Kawasaki shines in Anaheim

January 12, 2007

Kawasaki riders James Stewart and Ryan Villopoto served notice to the rest of the supercross world that the 2007 AMA Supercross and AMA Western Region Supercross Lites championships just may have to go through them. Before a sold-out crowd at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Stewart and Villopoto brought home convincing wins and put the finishing touches on a perfect night for Kawasaki.

Over the years, Kawasaki has increased their racing support and its impact on the sport was never more evident than in the night’s final results: An impressive 15 Kawasaki-mounted riders competed in the main events for both AMA Supercross and AMA Supercross Lites, more than any other manufacturer. Moreover, five of the top ten AMA Supercross Lites finishers were riding Kawasaki KX250Fs.

Saturday night marked the beginning of a new era for Kawasaki Racing as it welcomed new title sponsor Monster Energy to its team of sponsors. Already a fixture on the successful Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki program, the new Monster Energy sponsorship will be an excellent tie in with all of Kawasaki Racing. The sponsorship now includes Kawasaki road racing, off-road, ATV, drag racing and Team Green motocross. Several of the top executives from Monster Energy and Kawasaki were on hand for the Anaheim event, as well as over 800 Kawasaki employees and guests who created a “sea of green” in the stands.

Monster Energy Kawasaki Race Recap

Stewart was the fastest all day in his class, setting fast-lap times in practice, the heat races and eventually in the main event. He led all but two laps of the main event but was able to overcome a mid-race crash and wound up with an impressive 10.73-margin of victory. It was the 13 th AMA Supercross victory of his career and his second-consecutive Anaheim 1 win.

“After the Canada races I knew I had to go back and work some more,” explained Stewart in the post-race press conference. “(In the main) I almost had the holeshot until Chad came flying around and got around me. I got in the lead and put in some good laps. I was making a couple mistakes in the corners and the next thing I knew I was picking my bike up after the finish line.

“I had a sense of urgency tonight and didn’t feel like just waiting around. I felt like I started getting stronger around lap eight or nine. I don’t know what happened to Ricky or if he had a bobble, but I had it after that.”

On his dealing with the pressure of being the “heir apparent” to winning the title:

“I don’t race just to win races, I race to win championships. That’s been my goal the whole time. I’m going to race the same because that’s the way I am. Unfortunately I’ve had some bad luck here and there. I think we have a good season coming and I feel really strong, as strong as I’ve ever felt.”

Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Tim Ferry overcame a mid-pack start (10 th after the first lap) and wound up pushing hard to the end for a solid fifth place finish.

Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki Race Recap

Similar to his teammate Stewart, Villopoto entered this race as a pre-season favorite for the title. And like Stewart, Villopoto followed through with an entire day of consistency and speed. After easily winning his heat race, he faced off in the main event with teammate Christophe Pourcel , the Frenchman who is in the States to ride the first three supercross races. Pourcel got the holeshot and led the first two laps before an inside pass by Villopoto shot him to the lead. Pourcel kept pace with his American teammate and the two riders finished strong, giving Kawasaki the top two spots on the podium.

“Last year I came in just to see where I was at,” said Villopoto. “(This year) I know where I’m at. I was going out there this first race to win or make the podium. I got a decent start but Christophe got out front of me. After the finish line jump we both squared the next turn up. As soon as we got to the jump I knew I was going to the inside of him. We bumped a little bit but it all worked out.”

Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Chris Gosselaar also put in a fine performance and finished in eighth place.