I think Ryan Villopoto may have cracked Ben Townley in Texas. After getting separated in the first moto by the early crashes of Townley, the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki teammates found one and other shortly into the second lap of the second moto. Townley needed the win badly, especially after losing 10 more points to his title rival in the first outing—the fourth straight moto that RV1 has gained points on him. With three heats to go in the 2007 AMA Toyota Motocross Championship, it was practically now or never. Neutral track, equal bikes, same goal. But Ben couldn’t get the job done. Ryan was just plain faster, and he started inching away as soon as he saw Townley go past Yamaha’s Broc Hepler for second. BT101’s shoulders sagged as he crossed the finish line, knowing that a faster man was already riding towards the podium.
Now the championship is Villopoto’s to lose. He goes into Glen Helen—a track he is very familiar with—with a 19-point lead. There are 60 minutes plus four laps left before he became the first rider since Ricky Carmichael to successfully defend the AMA Motocross Lites (formerly known as the 125 class) title. Unless his bike breaks like teammate Austin Stroupe’s did in the second moto at Texas, he’s virtually assured of this distinction.
So what happens next? Villopoto and Townley will meet again in three weeks, this time as national opponents in the Motocross of Nations. Yet they will share a common goal: Beating Tony Cairoli. Neither rider wants a Grand Prix competitor to come to a national track and show them up. It’s shaping up as the next Ricky Carmichael-Stefan Everts international match-up, only this time there are three different parts of the world involved: America, Europe, and New Zealand. With the AMA championship all but settled and “Super Tony” way ahead of everyone in Europe now, it could turn out to be the motocross showdown of the year.