Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto concluded the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship season with a bang, not a whimper. After clinching his fourth-consecutive, premier-class title the weekend prior, Villopoto came roaring back to pick up his seventh win of the season at the final round of the series at the University of Las Vegas’ Sam Boyd Stadium on Saturday night.
In front of a sold-out crowd, the newly crowned champion made it clear that he would settle for nothing less than the win. Villopoto got a spectacular start and was running side-by-side with his Monster Energy Kawasaki teammate Jake Weimer, who got the holeshot. But when the mud and roost cleared, it was Villopoto in the lead.
“I think just the whole Monster Energy Kawasaki team,” said Villopoto, when asked what was working best for him. “I’ve been working hard but something clicked; I don’t know if it was me or the bike but it was something – something minor – and I was able to reel off these wins… I have to thank everyone at (Kawasaki’s) Irvine headquarters. It’s been a long season and I can’t do it without a family like you guys.”
In true championship-winning fashion, Villopoto took charge once he assumed the lead and immediately began creating a gap. The four-time Supercross champion turned flawless laps, even on the most challenging sections of the rutted track. By the end of the 20-lap race, the Kawasaki rider was 13.9 seconds in front of second-place Ryan Dungey.
No slouch, Red Bull KTM’s Dungey also got a good start and had taken over the runner-up position by the second lap. Although he gave it his all, Dungey was never able to reel in Villopoto and wound up second for the night and second in the overall championship points.
“I’m just proud of the team,” said Dungey. “The guys did an awesome job, they worked really hard. There were some weekends that were really tough for us and I feel like we pulled through and did a good job of regaining our momentum. The last few years, we’ve been sitting third so this is the next little bump up… Hopefully we can be up there and be dominant one day. That’s my goal, that’s where I want to be.”
Rounding out the Las Vegas Supercross podium was Dungey’s Red Bull KTM teammate, rookie Ken Roczen. Roczen got off the gate with Dungey and made quick work of the competition, taking over third position on the second lap. From there, he never looked back and brought home a spot on the box. Roczen finished third overall for the season.
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“It’s definitely a long season,” said Roczen. “And I’m grateful to have such a good team behind me. I just wanted to get through this race safe. The track is gnarly out there, really rock-hard and rutty. It was definitely a long moto… I dedicate this race to my family who came over from Germany.”