450 Words: High Point

450 Words: High Point

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It didn't take Monster Energy Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto long to bounce back from last week's loss in Tennessee. The points leader put together two convincing wins at the GEICO Hight Point National, including a methodical second-moto win where he came from behind to overtake his stubborn rival for the title, defending champion Ryan Dungey, as well as a spirited James Stewart. For a few moments it seemed like we would have a battle royale between the three, but then RV2 took control and started easing away from Dungey—no easy task, as the Red Bull KTM rider looked to be picking up his pace as the day went on. Yet lap after lap, Villopoto seemed to hit all of his lines and every spot he wanted to place his KX450F.

If there was a single place on the track where you could see Villopoto's consistent, almost-perfect bike placement, it was the uphill triple behind the starting gate. In the second moto he was the only man in the 450 Class able to not only clear the leap, but to do it to the far inside, keeping the shortest line possible around the right-handed sweeper that funneled down, then setting himself up perfectly for the left-handed off-camber that followed. It was efficient, and it was fast.

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Villopoto marched to his third overall on the season at High Point.
Simon Cudby photo

Fellow jumpers like Dungey, Rockstar Racing's Ryan Sipes, and TLD Honda's Malcolm Stewart were making the big leap almost every lap, but they were landing to the middle or outside, then heading out toward the banked wall on the left. Villopoto was cutting it so close that he seemed to catch a toe on the yellow Acerbis marker on the inside of the third jump, coming in right over the marker like an NFL player diving for the pylon at the goal line. It wasn't cutting, but it was cutting it close. The marker wobbled every time he touched it, but he never knocked it down, and he landed well out on the track before the big yellow barrier that is the outdoor equivalent of a Tuff Block in supercross. Overall it seemed like it was worth maybe a half a second a lap, and that adds up over the course of sixteen or seventeen laps.

So what's it going to take to beat Villopoto? For Dungey it’s a great start and a charge from beginning to the end. For Stewart it’s riding complete and confident motos like he did last year before his crash in Colorado. But Villopoto is not making it easy on anyone, because he's only made mistakes once, and that was the race he lost at Muddy Creek. His meticulous line selection and his ability to stick his motorcycle exactly where he wants it make him a tough man to beat.

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