Chad Reed and Ryan Dungey both started their 2009 Monster Energy Supercross Championship hunts for the Rockstar Makita Suzuki team with rostrum positions at Saturday night's opening round in Anaheim in California.
In the Supercross class, reigning champion Reed grabbed the lead early on his RM-Z450 from former champion James Stewart (Yamaha) then at the half-way stage of the race, Stewart missed a gear and Reed ran up the back of him, with both riders going down. Reed then mounted a heroic charge back through the pack to take third position but Stewart, unable to restart his machine, was T-boned by Kevin Windham and was forced to retire.
Rockstar Makita Suzuki team mate Mike Alessi got caught up in an early-race pile-up, but managed to get back into the fray and finished in 11th position.
Michael Byrne did not race, due to an injury sustained in the off-season. He hopes to be back racing as soon as possible.
In the Supercross Lites class, Dungey also started the 2009 season with a podium finish. Although he suffered a get-off in his heat race, he came back and won the evening's LCQ. Following that, he charged hard on his RM-Z250 in the main event to bring home an impressive third-place finish.
"This was a good day and we learned a lot. In the first practice session, I was third and we made some changes and I got more comfortable with the track conditions. In the main event, I tried to put myself in a good position. I went to second place right away, and I felt like I had some better lines than the leader. When he made a mistake, I got by him and tried to put my head down but he got back by me. Then, I was getting ready to pass him back when I think he missed a gear and we both went flying. We bent the bike up pretty good and I lost the front brake so I'm pretty excited to be on the podium. It's a shame that we crashed because I think we would have had a good battle.I felt like I had a win in me, for sure."
"The race was actually pretty good, especially since I haven't been riding for a couple of months because of my leg injury. The Rockstar Makita Suzuki RM-Z450 was running good - there was a lot of power and the suspension was spot-on. The whole team was working great and everybody was helping me out. In the main, I didn't get a good start - I was about 10th and then, in the second turn, there was a pile-up and I got caught up in it. I had to turn around and get back on the track and I started dead last. But I went from last to 11th, and I just tried to run my own race and ride consistent laps and run the pace I felt comfortable with. It's good to get the first race out of the way."
"We had a few ups and downs at Anaheim but it was also a chance for our whole team to come together. I worked my butt off on the track, but they worked their butts off before that, changing motors and getting everything ready for the main. The Rockstar Makita Suzuki RM-Z250 ran strong in the main event and that's what counts - the team stepped it up when they had to. I was just thankful to finish up on the podium and end up where we did."
Supercross results: 1. Josh Grant (Yamaha), 2. Andrew Short (Honda), 3. Chad Reed (Rockstar Makita Suzuki), 4. Tim Ferry (Kawasaki), 5. Ryan Villopoto (Kawasaki), 6. Ivan Tedesco (Honda), 7. Heath Voss (Honda), 8. Ben Coisy (Honda), 9. Nick Wey (Yamaha), 10. Paul Carpenter (Kawasaki), 11. Mike Alessi (Rockstar Makita Suzuki).
Lites Results: 1 Jake Weimer (Kawasaki), 2. Ryan Morais (Kawasaki), 3. Ryan Dungey (Rockstar Makita Suzuki), 4. Chris Blose (Honda), 5. Jason Lawrence (Yamaha), 6. Ryan Sipes (KTM), 7. Justin Brayton (KTM), 8. Jeff Alessi (Honda), 9. Ben Evans (Honda), 10. Chris Gosselaar (Kawasaki).