News 27 Jul 2016

Villopoto speaks out about AUS-X Open racing return

Retired American ace's first Australian visit draws closer.

Image: Simon Cudby.

Image: Simon Cudby.

It’s been two full seasons since Ryan Villopoto clinched his fourth-career Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, crown in 2014, which was the last time the retired US icon contested supercross on a professional level.

Now, despite retiring at the close of 2015 off the back of a part-season in MXGP, Villopoto is primed to make a rare racing return at Sydney’s AUS-X Open on 12-13 November, the final rounds of the 2016 Australian Supercross Championship.

The opportunity for Villopoto to race in a lucrative low-pressure environment – by his standards – came as a welcome one, where he will be pitted against Australia’s greatest-ever export Chad Reed on home soil. It’s a win-win for the Washington native and his legion of local Aussie fans.

“It seems like a unique race in many areas,” Villopoto said of his upcoming AUS-X Open appearance. “It has metal ramps for some of the take-offs, so that in itself there makes it a little bit less stressful – everything to do with around the race seems like it’s something to draw the fans in and it’s built as more of an ‘event spectacle’ type of thing.

“It seems like more of a good enjoyable show and, sure we’ll be racing hard, but it’s not all about who’s going to win this race and then move onto the next round. It’s, from what I gather, just going to be something really cool that people are going to enjoy watching.”

The 27-year-old still actively rides on occasion in the US, but it’s no longer the ultimate priority following a lifelong career on two-wheels. In his first visit to Australia, Villopoto looks forward to getting back behind the starting gates for what is the sport’s most prestigious single event in Australia.

“What am I most looking forward to? Lining up behind a gate,” he continued. “I mean, sure I’m a little bit nervous as it’s been a while, but that’ll be cool and then also just the experience going down there and checking Australia out – I’ve heard it’s really cool.

“I feel like it’ll be good. I think that, with my fans, maybe I didn’t completely give them the appreciation that they needed, but I feel that I was on a level playing field with them. But the AUS-X Open is something cool that I think all my fans will just like.

“I think no matter where they are, they’ll want to tune in to some degree and see what’s going on. I think it’ll be a thing like, ‘cool, Chad’s down there racing and so is Ryan, shit lets see where he’s at’, you know? So hopefully the fans will tune in, check it out and like it.”

And considering Reed, along with the rest of the Australian Supercross Championship contenders, still races regularly, where does the Monster Energy Kawasaki legend expect to fit in come the race weekend later this year? Former rival Reed will be a familiar benchmark, with a lengthy history of racing against eachother.

“My relationship with Chad over the years of racing was pretty good,” Villopoto added. “You know, no real highs, no real lows. We’ve had some great battles and, shit, you have to give it to him, he’s still out there racing today. So I’ll be lining up on the gate with him again and, sure I want to be up there and being able to race with him, we’ll see if I can do that [laughs].”

Tickets to the AUS-X Open to be hosted within the Qudos Bank Arena at Sydney Olympic Park on 12-13 November are available now via Ticketek. Further information on the event can be found via