An the 2011 opening round of the AMA Supercross main event, Ryan Villopoto (Kawasaki KX 450 F) took the lead three laps in and checked out, taking the first win of the 2011 SX motorcycle racing season and giving him the points lead going into round two in Phoenix, Ariz.
This is not say that Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto has not gone through a lot of changes over the past 12 months.
First off, after suffering a broken leg while battling for the AMA Supercross Championship last year with three rounds to go, he had to spend over six months trying to get his leg working properly again without pain, and sometimes that’s still a bit of a work in progress.
He also hired elite motocross trainer Aldon Baker in the off-season, which helped RV2 (Ryan Villopoto) show up at the Anaheim 1 Supercross at his optimum fighting weight and in great shape to do damage in this year’s championship.
Here is what the Kawasaki KX 450 Supercross rider had to say going into the Phoenix round.
Q: Talk through your day, because it seemed like you had kind of a tough time in the first practice, but things got better from there.
Ryan Villopoto (Kawasaki KX450F): The second practice I think I was fourth. That was the first time I had been in a race since I was hurt…
Q: Is it that much different even in practice to go out there and ride at a real race compared to practicing at home?
Ryan Villopoto: It’s definitely different. I just had to make it through practice on the board somewhere so I’d get a good gate pick for the heat races. That was my goal.
Q: It’s been since St. Louis in early April of 2010 since you’ve raced. That’s a long time. To come out and win under those circumstances; is that even above your own expectations?
Ryan Villopoto: "Yeah… Coming here, I just wanted to leave here in a good position for the rest of the season, so obviously winning is the best position you can put yourself in leaving here, so I’m happy. Like I said, I haven’t raced since St. Louis so I think I’m just going to get better from here.
"All of the training I’ve done was good enough for the win tonight and I didn’t get tired. I didn’t feel 100-percent out there because that was the first time I had raced, so I think everything is just going to get better from here on out."
Q: Even last year when you weren’t in awesome shape in round one, by a couple of rounds in you were doing a lot better, too. Is it just normal to get better with more races?
Ryan Villopoto: "Yeah, and I think everybody is going to get better, but I’m going to get better, too."
Q: Was it tough trying to get around Ivan Tedesco out front for the lead?
Ryan Villopoto: "No, I just got around him clean. I don’t think we have a so-called beef or whatever, so just got around him clean and then had to put in 20 solid laps. There was a little section there in the middle when I could see [Ryan] Dungey was catching me."
I think he had a lot of pressure from James [Stewart]. Some lappers got in my way a little bit so he caught me a little bit and I pulled it back out. By that time, it was like 5 to go, so by then it was just about bringing it into the pits, really; just getting it across the finish line."
Q: Well you’ve obviously won a bunch of these before. How is this one different?
Ryan Villopoto: "I wouldn’t say it’s any different other than it’s just a nice comeback from the last time I raced, and it’s Anaheim 1 [smiles]."
Q: Is your leg still tender at all?
Ryan Villopoto: "There are days that it hurts, yeah, but for riding I can ride and I’m fine. That was just one of my worries right after surgery and this and that, just wondering if it’s every going to be the same. Obviously, it’s never going to be the same, but it’s good enough to win races."