Villopoto and Wilson Score Big Wins in Atlanta
Irvine, Calif. (February 28, 2011) – Monster Energy Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto earned his third win of the season in an exciting race at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga, as he extended his points lead to 10 over second place in the standings. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Wilson put in a come-from-behind effort to take his first AMA Supercross Lites victory and teams' 200th win. Wilson's teammate Blake Baggett remained consistent and finished third place for the second race in a row. Fabien Izoird put in a solid ride and ended the night in 17th in the supercross class.
Monster Energy Kawasaki Under the Tent
Last year in Atlanta, Villopoto seemed to receive the bad side of luck when he crashed in the main and finished the 2010 race in 19th. This year, a little good luck and a lot of hard work put himself in position to pass for the lead on the final lap to earn his 12th career supercross victory.
“I saw those guys (Chad Reed and James Stewart) up front and couldn’t really do anything about catching them without doing something foolish,” said Villopoto. “We were all running very similar lap times and there wasn’t a particular spot where I was a lot faster and could make up ground. I just tried to be patient and it definitely paid off.”
Wilson’s comeback from an injury in December was a little more challenging than he anticipated, but he showed he’s put in the hard work the past two weeks to succeed. In the main event, Wilson continually put in good lap times on his Kawasaki KX™250F and caught the lead pack with five laps to go. After making his way into second, the leader went down and he was in the right place at the right time to earn his first supercross lites victory.
“I am just really happy with how I rode and how things went,” said Wilson. “I knew I had the speed, but I just had to get a start. My heat race wasn’t great and I think that helped motivate me to go out and put in a good ride in the main. It’s a dream come true and I’m so happy to finally get a win under my belt after being close more than once.”
Keeping himself in the mix up front, Baggett got off to a great start in the main event in third. He was right on the rear wheel of second, but was unable to make a clean pass and settled for another consistent finish on the podium in third.
“Every time I line up to race, I want to win,” said Baggett. “Obviously I am really disappointed because I thought I felt comfortable enough with the track to do well tonight. I got a good start, but I wasn’t aggressive enough to make a pass and it ended up costing me. I will be using this race as motivation, but I’m glad to be getting consistent points.”
After four races with the Monster Energy Kawasaki team, Izoird continues to put in good rides aboard the Kawasaki KX™450F. The slick and technical track in Atlanta was tough to pass, but Izoird made the most of it and finished 17th.
“On the start, it seems like every time I get behind a guy that doesn’t jump the triple and I get pushed back a lot right away,” said Izoird. “I need to be more aggressive on the opening lap to really be able to compete for a top-10. I think I rode well, but my result doesn’t show that. I’ll look to get a good start next week.”
Win Number 200
Wilson’s victory in Atlanta not only marked his first career supercross lites win, but the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s 200th win since the team started racing in 1991.
“We definitely wanted to remember this accomplishment and it feels really special to get number 200,” said Team Owner Mitch Payton. “Everyone always says that getting to 100 wins is a big deal and we didn’t pay much attention to it, so we wanted to celebrate this time. We are very happy for Dean because he got his first win as we got our 200th. It’s a great night.”
Points and More Points Both Villopoto and Wilson made up points in their respective classes on Saturday night. Villopoto remained in the lead and increased his points lead to 10 over second place. In the AMA Supercross Lites Eastern Region class, Wilson moved into a tie for first after only the second meeting for the east riders this year.
“I’m really trying to keep my focus and stay consistent,” said Villopoto. “We’ve been taking this season one race at a time and I want to keep focusing on the race ahead.”
The Georgia Dome attracted nearly 70,000 fans to see an amazing night of racing. The fans turned out to be in for a treat as they saw Monster Energy Kawasaki sweep the event with Villopoto and Wilson taking big wins.
“I’ve always remembered the fans here in Atlanta,” said Villopoto. “When we come here, we know we are going to have a huge crowd ready to get on their feet for us. It’s a great feeling.”
The next race takes the riders to the historical Daytona supercross at Daytona International Speedway. Villopoto scored his first honor of winning the event last year and Wilson grabbed his first podium of 2010 at Daytona.
“I’ve always liked Daytona because it brings the feeling of the outdoors to supercross,” said Villopoto. “It’s still a supercross, but the lap times are a little longer and I know endurance will come into play in the main event.”