And some guys are just like that. If you’ve spent any amount of time even at local motocross races, you’ll begin to notice racers who are just flat out better after a gate drop than they are during practice. And on the other side, there are a lot of other riders who can absolutely ride fast, as long as there isn’t any pressure. As soon as it’s a race, and they find themselves wanting to push an extra two feet going into a turn before they shut off, and get on the gas earlier, they end up going slower, not faster. Their timing gets screwed up, and they get arm-pump from trying to ride outside their comfort zone.
Villopoto wasn’t that impressive in Houston – that is, until the main event. He was eighth-fastest in timed qualifying, almost a second and a half slower than title rival Ryan Dungey, and he went down in the whoops during the first timed session and got up limping on his hurt left foot again. Things frankly weren’t looking too good for Villopoto.
And then in his heat race, he struggled on his way to fifth place, which set him up with the 10th gate pick in the main event – not exactly stellar to get a pick mid-pack like that.
But that didn’t stop him from getting the holeshot when it counted, thus checking out to lead all 20 laps.
And to add insult to injury for Dungey, even though he had the first gate pick in the main event, he started at the tail end of the top five, and as he was trying to work his way forward past Josh Hill, Ivan Tedesco passed him and Hill both to take over third, and as Dungey tried to pass Tedesco later in the race, he stalled his motorcycle.
And finally, as he was coming back through the pack, Dungey ran into the one person he didn’t want to run into – Villopoto’s teammate Chad Reed, who sat fourth at the time. Dungey couldn’t catch Reed, and so he lost nine points to rival Villopoto.
There are four rounds left, and both Villopoto and Dungey control their own destinies now.