Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto had a very successful return to racing after having knee surgery in June. The 21-year-old rider won two head-to-head battles, two heat races and finished second in Saturday night’s main event to finish fourth overall. Josh Hansen rode for Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki and finished 12th overall after being involved in first turn incidents both nights. In the 85cc Invitational, Monster Energy Kawasaki Team Green’s Adam Cianciarulo and Thomas Covington finished second and third respectively.
Villopoto and the team didn’t originally plan on racing the U.S. Open. After two good weeks of riding at the Kawasaki practice track, a last minute decision was made to enter the event. Despite the short notice, Villopoto showed he would be a contender winning his one-on-one and heat race on Friday night. In the main event, he was running fifth and moving up through the field when he hit a tuff block and bent his shift lever back to the foot peg forcing him to retire early.
Most of Saturday was a repeat of Friday as Villopoto once again swept his head-to-head battle and heat race. In the main event, he narrowly missed the holeshot, but took the lead in the next corner and led the first half of the race. By the checkered flag he was second place and despite Friday’s DNF, he just missed an overall podium position.
Villopoto’s return to racing could not have come at a more difficult
event. The small, tight track forces riders to be perfect because every
little mistake adds up.
Ryan Vilopoto Speaks…
"Saturday night was a lot better for me," said Villopoto. "I got a good start in the main event and built up a bit of a lead. With only two weeks of riding I’m still not in race shape. I was only really able to charge for the first half of the race."
"A track like this makes it difficult to come right in and race," said Villopoto. "The track was so tight; I was working every second of every lap. This track had everything a supercross track has only in a smaller stadium. It was a good second night for me and I’m glad I got a race in before Anaheim 1."