Chase Field was like trying to hit a moving target. Series officials kept the roof closed all day to try and keep some moisture in the dirt, but the track continued to change with each session.
"The dirt changed all day," said Ferry "The track went from muddy to tacky to hard and slippery so it was tricky. We had the right Bridgestone tires on for the main event; I could go anywhere I needed to on the track. I like the idea of sand sections, but I didn't like how it was just a switchback this weekend. It made it one line through the section. I grew up racing in sand, so for me I like it, I want them to keep it around."