Villopto Wins the Year to Rememeber
Just to put the final nail in the coffin for any other supercross season hoping to be called the best ever, the 2011 Monster Energy Supercross finale added one more amazing, wild, dramatic night into the history books, and with that, it will make it hard to argue any other year bringing any more excitement.
In the end, Ryan Villopoto claimed his first-ever SX Class Championship, but even in a race where it was supposed to be a safe, easy ride, crazy things took place around him. Early, Kevin Windham stole the lead from Mike Alessi, and then took on a challenge from James Stewart. Stewart finally got Windham, but Windham stepped up and stayed on Stewart’s wheel, while Villopoto remained safe in fourth ahead of Reed and Dungey. Then Stewart did what he has done too many times this year—got crazy in the whoops, and went down hard. Windham couldn’t not avoid him and plowed into Stewart’s bike in the whoops, leading him to go over the bars as well. With that, Stewart and Windham were down and out, although both did walk away under their own power.
Villopoto then had the lead with Reed all over him. Reed made a pass, Villopoto fought back, and as they battled, Dungey closed up. Finally Villopoto, realizing he only needed to finish in the top five to win the title, backed it down. But Dungey didn’t give up, pressuring Reed hard for the lead. They battled, but Reed hung tough down to the last lap. Fittingly, the final lap of the season presented one last great race, with Reed and Dungey fighting it out through the last lap, and Reed holding on to win the race. Dungey was second and Villopoto sealed the championship by just four points over Reed with a third.
“I really have to thank everyone who made this happen, especially Aldon Baker, my new trainer,” said Villopoto. “That was probably the best move I’ve ever made in my racing career. I knew I had the skills and everything else, but I needed the fitness, and I was able to get that and it paid off. That and everyone on this team, Monster Energy Kawasaki, it takes great people behind you to do this.”
Reed gave Villopoto credit. “He won the most races and he deserved it,” he said after locking in his second race win of the year. “I think we all left points out there at various times throughout the season, but you live and you learn. I’ve had a blast this season, so congrats to Ryan, I love that kid.”
Dungey was stoic after handing over his title. “We’ll work even harder next year and try to get it back,” said the 2010 Champion, who ends up third in the final standings.
Chris Blose put it in a superb ride to take fourth ahead in the Las Vegas race ahead of Andrew Short.
Titles were on the line in Vegas for both the East and West Lites classes. In the East main, Just Barcia put the title battle to rest by grabbing the early lead, while Dean Wilson was way back. But Barcia washed out and handed the lead over to Sipes—but was able to get up before falling behind Wilson, his title rival. Sipes appeared to have the win, but Blake Baggett stalked him all the way, then really turned it up down the stretch. He made a great move on the last lap to steal the lead and the win, while Barcia finished third to seal the title.
The West main may have been the wildest title fight in ages, with Broc Tickle and Eli Tomac separated by just two points coming in. Ken Roczen grabbed the start, then fell, handing the lead to Cole Seely. Then Seely crashed, handing the lead back to Roczen, while behind them the title battle to the death began: Josh Hansen led Tomac and then held up Tomac, hoping to help his teammate Tickle who was right behind. Tomac survived, slicing through, but then had more company as Kyle Cunningham moved past while he was dealing with Hanny. Tickle got past Hanny easily, and was pressing Tomac a bit. Then Tomac started to close on Cunningham and Seely, and he was stuck battling again. Cunningham and Seely didn’t make it easy on Tomac at all—in fact, many would say they were playing a little dirty with the title contender. Tomac nearly tangled with Seely twice, and then almost collided with Cunningham over the big ski jump, and after all the tangling, Tickle slipped by and took advantage. Tickle then had to deal with the pressure, and on the last lap he barely stood in front of Tomac in a run for the title. Tickle then tried to put a move on Cunningham and nearly landed on him, but he saved it and put a rider between he and Tomac to help seal it. At the finish, Roczen won the race—his first career SX win—while Tickle held on over Cunningham and Tomac to notch the West Region Lites Championship.
In the Lites East/West Shootout, Barcia got out front again, but washed the front end, again, and went down. Then Sipes took the lead and held onto it over Seely and Roczen.
Look for a full race report and photos on Sunday morning right here on Racerxonline.