Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Dean Wilson and Chad Reed Put KX™ on Top of the Podium in Anaheim
February 3, 2014
Irvine, Calif. (February 3, 2014) – Round 5 of the Monster Energy Supercross season visited Angel Stadium in Anaheim for the third and final time this season on Saturday. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Dean Wilson captured his first win of the season on his KX™250F while Justin Hill fought hard to finish just off the podium in fourth place.
Discount Tire Racing/TwoTwo Motorsports Chad Reed achieved his second win of the season on his KX™450F by leading all 20 laps of the main event. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto battled at the front of the field to finish close behind in third place. Jake Weimer overcame transferring to the main event through the LCQ to race forward and finish ninth.
Back on Top
Wilson had high expectations coming into this supercross season and although he hasn’t had the results he wanted from the start, he showed his full potential in Anaheim. Wilson was not only on top of the board in 250SX, but he posted the fastest qualifying lap of the day in both the 250 and 450 classes. He easily won his heat race to give him first gate pick for the main event. Wilson rounded the first turn in second place and began hunting the leader. At the 10-lap mark, he put on a charge and got within striking distance when the leader lost the front end and handed the lead over to Wilson. He cruised to his first victory of the season and sits just 12 points back in the standings.
“It means so much to get this win,” said Wilson. “My team and I have been working so hard for this. It took us longer than expected to get here, but this is where we belong and where we intend to stay.”
Reed may be the oldest rider on the starting line for the 450SX class but he showed on Saturday that age is not an excuse. He has found a new home on his Kawasaki and is comfortable to push the limits like he has as a past champion. The Australian moved into the lead within the first couple corners and set his sights forward for the full 20 laps. He fought off charges from behind and was not phased on his way to his second win of the season. Reed now sits just two points back from Villopoto in the points standings.
“I honestly feel the strongest I have in a long time,” said Reed. “We made some risky changes to the bike going into the main event and they ended up working in our favor. The set up we have on the Kawasaki really works for me and allowed me to ride hard for the full 20 laps on such a sketchy track.”
Ride like a Champion
Villopoto was the fastest rider all day in qualifying and carried that into the night show. He finished second in his heat race and knew that the track was going to be his biggest competition in the main event. The dirt continued to break down and the three-time champion knew that the risk was higher than the reward and confidently took his place on the podium in third.
“I was too timid the first lap and let those guys gap me a bit,” said Villopoto. “We’ve been here before and know that we’re only five rounds in. We’ve got the points lead and want to be smart. The track was really going away and it was hard to be aggressive.”
After leading last weekend in Oakland and achieving his first podium, Hill was ready to keep the ball rolling in Anaheim. In the main event he got off to a top-10 start but along the way came together with another rider, smashing his hand in the collision. In pain but not defeated, Hill pushed forward to pick off as many riders he could in the 15 laps and finished in fourth place.
“I want to be on that podium so bad,” said Hill. “I got a taste of it last week and expect nothing less. I came together with another guy pretty hard on the first lap and my hand was killing me the entire race. We’ll look to be back on the box in San Diego.”
Feeling like Himself
Weimer qualified strong in Anaheim with the seventh fastest time on his KX450F to set him up for the night show. In his heat race Weimer raced hard and battled with the leaders but ultimately finished fifth, sending him to the semi. After getting tangled in a first turn crash in the semi, Weimer had to resort to the LCQ to qualify for the main. When the gate dropped for the main event, Weimer rounded the outside but could not cut through the field and was forced to work his way forward from the back. By the checkered flag he had passed nearly half the field and finished in ninth place.
“The result doesn’t show how I rode tonight,” said Weimer. “I felt really good in my heat race and know I have the speed to be running up front, but when you get a bad start you can only do so much. I feel good about how I rode tonight and expect to have a good night next week.”
Fighting the Course
The dirt at Angel Stadium has been sitting on the floor and baking in the Southern California sun since Anaheim 1 for an entire month. After the two previous Anaheim races plus having Monster trucks run on it, the dirt was hard and crumbly. The track progressively broke down as the night went on which saw it become more difficult and more dangerous.
“The track was super sketchy,” said Villopoto. “There were only a few lines that were consistent for most of the night, but they eventually went away as well. It was almost comparable to an outdoor national how much the dirt changed and fell apart throughout the day.”
It’s tradition at Kawasaki to award their champions with a custom championship ring. After Villopoto’s successful 2013 season where he captured both his third consecutive supercross championship along with his second AMA Pro Motocross 450 championship, it was with honor for Kawasaki to award him his ninth championship ring. Kawasaki President TakTarinishi, Vice President of Product Development and Racing Shinichiro Yokoyama, and Kawasaki Senior Racing Manager Reid Nordin all gathered to present Villopoto with championship ring featuring a diamond for each championship in 2013.
Monster Energy Supercross heads to Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego next Saturday, which will end the first string of Western Regional races. Following San Diego, the 250SX riders will resume in Houston in two months, while the 450SX will head to the East.
“Getting out of California with the points lead is always a good feeling,” said Villopoto. “We’ll be looking to have a good night in San Diego before heading East to some more consistent tracks due to the dirt and the domes.”