Irvine, Calif. (May 7, 2008) – Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto finished second in the season finale Dave Coombs Sr. Memorial Lites Shootout at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. Villopoto’s teammates Brett Metcalfe and Austin Stroupe finished seventh and tenth while Branden Jesseman did not race after crashing during the first practice. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Travis Preston led teammate Timmy Ferry to the finish line at the supercross class finale finishing eighth with Ferry ninth.
Monster Energy Kawasaki Under the Tent
Villopoto shot out of the starting gate to earn the holeshot for the East/West shootout and led 14 of the 15 laps in the main event. From the beginning, Villopoto rode a tremendous race building a large lead over the entire field with the exception of one of the riders. On the final lap, Villopoto came up on lapped traffic and had to change his line, taking him out of the lead and relegating him to a second-place finish.
“When he got close there were only two laps to go,” said Villopoto. “I made a couple of mistakes and he got really close and then we caught up to a lapper. I had to take a different line. I just rolled it on the outside and he passed me right before the finish line. It was a good race, and it’s disappointing to finish second.”
First Turn Pileup
After winning his East Coast heat race, Stroupe looked to be in a great position for the main event. Unfortunately Stroupe and Metcalfe were involved in a first corner pileup with both riders going down. They got up and rode through the field with Metcalfe finishing seventh and Stroupe ninth.
”There was a first turn pile-up and I got stuck in it,” said Metcalfe. “I actually got a good start, but I got hit from behind and ran into people. It took me about a lap to get going. A couple of things on the bike were bent. I had to adjust how I rode. It’s unfortunate because I think I rode very well.”
“Somebody cleaned all of us out from behind,” said Stroupe. “I don’t know what happened. I had a great start, but ended up on the ground. I couldn’t get restarted, it was terrible. The bike was messed up. I just tried to ride hard, but it was a tough track to try and make up a lot of time on.”
In the supercross class, Preston and Ferry rode together in both the heat race and main event with Ferry holding the advantage in the heat, and Preston winning the battle in the main event. Throughout the season, a friendly starting gate rivalry developed between the teammates. During the season, each rider grabbed a holeshot and Las Vegas was the last chance they had to break the tie and hold bragging rights in the Kawasaki semi. Though neither of them got the holeshot they did get good starts and earned top-10 finishes.
“Timmy was in my way in the heat and I just let him have it,” said Preston. “He got through the first turn a little quicker, but the main event is when it counts and I was saving it for then. In the main, I ended up getting him and was a good end to the season.”
Ready to Move On
Ferry’s race in Las Vegas was representative of his 2008 supercross season. The veteran rode strong throughout practice and the heat race, and recovered in the main event to finish ninth. After missing three races due to an injury, Ferry still finished the season sixth in the Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM Championship final standings.
“I was running pretty well in the main,” said Ferry. “I made a mistake in the whoops and stalled it. That was pretty much it. The track was tough tonight. The whoops were really hard to get through. It had blue groove in spots, some potholes and rocks. Mentally it was really tough. I got ninth and wanted to do better. I had to battle a lot of stuff this year and I’m glad the supercross season is over.”
The track layout at Sam Boyd Stadium featured the traditional “Vegas” start outside of the stadium as well as the fast turn leading into the first lane inside the stadium. This year the track designers added to the excitement by putting the Monster Energy Catapult on the fast straight allowing the riders to ride at full throttle and jump more than 100 feet before coming into a tight corner. The designers also extended the big triple jumps to 75 feet giving the fans even more excitement.
“They had the big ski jump and some really fast sections,” said Ferry. “It might have been faster than an outdoor track. I liked it. It was fun. It reminded me of some of the jumps they had back in the 1980’s when Rick Johnson and Jeff Ward were battling. The triples were big and the dirt was hard. It was one of the toughest tracks on the circuit.”
Everyone had “Vegas” on their mind, even when they were at the track. Ferry hoped his casino inspired gear would get lady luck on his side.
With James Stewart’s recovery progressing well, the Las Vegas event marked the final race for Preston in 2008. Preston joined the Monster Energy Kawasaki team at the third Anaheim race and earned six top-10 finishes in 12 starts.
“It was a good year,” said Preston. “It was fun. I’m really happy I had the opportunity to ride for the Monster Energy Kawasaki team. Everyone has been great to work with and now I’m going to ride and train throughout the summer to get ready for the 2009 season.”
“We are excited to have James coming back,” said Team Manager Mike Fisher. “But it is bittersweet feeling, because Travis really became a part of our team. He worked very hard and showed tremendous dedication. I want to thank him for everything this season and wish him well as he moves on.”
Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series
Sam Boyd Stadium – Las Vegas, Nev.
May 3, 2008
AMA Supercross Results
1. Chad Reed, Tampa, Fla., Yamaha
2. Kevin Windham, Centreville, Miss., Honda
3. Andrew Short, Smithville, Texas, Honda
4. Josh Hill, Yoncalla, Org., Yamaha
5. David Millsaps, Tallahassee, Fla., Honda
6. Nick Wey, Dewitt, Mich., KTM
7. Charles Summey, Huntersville, N.C., Yamaha
8. TRAVIS PRESTON, HESPERIA, CALIF., MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI
9. TIMMY FERRY, LARGO, FLA., MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI
10. David Vuillemin, Murrieta, Calif., Suzuki
AMA Supercross Points Standings
1. Chad Reed, Tampa, Fla., Yamaha, 365
2. Kevin Windham, Centreville, Miss., Honda, 352
3. Andrew Short, Smithville, Texas, Honda, 281
4. David Millsaps, Tallahassee, Fla., Honda, 278
5. Josh Hill, Yoncalla, Ore., Yamaha, 228
6. TIMMY FERRY, LARGO, FLA., MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI, 218
7. Nathan Ramsey, Menifee, Calif., Yamaha, 173
8. David Vuillemin, Murrieta, Calif., Suzuki, 169
9. Nick Wey, Dewitt, Mich., KTM, 159
10. Paul Carpenter, Ithaca, N.Y., Honda, 145
AMA Supercross Lites Results
1. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., Suzuki
2. RYAN VILLOPOTO, POULSBO, WASH., MONSTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI
3. Trey Canard, Elk City, Okla., Honda
4. Dan Reardon, Murrieta, Calif., Honda
5. Ryan Morais, Murrieta, Calif., Yamaha
6. Justin Brayton, Murrieta, Calif., KYM
7. BRETT METCALFE, MURIETTA, CALIF., MONSTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI
8. KYLE CHISHOLM, SEMINOLE, FLA., MOTOSPORT XTREME KAWASAKI
9. Broc Hepler, Kittanning, Pa., Yamaha
10. AUSTIN STROUPE, CORONA, CALIF., MONSTER ENERGY/PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI