The fourteenth round of the 2013 Monster Energy AMA Supercross series held inside of the Metrodome in Minneapolis was exceptional. Undoubtedly, this is the only way that you can describe the action witnessed on-track; it was certainly the race of the year thus far.
It is fitting that the Metrodome held a race such as this, as the building will be knocked down in the early months of 2014. Therefore, this was the last race that would be held inside the stadium. Prior to last weekend it was five years ago that the series last visited Minneapolis in 2008. So, the venue has not been a staple on the calendar in recent years. Maybe this is why Ryan Dungey was so motivated to put in a good performance in front of his home crowd?
Ryan Villopoto held a five-race win streak going into the weekend; quite clearly, the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider is the class of the field at the moment. So, when Villopoto got out into the lead early on it was presumed that the points leader would sprint away. Admittedly Ryan Villopoto is at his best in the first five laps of the race. Surprisingly, once Ryan Dungey moved into second towards the end of the opening lap he seemed more than capable of running his rivals pace. It was not until lap seventeen that the race heated up as Dungey made a pass for the lead after knifing to the inside in the final corner.
Interestingly, Dungey made the pass by taking the outside (which turned into the inside) line in the split section. Throughout the day this line was not really used by any riders; the inside lane was considered to be a lot faster. Despite this, Ryan Dungey made the line work to take the lead. In the following corner the two riders made contact as Villopoto attempted to gain the lead that he had just lost. In the next turn, RV was able to make the move stick following an aggressive move.
It was great to see this type of racing between the two; it was aggressive, but not dirty in any way. It was interesting to see Dungey put in this position also, as he rarely races like this. You would think that this type of move would put Dungey out of his comfort zone, but he thrived clearly as he went on to win. It was on the same lap that he found a way back around RV. He did this at the end of the whoops section, when Villopoto stood up and seemed to let him go by.
Although Ryan Villopoto does admit to not putting up a fight in the corner, he did not simply give up. You see, in the following corner RV would have had the outside; this would have left the door open for Dungey to make an aggressive pass on him, which could have resulted in a lot of points being lost. Villopoto realised this, so he checked up and put himself in a position to go after the lead once again. Once Dungey was back in the lead, RV went back after him in the final three laps. However, the Red Bull KTM rider was too strong.
So, is it too little too late or can Ryan Dungey now make a run for the title? Honestly, I would be very shocked to see someone other than Villopoto lift the number one plate in Las Vegas. It would take some freak incident for Ryan to make up twenty-two points in three races. But all you have to do is look at what happened to Ryan Villopoto in Seattle last season to realise that this thing is far from over.
Of course we are heading to the hometown of Ryan Villopoto this weekend, Seattle; so Ryan should get the same sort of lift from the crowd as Dungey got this past weekend. However, I believe that this sort of factor would not influence the way that Villopoto rides; he is very strong mentally already. It would not be surprising to see Dungey win a round or two in the final three rounds, as he has gradually building momentum over the last five weeks.
The Monster Energy AMA Supercross series is a grind for the riders; only the best can remain at the top over the course of seventeen weeks. Thus far, we have seen a number of guys fall by the wayside in their bid for the title. But, Ryan Villopoto and Ryan Dungey have managed to separate themselves from the rest of the pack; right now they seem to be stepping it up a gear despite the fact that the series is winding down.
Words by Lewis Phillips