by Charles Owens on 02/23/2014
By Paul Savage @PaulSavageNZ – TSM Editor
As the AMA Supercross series continued its yearly journey along the southern end of the country, Saturday night came around with a whole bunch of expectations – that James Stewart was going to make it three in a row and that Martin Davalos would nab his first career win.
The ESPN real-time predictor had Stewart sitting on around a 60% chance to equal Ricky Carmichael’s three in a row record that night; Ricky himself also said “I think he [Stewart] can do it,” as he watched the live stats.
The former great’s prediction was justified – Stewart won the race a year earlier and he’d just taken out two wins in a row. Unfortunately for Yoshimura Suzuki and Team Stewart, it all came undone before the end of lap two.
Following a holeshot dash, lead by Mike Alessi, Stewart attempted a sharp braking move that went horribly wrong, sending the three-time champion flying straight over the handlebars. Appearing a little stunned yet unhurt, Stewart mounted his bike and tore off after the pack.
In typical Georgian style, the track was one that didn’t offer a lot of comfort in the traction department. The surface was dusty, loose and formed ruts deep enough to go fishing in.
Passing moves and risky plays were kept to a minimum; it appeared the mindset of most of the riders, in both the 250 and 450 classes was ‘don’t do anything silly, just stay on’.
Stewart found out the hard way, and Ryan Villopoto almost did barely 10 laps later. The surface wasn’t unpredictable, but it was as slippery as a sack of eels.
Lacking the go-forward and assertion of late, Villopoto hung near the front of the race until a momentary lapse of concentration saw him make contact with the tuff block before almost losing his back end in a corner.
This was more than enough to tempt KTM’s Ken Roczen who pinned the throttle and, quite literally, flew over the top of Villopoto to get out in front. Roczen stayed there for the remainder of the race.
As for Stewart, he clawed his way back to 11th to finish up.
Breathless yet happy with his second 450 career win, Roczen acknowledged post-race that it was certainly a difficult track to get around.
“There was a lot of throttle control, you’ve got to be focused 100 per cent of the time,” he said.
After an ‘all green’ podium last week in Texas, the celebrations surely continued in the Kawasaki camp after their very own Martin Davalos snatched first place in the 250 class.
Going from third place last week to first last night, Davalos bumped himself up the points table to sit just two behind fellow Kawasaki competitor Adam Cianciarulo.
Next week the series heads to the mid west’s Lucas Oil Stadium in Indiana.