Ryan Villopoto waves to the crowd after crashing hard at the Monster Energy Cup. Photography by Steve Cox.
James Stewart made his first trip to the Monster Energy Cup a profitable one, as the Yoshimura Suzuki rider came away with the overall victory after an exciting night of racing at the Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas.
No one came away with the million dollars that was up for grabs which would have gone to any rider who could win all three motos. The only rider who ended up having that chance was 2013 AMA Supercross Champion Ryan Villopoto who won the first moto, but a heavy crash while battling with Stewart for the second-moto win ended all that. Villopoto was knocked out in the fall but would eventually get up and walk off the track. He did not return. Last year, Villopoto also crashed in the second moto after winning the first and did not return. After the race, word in the pits is that Villopoto suffered a concussion but, other than being sore all over, appears to by okay.
With Villopoto out of action, $100,000 was still on the line for the overall win, and it was still very much up in the air. Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey was poised to finish second in the first moto, having kept pace with Villopoto the whole way. But Dungey forgot to take the “Joker Lane” during the race and was docked five positions and was credited with sixth place. The mistake would ultimately cost him the $100,000 check.
One unique aspect of the Monster Energy Cup is that in every race, all riders must take the longer Joker Lane one time, and while dicing with Villopoto for the lead, Dungey got caught up in the action and never rode through the Joker Lane. Villopoto waited until the last lap to do so and Dungey thought he had the race won. After rolling across the finish line, Dungey and Villopoto congratulated each other, and when Dungey asked Villopoto what had happened to him, Dungey then realized his costly mistake.
“I was just racing and going for the win,” Dungey said. “It [taking the Joker Lane] skipped my mind and I didn’t see Ryan [Villopoto] do it.”
Second in the moto ended up going to Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin aboard the KTM 350 SX. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer finished third, followed by Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen, and GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac. Dungey was sixth, and last year’s Monster Energy Cup winner Justin Barcia was seventh.
At this point, things didn’t look great for eventual winner Stewart who finished eighth after getting off to a bad start.
The second moto was a thriller. Stewart made up for his bad start of the first moto with the holeshot in the second moto, with Villopoto slipping in to second after making a couple of quick passes, one of which was on Dungey.
The race for the win boiled down to a Stewart/Villopoto shootout. Stewart held Villopoto at bay for much of the race until Villopoto came calling. Villopoto made a pass on Stewart, who came right back and got Villopoto. This happened once again, and with the race coming down to the final lap, neither rider had taken the Joker Lane yet.
In the height of the battle, Stewart ducked into the lane at the last second and Villopoto missed it. It looked almost as though overshot the turn, perhaps remembering about it at the last second, but it was too late. With the mistake perhaps still on his mind, Villopoto, now physically in the lead, miss-timed a rhythm section and was slammed onto the ground. He lay motionless for a while before getting up and walking away while waving to the crowd.
Stewart went on to win, followed by Barcia, Dungey and Dean Wilson.
Going into the third and final moto, six riders were separated by just three points, with Roczen leading the way with eight, Dungey, Barcia and Stewart with seven, and Musquin and Tomac with 11.
Roczen blasted out of the gate with the holeshot, followed by Dungey and Stewart, who made quick work of Dungey. Stewart then went after Roczen, and the two set the pace for the next few laps.
Stewart had one rhythm section dialed, where he was noticeably gaining on Roczen every lap. Eventually, Stewart cut underneath Roczen in a flat turn, made the pass and rode off with the win.
Like Stewart, Roczen waited until the final lap to run the Joker Lane and it cost him, as both Dungey and Tomac got by him, making the final finishing order: Stewart, Dungey, Tomac and Roczen. In the overall column, Stewart ended up edging out Dungey by one point, 10-11. Roczen wound up third overall with 12 points, followed by Tomac (14), Musquin (19), Cole Seely (26) and Brock Tickle (27).
Barcia fell in the moto and had troubles getting the bike started.
“You don’t understand how special this is for me,” said Stewart. “I am speechless right now; this is a huge win for me and I am pretty damn happy. I know we are making the right steps to get our program to where it needs to be.”
In other racing, Kawasaki’s Austin Forkner claimed the overall win in the Supermini class, winning both motos. He also won both motos last year at the Monster Energy Cup. Second overall went to Yamaha rider Chase Sexton, followed by Suzuki pilot Michael Mosiman, Yamaha-mounted Robbie Wageman and KTM rider Brock Papi.
In the Amateur All-Stars division, Honda rider RJ Hampshire took the win with 1-3 moto finishes, while Kawasaki rider Zach Commans (5-4) finished second overall.
Rounding out the podium was Honda rider Jordon Smith, who came close of winning the whole thing had it not been for a spectacular get-off in the first moto while chasing Hampshire. Smith won the second moto after finishing ninth in the first moto.
Fourth overall went to Mark Worth (Kawasaki) followed by Jace Owen (Honda), Darian Sanayei (Kawasaki), Ryan Surratt (Yamaha), Thomas Covington (Kawasaki), Paul Coates (Yamaha) and Keith Tucher (Yamaha).
MONSTER ENERGY CUP
Las Vegas, Nevada
October 19, 2013
1. James Stewart (Suz) 8-1-1
2. Ryan Dungey (KTM) 6-3-2
3. Ken Roczen (KTM) 4-4-4
4. Eli Tomac (Hon) 5-6-3
5. Marvin Musquin (KTM) 2-9-8
6. Cole Seely (Hon) 13-7-5
7. Broc Tickle (Suz) 10-8-9
8. Justin Barcia (Hon) 7-2-18
9. Dean Wilson (Kaw) 20-5-6
10. Josh Grant (Yam) 15-10-7
11. Andrew Short (KTM) 12-11-10
12. Cooper Webb (Yam) 9-12-16
13. Tyler Bowers (Kaw) 14-13-15
14. Matt Goerke (KTM) 18-14-11
15. Ryan Villopoto (Kaw) 1-21-21
16. Nick Wey (Kaw) 17-15-12
17. Jake Weimer (Kaw) 3-22-19
18. Kyle Chisholm (Yam) 16-16-14
19. Jimmy Albertson (Hon) 19-18-13
20. Malcolm Stewart (Hon) 11-19-22
21. Chris Blose (Hon) 22-17-17
22. Zach Osborne (Hon) 21-20-20