It was international time for the Monster Energy Supercross series as the gang all headed north to Canada for round twelve of the series held in Toronto, Ontario at the Rogers Centre. The temperatures were frigid outside but things were heating up on the track today in practice to borrow a well-used cliché. The crowd here in Canada has embraced supercross and ticket sales have increased every year the series has come here.
Rogers Centre plays host to Monster Energy AMA Supercross.
Photo: Andrew Fredrickson
The track itself is much more like a traditional supercross now and after a few years of having the dirt mixed in with the snow and rain, Feld has been storing the dirt indoors and so the layout is a little soft with some rocks but nowhere near the rutty conditions of years past. There is a long start straight into a left hand turn followed immediately by a right hand corner which shot you right into a sand section that got pretty rough during today’s practices. There are three rhythm lanes that the guys had figured out (although only the top 250 riders were able to triple/triple through), a whoop section that promised to get gnarly and then an off-camber turn which seems primed for some good block passes tonight!
The first 250 seeded practice hit the track and immediately the guys set a pretty good pace. GEICO Honda’s Justin Barcia has the points lead over Monster Energy Pro Circuit’s Dean Wilson and DNA/Star Racing Yamaha’s Ryan Sipes. The Pro Circuit teammates Wilson and Blake Baggett got out right in front and started setting some fast laps. Once everyone got settled, it was the man who has been the fastest in many practices, Ryan Sipes, who sat atop the leaderboard for most of the first practice. Wilson would hold snatch it away briefly but it was Sipes atop at the end. After Wilson it was ARMA Energy Snacks Malcolm Stewart with a last lap attack, then Barcia and Wilson’s teammate Baggett rounded out the top five.
In the first set of practices, Sipes was the only rider in the 53 second range and the gap between him and third was almost two seconds! Clearly, early on Ryan Sipes was feeling it.
Ryan Sipes sits atop the leader boards in practice with a 53.0 second lap.
Photo: Andrew Fredrickson
Next up were the 450 seeded riders and Muscle Milk/JGR Yamaha’s Justin Brayton got out front and started sprinting. It was JB10 on top of the board for a little bit with Team Two-Two’s Chad Reed on him. The 450 riders had everything down early and there wasn’t much to separate them. The guys all seemed to be on their game and were flying through the whoops as well. Honda’s Trey Canard grabbed the lead from Brayton and was the quickest for a little while before San Manuel Yamaha’s James Stewart set the fast time in a blistering lap. The very same lap that Stewart set that time in, Canard was on a flyer and grabbed it back.
The game of cat and mouse began from there as Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey (your defending supercross champion) then set his best lap of the session and now he stood as the winner of the pole position. That’s the way practice would end with the top three (Dungey, Canard and Stewart) were the only riders in the 53-second range and those three were only separated by hundredths of a second!
After that it was series points leader Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto and Brayton rounding out the top five.
After some track work, the second timed (third overall) practices began.
The 250 riders were once again led in the second timed practice by Ryan Sipes, the kid from Kentucky was clearly feeling at home in the Great White North and was almost a second faster than anyone else early on. Malcolm Stewart went down in the sand as did Matt Lemoine. More riders got a hang of the triple/triple rhythm section before the finish line but at the top of the board, it was the familiar number 25 of Ryan Sipes. The Star Racing Yamaha rider has one win this year and judging by his practices, seems on point to get another tonight here in Toronto.
Here are the final combined times for the top ten in the 250 class:
1-Ryan Sipes 53.0
2-Dean Wilson 53.2
3-Justin Barcia 54.0
4-Blake Baggett 54.6
5-Matt Lemoine 54.6
6-Malcolm Stewart 55.2
7-Gannon Audette 56.0
8-Blake Wharton 56.1
9-Jason Anderson 56.4
10-PJ Larsen 56.4
The seeded 450’s were next out of the box and the riders got busy right away with race pace. They all knew that this was to be the final time out before tonight’s heat races and they had to make it count. The riders were pushing hard and Honda’s Trey Canard had the fastest time at the start but soon he was surpassed by de-facto teammate Chad Reed.
Reed stood atop the board until about halfway when James Stewart set a blistering lap that was, at that point, almost two seconds better than anyone else. That was it, the gauntlet had been tossed down by the number seven and although the other riders got closer, Stewart would remain on top of the board when it was all said and done.
James Stewart gets under the 52 second mark with a 51.8, sitting in first in quallifying.
Photo: Andrew Fredrickson
The one section that there had been a few different ways through was a rhythm lane at the end going across the back of the track, Dodge Motorsports/H&H rider Ivan Tedesco, Brayton and Stewart had tripled in and then quaded out. Their momentum seemed to take them to the outside exiting the turn and in this practice, everyone that I saw was jumping onto the table and then off whilst sticking to the inside. The race line had been made it seemed.
So going into tonight James Stewart, as he had done so many times before, stood as the fastest qualifier going into tonight but with the #7 going so long in between wins, is tonight going to be the night when the slump ends?
Here are the final combined times for the top ten in the 450 class:
1- James Stewart 51.8
2- Trey Canard 52.9
3- Chad Reed 53.0
4- Ryan Dungey 53.3
5- Ryan Villopoto 53.5
6- Kevin Windham 53.661
7-Justin Brayton 53.664
8- Davi Millsaps 54.2
9- Ivan Tedesco 54.3
10- Austin Stroupe 54.4