Monster Energy Kawasaki Hits the Jackpot in Las Vegas Monster Energy Kawasaki Hits the Jackpot in Las Vegas Monster Energy Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto earned his second win in three races, pacing the Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM ...
Monster Energy Kawasaki Hits the Jackpot in Las Vegas
Monster Energy Kawasaki Hits the Jackpot in Las Vegas Monster Energy Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto earned his second win in three races, pacing the Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM Championship season finale at Sam Boyd Stadium. Villopoto's victory came on the heels of Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Christophe Pourcel's victory earlier in the evening during the Dave Coombs Sr. East/West Supercross Lites Shootout. In all, the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team placed all four of its riders in the top six with Jake Weimer finishing fourth, Austin Stroupe fifth and Ryan Morais sixth.
Twice as Nice
Villopoto book-ended his rookie season in the supercross class with wins. At the season opener in Anaheim, Villopoto won his heat race in his first ever start in the class. At the finale in Las Vegas, the 20-year-old rookie took the victory in his last main event as a rookie. The triumph on Saturday night capped off a rookie season of two wins and five podium finishes in 13 starts.
"This win was harder than my first," said Villopoto. "At Seattle, Chad went down in the first turn and James was way back. Tonight James was in the lead and I was able to pass him when he made a mistake. Then I tried to get a gap on him because you know he is very quick at coming back on you and making a pass."
Pourcel's victory came against the best in the business in the supercross lites class as the shootout in Las Vegas featured riders from both the East and West coast series. With the 40 fastest supercross lites riders entered into the night show, the AMA Eastern Region Supercross Lites class champion had his work cut out for him as he tried to earn his sixth win of the season.
"It feels really good to win the shootout," said Pourcel. "I just wanted to get a good start and I knew I could get into the lead. I didn't get the holeshot, but I just gave it my all and I was able to beat a lot of fast guys. I'm really pumped."
With the heat races for the supercross lites shootout divided by region, Austin Stroupe nailed the holeshot in the East Coast race and rode flawlessly to get the heat win.
"The track was a little different for the night program," said Stroupe. "They did a lot of grooming on it, so the first couple of laps I was just trying to get comfortable. Once I found a good rhythm, I put in some fast laps. I even ran my fastest lap of the heat on the last lap."
Villopoto learned a lot during his heat race, leading early and challenging James Stewart when the eventual champion passed him.
"My goal all year was to be riding with the top guys," said Villopoto. "In the heat race James got by me, but I stuck with him and passed him back. I think that gave me some confidence in the main knowing I could ride up front and capitalize if he made any mistakes."
In the West Coast heat race, Morais led the field into the stadium but landed on a tuff block in the second corner and went down. Despite restarting near the back of the field in the six-lap race, Morais charged back up to finish fifth and qualify for the main event.
"I was being aggressive," said Morais. "I got a really good start and just cut it a little too close right before the finish line. The track was really difficult tonight and I'm happy with how I rode."
After earning the win in the East/West Supercross Lites Shootout, Pourcel traded two-wheels for four as he was awarded the keys to a brand new Toyota truck. The French rider capped his celebration by starting his new truck and revving the engine to keep the crowd excited.
With Pourcel and Villopoto each winning on Saturday night at Sam Boyd Stadium, it marked the first time Kawasaki has won in both the supercross and supercross lites classes at Las Vegas.
Feeling Good Up Front
Villopoto is no stranger to winning having earned three AMA Motocross Lites Championships as well as an AMA Supercross Lites West Coast title. For him to get back to the top step of the podium in the supercross class was very rewarding.
"I don't want to say I was always up there (winning) in the lites class," said Villopoto. "But I was up there a lot and I got used to winning. This class is really tough and it was a big transition for me."
Billy Laninovich was looking to finish the supercross season on a high note. During the first practice session, the 26-year-old rider went down just before the exit of the stadium and injured his right collarbone. X-rays at the Asterisk Mobile Medical center showed a fracture and Laninovich will have it re-evaluated this week.
"This is really a shame," said Laninovich. "I wanted to have a good race in Las Vegas because it was like a home race for me. I had a lot of family and friends at the stadium and this really is a bummer. I want to thank everyone on the team for everything, it has been awesome working with Monster Energy Kawasaki."
Monster Energy Kawasaki off-road champion Ricky Dietrich joined the supercross riders for an autograph session at Carter Powersports in Las Vegas on Friday. Dietrich has a long history with Carter Powersports, having earned his first championship with the dealership in 2006.
Cannondale, one of Villopoto's sponsors, unveiled a one-of-a kind mountain bike at the Las Vegas supercross. The special edition Villopoto inspired bike will be auctioned off on ebay beginning July 1, with the proceeds of the auction going to benefit Team USA at the Motocross of Nations.
"This is really a cool program," said Villopoto. "I ride Cannondale road and mountain bikes when I train and for them to put together this program is great. I hope we can raise a lot of money for Team USA."