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5 Minutes with... Ryan Villopoto

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We haven’t heard much from Ryan Villopoto since coming off knee surgery a week ago. Ryan certainly was the favorite to win the 450 class in the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship based on his Glen Helen performance, and his injury had to have been a colossal disappointment for the red-headed wonder child. His first attempt at 450 supercross was a mixed bag until he came back from being sick, and then reeled off two main event wins out of the last three. Coupled with his dominating performance at the opening national, things were looking up in Camp RV. Now he’s here, watching the nationals with the rest of us and wondering what else could go sideways in this motocross season.

  • Villopoto is bummed about this year, but knows there are many more to come
  • RV ran the red plate for one whole moto
Racer X: Ryan, what’s up with you? Are you down off the ledge yet?
Ryan Villopoto: Nah, I’m good. It was a major bummer for me for sure, but now it’s not as much of a bummer for me because my rival Mike Alessi got injured. So now it’s ok and more relaxing and I’m relieved I guess we could say. Honestly, that was the biggest dread for me. The wins and the bonus checks were great for me but watching him win like that just tore me apart. I’m not going to lie here, whenever you have a competitor that gets hurt like he did - although I don’t wish it on anyone - whenever a guy like that gets hurt, you go “Whew, now I can just go out and ride,” and I’m sure the guys are pumped about that.

You said that your knee is an old injury that you knew would come back to get you one day. How old are we talking about here?
I originally did in at Lake Whitney on an 80 like seven or eight years ago.

How did you re-injure it?
It’s just like what everybody goes through. James and RC have been through it also. It popped out on me here and there but always goes back in after a bit. It hurts like crazy for about thirty seconds. This year in Phoenix I did it again in the sand section. Like I said, it always goes back in and I’m able to go out and ride like my normal self soon after. I was riding at Palu on Thursday before Hangtown and it went again. I pulled off and when I got off the bike, it was different for sure. I only rode ten minutes and then it happened, as soon as I started taking some steps I knew that something was wrong.

And at Hangtown you were just hoping to somehow ride it out I guess?
Yeah, I told Kristen, my girlfriend, before the race that there was probably only a 40% chance of me making it through the day. So I went there to try and salvage some points. We taped it up really gnarly, like super tight, and we were hoping for the best. I had to have it like that and I had no strength in it. Going down in the second turn was about the worst thing that could’ve happened.

So with Mike out, who do you like for the title?
I think it’s going to come down to a three man race with Andrew Short, Chad Reed and Josh Grant. Obviously, it’s going to be good and those are three good guys. Josh had a bad moto in Texas and Shorty’s had a bad moto. Chad hasn’t had one yet. I looked at the points yesterday and they’re still pretty close. I’m going to pull for Andrew I think. Seeing Chad win it would be okay also.

  • Ryan is admittedly happy that the championship will go to someone other than #800
Hey, maybe Kawasaki doesn’t want you back, look at Ricky Dietrich!
Yeah, I know! I texted Mike Fish that same thing and I think he might just stay on the team now. He’s fast for sure, I mean he got top five last weekend. Remember too, he was running good at Glen Helen before he got a flat. He’s just fast. I have heard that he doesn’t want to go back to his off-road stuff also. We have to see what his skills are in supercross. I’ve ridden with him before actually; he’s from up where I’m from in Washington. I’ve raced some arenacrosses with him. He was always okay coming up, but he really picked it up when he started riding off-road.

What have been your thoughts on the 250 class?
I think that Dungey and Pourcel are a little step ahead. There are some guys that need to put some things together to get a little closer to them I think. It’s a close race all the way to the end. Pourcel seems to have that first moto dialed in and gets a little tired in the second moto. That’s too be expected as he doesn’t have a ton of riding time. We’ll see who can put the puzzle together the fastest outside of Ryan Dungey and Pourcel.

What do you think of the Saturday format and the way the nationals have been?
I think that having them on Saturday is good. I think they have packed way too much stuff into one day and it’s been a bit of a cluster. I’d actually heard they were going to groom the tracks, but at Glen Helen they left it rough so that was good. They need to keep leaving them rough. I think they need to have some things on Sunday for other stuff, I love the Saturday but I don’t like the long breaks in between motos and the way that the last moto is real late in the day. [Whichever class] it is, it’s not fair because of the shadows during the moto. There are some things they need to work on I think but it’s a great start.

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