Never before has it been more clear how one short moment can decide a race, a week, or a whole season. But when Ryan Villopoto went down in his heat race after tangling with Matt Boni, his night, and soon his season, was on the verge of a drastic change.
Villopoto would have trouble in the LCQ after getting together with Boni in his heat race.
Photo: Garth Milan
We chatted with Boni this morning, and the Ti-Lube Kawasaki privateer says he’s not sure what happened. His bike suddenly died, and he went over the bars, taking Villopoto with him.
“I don’t know what happened,” he says. “Maybe I had my foot on the rear brake, or maybe I hit the kill switch on accident. Maybe it just died. I don’t know. I just went straight over the front, which of course is about the worst thing that can happen when you get a good start.”
With a bikes and bodies banged up from the crash. Both riders were relegated to the Last Chance Qualifier. Villopoto went down twice there, and neither rider made the main. They later had some words in the tunnel, which was captured on the SPEED TV cameras. Boni jokes that they just exchanged words, and that he would never fight anyone because he’s a lover not a fighter. “And I don’t have enough money to afford a fine,” he adds.
A series leader has never missed a main event as far as we know—points leaders have missed races with injuries, but never straight up didn’t qualify.
"The Section" ended Stewart's night early as well.
Photo: Garth Milan
But what Jacksonville giveth, Jacksonville taketh away. James Stewart had a golden opportunity to make up big points, but he ended up down even harder in the exact same section in the main event. This time it was the other Ti-Lube Kawasaki rider, Matt Goerke, going down.
Those crashes changed everything in this series. Chad Reed and Ryan Dungey have just gotten a lot closer in points, and it’s almost impossible to tell who has the momentum now. It’s also unclear who is healthy and who’s thriving. Stewart’s camp says he’s okay and ready to race in Toronto, but it’s hard to imagine he won’t be fighting through some sort of pain when he lines up. Villopoto, too, is banged up.
It all comes down to one section in Jacksonville. Or does it?