Ricky Carmichael once stated that the fight for the title really starts when the series arrives at Daytona. This was a thought that he truly believed in, and he made reference to it each year. However, now that the checkered flag has fallen on the Daytona Supercross presented by Honda, has anything really changed?
Coincidentally, a lot has changed in regard to the series standings in the 450SX class. For the first time this year, the red plate has changed hands; Ryan Villopoto is now the possessor. It has taken a lot longer than anyone expected for Ryan to grab it, but now that he has the red plate it seems as though most expect him to runaway with it. But, we thought that he would do that at the beginning of the year. However, Villopoto does have all of the momentum on his side now.
Ryan Villopoto is now considered the man to beat, following two consecutive and convincing wins in St Louis and Daytona. But realistically, hasn’t he been all along? Although he has had to deal with some uncharacteristic mistakes, he has been much faster than his rivals thus far. Those mistakes referenced previously meant that everyone else had a chance, but now that Ryan has some momentum on his side things are looking bleak for the competition. But, Villopoto has shown that he is not susceptible to the odd mistake; with just a two-point lead he really needs to avoid those.
Honestly, I don’t think that Ryan Villopoto is the type of rider that would really be concerned about momentum, or confidence. Therefore, the fact that he has beaten his title rivals quite convincingly might not even mean much to him. Whenever information on records or similar facts is presented to him, it doesn’t really seem to bother him too much. Ryan is the type of rider that just knuckles down, and gets on with his riding. Hence why, his first round mishap did not have too much of an impact on his mentality either.
It seems as though Davi Millsaps is on a downward spiral at the moment, which means that all of the momentum has transferred over to the Monster Energy Kawasaki team, and Ryan Villopoto. Up until the eighth round of the series, it seemed as though Millsaps could do no wrong. For instance, he would enter the first corner mid-pack and then sneak up the inside and exit in the top-three. Whereas now Davi has had to deal with some bad luck (a swollen arm in St Louis) and some small crashes, which have hindered his results.
We have seen a similar situation play out in the 250SX East class, also. At the first round, it seemed as though Dean Wilson had confidence and self-belief on his side as everyone had him tipped for glory. This then turned into momentum following a victory in Arlington. But, some problematic weeks have seen a shift in momentum; Wil Hahn now knows that he can win, which means that he has both confidence and momentum on his side. It is undoubted that Wilson has been the fastest for much of the year; however he has let Hahn build some confidence, which has hurt his chances.
The most recent three rounds of the 250SX East series have undoubtedly helped Wil Hahn’s confidence, as all three played out differently but ended up with the same outcome: he beat his title rival. In Atlanta, Hahn was able to maintain a gap between Dean Wilson and himself. The next week in St Louis, he was able to stretch out his lead after being caught by Dean. In Daytona Wil caught and passed the Scotsman to secure second; it is quite clear why he has all of the momentum on his side at the moment. One thing is certain, if Wilson is going to win the title he needs to jump back onto the top of the box as soon as possible.
I am interested to see how Marvin Musquin fares in Indianapolis this weekend, following his maiden Monster Energy AMA Supercross win in Daytona. Now, Musquin has confidence and momentum on his side also; which means that he could be more of a factor for the win in the coming weeks.
Evidently, momentum is crucial in the Monster Energy AMA Supercross series. However, as I have stated previously it can all change extremely quickly; that’s why they run the race each week! There are a number of interesting storylines developing in the series, including what is mentioned above. It will be intriguing to see how they unfold at the more traditional setting of Indianapolis this weekend.
Words by Lewis Phillips