Championship’s Top Five Finishers Speak to the Media in Anaheim
ANAHEIM, Calif. – After the most statistically competitive season in history one year ago, the 2012 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, season is now mere hours away, and on Thursday, Feld Motor Sports® welcomed the industry, local media, national media, and international media to the annual season-opening press conference from Angel Stadium. Reigning champion, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto, along with the rest of the top five from last season’s final standings – TwoTwo Motorsports/Bel-Ray Racing’s Chad Reed, Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey, Toyota/Yamaha/JGR’s James Stewart, and American Honda Muscle Milk’s Trey Canard – spoke to the attending media, offering their thought’s on the season that lies ahead.
The 2011 season, dubbed the “Greatest Season Ever” featured a five-way battle for the championship throughout the 17 races. Each of Thursday’s invited riders at the press conference claimed at least one victory in 2011, and up until Canard’s unfortunate season-ending injury with three rounds to go, all five were within 20 points of one another.
Ultimately, Villopoto emerged as the champion, capturing a series-leading six victories en route to his first career Supercross Class championship. It signified the beginning of a historic year for Villopoto, who captured both AMA-sanctioned titles as well as the record-setting million-dollar bounty at the inaugural Monster Energy Cup in October. He returns ready to defend his title, looking to become the first rider since Ricky Carmichael in 2005-2006 to claim back-to-back championships.
”It’s tough to defend the title,” said Villopoto. “Every year is a new year. But, I think a lot of it is based on what you did in the offseason to prepare and coming into the season ready so that on the weekends (at the races) it’s fun. We’re out there to get a job done, and that’s to win. We need to minimize mistakes, and Anaheim has a lot of hype, but you can’t win the championship here. You can definitely lose it though. I’ve put in the work this offseason. I’m ready; the bike is 100%, so I think we’re there. I think we’re all just ready to bring it on.”
For Reed, the 2011 season started with the creation of TwoTwo Motorsports, his own race team for which he would also ride for. A strong start to the season with consistent podium efforts eventually resulted in two wins for Reed, landing second in the championship. He also received the support of Factory Honda and now, enters the 2012 season as a full-fledged American Honda rider.
“We’ve had a lot more months to prepare for the season this time around,” said Reed. “As a rider, coming into the season, I haven’t been with the same bike and group of people in a long time. We have more support from Honda and I think we have the best bike. I think you need to win races now in order to win a championship. Year after year, I’ve been there on the podium, but I’ve only had a couple race wins. I think you need about five this year to be there, so its going to take that effort week in and week out to be a contender.”
In his 2011 title defense, Dungey posted the most consistent overall effort of all his rivals. However, just one victory, in addition to a DNF and the second Anaheim race, relegated him to third in the championship. Despite that, Dungey was a factor in the championship the entire course of the season and now makes the move to Red Bull KTM for 2012, rejoining his mentor Roger DeCoster. The biggest move of the offseason has generated considerable buzz throughout the industry, and now Dungey is prepared to bring KTM is first taste of success in the premier division.
“The opportunity that presented itself at KTM led to the change in teams,” said Dungey. “It was a lot of fun at Suzuki, but in going to KTM, there was that level of commitment. It was the perfect fit for me. What they’ve accomplished in the time we’ve had, and being back with Roger and Ian (Harrison) has been a lot of fun. Preparations are going well and we had a great offseason. I feel rested and I feel fit, so I’m looking forward to Saturday.”
Stewart posted five victories in 2011, and on several occasions showcased his impressive speed, highlighted by a dominant effort at the second Anaheim race. However, despite his regular presence at the front of the field, Stewart’s typically reliable consistency took a hit, ultimately resulting in a fourth-place finish in the standings. During the offseason, Stewart made a highly-publicized move to Joe Gibbs Racing, drawing national media attention to the sport and generating huge anticipation for his first season with the highly-recognizable franchise.
“The biggest change for me this season is going to JGR,” said Stewart. “It was a good change and one that I needed. I spent a lot of time in the offseason trying to decide what was best for me. The team is good, so we’ll find out. Although it’s been 10 years (as a pro), I’ve had the opportunity to be rejuvenated and refreshed, but I knew I had to make some changes for 2012. We won five races last season, but it still wasn’t where we needed to be. I went to the drawing board and did what I needed in order to make it happen.”
Canard’s aforementioned season-ending injury derailed an otherwise memorable and extremely impressive rookie season in the Supercross Class. Three victories highlighted his season as he surprised many with his speed, consistency, and lack of intimidation against his experienced counterparts. Unfortunately for Canard, his season will start late after suffering another injury in preparation for the championship, but once he returns, many expect him to assume his position up front.
“Unfortunately, I’ve learned what to do with my down time because I’ve had so much opportunity to do so (due to injuries),” said Canard. “On the plus side, I’ve been able to do things I don’t always get to do. I also keep training to stay in shape, so I can come back strong. Through all the adversity, I’ve become a stronger person and a stronger athlete. I’m going to continue to strive whether it means more injures or more success.”
The buzz is huge and the gate is about to drop on what many think will be the most competitive Monster Energy Supercross season of all time, and it all commences on Saturday night. Fans unable to make it out to Angel Stadium can catch LIVE coverage on SPEED, beginning at 7 p.m. PT.
2012 Monster Energy Supercross Teams and Riders (* - denotes Supercross Lites Class)
Rockwell/Fire Police MX Drew Gosselaar* Killy Rusk* Bruce Rutherford*
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