Anaheim I: Kawasaki Racing race report

Weimer Dominates Anaheim Opener for Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider Jake Weimer stood on the top step of the podium for the second consecutive year as he dominated the supercross lites class at the ...

Weimer Dominates Anaheim Opener for Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider Jake Weimer stood on the top step of the podium for the second consecutive year as he dominated the supercross lites class at the season opener in Anaheim, Calif. Weimer's teammate Josh Hansen overcame an early fall to finish eighth. In the supercross class, Monster Energy Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto returned from a knee injury to finish fifth, while his new teammate Chad Reed saw his night end early after contact with another rider damaged his bike.

Comfort Zone
Weimer ran a nearly flawless race in both the heat and the main event making it look easy.

"I felt really good," said Weimer. "I was comfortable in the lead, but it was nice that I had to ride hard to stay out front. I felt like I was in control and I felt good on my Kawasaki KX™250F. I could do whatever I needed, whenever I needed. My bike was turning great and getting the holeshot shows I had all the power I needed. Today was tough, but I had fun and I felt like I rode well."

Reed's American debut with the Monster Energy Kawasaki team didn't end as planned as contact on the first lap broke several spokes and forced him to retire early.

"It was just a racing incident," said Reed. "I was running fifth after the first turn and in sight of the leaders. Then Stroupe just turned down really quick. He had the same idea I did. We both wanted to make a pass and our lines came together. There was nothing we could do. Neither of us did anything wrong. I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Stress Release
The season opener at Anaheim is the Super Bowl of supercross as everyone is excited for the new season. With that excitement comes added pressure, but that didn't seem to affect Weimer at all. He paced both practice sessions, easily won his heat race, rocketed to the main event holeshot and led wire-to-wire for his fifth career supercross lites win.

"Anaheim is probably the most stressful race of the year," said Weimer. "There's so much hype and so many appearances leading into the race. Everyone is watching and you feel a tremendous amount of pressure. I'm definitely happy to be done with this race and to come away with a win."

Tightening Up
Villopoto made his return to racing after undergoing knee surgery over the summer. The return showed how difficult it is to simulate race conditions in the off-season as the pace at the test track can never duplicate how fast a rider needs to be on race day.

"I got a good start and was sitting there in third place," said Villopoto. "I just tightened up. This was my first real race back since my knee surgery. I did the US Open, but that was more just for fun. I had only been back to riding for a couple of days. It's not what I wanted, but we still got a top five."

Moving Forward
After getting a great start in the main event, Hansen looked poised for a podium finish, but a crash early in the race sent him back in the pack. Despite the end result, Hansen showed he had the speed to be a championship contender.

"I got a good jump out of the gate and battled for the holeshot," said Hansen. "I wanted to just settle in behind Weimer. We ride together a lot during the week so I am comfortable with him. My plan was to just sit there until lap 10 and then make a move. It didn't work out like that though. I had a crash. All in all I think we're moving in the right direction. To be a part of this team really means a lot."

Making Improvements
In each session on the track Reed continued to improve the settings on his KX™450F and the Australian knew he could have been battling the leaders.

"I think we came a long way from practice to the main event." Said Reed. "We tweaked little things on the bike and I'm confident to say I would have been on the podium tonight. I think I could have got up to the front and mixed it up with the leaders. It would have been exciting."

Getting Ready
After winning races last season, Weimer set a lofty goal of claiming his first professional championship this season. The number one plate isn't the only thing on his mind as he finishes his last year in the supercross lites class.

"This year is a little bit different," said Weimer. "It is my last year in the lites class. I watched the supercross class main event and those guys are going really fast. My goal is to win the championship this year, but I also want to improve my speed and go faster every week so I'm ready to move up."

Top Five
With the first race in the books, Villopoto looks to continue to improve as the series heads to Phoenix next week.

"We've been doing a lot of testing and training," said Villopoto. "I think we are in a decent spot right now, but there's always room to get better. After every session on the track I felt like I was riding well and the bike was improving too. I'm glad we got through the first race with some points and now it's time to move on to Phoenix."

-source: kawasaki

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Series AMA
Drivers Chad Reed , Jake Weimer , Ryan Villopoto