5 Minutes With ... Ryan Villopoto

Ryan Villopoto is locked in one the greatest battles for the Lites title since Langston vs. Brown or RC vs. Windham, or, well it’s just damn good. After 9 rounds, both Villopoto and Townley have had their share of great rides, bad luck, and come-from-behind charges. They are still just two points apart with three rounds to go.
       Villopoto went 2-1 at Millville, the reverse of what many of their races were like. Villopoto said in this interview he's working on making less mistakes because that's what matters the most right now, and when he was feeling heat in moto 1, he decided to let Ben have it for a while to see what he is doing.
        In between the press conference and Villopoto going to get his next gun for winning an overall, we took a few more minutes of his time for this conversation...

Racer X: Ryan, this was an interesting day and you are back on top. How does it feel right now?
Ryan Villopoto: That first moto didn't go the way I wanted it to. I have been in that situation a lot this year and I didn't want to fall or make a little mistake like I have been doing and just give it away. I at least wanted to see what I could to so I just let him by to see what he was doing, where he was different.

Was that because of a spot on the track that made you nervous and you wanted to cool it right then or something?
No, I actually thought about it during the week. Not just before this race but in the past. I could do this or that, I thought. I know Ricky Carmichael has done it. Bones told me once he did it with Kevin Windham at Washougal, back in the day. I just wanted to see what he was doing. He has been back there waiting for something to happen so I kind of switched it up and let him have it and see what he could do with it. I think it helped, but he still got the first moto win.

So did that help you become a little more prepared for the second moto?
Yeah, but I had a bad start and had to come through the pack. I had my strong points on the track. The whoops were probably one of my strongest points. I could see Ben and just had to catch him.

Ben started out the season winning all the second motos, but you said just now in press it wasn’t an endurance thing it’s just getting it put together, right?
Yeah, I didn’t get tired or whatever. It’s just little mistakes that kill you. Racing a guy like Ben you can’t have that because obviously he doesn’t have that. So if you make mistakes you have to fix it. There is nothing really you can say about that. You just have to fix the mistakes you are making and hopefully win the second moto.

Bones says you take a lot of outside lines. Was this a track that helped you in that way?
Yes and no. I think what helped to make this a great racetrack was they pushed the berms to make lines on the inside and the outside. A lot of the time, both of them were good. That made the track good. Yeah, I do ride outside lines, but it was hard because we had so much rain. The bikes push the slop off to either side of the track. It happens on the outside of turns more. You have to watch out that you don’t get slowed down if you get in it.

Do you agree that you and Ben are developing the intensity it’s going to take to race like RC and James raced, for when you get to 450s?
Yeah, those two are obviously really fast and Ricky is leaving, but James is still going to be there and we all know he is fast because he can race with Ricky. So yeah, I think that is what is happening with both of us right now.

At Washougal you were clearly the fastest, with good lines, good momentum and good intensity everywhere. Is that a particularly good track for you since you spent a lot of time there?
I am sure that is what people are saying on the internet, or whatever. Yeah I raced it on 60s and 80s. After that, I didn’t really race there much. You don’t even have a brain when you are riding on those tracks anyway. You don’t know, go easy on the throttle, and then that spot is shiny, you don’t know.
       I used to race Josh Hill there all the time and 9 times out of 10 he would beat me because I would almost always crash, or he was a little faster because he is the one that rode that track a lot growing up. If anything, he would be the one to go up and ask where the lines are and how is the track.

Is it the trickiest track? It’s really hard just under that thin layer of dirt.
It looks good but it is slippery. I have to say that this year’s track is probably the best I have ever ridden it.

Is that what people refer to as a throttle control track?
Yeah. Obviously you saw my get off. That was a little bit of sliding out, then at the last second it caught a tacky spot and it threw me on my head. That is what you have to look out for there.

Are tracks like that the toughest to master? Ricky really hated those and likes to pin it and dig deep.
You have to be easy on it, yeah. Obviously Ricky just stretches throttle cables. That’s a hard one. You have to be easy on the clutch, easy on everything.

You liked Budds Creek. Budds was that way too this time, right?
Yeah, Budds Creek was good. I liked the way that track flowed - insides/outsides, you can go anywhere. It doesn’t get super rough but that is the nature of the track. That is one of my favorite tracks in the nationals.

Finally, did you expect this title race to be this close and what’s going to happen in the next three races?
After Unadilla, there is nothing you can do about in. Ben has had his problems too, but he came back and got like 10th in that one moto when it happened to him. He salvaged a lot of points. I just got that little wrench thrown in the program. Luckily I had that big points lead or it would have been over. It will probably come down to Glen Helen.