SOUTHWICK, Mass. (August 25, 2008) -- Kawasaki earned its first weekend sweep of both classes since Unadilla on Sunday at the penultimate round of the 2008 AMA Toyota Motocross Championship Presented by FMF season from the sand track at Motocross...
SOUTHWICK, Mass. (August 25, 2008) -- Kawasaki earned its first weekend sweep of both classes since Unadilla on Sunday at the penultimate round of the 2008 AMA Toyota Motocross Championship Presented by FMF season from the sand track at Motocross 338. The Kicker Audio Southwick Motocross National was an exciting day in the sand as 2008 champions James Stewart, or Monster Energy Kawasaki, and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto grabbed the AMA Motocross and AMA Motocross Lites overall victories.
The weekend's opening moto in AMA Motocross Lites saw GEICO Powersports Honda's Blake Wharton notch his first BTOSports.com Holeshot Award, from which he sprinted away from the pack in impressive fashion. He was followed by Suzuki City Biloxi, MS/OTSFF Suzuki's Steven Clarke and teammates, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Brett Metcalfe and Ryan Villopoto. Close behind was Rockstar/Makita Suzuki's Ryan Dungey. Dungey was coming off two straight national wins and looking to continue giving newly crowned champion Villopoto a late season run . Wharton was actually gapping the field and in only his second career national. Eventually Villopoto went to the inside of Metcalfe to grab second and went to work on Wharton. He would get the youngster right before the mechanic's area, carrying more speed and slipping by into the first corner to grab the lead. From that point, Villopoto set sail for the rest of the moto. Two laps later Wharton would blow the berm past the mechanics area, allowing Metcalfe and Dungey to get by. The top four had a considerable lead on a pack of riders that was led by Motosport/Extreme/Kawasaki's Kyle Chisholm, Geico Powersports Honda's Jake Weimer, Star Racing/Division 7 Yamaha's Matt Lemoine. These three would go at each other, swapping positions back and forth before Chisholm opened up a bit of a lead. Brand new Boost Mobile Yamaha of Troy rider Jeremy Medaglia was also impressive in his debut, running 10th until the final two laps when he appeared to tire, finishing 15th. Dungey closed in on Metcalfe for second but made a huge mistake and went off the track, nearly hitting a tree. After closing in again, Dungey could not find the line to get by the Australian rider. Metcalfe would hold on to second for his best moto finish of the season while Villopoto cruised to the first moto win.
Monster Energy Kawasaki's James Stewart, the 2008 AMA Motocross Champion, grabbed the BTOSports.com Holeshot Award in the first AMA Motocross class moto when he blasted out of the first turn. Following him was Red Bull Honda teammates Ivan Tedesco and Andrew Short, but Short would waste no time getting by Tedesco to move into second. Moto XXX Honda's Jeff Alessi was fourth, MDK KTM's Matt Goerke was fifth, and Monster Energy Kawasaki's Tim Ferry came out sixth. Early on, Spike Hardcore Energy Yamaha's Josh Summey crashed and had to pull out with an apparent shoulder injury while Factory Yamaha's Josh Hill pulled out with mechanical issues. Tedesco was losing ground in only his second start since returning from injury, allowing Short to put a gap over third. Moving through the field was the guest rider from the Netherlands, Red Bull Honda's Marc De Reuver. He quickly showed the field why he is considered one of the best sand riders in the world as he sliced through Tedesco, Alessi, Ferry, Suzuki City Biloxi, MS/OTSFF Suzuki's Cody Cooper to move into third. MDK KTM's Nick Wey was buried after a fall early on, but was working his way forward. Stewart was gone at this point, putting on a riding clinic with Short holding a comfortable lead on De Reuver in third. In the late stages, Ferry got by Alessi and Cooper by sweeping a turn wide and keeping his momentum to finish fourth. The top three would be Stewart, Short, and De Reuver.
Medaglia and Villopoto came into the first turn side by side in the second AMA Motocross Lites moto, with Villopoto just edging out the young Canadian for the BTOSports.com Holeshot Award nod. The first few laps were sprinting ones for the three-time champion as he laid down some blistering laps to pull away from the pack. Included in that pack was Dungey, MDK KTM's Ryan Sipes, Chisholm and new Motosport/Xtreme/Kawasaki member Kyle Cunningham. A first turn crash claimed Star Racing/Divison 7 Yamaha's Broc Tickle and first moto fourth-place finisher Wharton. The early man on the move was MDK KTM's Michael Hall. After running fifth, he crashed out of the race while making the pass for fourth. Dungey would separate himself from the field and keep Villopoto in sight. Sipes was fending off Rockstar/Makita Suzuki's Nico Izzi until Izzi fell off the pace. Next up for Sipes was Chisholm as the duo battled back and forth until Sipes secured fourth for good. Metcalfe was solid in third with Dungey in second. Villopoto crashed just after the two-lap board was displayed when he swapped out going into a turn. He kept the bike running and with Dungey on his tail, swept the motos for the overall victory.
In a drag race to the first turn between local favorite John Dowd, aboard a Moose/Pirelli/Parts Unlimited Suzuki, and Stewart, it was Stewart crossing the stripe to grab the BTOSports.com Holeshot Award. As he did in the first moto, Stewart grabbed the lead and pulled away from the field. In second place was Cooper followed by Hill, who finally got the start he needed. Going down in the first turn was first moto runner-up Short and Moto XXX Honda's Antonio Balbi. Alessi ran fourth for a while before Ferry passed him by out-braking the Honda rider going in a turn. That set the top four with a comfortable margin. Stewart, Cooper, Hill and Ferry would maintain their spots in the field throughout the rest of the moto. Goerke was running strong in fifth before his engine expired about halfway through the moto. Going for his first overall podium in the US, De Reuver was eighth when he went down and called it a day. Short was passing riders everywhere to come from nearly dead last to ninth. Stewart showed his dominance and went on for the easy win followed by Cooper and Hill. Still undefeated through 22 motos, Stewart looks to become the second rider in history to complete a perfect season next weekend in Steel City.
Tim Ferry, Monster Energy Kawasaki, AMA Motocross, Third Overall
"I don't think I rode as good as I could, but I'm happy to be on the podium. The track was really tough today. I got an okay start in the first moto and was able to run fourth. In he second (moto) it was the same thing. I wanted to secure second in the standings and I actually gained a bigger lead. That's my focus (right now). I've been racing Steel City since the early 90's. It's been the same (layout) each year. I'm interested to see what they've changed."
Cody Cooper, Suzuki City Biloxi, MS/OTSFF Suzuki, AMA Motocross, Second Overall
"Someone told me I finished third, so I'm really happy with second. It was sandy but it had a hard base underneath. My tire selection was good and it helped me out a lot. I know what the track is like (in Steel City) and I know what to expect. I'd just like to get podium or top four. If I do that, I know I'll be good in the points. My main goal this season was to finish top five (in points). I'm there now but (it's not over yet). I really just want to do every round and not get hurt."
James Stewart, Monster Energy Kawasaki, AMA Motocross, Overall Winner
"It definitely wasn't smooth. I had some good lines. I took my time on the parade lap to look at all the lines there were. I've won a moto here before, but that was it. I'm used to sand. I have a couple sections at my house so I can practice it. But when I do ride on it, it's just like anything else. It got tough the way the sun was setting between the trees. There were a lot of shadows and I had a couple sketchy moments. I've gotten this far (with the perfect season) so I want to win (next weekend). But it hasn't really hit me yet. I'll go to Steel City next week and attack (each race)."
AMA Motocross Lites
Brett Metcalfe, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki, AMA Motocross Lites, Third Overall
"It's a good feeling to be up here. Any time you are up here it means you did well. Hopefully I step it up next season. Ryan (Dungey) will be out front and I'm sure someone else will step up like every year. I look to be up here (next year) as well."
Ryan Dungey, Rockstar/Makita Suzuki, AMA Motocross Lites, Second Overall
"Carrying momentum is (good) for sure. I made some mistakes in the first moto, but the second moto was better. It got really rough out there. When it's rough, there are quite a few lines and it takes a lot more control. I like it when (it's like that). I think (my goals) have been the same all year. I'd like to go in next week and (win) and leave the season like that. I heard they changed the track so I'm excited."
Ryan Villopoto, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki, AMA Motocross Lites, Overall Winner
"The track was rough. Being sand, you could just about anywhere you want, but obviously there is going to be one fast line. It was hard to find that fast line. I was just riding my race throughout both motos, but towards the end of the second I (fell) pretty good. I was a little dingy, but luckily my bike was running. I checked back to see where Ryan (Dungey) was and he was close. The last two races I've made mistakes here and there. Coming in here, I wanted to win (the overall) because I've never done that. I also really want to win the Triple Crown at Steel City because it's never been done before in the Lites class."