Monster Energy Kawasaki announcing that they’ve re-signed their two riders from this year to multi-year deals isn’t that surprising, after all both guys are buddies, they’re both really fast and they’ve both put up some solid results. If Ryan Villopoto can stay healthy, he’s the favorite going into each title chase, there’s no doubt about that. Unfortunately for RV, since 2010 he’s missed three complete series (2009 450MX, 2010 450MX and 2012 450MX) in the last four years. Villopoto when healthy is the number one rider in the sport, he’s yet to lose a championship that he’s fully contested aside from his first 450 SX season.
The one thing that makes team moves hard to understand in this sport is that we never hear the actual asking price or salary numbers. In the big team sports, salaries are batted around and made public, which allows fans to make educated guesses as if they were building their own fantasy team.
RV re-signing is no surprise. What took so long? Well, the last time his deal was up, he was coming off some injury-plagued years and had yet to deliver a 450 championship. Hard to believe now, but heading into 2010, Christophe Pourcel’s old agent was trying to convince Kawasaki that his rider was more championship-proven than RV, and thus the brand should open the check book for CP first, and RV later. Pourcel obviously brought some issues, but at the time, Villopoto had merely crashed out of his 450 title attempts, so he didn’t have a ton of leverage.
Since then, Villopoto picked up Aldon Baker, upped his game and won titles against the deepest field ever. Plus the sport is a little healthier financially, so the timing and leverage were now on RV’s side. Might as well wait and let the offers get higher and higher and higher (Kawi was worried. At one point they made a serious run at Trey Canard). And good for Ryan, because he earned those dollars the right way, by training his ass off and winning races.
As for Weimer, he wants to be there and he doesn’t play hard ball (note Matthes’ info above, where Weimer decided to do this deal on his own). He could have tried to squeeze every last dollar out of it, but instead he played the good citizen, which is the way to be when you’re the number-two guy on the team. Plus, he and RV are buddies, they both work with Baker, etc. Weimer helps Villopoto be that much better by keeping the drama out of there and working as a unit.
This is a case of Villopoto using the leverage he had to make this a hard negotiation process, and make as much money as possible. And it’s a case of Kawasaki and Weimer taking the path of least resistances in regards to each other.
As for Weimer’s deal shutting out future Kawi talent like Blake Baggett (or Dean Wilson), well, when you have Villopoto on lock down, you’re not really desperate for talent. Second, Kawi kept Dean anyway, just on a different team. It’s hard to bet on what future talent can deliver, but it’s easy to go all-in on Ryan Villopoto.