With the final round of the 2011 AMA Supercross Championship upon us in just a few days, the excitement has reached its boiling point. Last week’s trip to Salt Lake City proved to be quite a show, and set the stage for an exciting final.
James Stewart seemed to be an early favorite through early qualifying, flying through laps and setting a pace few seemed to be able to match. However, when it came to main event time, he did what we’ve seen him do all too much this season; he lost his head. Stewart was leading the main through Lap 8 when he washed out his front end. His mistake allowed three riders to pass, and Stewart lost it again, this time going over his handlebars. This mistake was the deciding factor in the main, as Stewart was slow to recover during the remaining laps.
Stewart aside, Ryan Villopoto was able to run a clean race, taking home his sixth win on the season and allowing himself some breathing room in the points race entering the final round. This victory gave Villopoto the point lead by nine heading into Vegas.
“This season it’s been crazy," said Villopoto. "You just have to stay up on two wheels and minimize the mistakes. We’ve all made big mistakes this year. I think everybody is going so fast and tracks are so tough, so mistakes are going to happen.”
In addition to Stewart’s disappointment over his performance, TwoTwo Motorsports’ Chad Reed wasn’t a happy camper either. Like the other top-four riders in the series, Reed desperately needed a win to gain better footing for the season finale, but fell just short and placed second.
“I’m just disappointed in that ride,” said Reed. “I was just riding a little too tight across the whoops. It was good one lap and then the next I was just average.”
Despite Reed’s poor portrayal of his own performance, the Aussie did post one of his most memorable rides of the season. Rather than being relegated and accepting his runner-up status, Reed bitterly fought toward the end of the 20-lap contest, keeping Villopoto honest the whole way through. In the end, however, it wasn’t enough and he dropped back in relation to RV by three points.
Third in the series and 12 points behind Villopoto in the championship, Dungey also lost points to RV in Salt Lake City. Despite another round of consistent riding that ended with a finish on the box, Dungey was forced to accept the reduced likelihood of defending his 2010 SX title.
"I felt good, but I just wasn't matching the lap times and was losing a lot of ground," said Dungey. "Overall, we did the best we could and we just have to put this away and learn from it and look forward to Vegas next weekend and try to go for a win."
There you have it folks, this Supercross season has been quite a ride for all competitors, and forced some big mistakes along with big wins. Stay tuned this Saturday for Vegas’ final round and the crowning of the 2011 AMA Supercross Champion!!