The green machines of Monster Energy Kawasaki and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki couldn’t have started the season in a better way, grabbing the top spot with James Stewart in the Motocross Class, and boasting a 1-2 finish in AMA Motocross Lites with Austin Stroupe and Ryan Villopoto. Stewart is a past champion at Hangtown, grabbing the overall victory in 2006, and based on his dominating performance last weekend, he appears more than ready.
““I’m really confident heading into Sacramento,” said Stewart. “My endurance is really good and that is the biggest part. I’m going to keep working and keep improving. If I can keep doing that it will be a great season.”
After a great battle at Glen Helen, Stroupe and Villopoto set the stage for what could be another head-to-head duel between Pro Circuit riders after last season’s epic showdown between the champ and then-teammate Ben Townley. If that is the case, Stroupe will have to remain at the top of his game throughout the season if he hopes to unseat his teammate for the title.
“There really wasn’t time to celebrate the win,” said Stroupe. “I was out riding on Monday getting ready for Hangtown. I haven’t raced there as a pro, so I’m just going to keep working hard and try and win some motos.”
Villopoto put in a resilient performance at Glen Helen, showing the qualities of the champion he is. Ending the opener on a high note by winning moto two, he hopes to turn the momentum into his first win at Prairie City SVRA.
“Hangtown should be good for us,” said Villopoto. “It should be hot and the track should be rough. My goal is to get on the box there too. These first three races are important and I want to make sure I’m in the points hunt.”
Over in the Red Bull Honda camp, the foursome of Davi Millsaps, Ivan Tedesco, Ben Townley, and Andrew Short experienced mixed results in San Bernardino, but each put in strong performances throughout the weekend. Millsaps was arguably the most consistent rider in the Honda stable posting 3-3 finishes for the final spot on the overall podium.
Hangtown was good for both Millsaps and Townley last season. In his first AMA Motocross race in the premier class, Millsaps rode to a runner-up finish in the final moto to bring home fourth overall while Townley notched his first career Motocross Lites win. Since making the move to the bigger bike, Townley’s transition has been smooth and if not for a mistake at Glen Helen, he could be gunning for his second podium of the season.
In the AMA Motocross Lites class, a tough opening round for Geico Powersports Honda’s Trey Canard was made a little brighter after he was awarded the inaugural Ricky Carmichael Hard Charger Award. Canard passed over 15 riders on the day and persevered to an eighth-place result. He will tackle the tough terrain of Hangtown for the first time this weekend along with teammate Dan Reardon. As the team awaits the return of injured member Josh Grant, all eyes are on Jake Weimer, who led the way for the Honda Lites with a sixth place in the opening round.
Led by their two young guns, Rockstar/Makita Suzuki heads into the Honda Hangtown Motocross Classic prepared to build on the solid foundation it established at Glen Helen. Speedster Mike Alessi nabbed one of two BTOSports.com Holeshot Awards and was the only competitor that had anything for Stewart all weekend, finishing second overall and boosting his confidence heading into this weekend.
“I definitely have a lot of confidence going into Hangtown,” said Alessi. “I think the biggest thing for me at Glen Helen this weekend was how far I was ahead of everyone behind me. It helps to get back on the box after being injured. For Hangtown, my goal is still the same – to ride to the best of my ability and just race my own race.”
AMA Motocross Lites rider Ryan Dungey gave Suzuki half of the weekend’s holeshots when he streaked to the BTOSports.com award in moto two. In holding the lead for the opening lap of the moto, Dungey helped build his confidence on the bigger, faster outdoor tracks.
“We did a little testing this week and of course we plan to do the usual training during the week,” said Dungey. “Basically, I pretty much try to do all I can possibly do during the week so that I feel good going into the weekend. My goal is to be as ready as possible and give it 100 percent. The Rockstar/Makita Suzuki RM-Z250 is really getting good – the mechanics are fine-tuning the engine and it’s just getting better and better every day. The whole bike is really coming together great.”
Events for the 40th Anniversary of Hangtown Motocross and the 34th Annual Honda Hangtown Motocross Classic Presented by Jackson Rancheria Hotel and Casino start on Saturday with AMA Pro practice and qualifying, followed by the opening round of the Women’s Motocross Championship. The gates drop for pro motos on Sunday at 1 p.m., with the WMA’s second moto splitting the AMA action.
Interview opportunities are available to the media by contacting AMA Toyota Motocross Championship media coordinator Brandon Short via email at Media@MXNationals.com or by phone at 951-203-2605.
For more information on the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship, presented by FMF, log on to www.amamotocross.com for live timing and scoring at @theWireLIVE!. Racer X Illustrated will host a new and improved webcast on www.motocross.com, with live racing action hosted by Jason Weigandt. The Racer X Motocross Show on Motocross.com has also been added on Saturday night of each race weekend, featuring practice footage and interviews taken earlier in the day.
Credential requests for each round of the 2008 AMA Toyota Motocross Championship Presented by FMF must be submitted via email to Media@MXNationals.com three weeks prior to the race. Media members interested in interviews with the riders of the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship Presented by FMF should contact Brandon at 951-203-2605 or email Media@MXNationals.com.