Author: Brent Stallo
What a difference an off-week can make. When we last left off in Freestone Chad Reed was riding high with three back-to-back moto wins and a fairly comfortable points lead. Now, only two days after Round 3 at High Point, there's a new sheriff looking to take charge. Maybe you've heard of him? He's the current SX champion, Ryan Villopoto. Oh, and then there's the Lites class, where in three short weeks we've already seen three series points leaders and, believe it or not, they are all on the same team. But more on that later.
The purpose of our Monday Race blog isn't necessarily to give you a play by play breakdown of who passed who and where, but rather to pose some higher level questions and draw some conclusions from what we saw over the weekend. And thanks to some over the top racing at High Point, there are plenty of conclusions to draw.
Ryan Villopoto wasn't disappointed sitting in third after the first two rounds. Why? Because he knew he had more in the tank, that's why. RV wanted to dip his toes into the water before diving in head first. He's missed the last two outdoor seasons and rather than blow his gasket in the first two rounds, RV sat and waited patiently to strike. And strike he did. Villo took an extremely convincing win in the first moto at High Point and followed it up with a solid second in moto two for the overall. The question now is, will he turn this into a run?
While it's certainly possible, we have a feeling Dungey and Reed, oh, and Millsaps and Alessi perhaps, aren't going to make it easy on ole' red beard. There's simply too much talent in the 450 class for RV to dominate. However, if RV wasn't in the heads of the competition before High Point, he most certainly is now.
The point's breakdown is as follows: Chad Reed (138), Ryan Villopoto (123), Ryan Dungey (111), Davi Millsaps (104) and Bret Metcalfe (88). Of the top five we believe four have shown winning speed, which is a breath of fresh air to the hard-core fans of moto. So what about the bridesmaids? The faithful souls battling week in and week out to find that top five speed? No worries, we don't play favorites and we had our eyes on them throughout the weekend as well.
Kevin Windham is just outside the top five overall and was solid at High Point. He spent most of the first moto flirting with Alessi's rear tire, but dropped anchor with 10 min. to go and fell back to sixth. He was able to bounce back in moto two with a fifth for sixth overall and now sits a mere 12 pts back from Metty. Jake Weimer also looked solid at High Point. He battled with the main group for the entire first moto before giving up position to Chad Reed and Davi Millsaps. And despite a horrendous start in the second moto that left him outside the top 30, Weimer was able to bounce back to finish 11th for ninth overall. The question now is, can Weimer become a top five threat? We certainly think so.
In hindsight, nearly all the top competitors shined at High Point. Christian Craig ran another solid moto before the rain hit and finished 15th, Tommy Hahn shined in seventh, Nick Wey proved yet again that he's a top 10 threat week in and week out and Andrew Short nearly put in a top 10 performance on his 350, finishing 12th.
So now the question is what's next? We're entering into the fourth round of the season next week at Budds Creek and things are already starting to heat up. Will RV make another statement? Will Reed continue to reel off moto wins and keep the red plate? Can Millsaps actually get a win? And will Dungey get the monkey off his back earlier in the outdoor season than he did in supercross? One thing is for certain, if you're not clued in to what's going on thus far this outdoor season, you're missing out on one of the best seasons in the last decade.
Top 10 Overall:
- Ryan Villopoto
- Ryan Dungey
- Chad Reed
- Mike Alessi
- Davi Millsaps
- Kevin Windham
- Tommy Hahn
- Brett Metcalfe
- Jake Weimer
- Nick Way
When Pennsylvania's, Darryn Durham shot out front in moto one and gapped the field by 10 seconds early there wasn't a dry eye in the house. No, they weren't crying, they were screaming so loud their eye balls were nearly popping out of their heads. Durham has proven fast this year, but to pull a lead on the factory boys was surprising to say the least. Durham was on rails for 12 laps before "it" happened. The "it" we are referring to comes in three's, dons the Monster logo proudly and is relentless in the latter part of the race.
With time running out in the moto, Durham began to make costly mistakes and the three deadliest Pro Circuit riders we've seen in some time began to smell blood. Durham would eventually relinquish his lead to Baggett and then proceed to drop position to Wilson and Rattray, as well. It was a moto hard fought for the local hero, but one that would leave him just shy of the podium.
Instead, it was Blake Baggett who would make the statement. He dominated moto one with a come from behind win and did the same in moto two after leading for the first half of the race, crashing, and then coming back to pass Tyla Rattray with only a few laps to go. Rattray would get the last laugh and take over the points lead from Dean Wilson - who following a second in moto one would only post an eight in moto two. Baggett, however, seems to be the one in charge. He shattered Rattray in the second moto and while he still doesn't have the lead, is gleaming with confidence heading into Budds Creek.
Much like the 450 class, questions are beginning to form in the Lites class. Will the PC train ever be derailed? Can Justin Barcia mount a comeback? Will Eli Tomac return to winning form before the end of the season? Will the rookie class of 2011 step up? And can Durham do it again at Budds Creek...and make it stick?
As we said in the opener, we've seen three point's leaders in three rounds in 2011 and all are on the same team. This is the first time in history that this has happened. The red plate in the Lites class is a slippery one to hold on to this year, but Rattray is hoping he has stuff to make it stick at Budds Creek.
Top 10 Overall:
- Blake Baggett
- Tyla Rattray
- Eli Tomac
- Dean Wilson
- Broc Tickle
- Justin Barcia
- Cole Seely
- Kyle Cunningham
- Darryn Durham
- Alex Martin