Villopoto on the Podium in IndyTuesday, March 4, 2008 | 10:58 AM
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Irvine, Calif. (March 4, 2008) – Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider Ryan Villopoto returned to the podium in the AMA Supercross Lites class, after finishing second at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. Villopoto’s teammate Branden Jesseman finished sixth. In the supercross class, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Travis Preston finished sixth, his best finish of 2008.
In the AMA Supercross Lites main event, Villopoto came off the line in fourth and knifed his way toward the front. On lap five, Villopoto pulled even with the leader and made a daring move in the final turn before the finish line. The pass didn’t happen and Villopoto went over the berm. The crash sent him to ninth, but he continued to ride aggressively and made a last lap pass for second.
“I had a pretty good qualifier and started out the main well,” said Villopoto. “Then I made that mistake and hit that hay bale and went down. I had worked my way back up and I got up to second on the last lap. I saw a chance for the lead after we came off the triple pretty close together. On the straightaway and I was side-by-side with him. I came into the turn hot, and I wanted to make sure he didn’t get underneath me. I got on the brakes really hard and the back wheel came up and hit the tuff block and it spit me into the berm and over the top.”
For Jesseman, the main event couldn’t have started any better as he nailed the holeshot. Two riders got by him, but after Villopoto’s crash in the final turn, Jesseman found himself in the lead but only for a lap. In the same turn that got Villopoto a lap earlier, Jesseman stalled and got restarted in ninth. Over the remaining laps, Jesseman worked his way up to a sixth-place finish.
“My Kawasaki got me off to a really good start,” said Jesseman. “I was riding pretty well and I just came around the corner before the finish line and just stalled it and my chance for the win was over. My conditioning is great right now, I wasn’t getting tired at all. I tightened up a little bit at the end of this race but it was a lot better than last week. I’m starting to move forward. I’m just upset with myself for stalling.”
In only his fifth event of the season, Preston showed he is building the momentum needed to earn consistent finishes in the Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM Championship. After missing the main event in Atlanta, Preston rode to a strong third- place finish in his heat race. In the main event, he got off the gate tenth and moved up to sixth at the checkered flag.
“It feels good to finish sixth,” said Preston. “I just took it easy out there tonight. I started making all of the jumps. We had some hard sections out there. I jumped through the sections for about 10 or 12 laps, saved some energy and pulled a nice gap. I got a little tired there at the end. It’s probably the most consistent I’ve ridden this year.”
Getting the Rhythm
Throughout the day, Preston struggled with the rhythm sections until the main event. After gaining the confidence to make the difficult jumps, he came on strong and rode his fastest lap on the night during the main event.
“It’s difficult riding in California on the hard pack, dusty track and then coming here where there’s good dirt, it’s soft and rutty,” said Preston. ”During practice and even the heat, I was kind of tentative because the jumps were big and rutty and that just makes it harder. In the main event I just pulled the trigger and started jumping them and it made my life easier.
Raising the Roof
The race marked the last major sporting event at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis after 17 years of supercross in the stadium. Kawasaki celebrated six wins in the RCA Dome with James Stewart (2007) and Jeff Emig (1997) each winning once in the supercross class. Ricky Carmichael earned a win in both the supercross class (2001) and the supercross lites class (1998). Mickael Pichon also won twice (1996, ’95) in the supercross lites class. Next year the Indianapolis round of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross will move to the new stadium across the street.
With two races under his belt in the East Coast season, Jesseman is looking forward to getting to the next race at Daytona International Speedway. The sandy track that with a motocross layout and supercross jumps is a place where Jesseman thinks he can get the victory.
“Daytona is probably one of my favorite tracks,” said Jesseman. “It is in between a supercross and a motocross track. It gets kind of choppy. It’s rough and more physical so I’m going to train my butt off this week so I can hopefully get on the box.”
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