Stateside MX fans have always had an interest in the FIM Motocross World Championship. But the 2015 season has garnered much more attention due to the presence of four-time AMA Supercross Champion Ryan Villopoto.
The 26-year-old Washington native retired from AMA Supercross after earning the past-four consecutive titles – all on Kawasaki KX450F machinery. Setting his sights on MXGP, he joined the Monster Energy Kawasaki squad for 2015. Villopoto struggled with bike issues at the season opener in Qatar, earning a seventh overall.
Americans were proud, but everyone knew Villopoto was capable of much more. And he proved this during round two of MXGP in Thailand. Villopoto dominated qualifying, finishing over 33 seconds ahead of Suzuki’s Clement Desalle (RV photo gallery and video below).
Villopoto followed up qualifying with his debut MXGP victory in race one and third in race two. This 1-3 score earned him the overall win at Thailand MXGP. It also moved him up to third fourth in the MXGP point standings, 18 points behind the overall leader after two of 18 rounds Desalle.
Speaking after the race, Villopoto said:”We only had two days to test when we went back to Europe but we made good progress with the bike. We made some big suspension changes and then some fine tuning here. I think the track here is not only new for all of us, it is also a little more jumpy than the usual GP track and suited me.
“For sure there will be weeks when a track suits me best, and other weeks when the track suits the European guys. I didn’t ride this sort of heat for one and a half years, and it even started snowing when we were training in Belgium on Tuesday, so it was a shock change for all of us. I guess I have some things to learn too.
“I also backed off my pace in the qualifier but I think the other guys did so even more to save energy in the heat. There’s a strategy to GP racing but I’m gradually getting used to it. I got pushed around a little in the first few turns of race two but when I got to third I just tried to be smart, and at this stage of the season a safe third is better than risking a crash. It’s cool to come here to Thailand and see things which you would normally only see in the movies; it’s a bizarre experience.”
Villopoto now has some extra time to prepare before the 2015 MXGP Championship continues in Argentina on March 29.
Following is the official-video recap of Thailand MXGP, and a photo gallery of Ryan Villopoto.
2015 Thailand MXGP Ryan Villopoto Photo Gallery: