After an intense night of racing at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto rode to his eighth win of the season to clinch his second consecutive Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship title. His teammate Jake Weimer rode strong all night to finish on the podium in third place. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Broc Tickle also put together his best supercross finish to date, landing in seventh place. In the supercross lites class, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett put together a solid ride to finish on the podium in third. His teammate Darryn Durham battled back from a first turn pile up, reaching as high as seventh, but went down in the last couple laps of the race and finished 17th.
Villopoto’s goal coming into Houston was to clinch the title in one of the last closed-dome stadiums before the final three rounds, where all of the racing action is open to Mother Nature’s fury. He got the night off to a great start by winning his heat race and knew with a main event win, the championship could be his. When the gate dropped for the main event, Villopoto got a great start and quickly took over the lead aboard his KX™450F. He led wire-to-wire to take the checkered flag and secured the second supercross class title of his career.
“It’s awesome to get the championship out of the way and takes a lot of pressure off my shoulders,” said Villopoto. “I definitely felt more prepared coming into this season. I came in healthier than last season, since I was coming off an injury last year, and had more seat time on my Kawasaki. Last year we battled until the final race for the title while this season was more like survival and I was the last man standing, but that’s our sport. You have to be able to ride fast and smart. This season I was able to wrap it up earlier than it has ever been done before which is really cool. Since we have next weekend off I’m going to head down to Miami to relax a little before New Orleans.”
Since Villopoto stepped up to the supercross class he has dominated the series, winning 23 of the last 46 races. With four rounds still remaining in the 2012 season, Villopoto became the first rider in AMA Supercross history to clinch the title this early in the season. Overall, this is Villopoto’s seventh professional championship and he has already set his sights on a second consecutive AMA Motocross 450cc class championship.
“It was outstanding to earn the supercross title this early,” said Monster Energy Kawasaki Team Manager Dan Fahie. “Ryan did such a great job riding this season and the team has been working hard to support him. It was a stacked deck at the start of the season and for Ryan to accomplish this feat this early in the season truly is an impressive accomplishment. We still want to see Jake finish the supercross season strong, but are also going to get an early start on outdoors as well.”
Much Needed Break
The Monster Energy Supercross tour has been going non-stop since the first weekend of January and after 13 straight weeks of racing, everyone is ready for a little break. After locking up the title in Houston, Villopoto will relax a little during the break, but he and his Kawasaki teammates will also start to think about the upcoming motocross season. The outdoor season starts just two weeks after the supercross season wraps up in Las Vegas, Nev., so the teams are already thinking about motocross settings.
In two weeks, Monster Energy Kawasaki heads to New Orleans, La., for Round 14 of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross. Even though Villopoto has already clinched the title don’t expect him to slow down as he is currently running a bad case of podium fever. Weimer will also look to keep his spot on the box and move up the leaderboard. This race also marks the last round of the supercross lites eastern region before the finale in Las Vegas. Expect Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Durham and Baggett to be battling hard to find a spot inside the top-three before the end of the season.