San Francisco Race Report

February 1, 2009 7:49am | by:
Riders have come to count on rain when Monster Energy/AMA Supercross an FIM World Championship heads to AT&T Park in San Francisco, California. But the 2009 version of the event ended up taking place under clear skies and on a dry race track, which means now there may be only one thing you can count on in supercross: San Manuel Yamaha’s James Stewart.

  • James Stewart led the main event from the start.
  • Ryan Villopoto (2) stares at Chad Reed (1) as Reed goes by. Both are giving chase to Mike Alessi (800). Alessi would eventually finish ninth. Reed finished second, Villopoto third.
  • Josh Grant rode a strong race for fourth. He has yet to finish outside the top five this year.
  • Andrew Short put in another strong ride for fifth.
  • Stewart celebrates his fourth win in a row.
  • Stewart (center), Reed (left) and Villopot (right) celebrate on the podium. The podium was exactly the same for the second week in a row, and the only change in the top five was the swapping places of Grant and Short.
It may still be a little too early to tell if Stewart is ready to dominate every round of the series, but his San Francisco win looked a whole lot like his win in Houston, Texas, seven days earlier. It also marked his fourth-straight win outright. Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Chad Reed claimed second ahead of Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto—an identical podium to the previous race in Texas.

In AMA Western Region Lites Region action, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer held on to take his second win of the season over series leader Ryan Dungey and the returning Geico Powersports Honda rider Trey Canard.

In the Supercross class, Stewart logged the fastest qualifying laps by a solid margin, got great starts in both his heat race and the main event, and then checked out en route to a seemingly easy win. His last two victories are a role reversal of the first two he collected. Instead of dealing with pressure from Reed, Stewart has been free to roll up front, while Reed is fighting just to finish second.

Off the start in San Fran, Stewart muscled Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Mike Alessi aside in the first turn to get the early lead, while Reed came through right behind his Suzuki teammate and right next to Villopoto. Villopoto briefly got in front of Reed, then Reed struck back to retake third place. Reed then went to battle with his teammate Alessi for second place while Stewart set about stretching his lead.

It took a few laps for Reed to make the pass on Alessi, who looked faster than he has at any race so far this year. It’s worth noting that Alessi did not yield to his teammate, but on the tight track in San Francisco, passing was not easy. Reed finally made the pass on lap three, and Villopoto soon followed him through. Reed continued to lose ground on Stewart though, and Villopoto never gave up the chase from third, keeping Reed within two seconds of the Supercross Champion for the entire race.

Meanwhile, Stewart made relatively few mistakes out front despite slippery track conditions that made it hard to judge brake and throttle points in and out of corners. While Stewart’s confidence continues to build, Reed is now sent to search for another gear after looking so strong in the first three rounds of racing. Villopoto, meanwhile, is improving with each race, and spending an entire race watching Reed from just a few bikelengths back could pay dividends as the rookie continues to learn the 450 supercross craft.

In fourth came another rookie, JGRMX/Toyota Yamaha’s Josh Grant, besting Honda Red Bull Racing’s Andrew Short. Short battled his way past his teammate Ivan Tedesco early and kept Grant honest most of the way before settling for fifth, while Grant stayed inside the top five like he has at every race so far this season. GEICO Powersports Honda’s Kevin Windham had an uneventful ride for sixth, ahead of Yamaha’s Josh Hill, who is nursing a shoulder injury. Honda Red Bull Racing’s Davi Millsaps suffered a crash in a heat race and had to qualify for the main through the Last Chance Qualifier. After a bad start in the Main Event he ended up eighth. Alessi took ninth ahead of Tedesco, who made a mistakes and lost several positions after running sixth for several laps.

Notably, Monster Energy Kawaski’s Tim Ferry failed to qualify for the main event after suffering in a brutal second-turn crash in his heat race and then a first turn crash in the Last Chance Qualifier.

The win pulls Stewart within just six points of Reed in the series standings, a significantly smaller gap at the end of January than the 23-point deficit he started the month with.

  • Jake Weimer had his starts nailed all night. He got the holeshot in his heat and the main event.
  • Ryan Dungey chased Weimer down valiantly.
  • After Dungey (10) caught Weimer (19), he couldn't do much with him. Eventually, he fell while trying an inside pass on Weimer, handing Weimer the win. Dungey recovered for second.
  • In his first race back since suffering a concussion at Phoenix, Trey Canard came through for a solid third.
  • Justin Brayton (114) came through from a so-so start for fourth.
  • Ryan Morais came from outside the top ten for fifth on the night. It was his first race missing the podium this year.
  • Weimer celebrates his second victory of the season.
  • Weimer (center), Dungey (left) and Canard (right) celebrate on the podium.
In the Lites Main Event, Weimer grabbed the holeshot ahead of Canard, but then swooped across the track over a triple to get next to Canard, and then the Oklahoma rider made a small mistake that allowed Dungey to get by. Canard, returning to action after suffering a concussion at the Phoenix Supercross three weeks ago, hung with Dungey for several laps until another mistake allowed Dungey to pull away and focus on catching Weimer.

Catch him he did, but Dungey could not force Weimer into a mistake, and couldn’t find a place to pass. On lap 11, Dungey decided to try forcing the issue, and he dived inside of Weimer in a left-hand turn to attempt a block pass. He momentarily got his Suzuki past Weimer’s Kawasaki, but then he lost traction and slid out. Weimer rocketed past, as did Canard. Dungey charged hard on the last few laps to get back around Canard for second at the finish. Muscle Milk/MDK KTM’s Justin Brayton held off Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Ryan Morias for fourth, while Morias, who came into the race ranked second in points, lost a few after being saddled with a terrible start.

Weimer now sits just four points behind Dungey in the standings, however.

After several weekends of tight race tracks, the field will be greeted with a track designed by all-time supercross career wins leader Jeremy McGrath at next weekend’s race in Anaheim, California. For Reed and the rest of the riders looking to keep Stewart in sight, hopefully a track change came prove that the weather isn’t the only thing inconsistent in supercross.

Monster Energy AMA Supercross an FIM World Championship
AT&T Park in San Francisco, California

Supercross Lites Main Event

1. Jake Weimer (Kawasaki)
2. Ryan Dungey (Suzuki)
3. Trey Canard (Honda)
4. Justin Brayton (KTM)
5. Ryan Morais (Kawasaki)
6. Ryan Sipes (KTM)
7. Dan Reardon (Honda)
8. Kyle Cunningham (Kawasaki)
9. P. J. Larsen (Kawasaki)
10. Eric McCrummen (Honda)
11. Cole Seely (Suzuki)
12. Justin Keeney (KTM)
13. Sean Borkenhagen (Honda)
14. Adam Chatfield (Honda)
15. Chris Blose (Honda)
16. Topher Ingalls (Yamaha)
17. Michael Sleeter (KTM)
18. Brady Sheren (Suzuki)
19. Sean Collier (Yamaha)
20. Jeff Alessi (Honda)

Supercross Main Event

1. James Stewart (Yamaha)
2. Chad Reed (Suzuki)
3. Ryan Villopoto (Kawasaki)
4. Josh Grant (Yamaha)
5. Andrew Short (Honda)
6. Kevin Windham (Honda)
7. Josh Hill (Yamaha)
8. Davi Millsaps (Honda)
9. Mike Alessi (Suzuki)
10. Ivan Tedesco (Honda)
11. Heath Voss (Honda)
12. Benjamin Coisy (Honda)
13. Cole Siebler (Honda)
14. Kyle Chisholm (Yamaha)
15. Daniel McCoy (Honda)
16. Tyler Bowers (Honda)
17. Josh Hansen (Honda)
18. Troy Adams (Honda)
19. Paul Carpenter (Kawasaki)
20. Steve Boniface (Honda)

Supercross Lite West Point Standings

1. Ryan Dungey 92
2. Jake Weimer 88
3. Ryan Morais 80
4. Justin Brayton 68
5. Chris Blose 56
6. Ryan Sipes 54
7. Dan Reardon 42
8. P. J. Larsen 38
9. Jason Lawrence 34
10. Ben Evans 31

Supercross Point Standings

1. Chad Reed 108
2. James Stewart 102
3. Josh Grant 95
4. Ryan Villopoto 88
5. Andrew Short 87
6. Ivan Tedesco 73
7. Kevin Windham 68
8. Mike Alessi 58
9. Timmy Ferry 56
10. Davi Millsaps 55