It has been a common plea of most fans for a round of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series to visit the Southeast of the United States. Finally, their pleas were heard this past weekend as the title fight moved to a new (to the championship) venue of Muddy Creek, Tennessee this past Saturday for the third round of the title fight. Intriguingly, the circuit was criticised by a large portion of the riders; despite producing some good on-track action – arguably the best that we have seen thus far this year.
In my opinion, the track was different to anything else on the schedule. If I were to liken it to another circuit on the calendar, it would be High Point (coincidentally the title fight will head there on Saturday). Some of the sections were quite tight – in comparison to the faster tracks out there; but it is always good to present the riders with a fresh challenge, right? One of the first things that caught my eye about Muddy Creek was the soil; it was the type of circuit that just looked fun to ride. However that feeling was not relayed from the riders, surprisingly.
Strangely the common conception from the riders was that changes have to be made before the travelling circus that is the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series arrives back in Tennessee next year. Intriguingly, the criticisms seemed to be because of the woodchips on top of the soil; it was used whilst moulding the amateur track into a circuit worthy of an AMA Motocross race, to stop it from becoming too hard-pack. But, this concept was not applauded by most. It was never going to be perfect though, when you consider that it was the first-time that they [the promoters] had accommodated an event such as this.
Undoubtedly, the main topic of discussion to come out of Muddy Creek was the conclusion of Ryan Villopoto’s win streak at five motos, and two overall victories. Despite the fact that the series is still quite young there was already talk of Ryan going undefeated following the second round at Thunder Valley one week ago. Honestly this seemed insane to me. If there were one rider out there that is capable of achieving a feat such as this it would be RV. But still, I do think that the talk was too premature, as there is so much that can (and most likely will) go wrong in a mechanical sport like motocross – as we saw at Muddy Creek; we see a fall like the one he succumbed to too frequently.
What about that crash, specifically? In my opinion, I think that it was a result of him pushing his front wheel over the rut, in that sweeping turn. You can see Justin Barcia make a mistake in the same spot just a split second before Ryan fell down, which indicates there was a slight ledge there that wasn’t evident in moto one; it caught a few guys off guard. So Villopoto has now lost a moto, and the goal of becoming the third ever rider to go 24-0 is obsolete. However he has not been beaten straight up yet; no one has proven that they can beat him if he stays up right. Although Ryan Dungey now has a moto victory to his name, I do not expect him to win again this weekend – to be brutally honest.
In my opinion, it seems to take Ryan Dungey a couple of rounds to get going at the beginning of a series; we have not really seen him win too many races early on in a season. I believe that he will be just as quick as the main protagonist, Ryan Villopoto, by the end of the year though. My honest opinion is that he just seems to be lacking something in comparison to RV currently; I would argue that this is intensity at the start of a race. Whilst Dungey’s strategy is to sit back and let the race come to him, Villopoto is trying to make moves early on in a bid to assert his dominance. For instance, just before he fell in moto two he had pulled alongside Barcia in an attempt to make a pass stick just a couple of turns into the moto.
In the past both Ryan Villopoto and Ryan Dungey have enjoyed success at the facility of High Point – a prestigious stop on the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross tour. Whilst these two riders seem to have established themselves as the guys to beat after three rounds, Justin Barcia is seemingly tagging along with the leading pair in an attempt to steal some glory of his own, which could be interesting to watch in the coming weeks.
Words by Lewis Phillips