OAKLAND, CA, JAN. 29 – Plagued by falls in practice and qualifying, San Manuel Yamaha’s James Stewart came back to win his heat race and then ride flawlessly to victory in the main event at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in California. Chad Reed, on the TwoTwo Motorsports Honda, snatched second place from Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey in a photo finish, by .179 of a second.In the Lites class, Josh Hansen, on the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki, took the lead early on and held it for four laps, only to lose it to his teammate, Broc Tickle, who took the win.
The first Supercross race to be held in Oakland in many years attracted more fans than previous races at AT&T Park across the bay, with a paid attendance of 44,394. The best measure of local support for Supercross was trying to navigate the crowds in pits that afternoon. Those who sat in the fog, drizzle, and occasional rain were treated to racing at its best, on a challenging track, by top riders out for podium glory. The rain came during the Lites main and turned the surface into something between slick and sticky. The riders who’d practiced all day on dry dirt now had to adjust to different conditions for the races that counted.
Reed took the holeshot, but it was Villopoto who led after the first lap, followed by Stewart, Reed and Dungey close behind. These four would stick together for the first few laps, but then Villopoto lost traction and Stewart pulled ahead, and eventually increased his lead to six seconds. No mistakes this time, like the one last week that cost him the win. Now it was Villopoto’s turn to do Stewart a favor.
Villopoto fell a second time and was never able to climb out of fourth place. It was Reed and Dungey who entertained the fans with their battle for second place, swapping roles three times before the last lap. Dungey seemed to slow just a bit on that last lap, and that gave Reed the chance to pull ahead by those 179 milliseconds.
Stewart was both relieved and elated with his win, which combined with Villopoto’s fourth place, gives him a two-point lead in the series.
“This is a great win for me and the team,” said Stewart. “It’s a long season and it’s all about winning a championship. The rain tonight made it a little difficult, but I am glad I came out on top.”
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Josh Hansen won the first two Lites races at Anaheim and Phoenix, but his fifth-place finish last week in Los Angles cut his series lead down to just four points over teammate Broc Tickle. Hansen’s stellar performance in time qualifying, his decisive heat win, and his charge to the front by the fourth lap of the main tonight made it look like he was headed for his third win of the season.
But there was his teammate, Tickle, always just behind him, and who was also riding very well. Hansen, however, was making small mistakes. Tickle got around him on lap nine and gradually built up his lead to nearly three seconds.
“I was so focused out there tonight,” said Tickle. “I knew it was going to be really slick out there, so I tried to ride smooth and take it lap by lap.”
Hansen is still the series points leader, but now by only one point. Looking at this from a team rather than an individual perspective, it’s an outstanding success for manager Mitch Payton and his whole team.
GEICO Powersports Honda’s Eli Tomac and KTM Red Bull’s Ken Roczen had their moments in this race, Roczen moving into second place for several laps, losing it and then coming back. But it was Tomac who got the third spot on the podium.Supercross returns to Anaheim next week before making the big move to Houston for the start of the East Lites series. No doubt the Stewart/Villopoto rivalry will intensify, with Dungey, Reed and Canard waiting for either of these two to falter
Supercross: 1. James Stewart (Yam); 2. Chad Reed (Hon); 3. Ryan Dungey (Suz); 4. Ryan Villopoto (Kaw); 5. Brett Metcalfe (Suz); 6. Trey Canard (Hon); 7. Kevin Windham (Hon); 8. Davi Millsaps (Yam); 9. Andrew Short (KTM); 10. Ivan Tedesco (Kaw); 11. Chris Blose (Kaw); 12. Matt Boni (Kaw); 13. Vince Friese (Yam); 14. Weston Peick (Yam); 15. Kyle Chisholm (Yam); 16. Dan Reardon (KTM); 17. Kyle Regal (Yam); 18. Justin Brayton (Yam); 19. Austin Stroupe (Yam); 20. Nick Wey (Yam).
Lites: 1. Broc Tickle (Kaw); 2. Josh Hansen (Kaw); 3. Eli Tomac (Hon); 4. Ken Roczen (KTM); 5. Tyla Rattray (Kaw); 6. Ryan Morais (Suz); 7. Kyle Cunningham (Yam); 8. James Decotis (Hon); 9. Bruce Rutherford (Kaw); 10. Ryan Marmont (KTM); 11. Gared Steinke (Yam); 12. Ben Evans (Kaw); 13. Nick Paluzzi (Yam); 14. Jake Canada (Kaw); 15. Antonio Balbi (Kaw); 16. Martin Davalos (Suz); 17. Scott Champion (Kaw); 18. Casey Hinson (KTM); 19. Travis Baker (Hon); 20. Cole Seely (Hon).