Ryan Villopoto is laughing all the way to ... Bora Bora. Villopoto, who was recently married and postponed his honeymoon to be at the Monster Energy Cup supercross race at Las Vegas' Sam Boyd Stadium, led every single lap of all three main events to win $1 million, the largest cash prize ever offered for racing a dirt bike.
The one-off race was held with a unique format of three 10-lap main events on a hybrid track that featured supercross and motocross obstacles. The $1M prize was only available to any rider who could win all three main events. At only 10 laps each, many believed a sweep was nearly impossible since the majority of professional supercross racers are fast enough for 10 laps. They're not as fast as Ryan Villopoto, who ends 2011 with the AMA Supercross and Motocross titles, as a Motocross of Nations winning team member and now has his name engraved on the 217-pound Monster Energy Cup trophy. With a 1:30 average, lap times for the race were nearly twice as long as a normal supercross, making the three 10-lap main events seem like 60 laps of a traditional race. The strongest rider was going to win. Riders called the track, "Fun but tough," and Villopoto had the same message after the first two main event wins; "I just want to leave here tonight healthy," he said.
The closest Villopoto came to being challenged was in the third and final main event when Mike Alessi pulled the holeshot and led half of the first lap. Villopoto was shut out of his first pass attempt but used an aggressive inside move to take the lead on lap one. Just like in the previous two finals, he had a nearly 10-second lead at the halfway point. "I'm supposed to be on my honeymoon right now but I guess this is a good present for that. It's a cool one-off race and I'm a million dollars richer now," said Villopoto from the podium after the race. "It's been hell of a year for all of us. It will be hard to have another one of these."
Ryan Dungey, who didn't commit to the event until two days ago, had less than two weeks of testing on his new KTM. He was off Villopoto's pace but finished a solid second overall with 3-2-2 scores. Dungey's former teammate at Suzuki, Brett Metcalfe, took third overall with 4-3-3. Martin Davalos was a quiet but impressive fourth overall with 7-7-5.
Other riders who were present at the Monster Energy Cup and trying out new equipment included Mike Alessi, (10th) on his privateer Suzuki; Ben Townley (15th) on a Monster Pro Circuit Kawasaki; Nick Wey (7th) on a private Kawasaki.
In the $40,000 Best Trick competition, Australia's Mark Monea landed the Carry On, a front flit 360, which bested Jackson Strong's front flip. "I've landed it six or seven times before tonight but never in a competition," Monea said. "There is a big difference in landing it in practice and landing it when the pressure of a competition is on."
Kyle Loza failed on his attempt at the bike flip but walked away unhurt.
According to Feld Motor Sports, the 2012 Monster Energy Cup will be held on October 20, again at Sam Boyd Stadium.