Can Torco Fuels Honda's Trey Canard, of Elk City, Okla., win his fourth consecutive Eastern Regional AMA Supercross Lites class? That’s the big question going into this weekend’s Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship at the Minneapolis Metrodome in Minnesota. This will be the first time since 2004 that the series visits the Metrodome. The 17-year-old rookie scored wins in Atlanta, Indianapolis and Daytona and carries a 24-point lead into this weekend's race.
Canard's Torco Fuels Honda teammate Kevin Windham, of Centerville, Miss., won his second AMA Supercross class race last weekend in Daytona and trails current points leader Chad Reed, of Tampa, Fla. by 23 points. The win was Windham's 14th of his career, and a win this weekend would qualify him as the only rider to win in Minneapolis in both classes.
With Windham and Canard placing their Honda motorcycles atop the podium in their respective classes, it marked the third time in Daytona history that the manufacture swept the number-one positions and the second time this season.
The AMA Supercross class race will air on SPEED Sunday, March 16 at 6:00 p.m. The AMA Supercross Lites class race will air on SPEED Saturday, March 22 at 6:00 p.m.
Last week's AMA Supercross race at Daytona International Speedway was one of the toughest and wettest races in AMA Supercross history. Rockstar Makita Suzuki's AMA Supercross-class rider David Vuillemin picked up his best result of the season with a fourth-place finish. Going into this weekend's race in Minneapolis, Vuillemin feels confident and is looking forward to improving upon what was an impressive performance last week.
"I was happy with my Daytona result even if I could have got a podium position without crashing six times," said Vuillemin. "It's always good for the confidence to get my best result of the year, and it makes training and working during the week way easier. Minneapolis is a cool place and a typical East Coast race in a dome with soft dirt. It's going to be technical with the ruts and should be good for racing. I look forward to keeping the Daytona momentum going!"
For AMA Supercross Lites contender Ryan Dungey, the Daytona event was his second race on the Rockstar Makita Suzuki RM-Z450. Despite the weather, it was a good opportunity as he learned a lot about handling the big bike in the worst of conditions.
"It's been a good opportunity for me to get on the Suzuki fuel-injected RM-Z450," said Dungey. "Indy was great with a fourth place in what was my first race on the Rockstar Makita Suzuki RM-Z450. Daytona was tough with the wet conditions and though my result wasn't the best, I learned a lot. I'm looking forward to Minneapolis, as I always look forward to the next race, but with Minneapolis being my home track, it will be extra nice racing in front of my home crowd. I want to give them a good show."
Last week was only the third AMA Supercross Lites class race for Rockstar Makita Suzuki's rookie Nico Izzi on his Suzuki RM-Z250. Coming off a strong third place podium finish in Indianapolis, Nico faced the worst of the monsoon-like conditions in the Lites main event at Daytona.
"I've never been to Minneapolis, but I'm looking forward to the race - I'm certainly pumped to get out of the mud," said Izzi. "I'm a little bummed out about Daytona. I rode good in the main but had a bad start and crashed on the last lap. I'm excited about going to Minneapolis. I know it will be dry and I'm looking forward to getting back on the podium."
MDK KTM Lites rider Ryan Sipes is eager for this weekend's race in Minneapolis as it will be his first time competing at this venue. "I turned pro at the end of 2004 and never got a chance to race in Minneapolis. I’m glad it's back and I am looking forward to this weekend," commented Sipes, who now sits second in overall series points.
His teammate Matt Goerke and MDK KTM factory rider Martin Davalos are also first timers to the Minneapolis event. "I'm excited for a new location, but I’m more excited to race under normal conditions in an enclosed stadium," said Davalos.
All three Lites riders have been busy training near their hometowns this past week and feel confident that they can finish within the top five this weekend. "Since my injury at Atlanta, I have been taking it easy, but I feel good about this weekend and I am ready to break into the top five," reported Goerke.
In addition to the action on the east coast, the MDK KTM Lites riders on the west have been busy training for their return at Seattle. Justin Brayton is back in the saddle after injuring his wrist at the last west coast race in Houston.
"It feels good to finally be back on my bike. I'm almost back up to speed and feel that I will be 100% by Seattle," said Brayton, who celebrates his birthday Friday. His teammate Billy Laninovich has been practicing aboard the KTM 450SX-F, still looking to make a debut on the bike this season. Right now Laninovich is planning to race his 450 at the Dallas stop.
Of course, there is another 450 ride in the group belonging to MDK KTM factory rider Nick Wey who currently sits 9th in overall series points. "I’m finally recovering from pneumonia and I’m starting to feel back to my normal self again. I actually like the mud races but with my condition it wasn't the best way to recover from pneumonia. This week should be better as we have a nice dry course to compete on," stated Wey.
After the deluge of rain and mud in Daytona, Travis Preston and the Monster Energy Kawasaki team are glad to return to the Metrodome in Minneapolis, where the roof will protect them from the elements. Preston finished 14th in Daytona after twice getting stuck in mud pits, but he knows last week's results aren't a true measure.
"I can't wait to get back to an inside stadium," said Preston. "I finally have a months worth of riding and training behind me and I know I can ride up front. I'm just glad this week we are racing where Mother Nature can't affect us."
Timmy Ferry won't be making the trip to Minneapolis as he is still recovering from injuries his sustained before Indianapolis while training. James Stewart will be in town for the race.
In the Eastern Regional AMA Supercross Lites class, Ryan Villopoto has two-straight runner-up finishes for the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team. Currently fourth in the standings, and with Minneapolis marking the halfway point of the season, he knows winning is the most important thing to get back in the title hunt.
"Right now I need to make up 32 points," said Villopoto. "I'm riding well right now and I now I just need to get some wins to make up the points."
Daytona was forgettable for Branden Jesseman as he failed to qualify for the Lites main event, but the former AMA Supercross Lites champion went back to work this week to get back on the podium.
"I've been busting my butt getting ready for this week," said Jesseman. "I want to finish on the box this week, and if I don't, I'm going to be so mad at myself. I've got a great team and it's time to get great results."