Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Weimer and Morais Add Excitement in Salt Lake City Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Jake Weimer and Ryan Morais finished second and third in the final race of the AMA Supercross Lites Western Region ...
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Weimer and Morais Add Excitement in Salt Lake City
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Jake Weimer and Ryan Morais finished second and third in the final race of the AMA Supercross Lites Western Region season. Weimer pushed hard to get to the front, making a daring last lap move that fell just short. Weimer's bid for the West Coast championship also fell just short as he finished five points behind the champion. In the AMA Supercross class, Ryan Villopoto finished fourth and Billy Laninovich finished 13th.
In the muddy conditions on the start straight, Weimer came through the first turn mid pack. Knowing he had to win the race to have a chance at the championship, Weimer charged through the field catching the leader with one lap to go. He raced bar-to-bar on the final lap but was unable to get the win.
"I just put my head down and rode hard," said Weimer. "I didn't get a very good start and I was a little frustrated. I had a lot of fun out there. I can say that may have been the most fun I've had racing, I was just hanging it out. I was pushing really hard. I was being aggressive and riding on the edge. I was just riding really loose and I think that helped me charge to the front."
Morais rode strong, getting near the front of the field early in the race. With his sixth podium of the year, Morais secured third place in the championship standings.
"I was really aggressive at the beginning of the race," said Morais. "I just want to get a win so bad. I was riding all over the track. The track was really easy to over ride. I was pushing too hard at the beginning, but at the end I regrouped. I was happy to be able to come up to third. Being up on the podium is good, but I really want to get a win. I just want to repay everyone at Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki for the opportunity this season. I can't thank them enough."
Villopoto rode another strong race aboard his Kawasaki KX?450F, finishing fourth despite having to fight his way through the pack on the difficult track.
"I rode good tonight," said Villopoto. "I rode pretty smart and I just needed to get off the line better. That would have saved me a lot of troubles and I may even have been able to stand up on the podium."
Lucky Number 13
Afternoon rain made for more mysterious track conditions as the riders had only one practice session before the showers started. On the difficult track Laninovich rode a smooth race and kept his Kawasaki KX450F on two wheels to finish 13th.
"It was a good race today," said Laninovich. "I didn't think the track was going to be as good as it was. It was slippery out there, but it was a lot better than a mud race. I'm really happy with how I rode. I need to pick up some more speed. I guess that comes from going from my couch to racing. I wish I had more races this season."
In his first season with the Monster/Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team, Weimer was in the thick of the championship battle from the first race of the season. After winning three events, Weimer knew he had a great season.
"At the end of the season I didn't want to be second," said Weimer. "But I really can't complain. I didn't hold anything back and I left it all on the track. It was a good season overall, we just came up a little short. It's my first year with the team and we're building strong relationships."
Morais' run to third in the championship standings showed he was very adept on the Kawasaki KX?250F. During the eight-race season, Morais earned five second place finishes and six podiums total.
"I think I exceeded a lot of people's expectations," said Morais. "I'm not sure everyone thought I would be up front. I knew I belonged on this team and I think I've shown it all season long. I can't wait to get to Las Vegas and try and win that thing."
Coming off of his hometown win last week, Villopoto carried a lot of confidence into Salt Lake City. That confidence helped him ride to the front after he was unable to get good starts.
"Seattle gave me a little boost," said Villopoto. "I think I could have been a lot closer to the leaders if I had gotten a better start. I don't know if I would have been in the mix, but I would have tried to stay with them for sure."
Last Lap Drama
In front of his hometown crowd, Weimer put on a show racing bar-to bar with Trey Canard on the last lap.
"The last lap was close," said Weimer. "I thought I had one more lap, so I was playing it cool and making sure I didn't go down. Looking back, I could have been a lot more aggressive and pushed it harder. We were bumping and banging and really going for it."
For the second consecutive weekend Laninovich was the Canidae Lucky Dog after winning the Last Chance Qualifier to qualify for the main event. Week-in and week-out the LCQ has seen strong riders forced to ride their way into the feature. This week was no different as Laninovich beat both a 2009 race winner as well as a podium finisher to make the main event.
"Making the main event through the LCQ is not really the way you want to get in," said Laninovich. "Winning the LCQ is tough and I'm happy we got to the main event. I had some tough competition in that short race and I got a little confidence from winning."
With the rain during the afternoon, the hard-packed track in Salt Lake City became very slippery. Villopoto felt the key to a good finish was riding consistent and within the limits of the track.
"The track was tough," said Villopoto. "It was super one-lined and it was slick. You really couldn't push hard, you just had to kind of ride around and make the least amount of mistakes."
Heat Race Theatrics
Laninovich was just three-one-hundredths of a second from advancing to the main event from the heat race. On the final lap of his heat, the 26-year-old rider charged up and crossed the finish line side-by-side with ninth place. The electronic scoring showed Laninovich .03 seconds behind forcing him to the LCQ.
"I was battling back and forth for a little bit," said Laninovich. "I was right there on the last lap. The guys in front of me were stuffing each other in the corners and I saw a line to the inside. One of them moved over on me on the triple and I tried to square him up in the last corner. I almost got ninth."
Friends in High Places
Villopoto, Laninovich and Monster Energy Kawasaki Team manager Mike Fisher made a special appearance on Friday night, as they were invited to a reception at the Utah Governor's Mansion. It turns out Utah's Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. is a big fan of off-road riding and specifically both Monster Energy Kawasaki riders. At the reception, Governor Huntsman congratulated Villopoto on his win last week and told Laninovich, he has one of Billy's posters hanging on his wall. Laninovich made an impression the last time the series raced in Utah, earning a runner-up finish in the supercross lites class.