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.
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.