So far, this season has had an abundance of game changing moments that have altered the night’s results, as well as the championship outlook. Situations like a few James Stewart crashes, Justin Brayton missing the main in L.A., Cole Seely, Marvin Musquin, Tyla Rattray and Dean Wilson crashing and coughing up loads of Lites championship points to Eli Tomac, all come to mind. But in Oakland, one of the biggest incidents of the night was the moment that never happened.
When Ryan Villopoto dominated at A1, his competitors and their fans could all be heard sucking in a sharp, collective breath of concern. And for good reason, too; Villopoto had just laid waste to what is largely considered to be the deepest, most talented field in the history of the sport, and although the champ was unable to secure more wins in Phoenix and L.A., his hard-charging, come-from-behind-rides and blistering lap times were more than enough to show that his tremendous performance at the opener was no fluke.
Reed was able to outlast Villopoto en route to a second place finish.
Photo: Andrew Fredrickson
Fast forward to RV’s heat race in Oakland. James Stewart won the race, but it was Villopoto who stole the show when he finished mere inches behind Stewart after coming through the pack. Several laps into the main event, Villopoto once again found himself on Stewart’s tail, and the crowd leaned forward and waited in frenzied anticipation of the pass that was sure to come. And they kept waiting. Then, they waited some more. The moment that seemed inevitable never happened. In fact, Stewart motored away from Villopoto, an act that would be repeated later in the race by Chad Reed. Remember, just two weeks ago, Villopoto came all the way back from a first-lap crash to catch and pass Reed in Phoenix.
Things just got even more interesting in this series. After Villopoto blasted into the season and asserted himself with potential dominance, Reed and Stewart have responded back with wins of their own. There were no crashes, no bad starts, and no mechanical issues in Oakland. In fact, the race for the lead was about as straight up as it gets. Stay tuned, the road to the championship just picked up a few more twists and turns--and remember that as quickly as Reed and Stewart turned the tables back on Villopoto, Villopoto could turn them right back.