Author: Brent Stallo
There are but two rounds to go in the 2011 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship series and, lucky for us, there is still plenty to look forward to. While the championship hype in the Lites and Women's classes seems to be dying down a bit, the 450 class is still as tight as pair of Diesel jeans.
In the Women's class Ashley Fiolek went into Southwick with a mere eight-point lead. Hardly something to rest her helmet on. Fiolek and Patterson have traded wins on numerous occasions this season and it looked as if Southwick would be no different. Then bad luck struck Patterson, as a crash would result in zero points scored in the opening moto while Fiolek went on to grab the moto win. Patterson would bounce back with a win in the second moto but the damage had already been done. A lead that was once only eight quickly turned into 30. While not out of the question, Fiolek will need to slip up if Patterson wants any shot at getting back in the hunt. Four motos remain and unless disaster strikes the Honda camp, Fiolek may be regaining her title crown at Pala.
In the Lites class Dean Wilson had a bit more breathing room, but was still under the gun in Southwick. He had a 25-point lead on teammate, Blake Baggett, but had only won one overall. And while he wouldn't win an overall at Southwick either, he did manage to extend his points lead to 38 thanks to a sub par performance from Blake Baggett. Wilson is now in the drivers seat heading into the final four motos and if he can manage to keep doing what he's been doing all year, he'll leave Pala with his first outdoor title.
If things seem to be cooling down in the two classes mentioned above, they are just starting to heat up in the 450 class. Chad Reed lost all hope at Southwick after back-to-back DNF motos. He's now nearly 70 points out of the lead and will undoubtedly be toning it down at Steel City. While Reed will be backing off the throttle a bit, the Ryans (Villopoto and Dungey) will be going for broke. Every moto counts from this point on and with only an eight point gap separating the two Steel City is definitely going to be one for the ages.
With so much riding on the points leaders shoulders heading into Steel City we decided to steal a page out of Jeff Emig's playbook and give our own keys to success.
Ryan Villopoto's Keys to Success:
- Remember who's in the drivers seat. If you have to give up a moto win to Dungey do so. Just don't give up all four.
- Starts... starts... starts. If RV can continue to get off the gate he should be a shoe in for the title. A lot less bad and a lot more good tends to happen when you don't have to fight your way through the pack.
- Just win one more! If RV can take at least one more moto win, he can give the rest to RD (as long as he gets second) and still win the title.
- Get a clear mind! As difficult as it may seem, RV needs to push the thought of a title out of his head. If he starts riding defensively, he'll be much more likely to make mistakes and allow Dungey the momentum he needs to catch up.
- NO big mistakes! A third won't lose RV the title, but a 10th could. Don't give RD any reason to gain confidence. RV needs to focus on keeping the course and riding like he has been all season.
Ryan Dungey's Keys to Success:
- Be aggressive! Dungey doesn't have anything to lose at the moment. He needs to hang it out and get aggressive if he wants this title. Something he's struggled with at times this season.
- Momentum. RD needs to establish himself as the pack leader early at Steel City. RV may find himself riding defensively and if he does, Dungey needs to strike like a cobra and build some momentum.
- Keep your head on straight! History has proven that no title is decided until the last checkered flag. While he needs to hang it out, it will be important for him not to make any costly mistakes. He has to be perfect for the last four motos.
- Get in RV's head!! RD needs to make Villopoto doubt himself, if that's even possible. He needs to set every fast lap in practice and then do the same in ever moto. It won't be easy, but since when has winning a title ever been easy?
- Pray! If Dungey wants to win the title chances are he will need a mistake out of RV in order to do so. RV hasn't made many of them this season, so RD needs to pray that he does.
It's going to be a knock down, drag out fight for the 450 title and, as always, we'll be there every step of the way. Log on Monday to find out everything that happened behind the scenes at Steel City.