Features 29 Mar 2012

The Matthes Report: 12

Pulp MX's Steve Matthes checks in from the U.S. every single Thursday, presented by Fox.

At this point, with the latest rider hitting the injury list being James Stewart, the 2012 AMA SX series is turning into a bit of a snoozer – Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto has over a hundred-point lead on the next active rider, Davi Millsaps.

We badly need some huge medical advances to happen in order to inject any kind of excitement into this series. Like the ability to just swap out collarbones on Ryan Dungey or maybe insert a titanium/carbon knee onto Chad Reed.

That being said, it’s not a complete washout of the series. There’s still some great racing going on behind Villopoto with some of the best racers in the world and guys that, although they might not have been the favorites at Anaheim 1, are still bad-ass racers and awesome athletes.

But it does looks promising for a Ryan Villopoto sweep of the last five races and a cakewalk to the championship. He’s that good right now and on that much of a roll.

But let’s say that RV doesn’t make a main, crashes out (we don’t wish any ill will on any rider but let’s just say) or develops a bike problem. And let’s say that James Stewart doesn’t come back either even though him and his team say that they think he’ll be back soon.

Who are the guys next in line to win a race? Who’s the guy that can take advantage of his situation, win a main event and thereby getting the glory, cash and chicks that main event winners get?

Well I’m here to handicap the field for you and give you reasons why each guy would win a race. Right off the bat though, I think RV is going to sweep the rest of them so none of the chances for anyone else are real good.

Kevin Windham is the man most likely to win an AMA SX main other than RV to finish 2012. Image: Simon Cudby.

Kevin Windham – 37.6 percent chance
Windham, who was just passed by Villopoto on the career Supercross win list not too long ago, is the grand ol’ veteran of the series. But that doesn’t mean he can’t get it done if the opportunity presents itself.

Yes, I like his chances better than Justin Brayton because we’re going to Houston and New Orleans for the next couple of races. KW’s won Houston before, shoot, he almost won it last year before crashing while leading.

Windham’s got a flair for dramatics and winning in New Orleans, which is close to his hometown as you’re going to get, could totally happen. He won there years ago and it was a massively popular victory.

Then we’re going to Salt Lake City and Seattle which will be muddy and rutty (or at least a great chance of it being that way) and KW is so good with throttle control and such a technical rider that he excels in those conditions.

Then we wrap the series up in Las Vegas where RV will most likely be drunk the entire weekend celebrating and Windham could once again rule on the hard pack slickness that is the Las Vegas track. Out of anyone left, I like Windham’s chances.

Justin Brayton – 22.8 percent chance
Brayton led half the race in Indianapolis a couple of weeks ago, set the fastest time in Toronto and has been second the last two weeks. So he’s most peoples logical choice to get a win, but not for me. Windham’s got the hometown and riding edge to get the nod over Brayton.

But Justin’s been running at the front, working through things and figuring it out. His confidence is gaining every week and you have to walk before you can run In this case, it means you have to lead laps and be a bit of ‘the man’ before you can actually be ‘the man’… if that makes any sense at all.

Also, big props to Brayton for absolutely eating crap at San Diego and working through the injuries to emerge as a real solid racer. The only thing I’d like to see Justin do is hang it out a bit more, he’s real conservative and I wonder if he can get that edge that one needs to win. And I know that Windham can and will.

Jake Weimer was in fine form to start the year, but he needs to regain that spark if he's to grab a W. Image: Simon Cudby.

Jake Weimer – 16.8 percent chance
Weimer’s got a couple of podiums this year, so he’s shown speed, but as we now hit round 12 of the season, maybe the grind is getting to him as he hasn’t shown that flash that we saw early on.

It’s the first time Jake has done an entire Supercross series and it’s a lot of work week-in and week-out. Not that he’s scared of working hard, but you have to make sure you’re eating right, sleeping right and putting in the right amount of practice over the course of the season. He’s got a decent shot at winning because he’s got speed, just hasn’t gotten the results lately.

Davi Millsaps – 13.9 percent chance
I can’t figure Millsaps out. At St Louis he holeshot and you were thinking that this was a real chance to challenge RV a bit and at least get second. But then he went backwards you wondered if he needed an oxygen mask after the race.

But at a few other races, he’s come up from the back to make the podium and you wonder what would happen if he had a few more laps. He’s hot and cold, but what he does have in his back pocket is the fact that he’s won a few Supercrosses before and as I said, you have to have had the experience of being up front before you can do it. Millsaps has that.

Josh Grant – 3.4 percent chance
I’m not even sure if Josh has this high of a shot really. It’s only because of my respect for his enormous talent that I put him on the list. He’s been fighting injury since the start of the year and hasn’t been the same rider that we’ve all seen put in so many great results over the years.

Maybe, just maybe, he could get a start, find himself in second and have someone go down late in the race to bring home the win. It’s a real long shot yeah but a man can dream can’t he?

The field – 0.9 percent chance
Mike Alessi, Brett Metcalfe, Broc Tickle, Kyle Chisholm are the best of the rest and although they’re all good guys and great riders, there’s just not much chance that one of these guys will pull off a win.

Heck, like I said there isn’t much chance of anyone not named ‘Ryan Villopoto’ to pull off a win but who knows? If Nathan Ramsey, Sebastian Tortelli and Greg Albertyn can win, maybe anyone can!