Exactly what Really Happened: Houston SX

Houston Supercross

Villopoto Bounces Back, Anderson Keeps It Going

 


By Pete Peterson and Chris Denison

 

With another round of the AMA Monster Energy Supercross series within the books, both championships are far from over. This week, we take you inside the action from the 14 th race of the season, where there was plenty to talk about. Let’s begin!

 

The Houston course inside of the covered Reliant stadium was referred to by KTM’s Ken Roczen as being “simple, but difficult”. The track provided multiple options, with the first whoop section appearing to be the nastiest spot on the course. In the track walk, it was apparent that the 5th and sixth whoops were noticeably bigger than the others, with a large distance between them that made the middle of the section irregular and tricky. Afterwards in the day, the whoops were cut down slightly but remained a hard obstacle throughout the night.

James Stewart

There were numerous crashes in practice, with Ryan Villopoto swapping out and hitting the ground hard and Justin Brayton ramming twice (suffering a minor fracture his hand in the latter crash that would pressure him to pull out for the evening). Zach Osbourne looked fast yet had a tough run as well, while fellow 250F racer Cole Seely failed to reach the top five within the first practice, although he discovered his mojo later on in the day. James Stewart secured the top amount of time in the first practice, then opted to skip the second practice due to what was said to be a stomach illness that will started on Wednesday, sidelining the Yoshimura Suzuki racer with flu-like symptoms. Stewart’s camp noted that James was not nearly at 100%, yet his skipping the second practice nevertheless cemented Stewart in the top five fasted by the time all of the qualifiers were finished.

 

Kevin Windham was injured upon Friday practicing his famous opening ceremonies transfer jump from the 2nd triple’s take off to the finish collection jump’s landing two lanes more than (a massive gap in person). He came up short, getting hard on the top of the jump and apparently slammed his throat/neck in to the bar, with residual pains in his back. He went to the hospital in an ambulance but fortunately ended up not having any major injuries, returning to the track later just banged up. Windham later posted the video of the hop on his Instagram account.

 

The night’s race got started with a Troy Lee Styles Jesse Nelson holeshot, with Cooper Webb, Dean Wilson and Justin Hill close behind. Wilson required the lead and things were looking good for the tall rider that could use his height advantage within the tricky whoops that were all the riders trouble in practice. Unfortunately the whoops bit Wilson on lap 2 and Webb had been left to battle along with Justin Hill for the lead. Slope slowly closed the small gap upon Webb. On lap 5 Slope made his move and the riders came together and touched bars in the air over the double before the whoops. Webb accelerated away, Hill stayed up but lost time and Webb went on to take his first heat race win, whipping the bike and looking as though he was having a blast in the process. During the in-stadium interview, Webb stated which he was actually fairly nervous throughout what was his first ever heat race win. Back in the Pro Circuit Kawasaki truck, Wilson received some fast work on what turned out to be a minor shoulder separation , then prepared for the main.

Dean Wilson

Between heats, Kevin Windham did some floor announcing and interviewed the recovering Davi Millsaps , who stated that he continues to be back on the bike for a few several weeks and is feeling better and much better. Millsaps was smiling and pointed out that if possible, he might try to come back and race the last few rounds, yet will wait to make the call until he gets closer.

 

As predicted, TLD/ Lucas Oil/ Honda’s Cole Seely came out swinging in Warmth #2 with a convincing holeshot, while GEICO Factory Connection Honda’s Zach Osbourne moved into second. After starting outside of the top five, Jason Anderson place a charge in on lap one to move into third. On lap three, Anderson made an aggressive move to get around Osbourne, scooting really close on the inside line. What followed were a series of frantic laps along with Malcolm Stewart attacking Osbourne intended for third, Osbourne pushing back and plenty of “almost bad” moments as the 2 riders swapped paint (in feasible retaliation for some aggressive practice laps earlier in the day). When the checkered flag flew, Seely held the lead followed by Anderson, Stewart, Osbourne and Shane McElrath.

Zach Osborne

450 Warmth #1 saw James Stewart tugging a massive holeshot, proving that the 5th gate pick was no drawback. Crossing the line behind Stewart in the first lap was JGR’s Josh Grant, followed by Ryan Dungey, Trey Canard and Justin Barcia. An error on lap two forced Stewart to double the backside three-way jump, moving him to third place and handing Grant the lead. The 4 rider battle that will followed was intense; Stewart grabbed the lead again, and received pressure from Dungey—a moment that will almost had Dungey on the ground whenever Stewart came oh-so-close to cleaning out the KTM racer’s front steering wheel after cutting over. Stewart rode a wide bike as Dungey and Barcia both pressured, but despite a few wild attempts the two were unable to make a pass for the lead stay. At the finish, Stewart held the lead (making a strong statement that he had been well enough to race), but Barcia actually carded the fastest lap of the main at 48. 414.

 

The second 450 heat win went to Josh Hill, who posted fast times in practice and carried the momentum into the heat. The win came after inheriting the prospect from Ryan Villopoto, who proved helpful his way through the pack and into the lead, then had a crash exiting the whoops that slammed his head and shoulder in to the ground. From the press box it looked like Villopoto simply rolled the shoulder knobs off the tire and washed out in the wet dirt; RV had been slow to get up, appeared to get rid of his balance and fall back on his bike, and then got up slowly. He got going once again, looked for two laps like he might pull off, but after fiddling together with his goggles forged ahead to finish the heat, finishing 15 th and heading to the Partially. Weston Peick nabbed second and Ken Roczen, after moving up slowly through the pack, rounded out the race in third. Andrew Short completed in fourth after a strong temperature race ride.

 

The 90-degree, left-hand first turn was called away by many racers as being a bit treacherous , but the 250 LCQ participants got through it cleanly, with Dakota Tedder getting a commanding lead (and the eventual win by a 13-second margin). Chad Gores ran in being qualified position the entire race, but the last-corner meltdown handed MotoConcepts’ Colton Aeck the final spot.

 

Ronnie Stewart overcame a hard heat race crash to run third place off the begin in the first semi behind Mike Alessi and Nick Wey. Alessi made an appearance eager to charge the course, riding much looser than we’ve seen from previous rounds and opening up a huge lead. Behind him, Chris Blose and Jimmy Decotis moved up into second and third, respectively, and began a dogfight that will lasted until the finish. By this time around, the track was looking pretty beat, with the soft Texas loam beginning to show some slick places beneath the top layer. The already-vicious whoops had developed some sizable kickers, with plenty of ruts within the rhythm sections.

 

There was some issue going into Semi #2 whether or not Villopoto’s head would be clear enough to race, but a solid third from the start showed that the Kawasaki racer was ready to race. GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac owned the lead while Villopoto worked past Josh Give for second. Ben Lamay and Vince Friese rounded out the top five. Villopoto did not look particularly fast initially, but began picking up quickness on lap three and obtained on Tomac by busting away a quad and a triple that will Tomac was not doing (although Tomac later did the triple). Along with one turn to go, Villopoto jumped the quad and snuck inside on Tomac, taking the lead. In the podium, Villopoto commented that in the heat race he washed out and strike his shoulder on the ground pretty hard. He seemed to have shaken from the earlier crash.

Eli Tomac

Following the semis, Chad Reed came out and said several words to the crowd, stating which he would be back in the bike in around three weeks after his wicked hard crash in San Diego earlier within the season. Reed said if a wonder happened he’d be racing in Vegas, but he’s shooting to be back on the bike when the Outdoor series starts. The Texan crowd was certainly stoked to see the popular Aussie back on the podium and smiling.

 

The 450 Last Opportunity Qualifier was not full of the play some LCQs have brought. Albertson grabbed the lead early and not got challenged. Behind him, the riders filed into position prior to the white flag and the final lap showed no challenges for placements. It was Cody Gilmore, Kyle Regal, then Ronnie Stewart rounding System.Drawing.Bitmap top four. This was a nice turnaround for Ronnie Stewart’s night who just made his first main previously this season, and since has been on a qualifying streak. His night started with a crash before the first turn in his heat, but he first got it done to keep up his string associated with main event qualifications.

Jason Anderson

Jason Anderson failed to holeshot the 250 main, yet he pulled into the lead so quickly you’d think that he had. At the rear of him was Dean Wilson and Justin Hill, followed by a thread of five Hondas (Malcolm Stewart, Jessy Nelson, Zach Osborne, and Cole Seely). As Anderson opened up a bigger and bigger lead, each Wilson and Hill churned out some wicked fast lap times . Hill showed promise of sticking a wheel upon Wilson, but was caught on lap three by Stewart (Hill put it away exiting the whoops one lap later, handing third over to Stewart). Cooper Webb put up back in seventh as the top Yamaha, just outside of the Honda pack.

250SX Class

Along with 9 laps the go, the field was fairly spread out, with Anderson starting to get into lappers, ostensibly providing Anderson a chance to catch up. Wilson appeared to be crazy fast in the whoops, yet inherited some bad luck by way of a handful of lappers that simply refused to give way to the blue flag. Away front, Anderson clicked off a series of very quick laps, making quick function of the traffic that he hit. After that, out of nowhere, a few small mistakes on Anderson’s behalf brought Wilson to within one second of the leader at the white flag. It had been a tight last lap, but the Pro Circuit Kawasaki racer was not able to make anything stick, and Anderson took the win . Wilson was visibly unhappy and commented that his shoulder was still bothering him. Malcolm Stewart landed on the final action of the podium (giving a very honest and fun speech that had him giving props to “the rednecks in the big trucks ” in the reaction), with Seely, Osborne, Webb, McElrath, Jake Canada, Justin Hill (who suffered yet another crash in the whoops, this time on the last lap) and Jessy Nelson rounding out the top ten.

 

Tense excitement filled the air since the 450 racers took to the track for the parade lap. Between Stewart’s illness, Villopoto’s heat race crash, Dungey’s hard charging aggression, and Hill’s solid heat race outcome, as well as with Ken Roczen, Justin Barcia, Trey Canard, Andrew Short, Eli Tomac, Josh Grant, and Weston Peick looking good, it was anybody’s game. When the gate dropped, massive drama unfolded with Josh Slope hitting the dirt before the first turn, followed by a nasty crash that broght Thomas Dungey, Weston Peick and Josh Grant to the ground before they will reached the second corner. Meanwhile, holeshot artist Mike Alessi challenged Villopoto for the off the start, but RECREATIONAL VEHICLE quickly began to check out as Barcia, Roczen, Canard, Short and Stewart settled into the top six (an early mistake relegated Alessi to eighth).

Trey Canard

Both Canard—in just his second race back from injury—and Stewart began jumping the large quad jump on lap two that will Villopoto was hitting out front and using to help pull away, although Tomac soon snuck by Stewart and began pulling away. Stewart seemed to just be on cruise control, presumably feeling under the weather, but then wicked it back up and found some fight when Tomac spun away and landed on a tough prevent for a brief moment. At the halfway point, Villopoto’s lead was 2 . 7 seconds over Barcia. Roczen had some outrageous moments but was utilizing third. Meanwhile, Dungey reached as much as 10 th position, with Stewart sitting in seventh. As with the 250F class, the 450 main event challengers started to spread out and settle in since the laps ticked off.

 

With 6 to go, Ryan Dungey pulled in to ninth as Tomac fell to 10 th place. Stewart picked through the group to 5 th , and from there the top five remained the same. Out front, Villopoto demonstrated no signs of the confusion that will he’d displayed following his temperature race crash, as the reigning champ worked methodically through lapped traffic and displayed wicked corner quickness. His bike setup appeared flawless, and there were multiple points where Villopoto was switching inside tighter than anyone else on the track (including the ultra-tight cornering Suzukis). The Kawasaki racer continued to click away hot laps, and with a sick and tired James Stewart and a coming-from-behind Thomas Dungey, it was Villopoto’s race through the first lap until the checkers. The particular victory marked Villopoto’s fourth win of the season, as Barcia, Roczen, Canard, Stewart and Short submitted in for the top six. Ryan Dungey put in a great ride for 7th ahead of Alessi, Tomac, and Blose. Hill worked his way back as much as 12 th following the tough first turn crash.

Ryan Villopoto

There’s three rounds left within the series, and while it’s looking the respective titles now belong to Villopoto and Anderson, nothing is done until it’s done! Stay tuned to dirtrider. com for more info from future models.

 

450SX Class Results: Houston

1 . Thomas Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki

2 . Justin Barcia, Pinetta, Fla., Honda

a few. Ken Roczen, Murrieta, Calif., KTM

4. Trey Canard, Shawnee, Okla., Honda

5. James Stewart, Haines Town, Fla., Suzuki

six. Andrew Short, Smithville, Texas, KTM

7. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM

8. Mike Alessi, Hilliard, Fla., Suzuki

9. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Honda

10. Chris Blose, Phoenix, Ariz., Honda

 

450SX Class Season Standings

1 . Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki, 293

2 . James Stewart, Haines Town, Fla., Suzuki, 248

3. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM, 247

4. Ken Roczen, Murrieta, Calif., KTM, 235

5. Justin Barcia, Pinetta, Fla., Honda, 198

6. Justin Brayton, Cornelius, N. C., Yamaha, 196

7. Toby Short, Smithville, Texas, KTM, 181

8. Broc Tickle, Holly, Mich., Suzuki, 126

9. Wil Hahn, Menifee, Calif., Honda, 122

10. Josh Hill, Yoncalla, Ore., Suzuki, 112

 

Western Local 250SX Class Results: Houston

1 . Jason Anderson, Rio Rancho, N. M., KTM

2 . Dean Wilson, Wesley Chapel, Fla., Kawasaki

3. Malcolm Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Honda

4. Cole Seely, Lake Elsinore, Calif., Honda

5. Zach Osborne, Chesterfield, S. Chemical., Honda

6. Cooper Webb, Newport, N. C., Yamaha

7. Shane McElrath, Chesterfield, S. C., Honda

8. Jake Canada, Sun City, Calif., Honda

9. Justin Hill, Yoncalla, Ore., Kawasaki

10. Jessy Nelson, Paso Robles, Calif., Honda

Western Regional 250SX Class Season Standings

1 . Jason Anderson, Rio Rancho, N. M., KTM, 156

2 . Cole Seely, Lake Elsinore, Calif., Honda, 145

3. Dean Wilson, Wesley Chapel, Fla., Kawasaki, 120

4. Justin Slope, Yoncalla, Ore., Kawasaki, 119

5. Malcolm Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Honda, 109

6. Cooper Webb, Newport cigarettes, N. C., Yamaha, 107

7. Jessy Nelson, Paso Robles, Calif., Honda, 87

8. Zach Osborne, Chesterfield, S. C., Honda, 85

9. Shane McElrath, Chesterfield, S. C., Honda, 85

10. Dean Ferris, Murrieta, Calif., KTM, 63

 


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