The traditional pre-race press conference was conducted today at Angel Stadium in preparation for Saturday's opening round of the 2013 Monster Energy Supercross Series. Four former 450 Supercross champs - Ryan Villopoto, Ryan Dungey, Chad Reed and James Stewart - were on hand, including recent Monster Energy Cup winner Justin Barcia.
During the conference, Villopoto was given his championship ring from 2012 and will be gunning for his third straight Supercross title in 2013. Only three other riders before him have won Supercross titles three times in a row.
Not a whole lot new was revealed during the get-together with the media, with all of the riders saying they've been working hard and training even harder for this year's championship.
Villopoto receives his 2012 championship ring. Photography By: Kit Palmer
"We're all better this year," Villopoto said. "We put in the work during the off season and our speed gets better and our fitness gets better."
"I did what I had to do [to prepare} and we'll see if it's enough in the next couple of nights," Reed said. "It's a long season, so it's important to start off consistent and not crash out like last year."
For Dungey, he's well ahead of the game this year, far more than he was last year when he had just moved over to his new KTM team.
"To have a full season under our belt has helped," he said. "Testing has gone well and I feel strong mentally, but time will tell on Saturday night when we line up. The next 17 rounds everything will be settled."
James Stewart will be making his Supercross debut on the Yoshimura Suzuki. Photography By: Kit Palmer
For James Stewart, he's again starting off the year on a new team. But he's had several months to prepare on his Yoshimura Suzuki and says he's ready to go.
"The off season went good," Stewart said. "Last year is in the past and if I just focus on what I'm doing and keep doing things right, everything will be good."
Stewart added that his previous wrist and finger injuries are also in the past and is fully fit to start the new year.
Justin Barcia is the new young-gun in the 450 class. Photography By: Kit Palmer
Barcia is hoping to keep riding the momentum he built up after winning the Monster Energy Cup in October in what was his first "Supercross" on a 450. The 2012 East 250 Champion seemed loose and excited to get the season started.
Josh Grant is happy to be back on his old JGRMX Toyota/Yamaha team. Photography By: Kit Palmer
"Keeping the momentum going isn't the easiest thing, but I've been home riding and having fun," he said. "I think it's important to do that. I'm just looking forward to racing all these guys."
Barcia, who has earned a reputation for being aggressive and rough on the track, says he's matured as a rider.
"Maybe I was a little over aggressive my first two years [in the 250 class], but the way I've raced I think is fine, so I'm going to keep doing that. Being aggressive is one thing, but being dirty is another. I'm riding good now and feeling comfortable on the 450."
Many other riders were in attendance but didn't make the stage, including Trey Canard, Davi Millsaps, Josh Grant, Kevin Windham, Andrew Short and Mike Alessi.
Davi Millsaps is back on a Suzuki. Photography By: Kit Palmer
Canard says he's completely healed up from his injury and is ready to go racing, as is Alessi, who said his off season went well and is anxious to get on the track again.
Barcia, Reed, Villopoto, Stewart and Dungey take the stage. Photography By: Kit Palmer