By admin | January 2, 2014
By Richard Allen
Even casual followers of Monster Energy Supercross are probably aware that Ryan Villopoto is the most dominant rider in the sport today. But more than that, the Washington native is nearing a record that could prove him to be the most dominant rider ever to take on the high jumps, twists and turns of this most demanding of endeavors.
Villopoto has won three consecutive 450cc class Supercross championships. The sport’s all-time winningiest rider, Jeremy McGrath, won four consecutive titles between 1993 and 1996. McGrath went on to earn a total of seven championships in the high energy, stadium based competition. Ricky Carmichael won five titles in a span between 2001 and 2006, including three in a row at one point.
“I’m not here to break records,” the always determined Villopoto said in a recent interview. “My goal is to win and be as successful as I can while I’m on top of my game. If I were to break his record, that would be a great accomplishment, but it’s not a goal of mine.”
Several riders are poised to challenge the champion and prevent him from accomplishing the feat of tying McGrath.
James Stewart is coming off a win in the sport’s most lucrative event. On his way to a $100,000 payday, this two-time SX champion won two of the three main events in the Monster Energy Cup special event on a track that combines elements of supercross with those of motocross. However, Stewart has battled injuries over the most recent years of his career and the grueling 17 race Monster Energy Supercross schedule is one of the toughest physical and mental tests in all of sports.
To unseat Villopoto and claim a third championship of his own, Stewart must remain healthy, and 28 year old hasn’t shown the ability to do that of late.
Also looking to knock Villopoto off his pedestal in 2014 will be another former 450cc champion in the person of Ryan Dungey. This rider proved in 2013 that the KTM brand of motorcycle could indeed win at the highest level as he scored two main event victories and finished third behind Villopoto and Davi Millsaps in the final standings.
Justin Barcia is also likely to battle Villopoto throughout 2014. In his rookie campaign on a 450 last year, Barcia racked up two wins on his way to a 4th place result in the final standings. Inconsistency marred this rider’s overall effort but he showed that without a doubt, that the ability to win races is there.
Popular Australian Chad Reed has switched from Honda to a non factory backed Kawasaki effort after a winless season in 2013. The 2004 & 2008 SX champion hopes to rekindle the fire that once had him at the top of the sport.
Rookie riders and former 250cc class standouts Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen are likely to make some noise at the sport’s highest level in 2014 as well.
But it was Barcia who summed up every challenger’s situation if they are to break Villopoto’s stranglehold on Monster Energy Supercross. “Consistency is the key. He is very consistent each weekend so to be in the hunt for the championship, I need to do the same.”
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