Ryan Villopoto could clinch the 2013 Supercross title in Salt Lake City this weekend. Photography by Hoppenworld.com.
Justin Barcia, who recorded his second Supercross victory of the season (and career) at Seattle, hopes to carry his winning momentum into Salt Lake City, Utah, this weekend for the penultimate round of the 2013 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series. The same holds true for Ken Roczen who extended his 250 West Supercross Championship lead with his third win of the season in Seattle.
During last weekend’s 450 main event, Barcia, on the Muscle Milk Honda, earned the Nuclear Cowboyz Holeshot Award with MotoConcepts Racing’s Mike Alessi and Slaton Racing Honda’s Vince Friese in tow.
The two-time defending Supercross Champion, Ryan Villopoto, positioned himself in the top five, while a first-turn pileup claimed both Ryan Dungey, Villopoto’s nearest series rival, and Chad Reed, who retired to the pits.
Villopoto, on the Monster Energy Kawasaki, wasted little time in moving forward and was in second place by lap two, just a few 10ths behind Barcia. Davi Millsaps followed Villopoto into third place.
Both Barcia and Villopoto slowly pulled away from Millsaps as the race progressed, setting the stage for a battle to the finish. The Seattle crowd cheered on Villopoto, their hometown rider, but as the duo encountered lapped riders, Barcia’s lead began to increase.
Barcia led all 20 laps of the main event, mirroring the performance from his inaugural 450 victory at the second race of the season in Phoenix.
“I tell you what, that holeshot is so key,” said Barcia. “We made some great changes today on the bike. It was a tough track with so many lines, but there was one main line that was so much better than any other. I’ve been waiting for this since Phoenix.”
Villopoto’s runner-up finish extended his podium streak to nine races, during which he has finished either first or second.
“I didn’t get the start I wanted, so to come out the way I did and salvage that was awesome,” said Villopoto. “I rode 20 solid laps but Justin [Barcia] was on it. I just really couldn’t do anything with him. The way it turned out tonight was pretty good for what we were up against [at the start].”
Millsaps, on the Rockstar Energy Drink-backed Suzuki, finished third for his 10th podium finish of the season, and moved into second in the championship standings. Red Bull KTM’s Dungey overcame a first-turn fall to finish fourth after starting in 18th position.
Villopoto holds a 25-point lead over Millsaps in the 450 standings and can clinch his third straight Monster Energy Supercross title if he maintains that advantage following next weekend’s 16th race of the season.
In the first Western Regional 250 main event since the sixth race of the season in February, GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac grabbed the Nuclear Cowboyz Holeshot Award and quickly pulled away from the field. Behind him, Rockstar Energy Racing’s Ryan Sipes and Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil Honda’s Christian Craig held second and third, respectively. Roczen positioned himself in fourth.
With his championship rival behind him, Tomac opened a multiple-second margin, as Roczen methodically moved past Craig into second on lap two. For several laps, the pair maintained their distance from one another until Tomac came up short on a jump on lap nine and was thrown off his motorcycle. Roczen inherited the lead, while Tomac was able to remount in second.
Roczen pulled away for the remainder of the 15-lap race on his Red Bull KTM to extend his lead in the point standings. He has finished first or second in each of the seven Western Regional 250 races this season.
“It’s good to bounce back from a bad heat race with good start,” said Roczen, who crashed twice in his heat race. “I just put my head down and rode smart. The track was really technical out there, with a lot of ruts. It feels good to get a win after such a long break; it’s tough to get in a groove after so much time off, but I’m so happy I was able to walk away with this one.”
Despite his misfortune, Tomac still finished second, but faces a significant deficit in the championship with only two races remaining.
“The track was getting tough in the main event,” said Tomac, who still has the most wins in the class with four. “I got a good start and started pulling away, but then I made a big mistake. It’s kind of a bummer, but that’s racing. I was lucky enough to be able to get up in second and still finish on the podium.”
GEICO Honda’s Zach Osborne secured his first podium finish of the season in third.
Roczen carries a 20-point advantage over Tomac into next weekend’s eighth race of the West Championship.