Well we are just two weeks into the 2014 Supercross season and it has been action packed from the first green flag. Considering how big the preseason injury list was, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. But so far there have not been many dull moments. Well, except for watching Ryan Dungey cruise around the track in his ultra smooth but not quite aggressive enough fashion.
But first, I just have to give a call out to Mike Alessi. Really Mike, did you think that charging the gate was going to work perfectly two times in a row? In his A1 heat race Mike seemed to teleport his Suzuki a full bike length out of the gate before anyone else even moved, amazing. Of course we all know that he cried during is post heat win interview. Yes, it was his first “win” I guess, but did he forget that he led the outdoor nationals for a brief time a few years ago? Anyway, lined up right next to the starter’s box, was there any possible way he was going to hit that gate perfect a second time? No, he charged the upright gate and got lapped in the main event. Just another example of fast racers with poor finishes.
As for some of the other contenders;
Stewart – That was a rough crash at A1 and those bars were certainly bent enough for anyone to call it a night. James is off to a slow start, but not looking too bad all things considered.
Barcia – Dude, the only thing that counts is the checkered flag, keep it going for a whole main event!
Roczen – Superstar under construction here, he sure got schooled by Barcia in Phoenix. I expect more wins and more DNF’s this year.
Brayton – Solid effort, just keep it up.
Reed – There might be one more win in that soldier yet.
Villopoto – Simply the one to beat. Except for about 3 others, the only hope is that he beats himself.
So two races in the books and our man Ryan Dungey has two podium finishes. That is some nice work, right? Well I guess for about 18 other riders that would be sitting pretty. But the problem is that Ryan could have easily finished one place better in both events. Watching him follow Reed and Brayton around has been excruciating. Faster than each, he simply refused to show aggression towards either. He practically pulled over to let Stewart by in at A1.
Each night Ryan has looked in his best form right at the checkered flag. He caught Roczen quickly and had the speed for a win at A1. In Phoenix he should have easily passed Brayton to take second. But he waited too long and Justin found some extra mojo right at the end.
So is this just a case of playing the long game for Ryan? Probably so, he has a good head on his shoulders and doesn’t get rattled out of his rhythm very often. He has kept the bike upright, something everyone else is struggling with. Is it a strategy that will pay by the end of the season? Maybe so, let’s hope so.
But here is my problem with this. During the era’s of McGrath, Carmichael and Reed and even Stewart, there were seasons were everyone else was simply racing for second place. These riders were not going to be beaten. Right now the atmosphere may seem the same for Villopoto, but I don’t think it is true. He can be beat. He will be beat.
Dungey is one of the only riders who can do it. But it cannot be accomplished by settling for anything less than a win. Dungey has to show some aggression. He has been fortunate with good starts so far, but it won’t be enough. The other riders will catch up on fitness and preparation before long, so he has to just be faster. He also needs to figure out the whoops. Isn’t it odd how Jason Anderson is so fast on the 250sx-f in the whoops and Dungey looks fearful on his 450sx-f?
So I am calling the glass half full. I think that if Ryan is hoping to outlast Villopoto, he is going to lose a shot at the title.