Dungey Leads Deeply Talented Field into Anaheim as Monster Energy Supercross Kicks Off 2011
Saturday Night Slated to be the Most Anticipated Premiere of All Time
ANAHEIM, Calif. (January 3, 2011) -- For just the second time in 37 years, a rookie stole the show during the 2010 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, as Rockstar/Makita Suzuki's Ryan Dungey joined legend Jeremy McGrath as the only other first-year champion in the Supercross class. This Saturday, the youngest champion in history will lead the world's best riders into Angel Stadium for the first round of the 2011 championship.
Preseason buzz is already calling the upcoming season the most anticipated championship of all time. With past two-time champions Chad Reed, riding for his own TwoTwo Motorsports, and San Manuel Yamaha's James Stewart flanking Dungey, a long lineup of young challengers and experienced veterans are looking for their first taste of global recognition.
Perhaps no rider is more motivated than Monster Energy Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto. The three-time AMA National Champion captured the most wins in 2010 during a season-long battle with Dungey that ended prematurely with a frightening crash in St. Louis. After being forced to sit off a bike for nearly five months, Villopoto is determined to take care of what he considers to be unfinished business against a foe he is all too familiar with.
Also looking to bounce back from their own personal misfortunes from last season are both Reed and Stewart. Two of the most dominant riders of the past decade are the stalwarts who ushered in the present generation of riders and neither came close to accomplishing what they set out to do last season after stepping away from the championship before the third and fourth rounds, respectively. For both riders, 2011 marks the first season in which they are not seen as the top contenders for the championship. Pundits are giving Dungey and Villopoto considerably more attention with a hope of a resumption of their exciting rivalry and both of the "elder statesmen" of the sport will be look to prove them wrong.
Beyond the foursome of championship-proven talent is a crop of fast young talent eager to make their own dreams come true. Led by former Supercross Lites champion Trey Canard, who will be making his Supercross class debut for Team Honda just one year after a memorable guest appearance in the class, this group contains another class rookie in Brett Metcalfe, who joins Dungey at Rockstar/Makita Suzuki, as well as former race winners Josh Grant, at Team Honda, and Muscle Milk/Toyota/JGR's Davi Millsaps.
While Grant and Millsaps head the movers and shakers in new places for 2011, longtime veteran and perennial front-runner Andrew Short makes the move to Red Bull KTM, forming an alliance with ace team manager Roger DeCoster, who tutored Dungey to his championship form at Suzuki. Additional riders who have found new homes this season are Ivan Tedesco at Dodge/Hart & Huntington Kawasaki, Tommy Hahn at MotoConcepts Yamaha, Michael Byrne at BTOSports.com/BBMX/Palmetto Suzuki, Nick Wey at Valli Motorsports Yamaha, and Dan Reardon at the new JDR Motorsports/Motorex KTM.
As a whole, the 2011 lineup in the Supercross class is from top to bottom one of the most diversely talented groups of riders in the history of the sport whether its age or past success. Rounding out the roster is GEICO Powersports Honda's Kevin Windham, who at 32 years of age entering his 18th year of professional competition is still in search of his first world championship, in addition to Muscle Milk/Toyota/JGR's Justin Brayton, MotoConcepts Yamaha's Kyle Chisholm, Dodge/Hart & Huntington Kawasaki's Chris Blose and Red Bull KTM's Mike Alessi. Additionally, a trio of riders are ready to enter their rookie seasons in hopes of being wild cards in the championship in San Manuel Yamaha's Kyle Regal, Valli Motorsports Yamaha's Austin Stroupe, and MotoConcepts Yamaha's Vince Friese.
As if the excitement being generated by the Supercross class wasn't enough, the regional championships of the Supercross Lites class are slated to be as unpredictable as ever. While the chess match between teams announcing which riders will compete in which regions continues, heavy hitters at both Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki and GEICO Powersports Honda are the ones to keep an eye on, regardless of coast. Based on experience, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Josh Hansen is considered a heavy favorite in his chosen region while last season's rookie of the year in GEICO Powersports Honda's Justin Barcia is also receiving recognition. Beyond this duo is Dean Wilson, Broc Tickle, Tyla Rattray, and Blake Baggett at Pro Circuit alongside Eli Tomac, Blake Wharton, and Wil Hahn at GEICO Powersports.
Despite the considerable attention garnered by the two winningest franchises in Supercross Lites history, the rosters at Rockstar Energy Suzuki, DNA Shred Stix/Star Racing Yamaha, and Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil Honda are also full of a mix of class veterans and future stars that will make their presence felt throughout the season.
With the New Year upon us, the world's focus on the motorsports landscape will be squarely on Angel Stadium this Saturday and the best riders from across the globe will begin what is expected to be the most competitive Monster Energy Supercross season of all time.