Round seven of the Monster Energy Supercross shifted gears as the Eastern Regional Championship kicked off at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki set the tone for the night by posting the fastest times in qualifying, winning both heat races and sweeping the podium in the Main Event.
In his first supercross start Adam Cianciarulo led the team and captured his first professional win. Blake Baggett finished on Cianciarulo’s rear fender and challenged for the lead for the full 15 laps. Completing the sweep was Martin Davalos who led early and recovered from two crashes to finish third.
Reigning champion Ryan Villopoto fought at the front of the field throughout the 20 lap 450 Main to finish in fourth place and continues to hold the Red Plate.
Cianciarulo made his professional debut this past summer during the AMA Pro Motocross Championship, which wrapped up in August. Since then “AC” has been preparing for his supercross debut.
It has not been since Atlanta in 2008 where a rookie has won his first supercross, but after qualifying second fastest and winning his heat race, Cianciarulo stayed calm and fended off his team-mates to win his first professional supercross.
“It feels like a dream!” said Cianciarulo. “The day went perfectly. I just wanted to ride smart and be competitive. We’ve put so much work into getting here and there was so much anticipation, it’s a dream come true.”
Baggett was training to begin supercross in Anaheim before an ankle injury sidelined him for the winter. Unsure if he’d even be ready for the East coast when the season began in January, he was cleared to ride in the weeks leading up to Dallas and had eight days on his KX250F prior to the race.
Baggett took his time getting the track dialled in and set the fourth fastest lap in qualifying. In the Main Event he got a start right behind his team-mates and pressured for the win throughout the 15 laps and finished second.
“Tonight was bitter-sweet,” said Baggett. “It’s a bummer because the win was right in front of me and initially I was really disappointed, but I’ve never started a season this strong and never left the first round anywhere near the podium. We’re in a great position and I’m looking forward to next week already.”
Davalos is known for his speed and smooth handling of the bike. To no one’s surprise he posted the fastest qualifying time in practice and was untouchable in his heat race. In the Main, he quickly passed his team-mate for first place and looked to be extending his lead before over-jumping a rhythm section and crashing. He fought hard to keep pushing despite the damage to his bike from the fall and joined his team-mates on the podium in third place.
“It was a tough night for me,” said Davalos. “I put myself in the right position and just made a mistake. But the flip side is I was able to recover from two crashes and climb back up to the podium with a pretty bent up bike. I’m happy with the way things are going and know what I need to work on.”
The reigning champion started the day third in qualifying practice and was confident about the night show. Villopoto had been training in California leading up to Dallas and the test track was prepped similar to how the dirt developed at AT&T Stadium – hard, choppy, and slick. In the main event he crossed the green flag in sixth place and began working on the leaders.
Villopoto used throttle control and his flat track skills to make passes in the long, slippery sweeper turn and was able to climb back to finish fourth. He extended his points lead to 12 markers and continues to carry the Red Plate into Atlanta.
“Tonight wasn’t what we wanted,” said Villopoto. “The track was especially difficult to make passes because not only were you battling the guys around you, but you were battling the track as well. Throttle control was key and you had to hit your marks.”
It’s been since Anaheim 1 in 2011 that Monster Energy Kawasaki has swept the podium in supercross. Rounding the first corner for the Main Event, the team sat 1-2-3 and were all in position to win. In the end Cianciarulo edged out Baggett and Davalos, but you can count on the battles to continue as the season rolls on.
“Blake was faster than me in the section before the whoops,” said Cianciarulo. “Martin went down, then Blake got by me and I knew if I didn’t get him right back then the race was over. We’re all so close in speed. It’s going to be a good season.”
Despite crashing in the final moments of the main event in San Diego, TwoTwo Motorsports Chad Reed was determined to keep his championship hopes alive in Dallas. Reed mounted his KX450F and attempted to post a competitive lap time in qualifying practice, but ultimately his injuries proved too severe and kept him from racing. He will receive further evaluation this week and look to return as soon as possible.
Also on the mend is Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer who will sit out for at least four weeks after suffering a broken hand and dislocated shoulder in San Diego.