After a brutal run of injuries knocked one contender after another out of Monster Energy AMA Supercross in 2012, the racing world hoped for a turnaround in 2013. For the most part, they got one—and that led to an exciting season and more than a few wild moments.
The first shocker happened right away when Rockstar Energy Racing’s Davi Millsaps exploded out of the gate at Anaheim to win the first race of the season. One week later, rookie Justin Barcia of Honda Muscle Milk led every lap of the 450SX main in Phoenix. Two races down and the defending champs had yet to visit the winner’s circle!
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto, the defending champion who’d placed sixteenth at the opener, put a stop to that trend by winning rounds three and four, but the wildness picked back up at A3 when Dungey’s trick new air shock lost pressure just as the gate dropped, leaving him without any rear suspension. Dungey’s troubles would continue when he crashed in the LCQ and was forced to make a mad dash to even qualify—but he then somehow managed to rebound in the main to take the win. Millsaps won yet again the next week, backing up his A1 victory and establishing him as a true (albeit unexpected) title contender.
Villopoto had other ideas, however, and after San Diego he went on a rampage, winning eight of the remaining eleven rounds and taking second in the ones he didn’t win. It was a true display of dominance, and although Millsaps managed to hold the points lead deep into the season, it was Villopoto who emerged as the clear champion for the third consecutive year.
While the 450SX class lacked in parity, the regional divisions more than made up the difference. In the West, Eli Tomac appeared well on his way to winning his second title after dominating the first three rounds. But then he crashed out in the whoops in Oakland, handing a big lead over to Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen—who then failed to qualify for the main at the penultimate round in Salt Lake City. If ever there was chance for Tomac to get back in the driver’s seat, this was it, but he could only battle to sixth overall.
In order to claim the title, Tomac had to win the Las Vegas finale and Roczen had to finish third or lower. It nearly happened—Tomac checked out for a convincing win in the main while Roczen found himself in third with the race winding down. Roczen dug deep, though, and was able to pass Martin Davalos to take over second with less than two laps remaining. It was a thrilling finish, and when the nationals got underway a few weeks later, Roczen and Tomac would pick up their heated duel right where they left off.
The Eastern Regional 250SX series was just as wild. Early title favorite Dean Wilson won the opener but couldn’t repeat the feat; he crashed in his heat in Indy and sustained broken ribs and a collapsed lung, knocking him out for the rest of the season. GEICO Honda’s Wil Hahn had won a pair of races, but Marvin Musquin was gaining serious momentum and held four wins coming into Vegas. Just like in the West, Musquin needed to win and have Hahn finish third or worse.
Disaster struck when Hahn broke his hand in practice, but he suited up for the night show anyway. Adding to the chaos was the presence of Arenacross champ Tyler Bowers, filling in at the injury-riddled Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki team. Depending on how the cards fell, Bowers was one of the few riders who had real potential to finish between Musquin and Hahn. Fortunately for Hahn, Bowers ended up winning that night, although it was close. Musquin was closing fast at the end and nearly caught Bowers in the final turn in a thrilling end to a fantastic season. Afterward, an ecstatic Hahn gave Bowers a hug in the middle of the track when he realized Tyler had held off Musquin to preserve Hahn’s championship.
With supercross in the books, it was time to move the party outdoors—the premier division wasn’t much of a party for anyone not named Villopoto. Despite honest challenges from Dungey, Barcia, Canard, and James Stewart, Villopoto absolutely romped to his second 450 National Championship. When the season ended, he’d won an impressive eighteen of twenty-four motos against the best riders in the sport.
In the 250 Class, the SX war that raged between Tomac and Roczen stayed hot for the summer. Roczen kicked things off with a double-moto sweep at Hangtown, but Tomac retaliated by winning the overall at round two. The duo would go back and forth until the halfway point of the season, when Tomac really started hammering down and distancing himself from Roczen, both on the track and in the points. At season’s end he’d won ten of the second half’s twelve motos and was the AMA’s newest 250 National Champion.
If you’re wondering what happened to the hard-charging efforts of Blake Baggett that earned him the 250 National Championship in 2012, you’d have to look all the way back to the supercross season opener, where Baggett broke his hand and wrist in a first-turn pileup. It healed enough for him to race the nationals, but he never really found the form that propelled him to that championship.
Villopoto and Tomac dominated the season with hard work and preparation. And with the departure of Tomac and Roczen to the 450 ranks, the 250 Class seemed wide open for 2014—although the next generation was beginning to take shape with standout rides from racers like Jeremy Martin, Cooper Webb, and Adam Cianciarulo. When the gate dropped in 2014, each of these riders would make waves, both in indoors and out.