450 Words: San DiegoSunday, February 12, 2012 | 6:00 PM
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The whoops giveth, the whoops taketh away. We saw that several times last night in San Diego, starting with Eli Tomac throwing away the Lites West points lead in a big crash there, and then again in the 450 main event. That's where Ryan Villopoto and Chad Reed used the “hoops” to leave the rest of the pack behind, and where James Stewart probably threw away almost all hopes of winning the 2012 Monster Energy AMA Supercross title. The whoops may be the smallest obstacle on any given SX track—and at times almost non-existent—but they loom much larger when they are sharp and plentiful, which was the case last night.
In what's become a series of opportunities, Villopoto is starting to deny those opportunities to almost everyone else. He's put together the first winning streak of 2012, which says a lot about the competition at the front of the pack. But when we see a proliferation of whoops, it's actually starting to look more like a two-man race after all. Whoops have always been a strong point for Reed, and he used them (as well as some late-race lappers) to reel in and then pass Villopoto in the waning laps. But RV is no slouch across these washboards either, and stayed with the #22 and found a small opening just before the white flag to take the lead back. It was a fantastic display of racing by both men.
The whoops in San Diego played a big part in the championship race.
Photo: Simon Cudby
But behind them, not so much. Dungey is simply not as fast through the whoops on his KTM and it showed. He and his team will no doubt be right back at the drawing board, but they have some work to do.
And then there is Stewart, who once again took a huge digger all by himself in the whoops after getting too close to the edge. “Down goes Stewart!” is a call by Ralph Shaheen that almost seems familiar now. This time the damage was not as physical as maybe mental. He is no longer in touch with the points leaders one-third of the way through the series. James was always a remarkable whoops rider, but it's becoming obvious that there's something wrong with either his set-up or his technique that's made him downright dangerous to himself in these sections. How he and his team work through this could mark a defining moment of this season, if not his entire career.
Remember that in supercross, the whoops giveth, the whoops taketh away.
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