Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer used his momentum from the offseason and carried it into the main event where he finished fifth. Reigning two-time champion Ryan Villopoto posted many of the fastest times throughout the day, but in the main event recovered to 16th after an early crash. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Tyla Rattray bounced back from a season ending crash last year to take eighth place in the 250SX main event on his KX250F . Teammates Blake Baggett and Martin Davalos finished 14th and 20th, respectively, after getting caught up in a first lap crash.
Weimer finished off 2012 with a season-best finish in AMA Pro Motocross with third overall and was crowned King of Bercy Supercross. To kick off 2013, he knew he wanted to be up front and demonstrated on Saturday night that he is not far from battling for a 450SX main event win on his KX450F .
Weimer took his time getting back into the racing mode in practice, but wasted no time once the gate dropped. He finished fourth in his heat race, which gave him a good gate pick for the main event. After a top-10 start, Weimer was patient and waited for the mistakes of those in front of him and was up to sixth at the halfway point. He continued to close the gap on the leaders and took over the fifth place spot with two laps to go.
“Today started off feeling sort of rocky,” said Weimer. “My practice times were a little off, but once the racing came around I started to ride better. At the first race you want to come out and just kill it, but I was riding a little tight and anxious. As I put more laps in I smoothed out and got much more comfortable. A top-five finish is a great starting point considering we have 16 more rounds to go.”
After a devastating injury last year which ended Rattray’s supercross season, he was not looking to rush anything at Round 1. Rattray quietly finished fifth in his heat race. In the main event, he rounded the first corner in 10th after nearly being collected in a pile up. He methodically climbed up to sixth place, but with two laps remaining a small mistake dropped him to eighth, where he finished. Rattray was a podium contender before his injury last year and is sure to return to the box now that the first-round jitters are out of the way.“I just wanted to come to Anaheim with an open mind and do the best I could,”
said Rattray. “My crash from last year obviously scared me, so I didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks. I was a little tight to start the day, but our KX™250F is so good. I almost ran into the back of a rider on the first lap, which set me back, but I was able to move forward and finish off with a top-10. I’m happy with that and know that Phoenix will be much better next week.”
Baggett was looking for redemption after being knocked out of competition at the Monster Energy Cup last year due to injury. He posted the fourth fastest qualifying time and finished fifth in his heat race, setting himself up nicely for the main event. Baggett nearly got the holeshot in the 250SX main event on his KX250F, but the tides quickly turned. As they entered the first rhythm lane, another rider crashed and his flipping bike clipped Baggett’s arm, nearly sending him to the ground.
With no feeling in his right arm, he pushed through to attempt to finish the 15-lap main event. Despite the pain Baggett was suffering, once the leader lapped him, he began to run at the same pace and was not passed by any other rider. He would eventually finish 14th and salvage some valuable championship points.“Tonight was definitely not what I wanted,”
said Baggett. “The team and I have been working really hard, so it’s disappointing to end the night like that. It was everything I had to make it through the main event, the pain was excruciating. Hopefully the season will come down to the last round and every point will count.”
Villopoto came into the 2013 season as the defending champion and the clear favourite to win the opening round. He was second fastest in qualifying practice only off by one tenth of a second. In his heat race, Villopoto did not get the best of starts, but caught the leaders by the last lap to cross the finish line on the rear wheel of the winner.
Confident, he lined up for the 450SX main event, but was pushed outside of the top-10 around the first turn. He progressively picked off riders until he clipped a tuffblock and went down while trying to take eighth place. Despite the scary get-off and a severely damaged bike, Villopoto was able to finish 16th and score five championship points.“The main event did not go well at all,”
said Villopoto. “I did not get the start I needed, which forced me to find alternate lines in order to pass guys. The track was not easy to pass on, so you had to take some risks. After the crash I knew I just had to get as many points as I could and survive. There are still 16 more rounds, so I’m now focused on Phoenix and finishing where I should be.”
See more news plus add your own comments, on the Kawasaki News UK
Follow Kawasaki on Twitter @Kawasaki-news