New Stadium, Same Success for Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki Irvine, Calif. - A brand new stadium in Indianapolis welcomed the Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM Championship and the capacity crowd saw a great race between Monster ...
New Stadium, Same Success for Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
Irvine, Calif. - A brand new stadium in Indianapolis welcomed the Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM Championship and the capacity crowd saw a great race between Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki riders Austin Stroupe and Christophe Pourcel as the duo went 1-2. Stroupe earned his second career AMA Supercross Lites win, while Pourcel claimed the spot right next to him on the podium. In the supercross class, Ryan Villopoto battled a stomach flu to finish ninth, with Timmy Ferry finishing 10th.
Back on Top
Stroupe climbed back onto the top step of the podium with a courageous ride in the 15-lap main event. The night was anything but routine for the 18-year-old rider. Stroupe was passing another rider for the lead in his heat race when they came together and went down. He quickly remounted and finished fifth to transfer into the main event. When the gate dropped for the feature race, Stroupe and Pourcel battled for the holeshot and carnage ensued in the first turn as more than half the field ended up on the dirt. After a red flag and a restart, Stroupe again grabbed the holeshot and rode a fast and consistent pace to get the win.
"I had it rough in practice," said Stroupe. "Then I had a rough heat race. It seemed like it wasn't my night, especially with the crash in the first turn of the main event. I really didn't think I was going to get the win. This is great and I want to stay on top of the box."
On both starts of the lites class main event, Pourcel and Stroupe were neck-and-neck for the holeshot. Once the race got into a rhythm, Pourcel stayed within striking distance and after a late race charge had to settle for second place.
"The race was awesome," said Pourcel. "I wanted to get some fast laps at the end to try to catch Austin and maybe get the win. He rode awesome too, and I wasn't able to get him. The bike felt really good before the start and to finish second is okay. I just gave it my best and I'm going to continue to do the same thing and try to win the championship."
If supercross had an injury report like professional football, Villopoto would have been listed as questionable as he battled a stomach flu from mid-week through the main event on Saturday. During the first practice, Villopoto posted the third fastest time, despite spending considerable time in the mechanic's area. Once the night program started, RV continued to show heart, riding well in both his heat race and the main event despite having very little energy,
"I've been sick since Wednesday night," said Villopoto. " It was tough to get out there and ride without any energy. I haven't been able to eat and I've been really dehydrated, so to finish ninth is pretty good. In the first practice I pulled into the mechanic's area and got sick, but then went back out and rode okay. It was a bit tough."
A poor start for Ferry in the main event saw him go through the second turn in 19th place. Not discouraged, Red Dog took advantage of the technical track and passed five riders on the first lap. He continued his charge to the front moving into the top 10 before falling right before the finish line jump. Ferry charged again, finishing 10th, just behind his teammate Villopoto.
"My riding was good," said Ferry. "I didn't get a great start, I think I was 14th after the first lap. I was passing guys and picking them off pretty well. I was up in the top 10, but then I had a crash and went down. I got back up and had to pass those guys again to get 10th."
On the first start of the lites main event, the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki riders were poised to lead the field, but contact from behind caused Pourcel to hit Stroupe, setting off a chain reaction that saw more than half the field crash in the first turn.
"I was up front with Austin and someone pushed me out from the inside," said Pourcel "They didn't brake and we crashed together. Someone landed on Austin and me. It was bad for us."
"We both were looking at getting the holeshot," said Stroupe. "Someone must have hit Pourcel from behind. We got together and went down. I was laying on his (exhaust) pipe for about five seconds."
Feel the Burn
Surprisingly for Stroupe the worst part of the first turn crash wasn't hitting the dirt at full throttle with the entire field behind him, but rather an unlucky landing as he ended up with his left arm on another bike's exhaust pipe. Even though the race had just started the hot pipe quickly burned through his jersey and left a burn on his forearm. Stroupe quickly pushed the injury to the back of his mind and went on to ride a great race.
"My arm really hurt as soon as I got it off the pipe," said Stroupe. "While we were getting ready for the restart it was hurting, but I knew I had to race. As soon as I started riding again, it didn't bother me too bad. I'm sure it will hurt this week."
Pourcel also saw his riding during the week limited by sickness, but the former world champion showed his resolve riding near the front and challenging for the race win.
"The restart was pretty good for us," said Pourcel. "We both were up front and we got to the holeshot line at the same time. My Kawasaki was awesome. The race was really fast in the beginning. I n't feel good most of the week and I was sick today. I was really mad about that after race, but sometimes that."
After the race in Atlanta, Ferry flew to California to continue testing his Kawasaki KX 450F. He worked with the Monster Energy Kawasaki team all week, riding from nearly dusk to dawn as he continued to improve his bike.
"I've been getting between eighth and 10th without crashing," said Ferry. "So I know my riding was a lot better this weekend. I tested all week and we made some changes on the bike. I think the hard work showed. I was on the board for most of practice (in the top five) so that's a big improvement."
Stroupe's path to success in Indianapolis began with getting a quick start and setting a fast pace for the early stages of the main event. Once he built lead, he worked to ride smooth and consistent until the checkered flag.
"The first win of a season is always the hardest," said Stroupe. "I put a lot of solid laps in during the race. That's what I want to do every weekend. I just want to ride consistent. If I can keep doing that, I know the wins can keep coming."
Steps to Success
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki continued its great year in the supercross lites class as the team earned its sixth win and third 1-2 finish of the year.
"For us to finish 1-2 is awesome for Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki," said Stroupe. "I'm really happy to get my first win this year. When I got back up after on the first start, I knew it would be a hard race and then the red flag came out. I knew I could get a good start again and on the restart Christophe and I were up front."
The track in Indianapolis was designed by Hoosier native Mike LaRocco and the former champion made it a difficult but exciting track that had the fans on their feet all night.
"It was weird tonight," said Ferry. "There were yellow flags and tuff blocks everywhere, but at the same time the track was good. It allowed for some passing, which was nice since I had to come through the pack. There were a couple of tight turns we could have done without, but you could make passes and I think that made for some great racing."