SALT LAKE CITY (Saturday, April, 27, 2013)
The picturesque snow-capped mountains of Utah served as the background for Round 16 of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City but Chamber of Commerce 70-degree temperatures greeted race teams and fans, the best weather for an SX race this season.
The racing circuit inside the outdoor college football stadium which serves as the home of the Utah Utes proved to be a major challenge for crew chiefs and riders. The extra-short straightaway between the starting gate and tight Turn 1 along with a racing surface filled with marbles and stones were factors in the Heat Races and Main Event.
Josh Hill (No. 75 Dodge/Sycuan Casino/RCH Racing/Bel-Ray/Suzuki Z450) led the Dodge/RCH Racing team with a season-best finish of seventh in the Main Event. He raced inside the top 10 throughout the 20-lap feature.
RCH Racing teammate Broc Tickle (No. 20 Dodge/Sycuan Casino/RCH Racing/Bel-Ray/Suzuki Z450) earned his 16th consecutive Main Event start of the season and finished 11th.
Hill was seventh fastest in the afternoon timed practice and Tickle eighth. Both RCH riders used aggressive starts in their respective Heat Races to easily transfer to the Main. Hill finished third in Heat 2 while Tickle was fourth in Heat 1.
In the Main Event, Hill was running ninth after the first lap. He moved into seventh on Lap 8 and maintained the position the rest of the race.
“I got a decent start in the Main and made a few quick passes to gain some spots,” Hill said. “I got up into the top 10 early and that helped. The race start was so hard if you were starting outside of the first few gates because it was such a short straightaway and tight left-hand turn. Guys would just bang into each other. Riders with the first eight gate picks chose the inside. It was a battle.”
Tickle looked to be on his way to his ninth top-10 Main Event finish until a mishap on Lap 10 in the tough whoops section dropped the RCH rider seven spots to 17th. The Michigan native raced the next nine laps incident free and battled his way back to 11th.
“It was a solid start in the Main until I went down,” Tickle said. “I was riding ninth and about to pass Andrew Short but skipped over a couple of the whoops and crashed pretty good. So I got up, got in behind (Trey) Canard and just started picking guys off that I had lost positions to earlier.”
Ryan Villopoto earned the Nuclear Cowboyz holeshot and never looked back en route to his ninth 450SX Class win of the season, securing his third-consecutive 450SX Class championship. He held off Davi Millsaps who raced second for the final 18 circuits. The margin of victory was 1.528 seconds. Ryan Dungey was third.
Villopoto is the fifth rider in Monster Energy AMA Supercross history to win three championships, joining RCH Racing team owner Ricky Carmichael, Bob Hannah, Jeff Stanton, and Jeremy McGrath.
The 2013 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series season concludes next weekend in Las Vegas at Sam Boyd Stadium.