Features 13 Jun 2013

The US Report: 23

PulpMX's Steve Matthes checks in direct from the US every Thursday, presented by Fox.

Eight motos down in the 450MX AMA nationals and seven moto wins for Monster Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto. It’s been an amazing run to start the outdoor season as the 2013 supercross champion looks to establish his dominance outside as well. And as good as he was in supercross with ten wins, he just might be better when the sun is out.

We’ve really been robbed of seeing Villopoto race 450MX as injuries have conspired to keep him out of three out of the five chances he’s had to race the series. The one year that the three-time 250MX champion did race the entire 450MX series he won it in a close battle with then-Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey.

What’s funny is that when Villopoto first hit the scene it was actually thought to be the opposite of what it’s turned to be now in that Villopoto was thought of as being better outdoors than in. He only captured one 250SX title out of three chances while he never lost a title outdoors. And then of course there was the demolishing of everyone at the MXDN at Budds Creek on a 250.

Yes sir, it was once thought that Villopoto didn’t have the ideal style and patience to be that great indoors. I swear!

Apart from one moto this year, Ryan Villopoto has been unstoppable. Image: Simon Cudby.

Apart from one moto this year, Ryan Villopoto has been unstoppable. Image: Simon Cudby.

Well here we are later with three straight 450SX titles and now it seems that Villopoto is on a mission to back up his streak of not losing a championship that he finished to four years (you have to go back to the 2009 450SX season, his first, as one that he got beat in when he started and finished the season).

The 2013 outdoor series has been a Villopoto show start to finish. He passed his rival Ryan Dungey this past weekend at High Point and went on to win the second moto in a soul-crushing (for Dungey) ride. The only moto that Villopoto has lost is one that he crashed twice in and he still got fourth.

It’s been a few years but there is a rider that I remember doing exactly what Villopoto is doing right now. To me, he is a carbon copy of Ricky Carmichael in that he rides a bit reckless, keeps the throttle pinned and when he gets into the front, it’s then that he really puts the hammer down. There’s no following for Villopoto, he simply cannot stand to be behind someone. He presses on until he finds a way by.

Villopoto is focused on one thing, winning titles. Image: Simon Cudby.

Villopoto is focused on one thing, winning titles. Image: Simon Cudby.

His pass on Dungey in the second moto this past weekend was a thing of beauty. I was in the mechanic’s area for most of RC’s wins in both classes and I’m blown away by what Villlopoto is doing right now. He’s on another level from where he was the last time he raced 450MX no doubt about it.

In talking to Ryan he credits the bike for the difference. The 2011 Kawasaki was fine but once he and teammate Jake Weimer got the 2012 frame on the bike, things really started clicking for both of them. For whatever reason the 2011 just wouldn’t stay calm and corner the way the riders liked to.

The ’12 frame, with its aluminum composite made so that it was stiffer and softer in the right places was the key to unlocking the wins. And in 2013, with the addition of Showa air forks and Showa shock, things really seem to be clicking. Or not as in, there are no turns of the clickers on the suspension to adjust it.

Whether it’s bike or body or something, there’s no doubt that Villopoto is the best rider in America right now and truthfully, probably the world. He’s shaken off the comparisons to James Stewart, Dungey and Chad Reed and emerged as the numero uno over. No question about it. The only person that can stop him at the moment is himself and I don’t see that happening anytime soon.