Villopoto came close that year but ultimately came up short. He is on a mission again this year, as an Atlanta crash has put the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider into a hole in the points standings, and he’ll need wins on his part and a mistake from the leader to get the title. He’s at least doing his part, scoring his fifth win of the season with a victory in Toronto, Canada’s Rogers Centre. The rider he is chasing in the series, Ryan Dungey, doesn’t look willing to give Villopoto that mistake, though, as he rode solid again to take second for the second week in a row. And Honda Red Bull Racing’s Trey Canard was third, making for three-straight podiums for the West Region Lites contender.
It actually looked like it would be Dungey’s night in Toronto, as the Rockstar Makita Suzuki rider was fastest in qualifying and then logged the fastest lap time of the heat races. The Toronto track didn’t go through all of its normal changes, either, as the soil came in much drier than it usually does here, and the track didn’t break down and rut up that badly before the main.
So Dungey looked to be the man to beat in the main, but the killer starts that have been his trademark this year didn’t materialize. Instead, Canard nailed it to collect $1500 from Spike, with Villopoto and Dungey right behind him. Canard rode strong and he even led the first lap, before Villopoto knifed to the inside in the first turn to take the lead.
Now it was up to Dungey to make the move on Canard and go after Villopoto. But he couldn’t make that pass, and in fact made a few mistakes to allow Canard to open up a slight bit of breathing room. Meanwhile, Villopoto put down fast laps up front, riding at an even higher level than he did in practice and building a lead. Dungey eventually got around Canard, but he was unable to close the gap on Villopoto. After 20 long laps, RV2 had his fifth win of the season and made up three more points on Dungey. He sits 17 points back.
Villopoto explained that he’s better at racing than practice, and he was able to raise his game when it counted. He also didn’t change his bike much even though the track did go through some changes throughout the night. Meanwhile Dungey is far from counting points in second, he wanted the win but just didn’t put himself in position to get it. Don’t expect the Rockstar Makita Suzuki rider to be cruising for points, he’ll be racing Villopoto to try to get tonight’s share back next week in Dallas.
Canard even hinted at a bit of dissapointment that he didn’t hang with Villopoto and Dungey a little more closely, but no doubt the part-time 450 rider is exceeding all expectations with his third podium. His teammate Davi Millsaps chased him most of the way from fourth, but then crashed late in the race and was unable to get back on the bike. Millsaps did eventually walk off under his own power.
Ivan Tedesco looked like he was going to end up fifth, but took fourth when Millsaps crashed. Kevin Windham ended the first lap in 11th and climbed up to fifth.
Josh Hill was fast in practice, but once again could only log a few hard laps before injuries took their toll and dropped him off the pace. The San Manuel Yamaha rider ended up sixth. Nick Wey, in his return to the privateer Ti Lube/Foremost Insurance Brown Motorsports Team, matched his season-best finish with seventh.
Tommy Hahn took eighth on a Rockstar Suzuki, Justin Brayton was ninth on a Muscle Milk Toyota Yamaha and Matt Boni rounded out the top ten on his Rockstar Hart and Huntington Honda.
The East Region Lites class may end up being wide open after all, as Justin Barcia romped to the win many had been predicting from him all along, with Austin Stroupe and Christophe Pourcel second and third. Barcia’s win was, of course, not without some excitement. The GEICO Powersports Honda rider grabbed the holeshot and dealt with pressure from Stroupe early. Then he tagged a tuff block in a sandy turn and dragged the cover around for a lap before it came loose. Then Barcia really started putting his laps together, pulling away from Stroupe and closing in on a victory. It couldn’t be that easy, though. With two laps left Barcia made a mistake while running through traffic, and he bounced off of the track. Stroupe, on a Rockstar Makita Suzuki, caught him to set up a late-race battle for the win, but then a lapped rider held up Stroupe and prevented him from jumping the finish line jump. Barcia pulled back away and rolled to the win.
And what of Pourcel, winner of the first three races? He passed both Barcia and Stroupe in the first two laps of the heat race and looked ready to take off, until he crashed on a table-to-single jump. He nearly crashed again trying to get up, and Barcia and Stroupe got around him. Pourcel was never the same, unable to find his normal speed in the main. Afterwards, he said he just didn’t ride well.
The massive new Cowboys Stadium in Dallas looms next. Can Villopoto keep winning? Dungey would like another shot at stopping him. Meanwhile, the East Lites Series appears up for grabs. Should be a big showdown.