Villopoto Wins in MinneapolisMonday, March 17, 2008 | 10:07 AM
Irvine, Calif. (March 17, 2008) – With a last lap pass, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/ Kawasaki rider Ryan Villopoto claimed his first AMA Supercross Lites victory of the season and moved to second in the series’ standings. Villopoto’s teammate Branden Jesseman finished 12th. Motosport Xtreme Kawasaki’s Tommy Hahn finished fifth in his supercross class debut and Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Travis Preston finished ninth.
Monster Energy Kawasaki Under the Tent
Villopoto earned his 10th career AMA Supercross Lites win in the Metrodome in Minneapolis after finishing runner-up the last two weeks. With the win Villopoto moves to second in the series’ points standings, 24 points behind the leader.
“The win feels good,” said Villopoto. “Coming into Atlanta, I was way behind the eight-ball with injuries and not being ready. Then I got some seconds and finally nailed it down with this one.”
Villopoto came out of the starting gate second and stalked the leader throughout the race. The two exchanged the lead a couple of times during the race, but the race was won on the last lap with just two corners to go. Villopoto went inside the tight corner and made the pass stick.
“It was a pretty good battle the whole race,” said Villopoto. “I think I passed him once or twice. Then it came down to the second-to-last turn and I ran it in on him a little bit and we got side-by-side down the start straight and I edged him out entering the final turn. I went inside he went outside. I went to double out and he came underneath me and I almost landed on him. It was a good race.”
After only limited time on the Kawasaki KX™450F Hahn’s debut in the AMA Supercross class went flawlessly as he finished fifth. Hahn qualified for the main event by finishing fifth in his heat race. He then repeated the feat in the feature.
“It feels great,” said Hahn. “I just went out and tried to get a good start. I rode as hard as I could the whole race and it paid off for sure. Ever since I started riding the KX 450F, I’ve been enjoying it a lot. I just need to get more time on it. It’s going to be hard to get me back on that lites bike. I’m still in the West Coast points chase. I’m only two points out of third so I can still do it with a little bit of luck. Right now I’m going to concentrate on Dallas and when it’s time to ride the 250 again. I will concentrate on that.”
Working on the Start
Jesseman didn’t get out of the starting gate well and spent the main event trying to work his way through the field.
“I just got another bad start,” said Jesseman. “The guys back there were holding each other up rather than working forward. On top of that, I made a couple of mistakes going down twice.”
In the Supercross class main event, Preston came out of the starting gate near the back of the field, but he steadily moved up to finish ninth.
“You know I’m still not there with my endurance,” said Preston. “That is the best race I’ve ridden this year. It was my most consistent race. I came through the pack and it’s getting better and better. My lap times are good. It’s just the start. The start is half the race, so if I can get a good start my life would be easier.”
With his top-10 finish, Preston secured a place in seeded practice meaning he will be able to practice with the top 20 riders in the series.
“I’m pumped about getting into seeded practice,” said Preston. “I think being able to practice with those guys is going to help me elevate my riding.”
Expert in the Booth
James Stewart was in Minneapolis for the event and though he wasn’t riding he did lend his expertise to the Supercross Live web cast. Stewart provided commentary from the broadcast booth during Villopoto’s thrilling win.