Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto has secured legendary status for himself over the last few years. All you need to do is look at the numbers, as he now boasts three AMA Supercross Championships – and all of them coming consecutively, he is only the third racer in history to accomplish that feat (Jeremy McGrath and Ricky Carmichael being the other two). He also has a total of eight National Championships (tying himself for second place on the all-time list with McGrath). That’s some serious company surrounding RV.
However, at only 25 years of age, RV is already staring down retirement, publicly stating that all of his contracts end after 2015, and as of now, he has no reason to continue racing pass that season.
Much to the chagrin of everyone racing 450s in the AMA, though, he plans on giving it everything he has between now and then.
This past season marked quite a few milestones for Villopoto, and some of them were milestones he would’ve rather not dealt with. To start, it was the first time he left the Anaheim One series opener without a win since 2010. To make matters worse, he went down hard twice at the opener, scoring a 16th-place finish and trailing points leader Davi Millsaps by a full 20 points. He followed that up with second place at round two in Phoenix, but that was a race he could’ve and probably should’ve won, too, except for yet another fall. For the first time in recent history, Villopoto was the hound instead of the hare.
“I was just kind of trying to figure out what the problem was,” Villopoto says. “I’m not saying it was all me, or wasn’t all me, or it was all the bike, or anything like that, but I knew that at least some of those crashes weren’t all me. So, I was just trying to figure out what the problem was, and it just came down to being way off on our settings for the conditions we were racing.”
It’s not all that uncommon for teams to their Supercross settings dialed in perfectly for the test tracks, then show up at the races only to find out what worked in Corona doesn’t work in Anaheim.
“We changed some settings, or a lot of settings, and we found a balance and made it work better,” Villopoto says. “And then, obviously I started feeling better, the bike was better, and so it just all started playing off each other. It just all came together before it was too late.”
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