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Monday Conversation: Ryan Villopoto

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Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto has been the most dominant rider of the second quarter of the season, by far, but a small miscalculation turned into a huge mistake for him last weekend in Atlanta, and he came into Daytona needing 23 points to catch rival Ryan Dungey in the points standings. He took three points back from Dungey last Saturday night at Daytona in a wire-to-wire romp. We talked to him after the race.

Racer X: Okay, well I want to start with last week. It looked like you were catching Ryan Dungey last week when you went down. Were you?
Ryan Villopoto: I think his lead started at three-something seconds, and I got it down to two-something...

And then you ate it. What happened there?
I was going through that rhythm section, and going into the turn, going triple-triple-single onto the start straight, and some guys were going double-double-double, and other guys were bouncing it and then tripling, so as I was tripling, the thing was that some of the guys were landing where we were taking off, and I should’ve hit it faster [to compensate for the jump being beaten down by people landing on it], but I cased it and went over the bars. Then the silencer got plugged with dirt, which never happens, but it happened to me, so I ended up kicking it until I just wore myself out, and then I just pushed it into the pit area, and they started it right away once they got the dirt out of it. But it’s really no excuse. It was my mistake.

Right after that, you fell again in the turn between the two whoop sections.
I did? Yeah, maybe I did. It was a great time after that.

So after a race like that, where you lost so many points, what’s going through your head?
I just want to go back to the pits!

Do you wish you had a replay?
Yeah, I mean, I was able to get like two points, and that was it. I just had to close the curtains and go to this weekend.

Yeah, exactly, so what’s the week like after that?
I had a typical week, and did what I’ve done in the past. I won three races up to this point, and I came here knowing that Daytona is kind of a supercross/motocross track, so I like it, and luckily this year it was dry. It was a good layout, and I had two great starts, when normally I only have one. I got the holeshot, came around and got the red flag [for Grant Langston’s crash], and it was a bummer that GL went down, but I had to line back up and do it again, and then I actually had a better start the second time, but so did Ryan [Dungey]. That’s just kind of how it finished.

What goes through your head then, when you’re leading the race in a situation like this, and then you see that red flag?
Yeah, you come around, and it’s like, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” I mean, that’s probably the worst thing you can see, where you pull the holeshot, you already have a little bit of a gap, and then there’s the red flag!

Are you still doing the whole “buy a gun when you win a race” thing? You’ve got to have a lot of guns by now...
No, I haven’t done that in a long time.

How do you reward yourself, then?
I don’t know, I just do little things here and there, like I might buy a boat for the summertime – like a Ski Natiques boat. But we’ll see.

Well, you live in Florida now, so all of a sudden there’s water everywhere, and you need a boat.
Yeah, we’re right on the lake, so it would be cool.

You said on the podium that you haven’t had much luck here in the past, so were you worried about that coming in considering how last week went?
No, I mean, how can anyone have a great weekend when they have to ride their bike through water everywhere [in 2008]. I ended up getting second, but other than that, it was all right. It was definitely nice to finally get a Daytona win.

You’re now 20 points out of the lead, and you made that up once, so what do you think?
It means I would have to make up a total of like 43 points [to tie Dungey] total.

It also means you gave up 43 points, too...
However you want to look at it.

Yeah, it’s a half-full or a half-empty glass, I guess. Do you have any sort of a special game plan knowing that you have to make up that many points?
No, but I mean obviously if I can win every race from here on out, I’ll be champion. But that’s asking a lot. I just have to go back and take it week-by-week and see what we can do. It’s racing, so anything can happen. I made a mistake last weekend, and he’s probably going to have mistakes, too. We’ll see what happens.

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