Oakley Rookie Ryan Villopoto Wins Seattle Supercross
800 Occidental Avenue South. Seattle, Washington, 98134. Sounds like any old address in Jet City, USA, but in all reality, it’s the address of Qwest Field, the 60,000-seat home of the Seattle Seahawks National Football League franchise. However, on Saturday night, April 18, 2009 the ball yard’s gridiron served to host round 15 of he 17-round 2009 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series. And with well over 50,000 Seattleites filling the stands, it wound up being one memorable night at Washington native and Supercross class rookie Ryan Villopoto rode to the first premier class victory of his young career. Making the win even sweeter was the fact that the three-time AMA Motocross Lites National Champion accomplished it after missing the last thee races due to a nagging virus.
With Paulsboro, Washington’s Villopoto chasing him the entire way, Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s holeshot king Mike Alessi led the 20-lap main event right up to the halfway mark before experiencing a small tip over of a fall. From there, Okaley’s Villopoto went whizzing by, riding away to win the main event over James Stewart by 7.872 seconds.
“It feels awesome,” Oakley’s Villopoto said afterwards. “I can’t thank my team enough and everybody that put effort into it. It hasn’t been the year we wanted, but they never gave up.”
What went on behind Villopoto in the calamitous main event was every bit exciting as bitter championship adversaries James Stewart and Chad Reed – both in a two horse race down to the wire for the 2009 AMA Supercross Championship – suffered poor starts and were forced to make frenzied charges through the field, desperate not to lose points to one another with only Salt Lake and Las Vegas left on the 2009 schedule. The first lap was a catastrophic for both riders as Oakley’s Stewart was mired in the first turn, only to stall his Yamaha a few turns later. After crossing the finish line stripe to complete the first lap, James was way back in eleventh place. Concurrently, Reed took it on the chin even worse, pinched off down the start straight, only to tangle with another rider and hit the dirt. Once he got going, he was two positions out of last place. On a racetrack consisting of soft dirt, menacing ruts and bumps everywhere – all that wanted nothing more than to reach up and slap a rider to the ground – Stewart kept his composure and kept on chugging, ultimately getting back to second place. In doing so, opened up a three-point lead on Reed in the championship. Reed could only make it back to seventh, his title hopes now in serous peril. Third in Seattle went to Oakley’s Davi Millsaps, while Alessi, Andrew Short (Honda) and Josh Grant rounded out the top six.
Oakley’s Ryan Dungey entered the penultimate round of the 2009 AMA West Region Lites Championship in Washington two points ahead of his one and only title contender, Jake Weimer of the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki outfit. When the gate dropped and slapped into the soft Seattle dirt, Dungey took off like a bat out of hell with the holeshot, while Weimer was being bounced around with al the other mid-pack riders. On his Suzuki 250F, the Oakley rider methodically motored away from everyone, in a race of his own. He would go onto win the 15-lap race by 3.071 seconds over Ryan Morais, also of the Monster/Kawasaki team. Third would fall to Honda’s Trey Canard, while Weimer, 14.288 seconds adrift of Dungey, flashed beneath the checkered flag in fourth. With only the season-ending Salt Lake City round left to run in the championship series, Weimer is now nine points down on Dungey and the fat lady appears to be getting he voice warmed up to prepare and sing.