Las Vegas Race Report

May 3, 2009 10:44am | by:

With the 2009 Monster Energy/AMA Supercross series rolling into Las Vegas and Sam Boyd Stadium for the final round, the stadium was sold right out. Having the Lites East and West meet in the Dave Coombs Sr. East/West Shootout probably helped, but most people in the house were electrified from the drama and hype trailing from the preceding sixteen rounds of the Supercross class. The stage was set, it was a six-point deficit for Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Chad Reed. He had to win the race and hope something happened to the points leader, San Manual Yamaha’s James Stewart.

  • A Trey Canard holeshot kicked off true East vs. West showdown
  • It was a race for pride (and a truck) and Dungey raced hard for both
  • A very fast Christophe Pourcel earned an exciting win
  • Trey Canard, Ryan Dungey, and Shootout winner Christophe Pourcel

Twenty riders rocketed into the first turn with GEICO Powersports Honda’s Blake Wharton barreling down Monster Alley with the holeshot and his teammate, Trey Canard, right behind. The series champions, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Christophe Pourcel and Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey were third and eighth on the first lap, respectively. The east coast heat winner Austin Stroupe went down on the first lap and had a long fight ahead of him. It didn’t take long for your Salt Lake City winner, Canard, to make a move, and he squeezed by teammate Wharton in the whoops on lap two. Pourcel then flat-tracked his way around Wharton when the rider left the stadium and established himself in second. From there, the race developed behind him as Troy Lee Designs Honda’s Jake Moss was in fourth and trying to keep the leaders in sight.

The man who has two Toyota trucks already from past Las Vegas shootouts, Dungey, got on his horse and started picking riders off one by one. Clearly, the hard-packed, slippery surface of the Vegas track agrees with the Minnesota native, and he got Moss and a fading Wharton to set himself up into third.

The race was on from there, as Pourcel stalked Canard, and Dungey slowly eased his way up on both of them. The Suzuki RM-Z250 got a little out of shape a few times and it was obvious that Dungey wanted a third truck for his driveway. A little behind the top three, Stroupe was coming from twelfth after his fall all the way to fifth and teammate Jake Weimer was in fourth.

Then it happened. With two laps to go, right before a tricky rhythm section, Canard got a little too hard on the gas and spun out, losing his drive, and he was forced to single the section. This mistake allowed Pourcel and Dungey to get by and Canard couldn’t recover. Dungey was pushing hard the last two laps, and although he got close, wasn’t able to make the pass and your East/West Shootout winner was Christophe Pourcel of the mighty Pro Circuit team. This marked the first time in ten years that Mitch’s wrecking crew won the most prestigious Lites race all season.

Dave Coombs Sr. East West Shootout Results, Las Vegas

  1. Christophe Pourcel, Corona, Calif., Kawasaki
  2. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., Suzuki
  3. Trey Canard, Shawnee, Okla., Honda
  4. Jake Weimer, Rupert, Idaho, Kawasaki
  5. Austin Stroupe, Lincolnton, N.C., Kawasaki
  6. Ryan Morais, Murrieta, Calif., Kawasaki
  7. Justin Brayton, Murrieta, Calif., KTM
  8. Jake Moss, Temecula, Calif., Honda
  9. Wil Hahn, Decatur, Texas, KTM
  10. Broc Tickle, Holly, Mich., Yamaha

  • Mike Alessi rocketed out of Monster Alley with the lead
  • Ryan VIllopoto blew by Stewart in a rhythm section and never looked back
  • Villopoto was the fastest man in Las Vegas

The anticipation was high as Stewart and Reed sat on the gate waiting for the drop. The two combatants chose to get close together off the start. The man in between them was Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto, and he was destined to play a role in the outcome.

But first, the 35,000-plus fans saw the holeshot machine, Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Mike Alessi, get another one of his starts. Following him was Stewart, Villopoto, Red Bull Honda’s Ivan Tedesco and Reed was fifth. James wasted little time and passed Mike in the whoops immediately and attempted to check out. He was going to try and put to rest any questions about last week and the man who had won eleven main events this year poured it on. But nobody told Ryan Villopoto that there were only two riders capable of winning, and he worked by Alessi in the whoops (a source of Mike’s frustration all night) and set off after the number-seven Yamaha.

And he caught him. On lap three, in a rhythm section, Stewart bobbled and it was the window of opportunity that RV needed. He shot into the lead and from there rode unchallenged in a great ride for his second win of the year. The race within the race was the battle for the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Top Privateer Award, and early on it didn’t look good for the rider that was one point behind, Rockstar/Hart and Huntington Honda’s Matt Boni. He went down and was forced to work his way up to challenge his rival, Motoconcepts Honda’s Heath Voss.

  • Stewart rode a very cautious race while Reed caught up
  • Reed waited several laps to make a pass, almost refusing to go by Stewart
  • After an aggressive move, Reed remained alone in second with Villopoto way out front
  • James Stewart is the 2009 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Champion
Reed was charging hard, and he was leaving nothing in the tank in the effort to win his third supercross championship. The Australian was very consistent and doing a tricky triple step-up into an off-camber turn to gain some time on Stewart. On lap eleven, he was on the conservative-riding Stewart, and despite Stewart slowing down to let Reed by, he wouldn’t make the pass. It was a game of cat and mouse, only with a really slow cat and mouse. 

Finally, on lap thirteen, Reed couldn’t take it anymore and motored by Stewart in Monster Alley and in the process sent a little message to James by forcing him off the track. It was a gesture that cemented the bad blood between the two and set us up for a great 2010 season. The privateer battle was won when Voss crashed and broke a front wheel. He was forced out of the race and Matt Boni won the C.E Altman/U.S. Smokeless Tobacco award.

Villopoto was gone, Reed was in second and James Stewart in third. They stayed that way the rest of the race and James Stewart became the 2009 AMA/FIM Monster Energy Supercross Champion.

AMA Supercross Class Results, Las Vegas

  1. Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash. Kawasaki
  2. Chad Reed, Tampa, Fla., Suzuki
  3. James Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Yamaha
  4. Kevin Windham, Centreville, Miss., Honda
  5. Ivan Tedesco, Tallahassee, Fla., Honda
  6. Mike Alessi, Victorville, Calif., Suzuki
  7. Josh Grant, Riverside, Calif., Yamaha
  8. Andrew Short, Smithville, Texas, Honda
  9. Nathan Ramsey, Menifee, Calif., Yamaha
  10. Davi Millsaps, Tallahassee, Fla., Honda
  AMA Supercross Class Season Standings
  1. James Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Yamaha, 377
  2. Chad Reed, Tampa, Fla., Suzuki, 373
  3. Andrew Short, Smithville, Texas, Honda, 270
  4. Josh Grant, Riverside, Calif., Yamaha, 237
  5. Kevin Windham, Centerville, Miss., Honda, 236
  6. Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki, 233
  7. Ivan Tedesco, Tallahassee, Fla., Honda, 226
  8. Davi Millsaps, Tallahassee, Fla., Honda, 219
  9. Mike Alessi, Apple Valley, Calif., Suzuki, 218
  10. Josh Hill, Murrieta, Calif., Yamaha, 14

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