Rookie Tomac Grabs Inaugural Supercross Lites Main Event Victory
SAN DIEGO, Calif. (February 19, 2011) - A dedicated crowd of 53,342 fans withstood the rain inside Qualcomm Stadium on Saturday night as the 2011 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, hosted its final race in Southern California this season. In his debut season piloting his own TwoTwo Motorsports team, Chad Reed, of Dade City, Fla., captured his sixth-career San Diego win in the Supercross class. GEICO Honda's Eli Tomac, of Cortez, Colo., captured his first career supercross victory in the Western Regional Supercross Lites class.
It was Reed who crossed the holeshot stripe first to kick off the 20-lap supercross main event with American Honda's Trey Canard, of Shawnee, Okla., and Red Bull KTM's Andrew Short, of Smithville, Texas, in tow. Canard quickly made his move for the top spot and held it for the first five laps before falling and stalling his bike. Reed assumed the lead and held it for the remainder of the main event.
"This is incredible," said Reed. "I've put so much work into this team to make it the best it can be. To win with your name on your chest makes everything so much better. This one is emotional. I just followed Trey because he was showing me some lines. When he went down, it became just about putting together 20 clean laps."
Canard remounted in third, allowing San Manuel Yamaha's James Stewart, of Haines City, Fla., to take over second. However, on Lap 15, Stewart stalled his bike, falling to fourth. While running second, Canard suffered his second fall of the evening, allowing Rockstar/Makita Suzuki's Ryan Dungey, of Belle Plaine, Minn., to secure second with Stewart in third. They would complete the podium in that order.
Championship leader Ryan Villopoto, of Poulsbo, Wash., crashed on the opening lap, but fought through the field to secure a seventh place effort aboard his Monster Energy Kawasaki. He now holds a three-point advantage over Stewart in the points.
"I just stalled it," said Stewart. "I'm trying my best. I don't want to just throw it away like that, but I'm glad to get on the podium. I had nothing for Chad tonight, he was riding great, but I made up a lot of points."
As the gates dropped on the Supercross Lites class main event, Tomac grabbed the holeshot and never looked back, leading wire-to-wire with a convincing win.
"The first five laps I just put my head down and pulled away. It was kind of crazy," said Tomac, who won by over 10 seconds. "The track was really tricky and slippery. I got a little nervous out (front), but overall it was really good. I've learned a lot this season and I've gotten a lot better in recent weeks."
Behind him, a stellar battle ensued for the remaining podium positions among the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki trio of Josh Hansen, of Elbert, Colo., Tyla Rattray, of Wildomar, Calif., and Broc Tickle, of Holly, Mich., as well as GEICO Honda's Jimmy Decotis, of Peabody, Mass., and Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil Honda's Cole Seely, of Corona, Calif. As the group of five riders traded positions, it was Rattray and Tickle who prevailed to round out the top three.
Hansen, the class points leader, fell to sixth, still on the mend from a hand injury suffered at the previous round. His advantage over teammate Tickle dwindled to three points as the Western Regional Supercross Lites class Championship takes a midseason break until April 16 in Seattle.
Supercross Class Results: San Diego
Supercross Class Season Standings
Western Regional Supercross Lites Class Results: San Diego
Western Regional Supercross Lites Class Season Standings
The 2011 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season continues next weekend at Atlanta's Georgia Dome for the eighth race of the season.
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One race ago, defending champ Ryan Dungey of the Rockstar/Makita Suzuki team finished last and scored only on point because of a derailed chain - which Trey Canard is taking responsibility for. Canard says a few turns before the derailed chain, he hit Dungey's bike in the left rear.
Ryan Dungey (1) and Trey Canard (41) get off the gate in their heat race. (Photo: CoxMX.com)
Still, Dungey seemed to be out of the title, 38 points behind points leader James Stewart. One race later, he's only 22 points behind Stewart, and 31 behind new points leader Ryan Villopoto.
So, while he still has a long way to go, this sequence of events should be enough for anyone to realize that absolutely nobody in the top five in points is "out of" this championship. Anything can and will happen. Just like it did in Houston, and at Anaheim 2 before that.
That being said, Dungey was within a hair of being three points closer to Stewart and Villopoto, as on the last lap, he got to the inside of Canard heading up to the checkered flag, and Canard smartly squeezed Dungey off to take his first-ever 450cc SX win.
Canard Is A Streaker
The danger now is that Canard has put together one race (with a lot of help, admittedly), after his two worst finishes of the season. He was very upset during the week, just like he was last year during the AMA Nationals after the Colorado National. Remember what happened next?
He won RedBud - his first ever - and then a handful more on his way to the title.
And remember last year when Canard was just messing around in the 450cc class on Andrew Short's factory Honda? One podium, and then he started streaking - to five in a row before moving back down to the Lites class. This is a guy who, when he gets hot, is hard to stop. Of course, he wasn't racing against Stewart, Reed, Villopoto and Dungey outdoors last year (although he was racing against the latter two indoors). It's not quite the same, but they'd better watch out regardless. Trey Canard is no joke once he starts a snowball rolling.
Patience Is Key
Another thing that we should pay attention to is that James Stewart was not the normal, patient Stewart at Houston that he has been most of the rest of this year. I don't think it's because he was afraid of losing points. I think what happened is he had such a dominant race at Anaheim 2 last weekend that he simply believed he was "on" and could do just about anything he wanted. And it bit him early in the main when he jumped into Jason Thomas in the track's main rhythm section. The result was a damaged front brake that was causing his front wheel to stop spinning in the air, and for JT Money, it was the end of his night. JT has a torn ACL, so he'll be out a while.
James Stewart had a lapse of judgment in the main event. (Photo: CoxMX.com)
A lot of this carnage could've been avoided if the track were more rider-friendly, or racing-friendly. The first turn was very reminiscent of the one in Dallas last year that claimed well over half of the Lites main-event field, and it claimed a big chunk of both fields at the start of both mains this weekend. And the dirt was very, very dry and very, very slick.
You know dirt is slick when the king of throttle control - Kevin Windham - wads it up because he spun too much in a rhythm section. And that's what happened with K-Dub. When I saw him after the race, he looked beat up, and he was a bit high on pain meds, so he was loopy. But he came up short on a jump from the top of one table to the next, and when he landed, he got hard on the gas to still get over the next jump after the table, and just spun. The bike went sideways, he was tossed off, and the bike drilled him.
This was Kevin Windham's race to win, and he would've 99 out of 100 other times. He was checked out, and even though Canard was eating into his lead, I don't think he would've caught K-Dub. Not on this night. It was the halfway point when he went down and Canard wasn't making up enough time. And Windham normally rules on surfaces like that, once he has a lead. For Windham, this was the one that got away, but you still have to be impressed by him. It's the closest race to his house, and he was flat-out going to win it until it all went wrong.
He has nothing broken, and he should be back for San Diego, which could end up being a mud race. And Windham easily could take back the one that got away next weekend, if he's healthy enough to take part.
KTMs Are Getting There
It could be that the tighter tracks helped the KTM 350s to be competitive, as all three were in the top 10. However, contrary to reports, the fifth place by Andrew Short was not KTM's best-ever finish in the class. I don't know what is KTM's best finish, but I do know that none other than Mike Fisher - current Monster Energy Kawasaki team manager - finished fourth place two or more times in 1991 on a white-and-teal KTM 250.
Andrew Short (29) leads Trey Canard (41) in their heat race. Short scored a best-ever fifth-place for the KTM 350 SX/F. (Photo: CoxMX.com)
Dean Wilson got arm-pump in the main event, and I don't know if he would admit it, but I think he got arm-pump because he was battling with Justin Barcia. And I'm not saying he got arm-pump because he was battling with someone, and that person happened to be Justin Barcia. To be clear, I'm saying I think he got arm-pump because he was battling specifically with Justin Barcia, who looks like he should be chasing ghosts with his dog, Scooby.
Justin Barcia (right) and Dean Wilson (left) talk things over after the main event. (Photo: CoxMX.com)
The two raced a lot as amateurs, and Barcia is known to clean people out at times. This may be a time when Barcia's reputation is starting to serve him well, rather than hurt him. Last year, racers were taking shots at him all the time because of his earned reputation for ramming guys who were in his way. But I always figured that if he weathered the storm, so to speak, the reputation could work in his favor, like it used to work for Bob Hannah, Ricky Johnson, and even Ricky Carmichael.
I think it's starting to.
But I would be remiss not to point out that Wilson hasn't been riding that long since returning to action from his separated shoulder, so that is most definitely a factor as well.
I talked to Blake Baggett after the race, and he was flat-out pissed off that he got third. Don't you love that? He said, "I didn't work my butt off all off-season to come out here and get third." He was disgusted with himself. Watch out for this guy. He was fast all day, but starts and falls cost him. Knock those out, and he's going to be gnarly.
Blake Baggett has a winning attitude. But he benefited big-time by a Ryan Sipes takeout move on Blake Wharton late in the main. (Photo: CoxMX.com)
Baggett did benefit from a serious bonehead move by Ryan Sipes, though. Sipes was fourth, pressuring Blake Wharton for third with two laps to go. Wharton does ride a pretty wide bike sometimes, but Sipes picked the absolute worst part of the track to try and make a pass, diving to the inside of Wharton before the track's most difficult triple, where there was no traction, and taking them both off the track and down. There was simply no way Sipes was going to complete the pass right there, but he went for it anyway. In the end, Sipes ended up fourth anyway, so he gained nothing, while Wharton ended up sixth. And he also gifted four points to Baggett, who absolutely will be a factor in this championship. If Sipes wants a shot at the title, he did damage to it at round one.
Look inside this piece of mechanical art
Photos and text: Scott Hoffman
After taking championships in both the 2010 Supercross and 450 Outdoor Championships, Suzuki has been sitting on cloud nine ever since. Even with Roger DeCoster leaving Suzuki for KTM, the team did not fret - they already had the guns to shoot their way into the 2011 season. With a solid platform to work from, the 2011 Factory Suzuki race bikes look very similar to last year's mount. With famed wrench Mike Gosselaar once again spinning the wrenches for Mr. Dungey, the mix of man, machine and mechanic was already a match. Like one would expect from a Factory bike, Dungey's 450 is a one big hunk of eye candy - just looking at the titanium, magnesium and array of Works Suzuki components and Works Showa suspension on the bike makes a moto fanatic start to drool. Check out these detail photos of his mount while I swab up the drool puddle under my keyboard.
No, money can't buy this bike - well I bet enough money could if you asked the right person. It is probably easier to count the stock production components over the works and aftermarket parts, there are very few of them. Yes there are parts on this bike that are available to the public. chain, sprocket, tires and bar, to name a few.
Rumor is Dungey prefers the sound of the bike with the single outlet exhaust compared to the newfangled Yosh RX4d that Brett Metcalfe has been seen running on his steed.
Lots of sick parts, titanium axles, billet hubs and little detail parts like the jam nut spacers on the axle adjusters. Suzuki uses castle nuts just to be safe - and yes they do run cotter pins when it goes to the line.
Nearly every factory bike sports a Hinson clutch cover and runs Hinson clutch components. This factory bikes run special Works engine covers, Ti pegs, Ti hardware and possibly a magnesium water pump cover.
Being the champ has its perks, including these sweet number 1 stickers.
Billet moto mounts add that extra bit of strength and the team probably spent a lot of testing time figuring out the best material, thickness and shape to improve or adjust chassis flex.
I bet all of you wish you had this adjuster on your mount. Big fingers make it easy to make clutch adjustments in mid air during the race.
These are the components that separate the men from the boys. Yoshimura has been a big part of the engine development and trick parts like the clutch cable holder and cam chain adjuster add to the lethal ability of this machine. Each week the engine is taken down, inspected and/or rebuilt.
Works clamps hold the Works Showa suspension. For added rigidity, Suzuki runs a pinch bolt to clamp the upper clamp to the steering stem. Stock production bikes do not have this feature.
The team goes that extra mile by welding the outlet tubes on the radiators for increased strength.
Although performance has nothing to do with this part, this is one of the most trick parts on the bike in my opinion. The transponder is one of the most important components on the motorcycle simply because it officially tells the AMA how well you qualified and what place you finished in the race so of course you must use titanium to make a mount to hold it.
Dungey Nation: After LA before Oakland
Have we seen a new face on Ryan Dungey, a rider that is a little more aggressive in 2011 and willing to defend a spot with the added confidence of the number one plate plastered three places on his bike and one on his back? Dungey hauls freight and is a 2010 two-time champion for a reason. Yet he's not what some consider a scrapper on the track. He often uses his speed to dictate his position and not the ability to stuff a rider into a corner or swap spots with a competitor if rubbing is involved. Here are a few words from Mr. Dungey after the epic battle at Dodger Stadium.
Motocross.com: That's probably the most aggressive we've seen you ride in some time. You were out there swapping some paint.
RD: Yeah, it was definitely one of those tracks where you could really run it up on the inside of the guy in front of you--and that's what we saw. James was behind me, he'd get by and then I'd get by. It was kind of cat and mouse there for a while. I think the battle held us up in the front like that and losing a lot of time allowed the other guys to catch up--then there was Villopoto, so there was 3 of us. I tried to make a pass stick but I lost my rear tire and I didn't really make that work. Overall at the end of the night I think it was a great battle. I think we learned a lot of great stuff and we can just keep moving forward on this series. It's only the third round so it's really early and I think I just need steady improvement and keep digging and never settle because anything can happen.
Ryan Dungey battles with James Stewart at Dodger Stadium, round 3 of Monster Energy AMA/FIM Supercross Series
Usually you're a little more cautious coming in and riding that tight. You normally give people a little bit of room but it seemed like tonight you just said forget it, I'm going to go in there and whatever happens, happens.
I'm not going to be pushed around. I think really mainly I was just trying to make sure I had enough of a position on the track that if some guy did run it up that I was watching my front tire and maybe I was kind of being a little too cautious in that area of the people behind me and kind of lost some time but I've got to give it up for the Rockstar Team Makita Suzuki guys. We did a lot of work this week and I think it really helped us out. We've just got to keep moving forward and obviously thank the man above who makes it all happen.
Do you feel better about this week compared to last week?
I'm a little cooler with my hair-do. My head was breathing a little more. Last week we found out a lot about some stuff. It's a learning experience. Even in my second year, last year was unbelievable but this year we've got our work cut out for us and I wouldn't want it any other way. I think it's tough and it shows a true man, a true rider, a true racer.
It was wheel to wheel early on in the race with the leaders swapping the helm several times. Here is he early train of Dungey, Stewart and Windham.
Do you find yourself having to fight a lot harder for a position than you did last year?
Absolutely. I think not only is there a lot more riders on the line but a lot more riders with that same speed and you've kind of got to distance yourself on the track to be able to run your lines. You've got to put yourself in a good position I think at the end of the day and get a good start and that's really going to take you far. If you don't, the top 5 is going to be gone and you are going to play catch up.
So just because you make a pass that doesn't mean it's going to stick. You know that rider could be right back running up your tire a second later.
Absolutely. That's why when you do make the passes you've really got to try to make them stick so they can't come underneath you, The track at Dodger Stadium, I guess it was good for the fans but you didn't know what was going to happen next. I was happy at the end of the night, 3rd place is not too bad.
Before the season started, everyone was abuzz about the potential for this season to be something special. And, on paper, it seemed obvious, with over 20 team racers in the 450cc class, including the full-time entries of Jake Weimer, Trey Canard and Brett Metcalfe moving up from the Lites class.
Ryan Villopoto won his second main event in three races this past Saturday night. But was it the "best race ever"? (Photo: CoxMX.com)
However, there have been many seasons with a lot of potential in the past, and most didn't pan out; usually because of injuries. Potential might sell tickets, but outside of marketing, it's not good for much else. It's a mental construct. It doesn't actually exist in the real world.
Still, the 450cc main event in Los Angeles, at the inaugural race inside Dodger Stadium, was quickly touted by announcers as variations on "the best race ever", and while the race was very, very good, I think for this week's "What Really Happened" we're going to explore the fact that what really happened this weekend was that we saw a very good race that might have been the best race of the four-stroke era, but that's about all we can say about it with any sort of confidence.
Ryan Dungey (left) and Trey Canard (right) battle it out in the main event. (Photo: CoxMX.com)
This is human nature; I'm sure of it. We're all excited that we actually have a handful of guys not only willing to try and win, but capable of doing so, and they're all healthy, and last Saturday night, most of them were fighting it out at the front at the same time. But when we're excited, we tend to lack perspective. How often do you hear teenagers say, "Oh, my god, this Starbucks double-whip mocha frappuccino is the BEST EVER!"? Well, is it, really? That seems unlikely. But it's what they have right then, so it is the best ever right then, since they're lacking perspective at that moment.
The same can be said of someone if they're starving. If you hadn't eaten in days and then you happened upon some half-eaten, bruised-up banana, you'd probably be thinking to yourself, "Man, normally I don't like bananas that much, but this banana is the BEST EVER!" Well, for you, right then, sure. Because you are lacking perspective.
But I'll tell you what: Los Angeless 2011 wasn't even close to Anaheim 1986, in my opinion. That night, Honda teammates David Bailey and Ricky Johnson went at it for the entire 20 laps of the main event, and Bailey didn't secure the victory until the very last lap. We didn't have that this weekend in Dodger Stadium.
Ryan Dungey (1) does battle with James Stewart (7) in the LA main event. (Photo: CoxMX.com)
Hell, it might not have even been the best race ever in Los Angeles. Remember the 1990 Los Angeles Supercross, where Honda's original Frenchman Jean-Michel Bayle went at it tooth-and-nail against Yamaha's Damon Bradshaw for the entire main event? Those two could not have ridden that racetrack more differently from one another; Bayle was super-smooth and took smart lines everywhere, while Bradshaw just hit everything wide-open. I bet Bayle used half of the gasoline that Bradshaw did in that race, and he finished just behind the Beast from the East.
But still, the race went back and forth for the full 20 laps before people knew who was going to win. At Dodger Stadium, the win was decided at the halfway point, when Stewart went down while leading.
So, yes, it was a very, very good race, and we will be lucky to have more races like that throughout this season, but to say it was the "best ever" I think is simply lacking perspective.
Canard (41) leads Dungey (1) in the main event. (Photo: CoxMX.com)
Then again, as it applies to this point, nostalgia is defined as: a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition. So, I'm aware of the fact that it could be that I'm suffering from the lack of perspective...
On a completely different note, one of the bonus features of this column from here on out will involve what we learned from Supercross floor announcer Erv Braun at this week's race. So, without further ado, here it is:
This week, we learned that Ecuador is in Europe. In the second Lites heat race of the night, when Eli Tomac was leading Martin Davalos and Ken Roczen, Braun said confidently over the intercom, "Tomac is leading two European riders; Martin Davalos from Ecuador and Ken Roczen from Germany."
Thanks for that, Erv.