Racer X Rapid ReaXtion:  Villopoto is Out

Racer X Rapid Reaxtion: Villopoto is Out

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Monster Energy Kawasaki announced today that Ryan Villopoto's knee injury from the Seattle Supercross will keep him off of the track for the rest of the 2012 Monster Energy Supercross Championship and the entire 2012 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. Here's what our staff thinks of the shocking news. Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Davey Coombs:

A European journalist recently asked me, and several people, who the fastest rider in the world is right now. Without question, hands down, indoors and outdoors, it's Ryan Villopoto. No offense to Tony Cairoli, or Ryan Dungey, or James "Ricky" Reed, it's now RV. And now the fastest rider in the world is done for 2012, just like that. It was another reminder (as if we needed one) of just how cruel a mistress racing can be...  It was such a small crash, too. Nothing like the spectacular crash that Trey Canard suffered at Los Angeles, or Chad Reed (Dallas), or like Kevin Windham (Houston), and really any of the ones that pushed James Stewart to the sidelines. It was a turn, some traffic, a foot planted wrong, a summer lost -- the third time in four years for Ryan Villopoto.

I hope Ryan gets well soon and comes back 100 percent for the start of the 2013 season and hopefully another solid title defense. Remember, Ricky Carmichael's streak of SX titles was stopped at three in a row in 2004 when he went down before the series started with a knee injury. He came back from surgery and rehab and won two more.  How did he come back so well? By taking four months off for what his doctors said would be a four-month injury, a recovery formula that athletes in every sport should follow.

Ryan Villopoto's Hall of Fame career is not over, just his summer. Here's wishing him a speedy and full recovery. I still think he's the fastest man on the planet until someone beats him when he's at 100 percent, and that's not going to happen before January 2013.

 

Steve Matthes:

Blowing out your knee in a contract year is a total disaster for just about any rider. Fortunately for Ryan Villopoto, he’s not one of those riders. RV has clinched the supercross title and was installed as the immediate heavy favorite for the outdoor title until his crash at Seattle. Villopoto’s had a nice run of three straight titles, but lately in this sport, that’s about all you’re going to get.

The injury count is staggering and not even a guy who’s had everything go right for him can escape the reaper for that long. Villopoto will be back for 2013 supercross and these days, an ACL injury isn’t nearly the problem that it used to me. He’ll be back and I assume at his full powers.

With him gone, Ryan Dungey is now the favorite unless a certain #7 who rides a Yamaha (but maybe for not much longer) dusts off the Nikes and comes back to the outdoors. Then those two big dogs will go at it but right now, guys like Andrew Short, Davi Millsaps, Brett Metcalfe and Justin Brayton have to be pretty excited for their chances to do some damage this summer.

Also the question is out there, who gets to ride the factory Kawasaki of Villopoto this summer? The early betting favorites are a guy like Broc Tickle, who’s on a 450 right now and is sort of an extra guy for the Pro Circuit team. Or do they put Tickle back down and move Tyla Rattray up? Rattray was looking to ride 450 outdoors this past year before signing back up with PC. What about Kyle Regal? Tommy Hahn (who’s rumored to be on Trey Canard’s Honda this summer) or maybe Kawasaki puts in a call to the strangest fill-in rider ever that only lasted one race, Branden Jessemen.

In this season of strange happenings, who really knows? The one thing we do know is Ryan Villopoto will be missed at the races by most everyone but his competition.

 

Jason Weigandt:

Now even the guy who won the title couldn't escape! We're now literally looking at the prospect of Ryan Villopoto crutching his way up to the stage to accept his 2012 Monster Energy SX Championship trophy at the Awards Ceremony in a few weeks. It will become the most symbolic image of the season, one in which just about no one was spared.

Of course, other injuries seemed more tragic because RV already won this year’s SX title, and he’ll no doubt get a nice new contract for 2012. But it still sucks. At RV's level, you're not racing for a contract or just to fill the bank account. You're racing to win and to be the best, and this one takes away time right in the prime of his career.

I don't like jumping right into the speculation about replacement riders or who will win the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross title in the absence of the champ. Obviously Ryan Dungey becomes a heavy favorite now, and you'd think anyone else with a shot will be motivated to come out and give it a shot (and I think we all know who I'm talking about). But in this season, it's ridiculous to hand the trophy over to anyone this early. Dungey could be the fave, but he's just a few days back into racing after an injury of his own. Now more than ever, no one is immune to trouble, so predictions in April are useless.

As for replacements, the Kawasaki net is large, from Pro Circuit guys like (on a 450 in SX) Broc Tickle and (dying to get on a 450) Tyla Rattray, to H&H riders like Ivan Tedesco or Kyle Regal. My personal favorite choice, just for the pure wackiness of it all, would be Christophe Pourcel, but there’s no chance of that. But again, why speculate on a replacement? Whoever they do put on RV's bike will also have to survive the next four weeks in order to race it, and at this point, you can't count on anything!

 

David Pingree:
I caught wind of this, and Tweeted about it, days ago and unfortunately it is true. Injuries are always a bummer and it just won’t be the same without Ryan at the nationals this summer. But Ryan can put a silver lining on this thing pretty easily.

First, he already wrapped up his title. How much more does this injury sting if it happened five rounds ago? Ryan will be comforted during his rehabilitation as he pulls his piles of money and number one plates over himself before falling asleep at night. Also, ACL replacements are very common and, as long as there is minimal damage to his meniscus, he will recover 100 percent. He also gets a well-deserved summer vacation. One-and-a-half years of Aldon Baker breathing over your shoulder watching every morsel of food that passes your lips has to wear thin. For an active racer it’s difficult to take time off because you feel like your competition isn’t. That’s why McGrath always liked to go to Lake Havasu with Jeff Emig because he knew at the very least his main competitor was there having as much fun as he was.

This will force RV to take a break and realize how much he loves riding and racing. Add to that the fact that this gives some deserving rider a chance to shine on a good bike and the injury becomes almost philanthropic. Well done, Ryan.

I’m not sure if the series gets boring without podium regulars Reed, Townley and Villopoto in the mix or if it starts to get really, really interesting. Could this change the plans Stewart has been making? Does Dungey reassert himself as the king this summer? Can guys like Short, Grant, Metcalfe and Millsaps win races now? There are plenty of unanswered questions that won’t be solved until the series kicks off in a few weeks. Until then I wish a speedy and full recovery to Ryan and the rest of the battered and bruised cadre of professional racers out there.

 

Chase Stallo:
It didn’t look good from the get go. When one of the toughest riders in the sport has to be helped off the track, barley able to stand on both legs, deep down you know something is wrong. Today Kawasaki officially announced that Villopoto would miss the remainder of the 2012 season with a knee injury. Not only is this a big blow to Villopoto, as well as both series’, but to the fans as well.

Weege and Matthes have already covered the long-term prognosis for RV, so I won’t rehash the same sentiments. But I will touch on the opportunity this could provide for a number of riders when the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship kicks off at Hangtown on May 19. Although Dungey will enter as a heavy favorite, along with Stewart (if he choses to ride), there are a number of riders that could use this opportunity to step up to the plate.

Justin Brayton, Davi Millsaps, Josh Grant, Jake Weimer, Andrew Short, Mike Alessi, Brett Metcalfe…the list goes on…are salivating that they may now have a chance to reign supreme outdoors. As we’ve seen throughout 2012 it only takes a millisecond for things to change in a hurry, and with a wealth of contenders already in the MASH unit, the door is open for a new contender to emerge. Or we could see a repeat of 2010. Only time will tell.

 

Haley Whisennand:
This season is literally taking all the top riders hostage. It was looking like maybe RV would be able to come through and be the one who survived, but that all changed with a crash in Seattle.

Though he’s already clinched his 2012 Monster Energy Supercross title, this means that Villopoto won’t be able to defend his Lucas Oil Pro Motocross title. Now, I know he has a bunch of Ws already and he finished out what was his 2012 season with yet another championship, but it’s still disappointing for everyone to know that we won’t be able to compare Villopoto’s outdoor aggression on the Kawasaki with Ryan Dungey on his new KTM or Andrew Short back on the Honda.

The better part of this deal is it lets the “best of the rest” guys have a chance to really shine and maybe grab some serious moto wins. Guys like Davi Millsaps, Justin Brayton and Jake Weimer may get to see the podium more often this year. After all, of the five SX riders from last season, only one [Dungey] has confirmed that he’ll be riding outdoors now. It’s anyone’s game again.

Monster Energy Kawasaki is no doubt looking for a summer replacement. But whoever does get the gig has to know that it’s only for this year. Even though it’s a contract year for Villopoto, there’s no doubt Kawi will pick him back up. But that still leads to speculation. Who will fill in while he’s out? If it were up to me, I’d move up Tyla Rattray out of the 250 Pro Circuit realms. It’s time he moved up to the 450.

With this latest update, it looks like it’s Dungey’s title to lose. But who knows? Surprises are around every corner.

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