Photography by Kit Palmer
People were scratching their heads after the first qualifying session at Anaheim III when Ryan Villopoto was sixth, but the series leader and defending champ must have found something on the setup of his Monster Energy Kawasaki. Villopoto came through late in the final timed session to top the charts with a time of 1:02.295.
Villopoto’s time was good enough to just edge Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Justin Barcia, who tripped the timing beam at 1:03.407. James Stewart, who spent a lot of time leading the season, ended the afternoon third with a time of 1:02.372 on the Yoshimura Suzuki. Ken Roczen, who also led the session early, was fourth with a 1:02.503. His Red Bull KTM teammate Ryan Dungey rounded out the top five with a 1:02.560.
The session was a case of one-upmanship. RV led early then Roczen, Stewart and finally Villopoto again.
Villopoto comes into tonight’s with a seven point lead in the standings.
“This is our third time in Anaheim, and I’m not really sure what to expect,” said Villopoto. “I know there hasn’t been any rain and the dirt has been used this whole month. I know the Dirt Wurx guys are going to build a good track and do the best they can with the conditions. We made some changes on the bike to help make it fit me better, and I feel like this Monster Energy Kawasaki team is starting to hit its stride.”
Eli Tomac was sixth in his return.
Dean Wilson set a marker in the 250 class that no one could answer. Wilson popped off a 1:01.901 (the fastest time of the day so far, including 450 riders) on his Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki. That was nearly a full second faster than series leader Jason Anderson (1:02.871) on the Rockstar KTM. Wilson was the only rider in the 250 ranks to break into the 1:01 bracket.
“Oakland was bittersweet for me, but I am going to take the positives from it,” Wilson said. “I know I have the speed to win out here and I’m going to concentrate on just going out there and getting as many wins as I can to finish out the season.”
Wilson’s teammate Justin Hill, who made his first trip to the podium as a professional last week in Oakland, was third fastest with a 1:03.038.
Cole Seely, who led the final session early, finished up fourth fastest. Cooper Webb rounded out the top five.
450 Timed Qualifying from Anaheim III
1 1 Ryan Villopoto Seattle, WA Kawasaki KX 450F 1:02.295
2 51 Justin Barcia Pinetta, FL Honda CRF 450 1:02.301
3 7 James Stewart Haines City, FL Suzuki RM-Z450 1:02.372
4 94 Ken Roczen Murrieta, CA KTM 450 SX-F Factory 1:02.503
5 5 Ryan Dungey Belle Plaine, MN KTM 450 SX-F Factory 1:02.560
6 3 Eli Tomac Cortez, CO Honda CRF 450 1:03.023 9 1:03.640
7 12 Jacob Weimer Rupert, ID Kawasaki KX 450F 1:03.086
8 20 Broc Tickle Holly, MI Suzuki RM-Z450 1:03.111
9 22 Chad Reed Dade City, FL Kawasaki KX 450F 1:03.137
10 29 Andrew Short Smithville, TX KTM 450 SX-F Factory 1:03.564 9
250 Timed Qualifying from Anaheim III
1 15 Dean Wilson Wesley Chapel, FL Kawasaki KX 250F 1:01.901
2 17 Jason Anderson Rio Rancho, NM KTM 250 SX-F 1:02.871
3 35 Justin Hill Yoncalla, OR Kawasaki KX 250F 1:03.038
4 21 Cole Seely Lake Elsinore, CA Honda CRF 250 1:03.387
5 37 Cooper Webb Newport, NC Yamaha YZ250F 1:03.524
6 34 Malcolm Stewart Haines City, FL Honda CRF 250 1:03.742 9
7 50 Jessy Nelson Paso Robles, CA Honda CRF 250 1:03.963
8 66 Jake Canada Sun City, CA Honda CRF 250 1:04.243
9 16 Zach Osborne Chesterfield, SC Honda CRF 250 1:04.352
10 87 Shane Mcelrath Chesterfield, SC Honda CRF 250 1:04.946