For the past three years, Ryan Villopoto has won every AMA Supercross and AMA Motocross series he’s raced in. The result: 3 consecutive supercross titles, and motocross titles in 2011 and 2013. In 2012, Villopoto missed the entire outdoor motocross season due to injury, thus resulting in a gap in championships. Ryan Dungy basically swept the entire season with no competition after James Stewart injured himself in the third round and missed most of the remaining races. As stale as the racing became, 2012 would have probably resulted in yet another championship for the Florida native had he been in the mix. Plain and simple, if Villopoto’s in, he wins.
So with the 2014 SX season starting this weekend in Anaheim, the question that everyone’s wondering (and most racers are trying to keep out of their heads) is if RV2 will bring home his fourth consecutive title. While I personally believe he’s the clear favorite to win, I have a feeling that this might be the year of an upset.
So what exactly would be Villopoto’s biggest obstacle? Is it Ryan Dungy’s consistent minimal-mistake style ? James Stewart’s wild attack? The return of Davi Millsaps, Trey Canard, and Chad Reed? How about the young guns like Justin Barcia and Eli Tomac? Not to take credit away from any of the aforementioned racers, all of whom have the skills to beat just about anyone in the world in their sport, but my personal prediction is none of the above. It’s Ryan Villopoto himself.
RV2 is the type of racer that doesn’t like to let off. Ever. Even when he has a season wrapped up and the odds astronomically in his favor, he still continues to push himself to the limit, a limit he comes dangerously close to crossing on a regular basis. Yes, this is what makes him the best rider in the world, but is also the reason he hurt himself and missed the 2012 outdoor motocross season completely. In a sport where the injuries can be more violent than anything experienced in football (200+ pounds of twisted metal falling on top of you as your body awkwardly flips and flails slamming you into the dirt), one bad mistake early in the season and you could be out of the points standings, or the sport entirely.
I am not hoping to see anyone get injured, but as exciting as Villopoto is to watch race, there are multiple moments per event where I cringe and expect the worst. That type of daredevil drive is needed to compete in this sport, but if there’s anything that can beat RV2, it’s the danger he is to himself.
That being said, I’m not suggesting he do anything any differently. After all, it’s been working pretty well for him.