Houston Race Report

April 10, 2010 11:59pm | by:
Supercross fans, we’ve got ourselves a series now. Houston’s round of Monster Energy AMA Supercross and FIM World Championship presented a perfect mixture of drama and intrigue, with two-time AMA SX Champ Chad Reed finally joining the mix as a spoiler to the Ryan Dungey/Ryan Villopoto title fight. And in the end, Reed indeed played a factor and helped his Monster Energy Kawasaki teammate Villopoto in the title chase, but not in the same way many would have expected.

But all of that drama was saved for the Supercross Class. In the Lites division, the drama is over because the championship has been locked up by Monster Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Christophe Pourcel. His chief title rival Austin Stroupe went down in practice with a separated shoulder, and was unable to race, giving Pourcel a huge cushion in points. Pourcel went on to win the main event anyway and thus clinched his second-straight Lites East Championship.

Christophe Pourcel and the rest of his Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki team celebrates his second-straight Lites East SX title.
Photo: Cox

The Houston track made expectations a little hard to gauge, though, as the tough, technical layout and deep whoop section seemed to have everyone scratching their heads at one point or another. Stroupe crashed into Kyle Cunningham to end his night, but he wasn’t the only one sampling the rich Houston dirt. Dungey, for example, went down in the whoops in practice and struggled to get a good rhythm in the section after that. And Villopoto was fairing even worse, ending up eighth overall in practice times, and also enduring a crash himself. Meanwhile, Dungey recovered to record the fastest overall time in the second practice session.

Reed looked fast and aggressive all afternoon in his comeback, and riders like Kevin Windham, Davi Millsaps and Justin Brayton also poked around the leaderboard at times.

In the heat races, Millsaps jetted off to an early lead and won his over Windham, but Windham recorded the fastest lap of the night en route to second. Dungey won heat two, while Reed seemed to struggle with some sort of mechanical problem after a few laps. Villopoto was even further back, taking fifth in his heat.

  • Ryan Villopoto put the hurt on the 450cc class for the seventh time this season. He now trails Ryan Dungey by only 12 points with four rounds remaining.
  • Kevin Windham (14) rode strong, pulling away from Dungey (5) early and hanging with Villopoto until about the halfway point. Windham was second.
  • While battling for third with Ivan Tedesco, Dungey (5) stalled his motorcycle and had to come from behind to grab fifth.
  • Ivan Tedesco had to work by Dungey and Josh Hill to grab third.
  • Chad Reed held off Dungey for fourth, adding two extra points to his teammate Villopoto's points haul.
And yet, in the main, Villopoto stepped up to the challenge, nailing the $1500 Spike Holeshot and fleeing. Windham was soon up to second and pushing as hard as he could, but suddenly RV was able to match Windham’s speed—which he hadn’t been able to do all day—and hold him at bay. After a few laps, it was clear Villopoto was once again going to turn around a horrible afternoon of practice into another main event win.

Behind him came all the action. Reed started well outside the top ten, still not able to get good starts on his Kawasaki (while, meanwhile, his teammate was pulling the holeshot). Dungey was about fifth early, battling with Ivan Tedesco, Millsaps and Josh Hill. Neither was making life easy on Dungey, and the battle raged as riders traded mistakes and new lines. Tedesco even swooped in at one point to steal third from Dungey, and Dungey mixed it up with Hill for a while. Then came the big mistake—Dungey stalled his bike on a set of rollers right in front of the mechanics’ area. He lost major time and positions, getting going again in seventh.

For the rest of the race, Dungey would have to dig himself out, trying to get positions and points. He passed Millsaps and Hill, but then found Reed in front of him and couldn’t quite get close enough to challenge. Villopoto, Windham and Tedesco took the podium spots, while Reed’s fourth stole a few more points from Dungey, who took fifth.

Ryan Villopoto (2) got the start when it counted, and he ended up picking up nine points on title rival Ryan Dungey (5). Look at where Chad Reed (22) and Andrew Short (29) started, though.
Photo: Cox

Now just 12 points stand between Dungey and Villopoto, so if Villo wins the final four races the title is his no matter what (four seconds for Dungey would leave them tied in points, but RV would own the tie breaker for most wins). But the way things are starting to develop, don’t expect things to be that simple.

Windham looked super fast in the tough whoop section all day, but by the main, the section had grown a huge rut in the center. After a few laps, KW wisely realized he would have to start jumping through the section instead of blitzing, and he lost his main advantage over the field. He pushed hard, but couldn’t get to Villopoto. Tedesco, meanwhile, admitted that he’s buddies with Dungey and even got scared when the two were battling and even touched a bit in mid air. But mostly, he’s racing for himself and his team, and was happy to get some momentum with a solid third.

  • The Lites class gets underway with Christophe Pourcel (1) leading them around turn one. He was never headed.
  • Blake Baggett finished a strong second.
  • Dean Wilson passed Baggett on the last lap through the whoops, but went down in the process and couldn't restart his bike. He finished ninth, because of how many riders his teammate, Pourcel, lapped.
  • Justin Barcia chased his old amateur rivals Wilson and Baggett for the whole race and inherited third when Wilson hit the deck on the last lap.
In Lites, Pourcel got a good jump off the start, but Rockstar Suzuki’s Blake Baggett edged him out for the Spike Holeshot. Pourcel shot into the lead and rode, as always, smooth and calm en route to victory. Behind him a battle of the rookies raged, with Baggett, Monster/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Dean “Back from Canada” Wilson and GEICO Honda’s Justin Barcia battling for the final podium spots.

It came down to the last lap, and you knew the rookies were going to go for it, and both Bagget and Wilson got bucked around in the whoops. Baggett’s feet came off the pegs, but he rode it out and stayed up, but Wilson went for a wild ride and went over the bars. He threw away third going for second, and Barcia cruised past to grab the final podium spot. By the time Wilson got up, the race was over and he had automatically earned ninth place since he had lapped 11 riders. But he’s come too far to give up, and still kicked his bike over and rolled across the finish.

Brett Metcalfe was fourth and Martin Davalos fifth. They were both in the mix for about half the race before losing a little ground to the rookies.

Pourcel was subdued after winning the title, saying he was just going to go back to his hotel and sleep. What a celebration!

Things are getting crazy in the big class, should be a wild last four weeks! Stay tuned to racexonline.com all week for more from Houston.

The 2010 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season continues next weekend from St. Louis, Mo., at the Edward Jones Dome.
AMA Supercross Class Results: Houston
1.             Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki
2.             Kevin Windham, Centerville, Miss., Honda
3.             Ivan Tedesco, Murrieta, Calif., Yamaha
4.             Chad Reed, Tampa, Fla., Kawasaki
5.             Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., Suzuki
6.             Tommy Hahn, Alvord, Texas, Suzuki
7.             Davi Millsaps, Murrieta, Calif., Honda
8.             Andrew Short, Smithville, Texas, Honda
9.             Justin Brayton, Murrieta, Calif., Yamaha
10.          Josh Hill, Carlsbad, Calif., Yamaha
AMA Supercross Class Season Standings
1.             Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., Suzuki, 277
2.             Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki, 265
3.             Josh Hill, Carlsbad, Calif., Yamaha, 217
4.             Davi Millsaps, Murrieta, Calif., Honda, 203
5.             Kevin Windham, Centerville, Miss., Honda, 201
6.             Ivan Tedesco, Murrieta, Calif., Yamaha, 179
7.             Justin Brayton, Murrieta, Calif., Yamaha, 176
8.             Nick Wey, Murrieta, Calif., Kawasaki, 141
9.             Tommy Hahn, Alvord, Texas, Suzuki, 128
10.          Kyle Chisholm, Valrico, Fla., Yamaha, 123
Eastern Regional AMA Supercross Lites Class Results: Houston
1.             Christophe Pourcel, Groveland, Fla., Kawasaki
2.             Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., Suzuki
3.             Justin Barcia, Ochlocknee, Ga., Honda
4.             Brett Metcalfe, Lake Elsinore, Calif., Honda
5.             Martin Davalos, Cairo, Ga., Yamaha
6.             Kyle Cunningham, Fort Worth, Texas, Honda
7.             Ryan Sipes, Vine Grove, Ky., Yamaha
8.             Jimmy Decotis, Peabody, Mass., Honda
9.             Dean Wilson, San Jacinto, Calif., Kawasaki
10.          Troy Adams, Homosassa, Fla., Suzuki
Eastern Regional AMA Supercross Lites Class Season Standings
1.             Christophe Pourcel, Groveland, Fla., Kawasaki, 159
2.             Austin Stroupe, Lincolnton, N.C., Suzuki, 126
3.             Justin Barcia, Ochlocknee, Ga., Honda, 122
4.             Brett Metcalfe, Lake Elsinore, Calif., Honda, 113
5.             Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., Suzuki, 102
6.             Ryan Sipes, Vine Grove, Ky., Yamaha, 91
7.             Dean Wilson, San Jacinto, Calif., Kawasaki, 83
8.             Kyle Cunningham, Fort Worth, Texas, Honda, 69
9.             Martin Davalos, Cairo, Ga., Yamaha, 65
10.          Troy Adams, Homosassa, Fla., Suzuki, 58