Houston’s Reliant Stadium played host to round 13 of the 2012 AMA Supercross Series on Saturday night, and it was the lucky 13 that proved to be the magic number for Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen, as the talented young German scored his first win of the series.
In what was shaping up to be a relatively uneventful evening early on, last-lap chaos in the Lites main event led to an incredible ending for Roczen, as he stole the lead with just three turns to go and collected the much-needed, confidence-inspiring win.
In the premier Supercross class, Red Bull’s James Stewart returned to action after sitting out a week to heal some injuries, but unfortunately JS7’s streak of bad luck continued and he was unable to finish the night’s main event after crashing hard just seven laps into the race.
Read on for a full recap from Houston…
Supercross Lites East
With the opening ceremony smoke still lingering inside the home of NFL’s Houston Texans, the racing program got started with Lites Heat #1 as always. After a restart caused by a fallen rider shortly after the first gate drop, Roczen jumped out to a third-place start. While battling with Alex Martin for second during much of the six-lap heat, Roczen unfortunately allowed series points leader Justin Barcia to run away with the win, but eventually shook loose of the pack to finish the heat comfortably in the runner-up spot.
When the gate dropped for the Lites main event, Barcia grabbed the holeshot with Roczen close in tow. After putting up a fight early on, Roczen slowly began slipping off of Barcia’s intense pace, and eventually settled into the second spot a couple of seconds behind. On the final lap, however, Barcia tangled with a lapped rider and Roczen was close enough to capitalize in a huge way, surging into the lead to score his first win of the series.
“This is so awesome,” Roczen commented from the podium. “This is obviously not the ideal way to win a race, but I’ll take it any way I can get it right now. Justin rode awesome tonight but I’m just glad that I was able to put myself into contention for the win. This is a huge monkey off my back, so I’m very happy!”
Supercross Lites East Results
1. Ken Roczen
2. Justin Barcia
3. Blake Baggett
4. Blake Wharton
5. Phillip Nicoletti
6. Alex Martin
7. Jake Canada
8. Justin Bogle
9. Kyle Cunningham
10. Matt Lemoine
Among the biggest news in the Supercross class heading into Houston was no doubt the return of Red Bull-backed JGRMX’s James Stewart. After sitting out of last weekend’s race in Toronto thanks to the lingering effects of his heat race crash in Indianapolis two weeks ago, Stewart and team decided to give it a go in Houston despite a severe lack of seat time prior to the event.
“I’ve only been on the bike once since Indy, so I just plan on taking it one lap at a time today,” Stewart said before practice. “I’m not gonna lie -- I’m pretty sore. But I really wanted to come out here for the team and my fans to give it all I’ve got.”
Rolling to the line for Supercross Heat #2 after a Ryan Villopoto win in the first qualifier, JS7 wasted little time getting back into the racing groove, grabbing the holeshot and early lead. After an intense back-and-forth battle with Kevin Windham during the first few laps, Stewart began opening up a gap and eventually took the checkers with a satisfying heat win.
When the gate dropped for the main event, Stewart got a decent jump but unfortunately got pinched off and shoved back to just outside the top-10 through turn one. After making a few passes early on, disaster struck on lap seven when James went down hard at the end of a tricky rhythm section. Unable to remount and finish the race, he exited the stadium in utter disbelief. Physically banged up and mentally frustrated, Stewart looks forward to a much-needed week off and hopes to come back stronger and faster in New Orleans two weeks from now.
With Stewart and a handful of other championship contenders like Ryan Dungey and Chad Reed missing races due to injuries, Villopoto was able to wrap up the 2012 title in Houston with four rounds still to go in the series.
1. Ryan Villopoto
2. Davi Millsaps
3. Jake Weimer
4. Mike Alessi
5. Justin Brayton
6. Robert Kiniry
7. Broc Tickle
8. Nico Izzi
9. Weston Peick
10. Josh Grant
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