At this weekend's penultimate round of the Monster Energy Supercross season, all eyes were on the Thor/Parts Unlimited riders of Chad Reed, Ryan Villopoto, Jake Weimer, and Ryan Morais. While Reed was in the midst of the most competitive championship race in history, Weimer and Morais were fighting for their chance at the AMA Supercross Lites Western Regional Championship. Meanwhile, Villopoto was fresh off his first career victory one week prior at his home race in Seattle and was looking to continue to ride his wave of momentum.
A Week with Title Implications
Reed rebounded from his worst AMA Supercross finish of the season one week ago with a strong runner-up finish at Salt Lake City's Rice-Eccles Stadium to remain in contention to claim his second straight championship in Saturday's series' finale at Las Vegas.
Villopoto, whose Seattle victory was also his first after missing three races, continued his comeback with a solid fourth place finish. In the Supercross Lites class, Pro Circuit teammates Jake Weimer and Ryan Morais were second and third, respectively.
Rain, Rain Go Away
There was snow on the nearby Wasatch Mountains and some puddles on the track and one scheduled practice session was cancelled due to foul weather. The heat races were run on a track that still was drying out, but by the time the main events got under way the racing surface was in good condition.
The Governor Helps Out
One of the main reasons the series was able to return to Salt Lake City after a four-year absence was the enthusiastic support of Utah Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr. The hospitality extended by the governor made the event a special one for all the race teams and series officials.
Thor and Parts Unlimited offered its thanks for everything by presenting Gov. Huntsman with some gear and a Thor Force Motocross Helmet featuring its Hornet color scheme emblazoned with Reed's No. 1 and Rockstar Energy Drink logo.
Things That Go Bump in the Night
Reed, who won his heat race, got the holeshot to start the main event and he and rival James Stewart quickly became engaged in one of their best battles of the season, passing and repassing each other continually with some often-breathtaking maneuvers.
"I just stuck her down there on the inside and it stuck. It hasn't been shown in recent weeks, but I've really been working on my starts. We've made a lot of changes to make the starts easier and better for me and it's finally coming around."
Reed was impressive and held his own, but Stewart took the lead for good on lap 12 of 20 and any chance Reed had of regaining the top spot vanished when he was clipped by Stewart's teammate, Kyle Chisholm, just after the leaders had put him a lap down. While Reed recovered and regained his stride, Stewart was able to open a clear lead.
"I got out front and felt like I was riding good. But James (Stewart) got by and I passed him back and then he got back by and I just felt by looking at the lap times and everything that I liked what I was seeing. Unfortunately I kind of had a get-together with Chisholm and lost contact with James. It feels good to get back up there though."
Another Good Outing
Villopoto, who snapped Stewart's streak of being unbeaten if he doesn't crash with his first career win last week, was hoping for another solid performance. The 20-year-old rookie accomplished that by finishing fourth to Reed in the first heat race and taking fourth in the main event. The finish left him tied for eighth in the standings despite the races lost due to an energy-sapping virus.
One to Go
Reed, a two-time series champion, will go into Saturday's deciding race at Las Vegas trailing Stewart by six points. That means that if Reed can win the main event Stewart can still claim the championship by finishing third or better. Reed left Salt Lake City still a little bitter about the incident with Chisholm, but didn't make any excuses.
"Kyle (Chisholm) came in and tried to take me out. If that's the way they want to play the game, it kinda sucks but what can you do. I'd much prefer to settle it between me and James, but it is what it is and we'll go on into next week and give it all we got. I think good things happen to good people and karma has a way of working itself out. We'll see what happens."
Close, But Out of Time
Weimer arrived at Rice-Eccles Stadium needing to capture his fourth win of the season to have any realistic chance of overtaking Ryan Dungey for the title in the final Western Regional Lites race of the season.
Weimer did his best, winning his heat race and working his way from ninth at the start to finish a close second to Trey Canard in the main event. He even passed his championship rival along the way to the runner-up finish, but it wasn't enough. Weimer's finish left him five points behind Dungey.
"The conditions made it tough in Salt Lake City. I wish I could have gotten a home race win there on the last lap. Even though I came up short in the championship, it's been a great season."
A Picture of Consistency
Morais, one of the most consistent riders all season, was hoping to use the finale as a showcase for his first win. Instead, the Murrieta, Calif., resident had to be content with third place. Morais had five seconds and two thirds in the eight race championship.
The Thor/Parts Unlimited team moves on to the final race of the Monster Energy Supercross season next weekend in Las Vegas. Reed will gun for his second-consecutive AMA Supercross class title as Villopoto battles to finish the season on a high note. Weimer and Morais join their East Coast teammates in Christophe Pourcel and Austin Stroupe for the Dave Coombs Sr. East/West Supercross Lites Shootout.
About Parts Unlimited
Parts Unlimited is the world's largest distributor of aftermarket accessories in the powersports industry and is owned by LeMans Corporation headquartered in Janesville, Wisconsin. Parts Unlimited sells to over 12,000 dealerships world wide and continues to expand its market penetration with its sister companies, Parts Canada, Parts Europe and Drag Specialties.
Parts Unlimited continues to promote racing through its campaign WE SUPPORT THE SPORT®, helping to drive consumers to dealerships, while entertaining its dealers through hospitalities at the events it sponsors.
About Thor Motocross
Thor is one of the originators of motocross apparel. When Torsten Hallman made his first U.S trip to race and promote motocross in 1966, he inadvertently started to develop Thor riding gear. Thor is a hardcore, grass roots company that understands what it takes to reach the top and more importantly, how to stay there. It is one of a few companies with over 40 years experience in the motocross marketplace.
Thor, a house brand company for Parts Unlimited, combines design and marketing with superior distribution to reach it's thousands of dealers and consumers priding ourselves on key selling features like quality, strength and performance. Thor is more than a brand. It is a lifestyle.