2011 AMA / FIM World Championship Supercross series round 6, Houston, TX race recap.
Millsaps 4th in Houston as Stewart out of luck
JGR Yamaha’s Davi Millsaps scored his best result of the season so far on the YZ450F as he claimed fourth position at the Reliant Stadium in Houston for the sixth round of seventeen in the 2011 AMA Supercross series. At the same meeting, watched by over 45,000 spectators, San Manuel Yamaha’s James Stewart could not stretch his run of wins to three main events after two incidents in the frantic 20 lap sprint meant he could rise no higher than fifteenth.
The 2009 champion was undone in the tight first turn after contact between several riders saw a group of bikes hit the ground, one of which was the ‘7’ of the Floridian. Coming back through the field the 25 year old then had a collision with Jason Thomas after the latter elected not to jump a section and the result for Stewart was a broken front brake which hindered his second attempt to gain positions across a track difficult for overtaking. Electing to grasp as many points as possible he crossed the line a lap behind winner Trey Canard.
Nearer the front Millsaps had seen team-mate Justin Brayton also fall in the first corner chaos but kept a strong rhythm to hold third place until losing the slot to Ryan Villopoto before the flag. The Georgian was able fend off the challenge from Andrew Short. "I've felt fast for quite a few rounds but it just hasn't been coming together,” he said. “I just need to keep getting decent starts and things should be good. Luckily, the series is heading east soon, and that's my kind of dirt, so I'm hoping for even better rides than this coming up.”
Stewart is now second in the standings to Villopoto with a nine point difference between the pair. Brayton and Millsaps are currently eighth and ninth. Round seven, at the Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, will haul the championship back to California for the final time before the trek east across the country.
Dungey back on the podium at Houston Supercross
Rockstar Makita Suzuki's Ryan Dungey raced back to a podium position by taking second place at Saturday night's AMA/ FIM World Championship sixth round at Houston in Texas.
After gating fifth, the Florida rider moved to second and closed on leader Trey Canard (Honda) half-way into the 20-lap Main Event, held in front of a packed audience of almost 46,000: The pair ran wheel-to-wheel, but Canard kept the advantage to the flag.
"Overall, we had a real solid day," said Dungey. "The bike felt great all day. I really owe a lot to Team Rockstar Makita Suzuki because they worked hard. We need to keep pushing and start winning these races. I'm really thankful for the day - coming off of last weekend was a real tough one for the whole team and myself, but this is a step in the right direction and we'll keep building from here. It will be good to get a good solid week in and show up in San Diego with my RM-Z450 ready to go."
Rockstar Makita Suzuki's Brett Metcalfe rode a solid practice and carried that momentum into his heat race with a fourth-place finish. A strong start in the Main Event put him into third place on the first lap. He rode a consistent race and maintained a top-five position until the last lap when a small mistake put him on the ground in the first whoops section, but he remounted to finish in eighth place.
"I'm happy with the way I rode tonight," said Metcalfe. "The team made some good changes this week. We made some big improvements to the engine and I have to thank Yoshimura for all their help and everybody on the team. I think myself and Ryan both got great starts. I came out strong in the heat race and the Main Event was going good right until the end. I made a couple mistakes; a couple guys got me at the end there and I threw it away in the whoops trying to get a position back on the last lap. I'm happy for next week because San Diego is close to home. I should have a good week riding and each week my riding has been improving. We just need to improve the result."
The 2011 Rockstar Makita Suzuki team's next event is Saturday, February 19th, at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California.
Short, Roczen and Alessi Shine on the 350 SX-F at Houston SX
The three Red Bull/KTM riders made history when they crossed the checkered flag at the sixth round of the AMA Supercross Series each finishing inside the top ten aboard their KTM 350 SX-F race machines.
It could be the orange mohawk, his hometown crowd or more experience on the bike, but one thing is for sure, something clicked for Red Bull/KTM’s Andrew Short at the sixth round of the series in Houston, TX.
In practice, Short put together his best showing all season. He qualified sixth fastest just a second off the pace of James Stewart who turned the fastest lap. Ken Roczen, in his first-ever SX class race, turned the 9th fastest time and Mike Alessi rounded out the group in 13th.
Short was up first in heat number one. The start of this race was quite tricky as it was a very short straightaway followed by a tight left hand turn. Short picked the very inside gate for his heat. He actually didn’t get a great jump but as everyone pushed to the outside around the first corner he snuck his KTM right up the inside and came out 4th around the turn. Short turned up the heat within the first few corners quickly moving into 2nd position behind early leader Ryan Dungey. Short held his pace and chased Dungey the entire 8 lap heat to qualify 2nd overall.
Roczen and Alessi were up next in heat number two. Roczen picked the same gate Short had while Alessi was lined up about five more in toward the box. When the gate dropped Alessi came out swinging in 4th place with Roczen a few spots back in 7th. On the first lap Roczen collided with Ivan Tedesco but managed to stay on two wheels. “When I hit Tedesco I jammed my foot hard and it hurt the same heel I had injured earlier in the season. It was hard to ride but I knew I needed to keep going to qualify to the main,” remarked Roczen. Alessi stayed in 4th position for the first two laps before dropping briefly to 5th. Meanwhile Roczen picked up the pace and moved forward. He was able to overtake Alessi with two laps to go to qualify into his first-ever SX main event with a 6th place finish. Alessi finished right behind him in 7th place.
All three Red Bull/KTM riders lucked out at the start of the SX main event by avoiding the first turn pile up. Short came around the first turn in 6th, Roczen was running about 9th and Alessi managed to work his way up to 10th at the end of the first lap after being pushed off the track in turn one.
From lap one to the finish all three KTM riders remained inside the top ten. Short held 6th throughout the majority of the race. On the final lap he began to close in on the 5th place ride of Brett Metcalfe. After the first rhythm section past the finish, Short was able to make the pass on Metcalfe and move into the top five. He went on to finish 5th overall. “I was so excited to get 5th today. It was my goal to break into the top five at this race and I am so
happy to have achieved that in front of my hometown crowd. We made huge progress with the bike this week and everything feels like it is coming together right now. I was also able to move up in points today,” mentioned Short after the race. Short now sits 6th in overall points.
His teammate, Roczen also turned some heads aboard the bigger bike. Roczen started in 9th position and moved up to 8th on the third lap. He held that position throughout the remainder of the race and was able to capitalize on Metcalfe’s crash at the end to finish 7th.
“I was not thinking very positive before the main event because my heel was still hurting me from the heat. But it was not bad in the main and I forgot about the pain when I was riding. I am so excited to finish inside the top ten. I was more nervous than I had ever been going into this race. The guys in the SX class have been my heroes for a long time and it was pretty cool to get to race with them. I am very happy to have raced this event and hope to do a few more,” stated the happy 16 year-old after his impressive 7th place finish.
Helping the team make history by being the third KTM 350 SX-F in the top ten was Mike Alessi. He came around the first lap in 10th position and rode a strong consistent race maintaining his position through the end of the race to mark his first top ten of the season.
“The last two weeks I have made some changes to my program and am slowly gaining back some confidence. My goal was to get inside the top ten and now I just want to remain consistent and hopefully back it up in San Diego. I am really pumped for the team tonight. To have all riders finish inside the top ten is great for the Red Bull/KTM team and especially the 350 SX-F,” stated Alessi after the main event.
All three riders will pack their bags and head back to California for the 7th round of the series to be held at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, CA next weekend. Short and Alessi will return to action in the SX class while Roczen will step back onto his Lites bike to race the fifth round of the West SX Lites Series.
PJ Larsen Shows his Speed before a Crash Ends his Night
JDR/J-Star/KTM rider PJ Larsen proved why he’s a two-time Australian National Champion after turning a top qualifying time and earning 2nd overall in his heat before a crash ruined his night at the opening round of the AMA East Lites Supercross Series in Houston, TX.
Larsen got the crowds attention at the start of the day when he tied Blake Baggett for the fastest lap time in the first timed practice. Larsen maintained his pace in the second timed practice finishing 6th overall within one second of the top five. “I didn’t expect everyone to be so close in practice. It’s going to be a close race tonight and the start is going to count big, so I am crossing my fingers to be out front early,” remarked Larsen after practice.
In his heat, Larsen pulled a 4th place start off the line. He quickly passed Jason Anderson to move into 3rd. Once inside the top three he began to close in on the front two riders, Darryn Durham and Dean Wilson. While the top two battled out front Larsen closed the gap and with two laps to go jumped over Durham to push his way into 2nd place. Wilson maintained the lead while Larsen applied heavy pressure. On the final lap, Larsen pushed hard and finished in 2nd right on the rear tire of Wilson.
“I was happy with my heat race result. I didn’t get that great of a start but I was able to make up for it within the first few laps. I was glad to run with Wilson and am looking forward to the main event,” stated Larsen.
Larsen, who had pulled some impressive starts while racing in Australia for his team earlier this year, appeared as if he might duplicate that off the start of the Lites main. Larsen nearly grabbed the holeshot coming together with Malcolm Stewart as they crossed the first jump side by side. Larsen settled for 2nd off the start and immediately began to pressure Stewart. As they made their way to the back half of the track, Stewart cut hard under Larsen taking both riders to the ground and a few more riders behind them. Larsen was slow to come up but eventually remounted and returned to the track in 17th.
“When I recovered from the crash with Stewart, I realized real quick that my rear brake lever had been smashed in the crash. I tried to ride a few laps before pulling off the first time to fix it,” stated Larsen. He pulled into the mechanics area on the fifth lap. He was able to kick his brake pedal back toward its normal position and then returned to the racing action approximately one lap down. A few laps later, Larsen’s brake pedal broke off and he had to finish the race without any rear brakes. “It was so hard to ride without the brakes but I wanted to stay out there as long as I could to try to salvage any extra points possible.”
Larsen eventually finished the main event in 18th. “I’m definitely disappointed that I crashed in the beginning of the race, but its all part of racing and now I am just looking forward to redeeming myself at the next round.”
Larsen’s teammate, Tye Simmonds, also had a day of bad luck. Simmonds, who competes in the SX class, came down with bronchitis earlier in the week. “I have been incredibly sick the past five days and was not able to ride at all this week,” remarked the JDR/J-Star/KTM rider. Simmonds struggled throughout the day as he tried to push past his sickness. “I feel horrible today but I am doing my best to rest during the week and am really hoping this disappears by next week so I can have better luck in San Diego.”
Simmonds will return to California to race the seventh round of the series in San Diego, CA next weekend while Larsen will have a two week break before returning for the second round of the East Lites SX at the Atlanta Supercross on February 26th.
2011 Houston AMA Supercross Results
1. Trey Canard
2. Ryan Dungey
3. Ryan Villopoto
4. Davi Millsaps
5. Andrew Short
6. Chad Reed
7. Ken Roczen
8. Brett Metcalfe
9. Ivan Tedesco
10. Mike Alessi
11. Thomas Hahn
12. Nick Wey
13. Justin Brayton
14. Weston Peick
15. James Stewart
16. Kyle Regal
17. Vince Friese
18. Chris Blose
19. Kevin Windham
20. Jason Thomas
2011 Houston AMA Supercross Lites Results
1. Justin Barcia
2. Dean Wilson
3. Blake Baggett
4. Ryan Sipes
5. Ian Trettel
6. Blake Wharton
7. Jason Anderson
8. Lance Vincent
9. Matt Lemoine
10. Alex Martin
11. Chris Gosselaar
12. Shawn Rife
13. Gannon Audette
14. Malcolm Stewart
15. Nick Izzi
16. AJ Catanzaro
17. Taylor Futrell
18. PJ Larsen
19. Levi Kilbarger
20. Darryn Durham