Las Vegas SX NotesFriday, May 4, 2007 | 12:32 PM
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After winning his 12th race of the season and wrapping up both the AMA Supercross and World Supercross GP titles in Seattle, James Stewart heads into Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas for a victory race with no pressure involved.
“For me Vegas is just going to be a fun race,” said Stewart. “I want to go out there and have fun, but at the same time I don’t want to go out there and jeopardize anything. I am still trying to win an outdoor title this year and that’s my next goal.
“Overall, I want to have fun and just kind of celebrate, though I will still take the race seriously,” said Stewart.
Teammate Timmy Ferry, who sealed third place in both series’ last weekend at Qwest Field, is looking forward to Las Vegas.
“I haven’t felt any pressure this year so Vegas won’t be any different,” said Ferry. “I am going to try to go out and race as fast as I can. If I can win a race then cool, and if I get on the podium then that would be awesome too.”
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Western Regional AMA Supercross Lites Champion Ryan Villopoto is heading to Sam Boyd Stadium for the East/West Shootout where he will go head to head with his east coast teammates.
“I want to try to go out and win for sure,” said Villopoto. “Vegas is a tough track. It will bite you because it’s so hard packed and you can make some easy mistakes. I just have to go out there and ride easy.”
He added, “As far as talent, I think the west is a little deeper, but there are for sure a few fast guys on the east. We will just have to see what they bring to the table.”
Teammate and Eastern Regional AMA Supercross Lites Champion Ben Townley was so excited after his title win in Detroit that he could barely speak about the Las Vegas shootout to come.
“Vegas to me, is really nothing special,” said Townley. “My goal was to win the championship and I have already done that so I am not concerned with Vegas. And I don’t really have the desire to beat anyone in particular on the west. It will just be another race before we begin outdoors.”
In just his second year, Mike Fisher, a former racer-turned Team Manager, carefully guided the Kawasaki brand to four titles, Stewart’s Amp’d Mobile World Supercross GP/Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross Series titles, Ben Townley’s Eastern Regional Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross Series title and Villopoto’s Western Regional AMA Supercross Lites title.
“The 2006-2007 season has turned out well and I am very proud of our team,” said Fisher. “At the first two world rounds, we didn't do as well as I had hoped. However, everything turned around at round one of the AMA Supercross series.”
Once the momentum started in Anaheim with Stewart and Villopoto’s respective wins, the Kawasaki’s continued to draw attention. If not through winning, it was Stewart’s consistency or Ferry riding the best season of his established career.
“All of our riders put it together and put in solid performances and have done so ever since,” Fisher said, reflecting on the success that started in Anaheim.
Stewart’s position on the team was simple: win. Building a legacy since his amateur days, Stewart started collecting championships only to have it stop during his rookie year as a professional. He quickly adapted to the learning curve in the Lites class before winning championships on both coasts. His highly anticipated campaign in the AMA Supercross class ended early when he broke his arm during practice in Phoenix in 2005. The next year, crashes and a determined Ricky Carmichael kept the title out of Stewart’s hands.
“I did expect it out of James,” said Fisher on Stewart’s championships. ”James has also given our team a boost with all that he has won and the vast amount of talent he displays each week.”
Upon signing with Kawasaki Ferry, who was a privateer last season, knew he would take a backseat to the ultra-hyped Stewart. The swelling hype around Stewart wasn’t going to get in the way of Ferry’s appreciation for the opportunity to land on a factory team.
“I was not exactly sure what to expect out of Tim (Ferry),” said Fisher. “I knew he was fast and had a ton of talent, but I never expected him to be on the podium as much as he has this season. It has been excellent, and I think he has really given our team a boost.”
Villopoto’s quick work of the West Region, clinching the title one race before the season ended, sent a statement about his future, while Townley accomplished what has never been done before in the Lites class. Townley left the series’ opening round at the Georgia Dome in last place.
“Ryan (Villopoto) won the west coast series really quickly and surely has proven that he is a top contender. Ben, however, did not make it as easy on himself, running it to the last round,” said Fisher. “Even so, under a ton of pressure, he was able to step it up and pull off the title win on the east coast. It's definitely a great thing to win both Lites titles back-to-back and I couldn't be happier with such a strong team.
As the season comes to close this weekend, Fisher could have had the perfect season.
”Overall, I think that everybody is feeling really good about it,” said Fisher. “And as for myself, I don't know if it makes it easier to be a manager this way, but it definitely makes it more fun.”
Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey heads into his first-ever East/West Shootout in Las Vegas having won three main events in the east, including the series finale in Detroit. The 17-year old rookie said, “I’m really looking forward to racing against a full field this weekend in Las Vegas. I was at this race last year, but only as a fan. This track always looks pretty tricky and slick. It’s kind of like how our Suzuki track is these days and I’ve been riding that the past few weeks getting ready.”
Honda riders Davi Millsaps and Kevin Windham visited the podium in Seattle, finishing second and third respectively. Their success in Seattle marked the first time that two Honda bikes have finished in the top three this season.
“Yeah, you know, it feels good to get the Sobe No Fear Samsung Honda up here,” said Windham. “You know, I gotta thank those guys – they’ve been working so hard to get us up here and, you know, without the help of guys like Samsung and of course Sobe No Fear and my Honda, that’s been working great.
“Tonight was one of those rides where I just kind of fell into place. The track was tricky. There were a lot of caution flags out, a lot of guys going down, and luckily for me, I found my way up here to the podium for a second time this year.”
Millsaps hopes that his recent success is a sign that he is completely healed from the broken femur suffered during the off season.
“It took me a while to get over it,” he said of the injured leg. “Just the fact of going into the corners and, you know, knowing someone that’s up there on that leg, but, you know, I got used to it and now it’s over, so it’s in the past. I just gotta look forward to the future.”
San Manuel Yamaha rider Chad Reed has one race left on his supercross-only 2007 racing schedule, but don’t count out the 2003 AMA Supercross Champion for Saturday night.
“Every year we race to win and try and win the championship,” said Reed. “For me this is my last ride for a while so I need to get a win for sure. We’ll try and get a win and finish it a little better than we did at the start. I have some time off and I’d love to get a win to make that break a little easier.”
When asked about his first-year team and plans for 2008, he added, “Results wise I didn’t really achieve what I wanted to achieve. It’s been fun to work with a great bunch of people and I’m happy to be around these guys. We’re coming back. We got some time to think about it and make some things better.”
Reed also commented on Saturday’s live broadcast on SPEED (10 p.m. EST), “Live TV is always an exciting thing for our sport, and for the riders. For me to be a big part of the show is good for me and the team. To come here and to win the last race of the season, on live TV, it would be huge.”
For more information about the Amp’d Mobile World Supercross GP/Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross Series, please log on to www.supercrossonline.com. For media requests, please contact Denny Hartwig at 630-566-6305 or e-mail at [email protected].