If there's any good that came out of Ryan Villopoto's red cross/yellow flag mix up/pass up of James Stewart in St. Louis, it's that it made people really mad. Oh yeah, if you're Ryan, it was also good to win the race. But he's done plenty of winning already. It's the polarizing part that was a real score for him.
Think about it. In this business, you haven't really won until you've won so much that the fans start wanting to see you lose. That's rare air, the type of space only the all-time greats can occupy. For years, Villopoto has been the little red engine that could. Fighting against established big names like Chad Reed and Stewart, a contemporary in Ryan Dungey, and also missing enough races with injury to where his dominance didn't become boring. But right about now, it's beginning to dawn on everyone. Hey, RV wins a lot. He wins a lot more than those other guys, in fact. Maybe we don't have parity like we think we do. Maybe it's not as wide-open as we think it is.
This is not the first time I've written this story. From 2006-2008, Villopoto crushed it for three-straight seasons in the Lites class, and yet each season, the class would be tagged as wide-open. Every year, we'd open the Racer X Motocross Show picking up the series' vibe: the big bikes will be a showcase for stars like Ricky Carmichael and Stewart, but anyone can win the Lites class.
Yet, only one dude was doing most of the winning. Villopoto won three-straight titles. The previous guy to do that eventually became known as The Greatest Of All Time, and the guy before that was nicknamed The Bomber. Those are nicknames that blast dominance in your face. RV? Yeah, he's just called RV.