Monster Energy Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto continues to turn lemons into lemonade in the 2013 AMA National Motocross Series. Villopoto went down in the first turn of moto one at Southwick, Massachusetts' MX 338, then proceeded to post the fastest laptimes of the race on his way through the pack to an eventual fourth-place finish, just behind the leaders. Then, in moto two, he snared the holeshot and took off with a wire-to-wire victory to grab second overall with a 4-1 score, losing only four points to title rival Ryan Dungey on the day, despite the moto-one difficulties. We caught up with Villopoto after the race.
TAKE US THROUGH YOUR MOTOS AT SOUTHWICK. They were good. Obviously, the second moto was better than the first. Not the start I wanted in the first moto. I ended up going down in the first turn and getting going again. Then I think it was Ryan Sipes and someone else came together across the track in one of the sweepers. Their bike came flipping across the track and actually hit me and I ended up crashing again. I was a little worried that my radiator got hit, but it ended up being fine. I finally got up and got going and just put in a big charge to salvage what I could.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE COMING THROUGH THE PACK? It's always tough coming through the pack. I think I started off with like 14 tear-offs and really had to manage my tear-offs and not pull a lot of them. I tried to wait until I had to pull one to see again. So I had to manage that and pick some different lines and try to get around those guys. It obviously got a little harder as I got through the slower guys and up to the better guys, but also the moto was going on, so people were getting a little tired.
HOW DO YOU PREPARE DIFFERENTLY FOR SAND? I mean, you really can't... We do our normal training, our normal riding, and just come here and ride it; race the track. Southwick is a very tough track to race. It has a very hard base, but it's also very sandy on top. So it makes for a tough track to really get traction and really do consistent, smooth laps.
IF YOU HAD A PICK A TRACK THAT YOU'RE GOING TO COME FROM THE BACK OF THE PACK TO THE FRONT, IS IT THIS PLACE? I don't know. I thought that I put in a good charge in that first moto. The front guys really weren't too far in front of me at the very end, so I knew that I was riding well. I still ended up fourth. It would have been nice to maybe get up there and get second or third to try to salvage some more points.
IN THE SECOND MOTO, AT ONE POINT, RYAN DUNGEY WAS PRETTY CLOSE AND THEN YOU WERE ABLE TO GET AWAY. WHAT DO YOU THINK HAPPENED THERE? I was making just a couple little mistakes. Kind of just missing my lines a little bit. Then I ended up just starting to really get into a groove and ride better. As the moto went on, some of the lines got a little better, but also the track got rougher. So I was able to just keep plugging away and doing good and consistent laps the whole moto. He was riding really well, and yeah, it got pretty close there for a while. I think it was within like eight-tenths. So once I settled down just a little bit and started hitting my marks, I opened it back up.
IN THE FIRST MOTO YOU WERE RUNNING A LOT OF OUTSIDE LINES, AND THEN IN THE SECOND MOTO EVERYBODY WAS USING THOSE OUTSIDE LINES. TALK ABOUT WHY YOU PICKED THOSE LINES. The track got rougher. Some of those lines riders were taking the first moto, they couldn't take anymore or they could but they were really rough. So I was just trying to move around. Trying to look for smooth lines and get good drives out of the corner. For me, the first moto I had to take a lot of different lines. Yeah, it was good. I was able to work and move around on the track and kind of use those in the second moto. But man, I think really, I wouldn't say there was any good line out there. Everything was pretty rough.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT NOT HAVING SOUTHWICK ON NEXT YEAR’S SCHEDULE? This place is always good. This is one that's hard on bikes and hard on riders. If there's a place that can throw a wrench into the program, this is one of them. So we're definitely going to get rid of that, unless we obviously get another sand track. But it's always a bummer. I've been racing here for a while and it's always cool to come here. It's not too far from the airport, so it's pretty easy to get here. So there's a lot of good things about it. Definitely it is a bummer to see it go.
WE'RE HEADING INTO ROUND SEVEN AT RED BUD. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF RED BUD? I really like Red Bud. We did some testing this last week and got the bike a lot better. You kind of come to Southwick and run a little bit different setup than you normally do at standard tracks, so I'm really looking forward to going there. It worked well today, so I think it's really going to work well at Red Bud. And I like Red Bud, so I'm looking forward to it.
Photos: Monster Energy
Suzuki Motorcycle tests