By Scott McAlpine
Photography Jett White
Supercross Moto: Every sport takes one ball, Supercross takes two!!
This past Saturday evening, in front of 48,000 fans, Toronto’s Rogers Centre hosted the only international stop on the AMA Supercross 17-round tour.
The night started with a literal bang, featuring an explosion of fireworks, a light and lazer show, and, of course, rider introductions as the top AMA Supercross riders of 2013 blasted onto the dirt and waved to fans. Last, but definitely not least, was an outro for recently retired Kevin Windham, who still manages to thrill the crowd with an amazing show of transfer jumps.
After the opening ceremonies, the first heats erupted with bikes bellowing from the starting line. Riders were heated up and ready to race this year’s fast but extremely technical track. First up were two qualifying heat races for each class, plus the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). Blake Wharton won the first heat for the 250cc class, after analysing the track the night before, during a chat with Lithium Mag: “The track looks good; less rocks in the dirt than last year. The moisture looks good too; more moist than last year. The layout looks good; a big triple and a big set of whoops. I like ruts, but sometimes they can bite ya, you know. I like what you win on.”
Heat Two went to Marvin Musquin of France. Coming in a close second was Justin Hill, who is making a big splash this year as a rookie. During his brief convo with Lithium, he commented on the Roger’s Centre track, remarking: “The hardest section of the track, I think, is the back rhythm section after the whoops.” When asked who is favourite rider is, and what type of music he listens to pre-race in order to get hyped, he replied, “Ricky Carmichael and Bob Hannah, he’s the man!” “I’m an old rock guy. I like good ‘ole Sabbath, some Metallica here and there, and get into hard rock. My father used to ride ramps to Black Sabbath’s “Into the Void”. Some good musical taste happening there!
For the 450cc first heat, James Stewart came out on top, Ryan Dungey placed second, and Justin Brayton was a strong third. Heat Two for the 450cc’s saw reining champion Ryan Villopoto place first, with Justin Barcia in second and David Millsaps third.
Jake Weimer, who placed a respectable fourth place, also weighed in with Lithium regarding his thoughts on the track, his pre-race routine, and being in Canada. “I prefer tracks that are more consistent. This track deteriorates quickly and gets chewed up and makes it tough to use the same line lap after lap”. I like to listen to rap to get pumped up for the race. I hang out, nothing crazy. I like coming to Canada. One of my very first pro races was here; I was 17 or 18 years old. We’d come here in December and do some warm-up races, so I like coming back and I’m excited to be here.”
When the heat races ended, the excitement level of the crowd amped up for the main events of the night. Despite crashing during practice earlier in the day, Marvin Musquin secured a win in the 15-lap 250cc main event race, with William Hahn fighting for second and Blake Wharton finishing third. For Musquin, known for his “Heel Clicker” finishes, this was his third consecutive win in the Eastern Regional Championship.
In our opinion, the 450 main event was the best of the year thus far. Villopoto seized the Nuclear Cowboyz Holeshot, chased closely by Honda’s Chad Reed and David Millsaps. With the crowd screaming and reacting to a mind-blowing five-way battle, both Reed and Millsaps passed Villopoto on the first lap, with Ryan Dungey and James Stewart only inches behind. It took several laps but Villopoto eventually fought his way back to the front of the pack where he continued to hold a comfortable lead for the duration of the race, despite a few passing attempts by Millsaps and Dungey. Not too far behind, Stewart and Reed fought hard for fourth. But at the end of the day it was Villopoto who defended his championship and once again captured the win.
The evening prior was dedicated to fan appreciation with a meet and greet/autograph signing event. Fans were able to interact with their favourite riders, get memorabilia signed, and also walk the track, constructed from approximately 10,000 tons of dirt. Freestyle riding displays were also on hand to electrify the crowd.
Monster Energy Supercross will take a short break for the upcoming Easter holiday weekend but will kick back into gear in Houston, Texas, at Reliant Stadium, on Saturday, April 6.
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