Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer powered through the rutted track on his KX450F at Centurylink Field in Seattle, Washington, to earn his fourth podium of the season in third place.
Despite dismal weather predictions for Saturday’s Monster Energy AMA Supercross at Centurylink Field in Seattle, the weather turned out to be beautiful and sunny come race day. Not far behind podium finisher Weimer was Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Broc Tickle who rode a solid race to finish eighth. Returning to the series with the rest of the Supercross Lites Western region, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Dean Wilson was looking to extend his points lead and inch closer to the championship, but an incident with another rider sent him to the ground and left him fighting to finish seventh. Hometown hero and reigning champion, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto, was riding strong all night until a crash in the main event forced him out of the race early and would leave him in 19th place.
Back on the Box
In the past, Weimer had struggled with the soft dirt in Seattle and knew he would have to work hard to get a good result. Instead of finding consistent lines and clicking them off he would really need to adapt to the track on a lap-by-lap basis. Weimer proved he could adapt quickly and continued to show improvement every time he hit the track. Though he qualified ninth, in the heat race he got a great start and finished second. When the gate dropped for the main event he got another good start on his KX450F and came around the first lap in third. Weimer held onto third place the entire 20 lap main to secure his fourth podium of the season. The outstanding effort advanced Weimer from seventh to fifth in the points standings.
“I really didn’t feel comfortable all day so it felt great to finish on the box,” said Weimer. “I knew it would be tough racing here, because the track is always soft and rutted. That really isn’t my specialty. The track continued to break down throughout the night and there were a few spots where the ruts got really deep so I had to keep adjusting my lines. There was one rut that had a huge rock right in the middle of it, which was really sketchy. I feel pretty good about tonight because I was able to fight through it and come out with a better result than I expected.”
Since he took the first professional win of his career in Seattle, Tickle had high expectations coming into the event. He got off to a slow start, qualifying 12th, but knew he needed to find some solid lines before he put on a charge. In the heat race he put it all together and rode strong to finish sixth. When the gate dropped in the main event, Tickle got pinched off and funneled to the back of the pack, coming around the first turn in 15th. Undeterred, he put together a solid charge and picked off nearly half of the field to finish eighth. Tickle currently sits tenth in the points standings.
“I thought I rode the best I had all season,” said Tickle. “I rode solid and stayed aggressive all 20 laps and passed half of the pack in the process. You know this has been a crazy season; anything can happen on the track. The top ten racers in the Supercross class are riding really strong so it’s difficult to break into the top three to get a podium. I just have to keep pushing forward and working hard no matter how tough it gets. I know eventually it will all pay off. I’m going to focus on my starts this week and hopefully I can carry this momentum into next weekend.”
After a two month break while the series headed east, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Dean Wilson was pumped to return to racing and hoped to stretch his 2-point lead in Seattle. He got the night off to a great start, qualifying in the number two spot and went on to dominate the six-lap heat race, taking the holeshot and winning by almost four seconds. When the gate dropped for the main event, Wilson immediately went to work. He came around the first turn in third and quickly made a move on second, which was returned shortly thereafter and a battle for second ensured. While jockeying for position the two riders got tangled up mid-race, sending Wilson to the ground. Although he went down hard, he picked up his KX™250F and did the best he could to finish seventh and salvage points. Wilson currently sits second in the points, only four points behind the leader.
“I’m super bummed on tonight’s result,” said Wilson. “Me and Eli (Tomac) were really going at it. I was able to get around him pretty quickly on the first lap, then he got me back, and we went back and forth a couple times. It was some pretty aggressive racing, but we’re going for a championship and giving it everything we got out there. We were halfway through the race and he came across the track, we got tangled up, and I got the worst of it. I just have to put this behind me because we still have another race before the final in Vegas. He only has four points on me and this is racing so anything can happen.”
Roar of the Crowd
Although he had already clinched the 2012 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, Seattle-native Villopoto wanted to win in his hometown more than ever. With family and friends from his childhood in attendance and spread throughout the stadium the emotional stakes couldn’t have been higher. During opening ceremonies when he rolled out onto the track the roar from the crowd was deafening. With the crowd cheering behind him, Villopoto started off the night strong, winning his heat race by nearly seven seconds. When the gate dropped for the main event he was only able to get a mid-pack start. He immediately went to work, looking to charge his way toward the front, but lost the front end and went down, forcing him out of the race.
“The day started out great,” said Villopoto. “I found some good lines during practice and was able to connect everything during the heat race. In the main event I didn’t get the start I needed and had to work from mid-pack. I was trying to pass three racers on the inside of a turn, came in hot, tried to grab some front brake and ended up washing out the front end.”
When Villopoto arrived in Seattle days prior to the race the town was already buzzing. Television stations and local newspaper were all vying for his time and wanted to chat with their local hero and recently crowned, two-time supercross champion. While travelling between television stations and visiting extended family, he also swung by the local Seattle Children’s Hospital to spread some cheer with teammate Weimer. On race day the pits were absolutely packed and it seemed like everyone on the paddock had some connection with Villopoto. Although the result of the main event was not what anyone expected, everyone who came out to visit him on Saturday knows he has the heart of a champion and is proud of his accomplishments.
“It’s always really awesome to come home and race in front of the people that watched me grow up racing,” said Villopoto. “I have a lot of family out here so it’s always nice to come home and spend time with them too. It seems like most of the people here remember watching me race growing up, know my family, or have pictures with me from my amateur days, so this race is really special for me.”
Because Seattle gets so much annual rainfall and Centurylink Field is an open stadium, getting the dirt to settle and pack properly is nearly impossible. While the track crew worked tirelessly to build, shape, and protect the track prior to race day, rain had inundated the track for almost an entire week prior to the event. To help the track better withstand the relentless rain, the track crew mixed the dirt with asphalt and lime to help maintain its composure. When racers arrived on Saturday morning they were informed there would be one less practice session due to the track’s deteriorating condition. However, once racing began the onslaught of hundreds of dirt bikes eventually pounded the track into a rutted mess. Sometimes you just can’t beat Mother Nature.
Next weekend, Monster Energy AMA Supercross heads to Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah, for the penultimate round of the series before the 2012 season wraps up in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Monster Energy AMA Supercross – Round 15
Centurylink Field – Seattle, Washington
April 22, 2012
Supercross Class Results
1. Andrew Short, Smithville, Texas, Honda
2. Ken Roczen, Murrieta, Calif., KTM
3. JAKE WEIMER, RUPERT, IDAHO, MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI
4. Justin Brayton, Murrieta, Calif., Honda
5. Davi Millsaps, Murrieta, Calif., Yamaha
6. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM
7. Mike Alessi, Hilliard, Fla., Suzuki
8. BROC TICKLE, HOLLY, MICH., MONSTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI
9. Weston Peick, Wildomar, Calif., Yamaha
10. NICK WEY, DEWITT, MICH., KAWASAKI
19. RYAN VILLOPOTO, POULSBO, WASH., MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI
Supercross Lites Western Region Results
1. Ryan Sipes, Ekron, Ky., Yamaha
2. Marvin Musquin, Murrieta, Calif., KTM
3. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Honda
4. Cole Seely, Murrieta, Calif., Honda
5. Wil Hahn, Decatur, Texas, Honda
6. Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., Suzuki,
7. DEAN WILSON, MENIFEE, CALIF., MONSTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI
8. Billy Laninovich, Riverside, Calif., Honda
9. Travis Baker, Temecula, Calif., Honda
10. Vince Friese, Cape Girardeau, Mo., Honda
Supercross Class Points Standings
1. RYAN VILLOPOTO, POULSBO, WASH., MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI, 323
2. Davi Millsaps, Murrieta, Calif., Yamaha, 222
3. Justin Brayton, Murrieta, Calif., Honda, 219
4. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM, 207
5. JAKE WEIMER, RUPERT, IDAHO, MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI, 191
6. James Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Yamaha, 178
7. Mike Alessi, Hilliard, Fla., Suzuki, 176
8. Brett Metcalfe, Lake Elsinore, Calif., Suzuki, 173
9. Kevin Windham, Centreville, Miss., Honda, 166
10. BROC TICKLE, HOLLY, MICH., MONSTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI, 146
Supercross Lites Western Region Points Standings
1. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Honda, 134
2. DEAN WILSON, MENIFEE, CALIF., MONSTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI, 130
3. Cole Seely, Murrieta, Calif., Honda, 119
4. Marvin Musquin, Murrieta, Calif., KTM, 111
5. Ryan Sipes, Ekron, Ky., Yamaha, 78
6. Nico Izzi, Menifee, Calif., Yamaha, 78
7. Matt Moss, Murrieta, Calif., KTM, 77
8. Travis Baker, Temecula, Calif., Honda, 75
9. Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., Suzuki, 73
10. Billy Laninovich, Riverside, Calif., Honda, 70