Welcome to our weekly web-exclusive column, Transmoto USA Insider Presented By Answer. Penned each week by our man on the ground, Transmoto's US Correspondent, Jason Weigandt, USA Insider presents the story-behind-the-stories of the AMA supercross and motocross scene.
The bomb officially dropped this afternoon: Ryan Villopoto is the latest to be swept up in what has to be the most injury-plagued season in the history of AMA Supercross.
RV was expected to get a big win in front of his home fans in Seattle, Washington, but instead suffered a bad start, then washed the front end, stuck out his leg and twisted it violently while trying to make a move to the front. At first, Villopoto and the Kawasaki folks indicated his leg was only tweaked, not terrible injured. Over at the Monster Kawasaki hauler, race boss Reid Nordin told me, "If it were really bad, we'd be over at the Asterisk Medical Trailer, but we're not. It's a stinger." But most people who saw the crash thought otherwise, and an MRI on Tuesday afternoon indicated those hunches were correct: he has a torn ACL. With that, he has to go under the knife for surgery, followed by a four-to-six-month recovery.
So RV is out for the final two Monster Energy AMA Supercross races, and will miss the entire Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. His MX title from 2011 will go to someone else, and with Chad Reed (and now Ben Townley) injured, and no one sure what James Stewart's next move will be, 2010 Champion Ryan Dungey becomes the favourite. But in a season like this, no favourite is safe!
Meanwhile, Kawasaki will have a spot to fill, and rumours persist it could be one of the Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki riders getting the spot. Broc Tickle is already racing a PC 450 in Supercross, so he could be a candidate. But a lot of buzz centres on Tyla Rattray, the South African veteran who is always up front in the Lites class outdoors. Tyla is a strong, burly guy who would have no problem hanging tough outdoors on a 450. And while Mitch Payton's Pro Circuit team would hate to lose him from their 250 effort outdoors, it's worth noting that the Pro Circuit riders are actually contracted and paid by Kawasaki, not by Pro Circuit.
But Pro Circuit may really be in need of Rattray outdoors. Dean Wilson, the team's 2011 AMA 250 Motocross Champion, also went down in Seattle in a crazy aggressive battle with Eli Tomac. He busted his shoulder up in the crash, and depending on the severity of that injury, it may be tough for Dean to defend his title through a gruelling 24-moto grind. If Dean's out, PC might need Rattray more than ever. And if the Seattle Supercross ends up costing Kawasaki both its 450 and 250 AMA MX Champions, well, that race will go down as one of the darkest ever for the bright green brand.