Stewart, Sipes Hot In Florida Qualifying

Kit Palmer | March 19, 2011


 Practice and qualifying is all wrapped up at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida, for round 11 of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series, an FIM Championship, and the usual suspects are at the top of the leaderboard, once again, those being a healthy San Manuel Yamaha’s James Stewart in the Supercross (450) class and DNA Shred Six Yamaha’s Ryan Sipes in the Supercross Lites (250) division. Sipes was also quickest last week in Indianapolis.  Stewart was second-quickest in Indy but was still feeling the effects of his hard crash the week before at Daytona. Today, Stewart looks like the old Stewart again.

With temperatures in the upper 80s, and on a dry, hard-packed track, Stewart laid down the quickest lap time of the day in the SX class with a 44.383 around the relatively short track. Only one other rider in the 450s managed to squeeze into the 44-second bracket and that was defending Supercross Champion Ryan Dungey on the Rockstar/Makita Suzuki. Dungey’s best time was a 44.702.The fastest rider in the 45s is Davi Millsaps on the Muscle Milk/JGR Yamaha. Millsaps stopped the clock with a 45.347, followed by Honda’s Trey Canard with a 45.435 and Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto with a 45.464. Right behind the series points leader, Villopoto, is Kevin Windham on the GEICO Powersports Honda with a 45.744.Ninth quickest is Chad Reed on the TwoTwo Motorsports/Bel-Ray Honda with a 45.902.

In the Lites East class, round five of their eight-round championship, Sipes, once again, looked strong in practice and qualifying. Sipes, who scored his first Lites Supercross victory last week in Indianapolis, was the only Lites rider to break into the 45s with a 45.658.About a half second behind Sipes is Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Dean Wilson, who posted a 46.136.There are four riders in the 46s, including Wilson. Third quickest is GEICO Powersport Honda’s Justin Barcia (46.309), and he’s followed by Moto Extreme Kawasaki’s Matthew Lemoine (46.718) and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett (46.953).So, all four of the previous East Lites winners (Sipes, Baggett, Barcia and Wilson) are all within the top-five quickest qualifiers, which should make for an entertaining main event, if they all make it that far.

As mentioned, the final day of winter in Florida is a warm one, which should leave the technical track in perfect shape for tonight’s racing. The Jacksonville track features a unique right-hand first turn. Most tracks incorporate left-hand first turns, which makes it easier for the riders to control their rear brake as they vie for the holeshot.


Kit Palmer | Off-Road Editor

Kit Palmer started his career at Cycle News in 1984 and he’s been testing dirt and streetbikes every since – plus covering any event that uses some form of a knobby tire. He’s also our resident motorcycle mileage man with a commute of 120 miles a day.