Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, returns to the West Coast this weekend as Seattle’s Qwest Field hosts the 15th race of the 2011 season. After his fourth victory of the season in St. Louis last weekend snapped an eight-race winless streak, San Manuel Yamaha’s James Stewart is one of five riders going bar-to-bar for the Supercross class title.
Media Day for this weekend’s action takes place on Thursday, April 14 at Qwest Field from Noon-2:00, featuring Monster Energy Kawasaki and San Manuel Yamaha. Riders will be available for interviews and will ride the track for the media.
Currently, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto holds just a five-point lead in the standings heading into his hometown race in the Pacific Northwest. With a season-leading five wins to his credit in addition to back-to-back podium efforts, Villopoto is looking to get back on top of the box at the sight of his first career win in the class in 2009. Behind him, Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey and TwoTwo Motorsports/Bel-Ray Racing’s Chad Reed sit less than 10 points from reclaiming a title they have both previously held.
Stewart’s convincing win last Saturday night brought back memories of his early-season efforts, moving into the lead early and never looking back, despite a consistent challenge from Dungey. The win was a boost to Stewart’s title hopes, moving him from fifth to fourth in the standings and 16 points out of the top spot.
“It’s been a while since I have been up here,” said Stewart. “This feels great, and I am really happy for the team, who has been behind me 100% this year.”
For Dungey, the runner-up effort in St. Louis marked his eighth podium finish in the last nine races and by virtue of finishing one spot ahead of Villopoto, moved within two points closer of his rival in the standings, taking over second place, just five points out.
Following two consecutive weeks of misfortune, Villopoto has regained the form that put him over 20 points ahead of the field earlier this season. Consistency will be key over the final three races, but Villopoto also knows that there is no better way to defend his points lead than by winning and adding to his impressive total this season.
“I’ll take a third place finish; it is much better than last year,” said Villopoto, who suffered a season-ending injury last year in St. Louis. “I am looking forward to going to my hometown race next weekend in Seattle.”
Since taking over the points lead for one race following Toronto, Reed has experienced some misfortune over the last two weekends. An incident with Stewart resulted in an eighth-place finish for Reed in Dallas two races ago and in St. Louis, an errant Tuff Block resulted in a stop of Reeds momentum and subsequently cost him a chance at a possible podium result. Despite the mishap, Reed still soldiered home to a fourth-place finish and is still only eight points from Villopoto in the championship.
American Honda’s Trey Canard entered St. Louis as the hottest rider in the series, winning two of the last three races. After posting the fastest lap in practice, Canard looked to have the momentum in his favor again, but a tough start in the main event forced the rookie to climb through the field. A persistent and determined effort slotted Canard in fifth at the end of the evening, dropping him to fifth in the standings, 20 points out of the lead.
Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, WA., Kawasaki – 275
Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, MN., Suzuki – 270
Chad Reed, Tampa, FL., Honda – 267
James Stewart, Haines City, FL., Yamaha – 259
Trey Canard, Shawnee, OK., Honda – 255
Andrew Short, Smithville, TX, KTM – 185
Kevin Windham, Centreville, MS., Honda – 165
Davi Millsaps, Carlsbad, Calif., Yamaha – 143
Justin Brayton, Cornelius, N.C., Yamaha – 141
Ivan Tedesco, Murrieta, Calif., Kawasaki – 127