Monday Conversation II: Ryan Villopoto

March 3, 2008 2:16am

There’s no other way to say it, except to say that the Ryan Villopoto on the track in Atlanta for the opening round of the Lites Eastern Region Supercross Championship just didn’t look like the Ryan Villopoto from last year’s SX, much less his heroic AMA National series and MXdN triumph – even before the fall that knocked him out of the race. However, in Indianapolis, the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider looked much more like the Ryan Villopoto we expected to see coming into the series, even though he couldn’t quite come up with the win.

Racer X: It’s probably still not what you were after, but this race was an obvious improvement over last week, wasn’t it?
Ryan Villopoto: Yeah, I know. This last week, we made some changes to the bike a little bit – a little bit of setup stuff. It was actually stuff that we had changed before to make it a little bit easier on my wrist, and at first it seemed like it was good, and then Thursday, we tested some stuff, and it made the bike a lot better, so I think that helped. And obviously, getting back into it, and getting back up into the race, that makes it a lot easier.

Take me through the crash you had going for the lead down the start straight.

I know Trey’s fast, and I know he’s obviously been watching – everybody watches supercross and motocross. I know he’ll stick a wheel in on you. So, I got the run out of the turn, and probably 10 feet out of it, I was either right next to him, or just about to pass him, and he started to come over on me a little bit, but then he knew I was there and he kind of stood it back up. We came into the turn really hot, and I got onto the brakes really hard because I didn’t want him to check up and block-pass me or stuff me or whatever, because it was a tight turn and it was easy to get stuffed there. Well, when I got on the brakes as hard as I could, it brought the rear end up a little bit, and I did a little bit of a nose-wheelie, and then it started stepping out to the left, and it caught the haybale and spit me off.

Take me through the pass you made on Nico Izzi for second at the end of the race.

On the pitboard, I saw “Nico”, so that’s who I had to catch, or whatever, and then I saw those yellow flags in that turn, and I jumped in on him and tried to make it stick, but be clean.

Do you feel like you probably would’ve won this race if you didn’t go down?
Oh, yeah, for sure. I wouldn’t say he had a huge gap, but he definitely had a gap of like two or three seconds, and I made that up really quick once I got into second, but I just made a mistake.

Was your confidence all right after last week and not being clearly faster than the rest of the guys out there?
I don’t know. I mean, definitely the track was the worst track all year. I’ve heard it from more than one person. It definitely was a shitty track, with the walls and the sand... I mean, I was looking for the logs and the tires for the Endurocross, but they weren’t out there. This weekend, the track was good. We’re back to a supercross track. Last weekend, the track was pretty lame – flat turns, sand sections, and two walls. The one wall, in the middle of the whoop section, was fine, because you could come out of the turn, get straight, and take one of three different lines and do whatever you wanted to do. But the one after the dogleg with the sand in there, the sand turns into one big sand berm, so it’s not like you can switch lines, so you just follow and follow. That was the problem there. That, and the flat turns. This weekend, though, they turned it around, and Chad designed the track, and it was good.

Speaking of the wall you crashed on last week, are there any hard feelings toward Josh Grant for running into you after you fell?

No. I mean, like I said, you come out of the whoops there, and you go into that one-lined section there, and either he was looking down or whatever – it’s hard to say what he was doing – but that’s just what happened.

What does this race set your goals at for the rest of the season?
I’ve got to make up 28 points.

In six races.
Yeah. I mean, Trey is a rookie, so he’s done awesome for the first two races, so I’ve got to wait for him to make a mistake. Who knows? Maybe he won’t. But we’ll see.