Last week, Ryan Villopoto – a four-time Monster Energy AMA Supercross Champion – made his debut in the FIM Motocross World Championship.
The Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team KX-450F pilot earned seventh overall (9-8 finishes). Following the race, Villopoto said his MXGP team had some work to do regarding setup, and noted they “would be stronger at the next GP.”
And that next round – Thailand MXGP – began Saturday with qualifying. Under extremely hot conditions, Villopoto dominated his qualifying heat. He took the holeshot and held a tight line around turn one in Thailand. From there, Villopoto “went on to obliterate the field for one of the most convincing qualifying heat victories we’ve seen in a while,” MXGP reports.
When the heat race wrapped up, the 26-year-old Villopoto qualified over 33 seconds ahead of Rockstar Energy Suzuki World’s Clement Desalle and over 39 seconds ahead of Team HRC’s Gauiter Paulin.
The battle for third was intense, first between Red Bull KTM Factory Racing teammates Tommy Searle and Ken De Dycker. The man who doubled at last week’s opening round of MXGP in Qatar, Red Bull IceOne Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Max Nagl, was also in the mix for third, but the red-plate holder crashed, dropping him back to 10.
The German wasted no time, though, and rushed through the field to find himself once again in a battle for third with De Dycker. But Paulin – who started outside the top 10 – was also rushing through the field, and soon in a battle for third.
Paulin quickly passed Nagl and De Dycker to finish third. Nagl would finish fourth, followed by De Dycker in fifth. Villopoto’s Kawasaki teammate Tyla Rattray earned sixth. As for the eight-time FIM Motocross World Champion, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli managed eighth after crashing on turn one.
2015 Thailand MXGP Qualifying Results, Top 10: 1. Ryan Villopoto (USA, Kawasaki), 23:41.909; 2. Clement Desalle (BEL, Suzuki), +0:33.419; 3. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Honda), +0:39.764; 4. Maximilian Nagl (GER, Husqvarna), +0:45.150; 5. Ken de Dycker (BEL, KTM), +0:53.571; 6. Tyla Rattray (RSA, Kawasaki), +0:57.761; 7. David Philippaerts (ITA, Yamaha), +1:03.839; 8. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +1:08.477; 9. Steven Frossard (FRA, KTM), +1:13.457; 10. Tommy Searle (GBR, KTM), +1:14.376