Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto started the new season right where he left in 2011, on top of the podium. The intensity was high from the gate drop of the first heat race when another rider collided with Villopoto on the start, forcing him off track. But as a proven champion, he went on to make a statement in the main event by leading from start to finish.
His teammate Jake Weimer also started the season off strong, riding through the pack to finish fifth, while Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Broc Tickle made his supercross class debut with a 12th place finish.
In the supercross lites class, Tyla Rattray rode a consistent main event to start off the season with a second place finish. Teammate Dean Wilson hounded Rattray all night but was one of the many victims of the tricky track design and fell on the final lap, dropping back three spots to finish sixth.
The 2012 supercross class is one of the most highly competitive fields the sport has ever seen. Saturday night, Villopoto made it seem almost effortless as he led every lap of the 20-lap main event building a lead as high as 20 seconds over the competition.
“I’m really happy with tonight,” said Villopoto. “We’re right where we need to be with my KX™450F and fitness, and we will just keep pushing into next week.”
“The track was pretty tough and awkward,” said Villopoto. “There are a lot of rounds left, so we will just keep doing what were doing and stay consistent.”
The supercross lites West class year after year includes a long list of fast riders and Rattray is determined to be on the top of that list. Rattray got his Kawasaki KX™250F out of the gate clean and nearly grabbed the first holeshot of the season. He quickly made the pass into the lead and tried to settle into a rhythm.
“I’m glad to get the first race out of the way and shake the cobwebs out, “ said Rattray. “We are very happy with the work we have done to the bike and there’s still a lot of racing left.”
Rattray would fall back to second by the half-way point and was heavily pressured by teammate Wilson. With his fast pace and consistent line choice, Rattray would start the season off strong with a second place finish at the checkered flag.
After spending the majority of the 2011 Supercross season sidelined with injury, Weimer could not wait to start his first full season on the 2012 Kawasaki KX™450F. When the gate dropped for the main event, Weimer was pinched off into the first turn and found himself in the middle of the 20-rider pack. Knowing that he was physically prepared and feeling stronger than his competition, Weimer battled forward, lap-by-lap picking off riders on his way to a fifth place finish.
“Overall not a bad day,” said Weimer. “I would have liked to have done better in the main, but I rode decent and it’s a good place to build on for the rest of the season.”
As Weimer looks to establish his place on the podium, he has no doubt in himself or his equipment stating that “the bike will only continue to improve as we get on some more traditional supercross tracks.”
Wilson was looking for nothing short of a win at the opening round in Anaheim, but would finish the night in sixth after a last-lap bobble. He was on top of the leaderboard all day during practice and was looking forward to the night’s main event. Wilson put on a late race charge in the heat race to take second, crossing the finish line nearly side-by-side with the winner. In the main event, he quickly made his way into third behind Rattray but could not make the pass. Wilson had settled for third place until four corners from the finish he lost the front end while fighting to keep his position. He would remount and cross the finish line for sixth place.
“I tightened up and just fell into a slower pace,” said Wilson. “I want to work on a few things this week and come into Phoenix a different man.”
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Broc Tickle made the jump up to the supercross class for 2012 and became the first rider to pilot a Kawasaki KX™450F for the dominant team. Tickle qualified strong throughout the day and finished a respectable 12th place in his supercross class debut.
“I know I have the speed to do it,” said Tickle. “I just need to put the whole puzzle together. My Kawasaki is good, the team and I are working hard, and we will keep plugging away as the season continues.”
The Supercross season’s first race at Anaheim is always eagerly anticipated by the industry and fans alike. Following Villopoto’s championship year in 2011, the buzz was even greater around the Monster Energy Kawasaki pit throughout the day. The excitement of the night program started with amazing opening ceremonies that featured Villopoto introduced to the crowd onto a green carpet and being paraded around the stadium floor in his newest toy, a customized 2012 Kawasaki Teryx4®.
Round 2 of the 2012 Monster Energy AMA Supercross series takes place January 14 at Chase Field in Phoenix, Ariz. Villopoto will be looking to grab his second win of the season, while his teammate Weimer and the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team will all be looking to join in the on the celebration with podium finishes of their own.
2012 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series
Angel Stadium – Anaheim, Calif.
January 7, 2012
Supercross Class Results
1. RYAN VILLOPOTO, POULSBO, WASH., MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI
2. Chad Reed, Dade City, Fla., Honda
3. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM
4. Justin Brayton, Murrieta, Calif., Honda
5. JAKE WEIMER, WILDOMAR, ID., MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI
6. James Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Yamaha
7. Andrew Short, Smithville, Texas, Honda
8. Kevin Windham, Centreville, Miss., Honda
9. Mike Alessi, Hilliard, Calif., Suzuki
10. JOSH HANSEN, ELBERT, COLO., DODGE/HART & HUNTINGTON/KAWASAKI
12. BROC TICKLE, HOLLY, MI., MONSTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI
Supercross Lites Results
1. Cole Seely, Murrieta, Calif., Honda
2. TYLA RATTRAY, WILDOMAR, CALIF., MONSTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI
3. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Honda
4. Marvin Musquin, Murrieta, Calif., KTM
5. Ryan Sipes, Ekron, KY, Yamaha
6. DEAN WILSON, MENIFEE, CALIF., MONSTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI
7. Jason Anderson, Edgewood, NM, Suzuki
8. Wil Hahn, Decatur, Texas, Honda
9. Zach Osborne, Chesterfield, SC, Yamaha
10. Travis Baker, Temecula, Calif., Honda