Stroupe (981) with another great start in Lites competition.
For Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Villopoto, the victory was never in question. After dispatching of early leader Broc Hepler of Team Yamaha, the defending class champion never backed it down until the very last lap, opening up a sizeable lead on the fast, sandy Freestone circuit while his title rival—teammate Ben Townley—was struggling to get back up towards the front after at least two early crashes. Villopoto and Townley have been locked in a duel since the series started back at Hangtown, but in the last three weeks Villopoto has begun to assert himself, and the first moto was a testament to that.
Had Villopoto taken a look back, he would have seen a thrilling battle between Hepler and the incredibly fast newcomer Austin Stroupe. The same kid who took second to Hepler in the first moto at Steel City a week ago waited until the very last lap to blast past him in the whoops for runner-up honors in only his second pro race. Yet another PC rider, Brett Metcalfe, would claim fourth while Sobe No Fear/Samsung Honda’s Trey Canard was fifth.
In the second moto Townley got a much better start on the hairpin right-hander, but Villopoto was even better. Once “BT101” made it to second, he was already five seconds behind the #1 Kawasaki of Villopoto, and he would never get closer. Over the course of the next half hour the Washington native eased away and racked up a huge points haul for the day. Villopoto’s lead now stands at 19 (497 to 478) with just two motos to go at Glen Helen next Sunday afternoon.
Yamaha's Broc Hepler (left) split up the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit podium sweep.
Stroupe appeared headed for third and possibly another Monster Energy/Pro Circuit sweep before his bike let go and the kid DNF’d, leaving him tenth overall. At pretty much the same time, Brett Metcalfe crashed in the infield and threw away his best chance for another third overall. Hepler proved to be the steadiest guy out there next to Villopoto, and he claimed second overall with his 3-3 scores. Townley’s 6-2 was good for third while Metcalfe held on to fourth with 4-6 scores to Canard’s 5-5. And Red Bull KTM’s Martin Davalos, who crashed early in the first moto, would take sixth overall with an 11-4 showing. It was a bad day for Josh Grant, who had problems with his fingers after an early crash and could not hold on. He did not come out for the second moto. Also, Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey and Yamaha of Troy’s Jason Lawrence both sat out with injuries.
Team Honda's Andrew Short trounced the AMA Motocross class in the first moto.
In the AMA Motocross class, all four riders left in this title chase – Andrew Short, Tim Ferry, Mike Alessi and Grant Langston—had their shots to make up points on the others, and Langston was the one who took advantage of the situation. After an absolute runaway by Team Honda’s Short in the first moto, it was looking like we would see the same in the second until Short threw it away all by himself. That handed the lead to Langston, runner-up in the first moto, and the Yamaha factory rider knew exactly what to do with it. He cleared out, edging away from Red Bull KTM’s Alessi and a late-charging Ferry, who once again failed to get good starts. Short would eventually land fifth, getting passed late in the race by class newcomer Josh Hill (a first moto DNF after problems brought him into the mechanic’s area twice).
Beyond that, the first story was the fine debut of New Zealander Cody Cooper, a Honda rider getting some help from his old friend Ben Townley. Cooper was pretty far back early on in both motos, but he never stopped clawing his way up, and his 7-6 scores were good for a satisfying fifth overall.
Beyond that, Kevin Windham had a day he’d rather forget and took 9-7 scores while Gavin Gracyk was not as competitive on the sandy track as he was at Steel City. And Ivan Tedesco, in his second to last ride with Makita Suzuki, crashed early in the second moto and came from almost dead last to eighth. All told, the new AMA Toyota Motocross round in Texas was well received by both the riders and the Texas faithful that have long waited to get back on the schedule.