Now that I’ve had the chance to idle for a minute, I want to give everybody a recap of what I was up to a couple weeks ago in Europe. So what did we do? We did a lot of driving that’s for sure. It’s kind of like SoCal but with less traffic and even further distances if you can believe that, haha. But the worst part? You can’t speed! There are cameras everywhere!
But seriously, I got over there and went straight to the race shop. I met the guys and had a little meeting to discuss the plan for the week, including riding and what Tyla was going to test. Nothing too special, just going through suspension stuff and different hard parts. Testing current settings and some for next year’s set-up— the normal deal, really. But it’s a real breath of fresh air to be involved with a team that’s excited and passionate about the sport.
We visited four different tracks and Tyla rode three of them. One was in Germany, one was in France, and the other was in Holland. It rained the first few days so the first track we went to was a little muddy. It would have been okay to train in but since we were trying to do some testing it wasn’t going to work. So we had to pack up and go somewhere else.
Most of the tracks in Europe have been there for a really long time so they are a little smaller than what we normally ride in the States. But the main difference is the various types of terrain. From 30 minutes to an hour, it will go from sand, to hard pack, to rock.
That Wednesday, I flew to Spain to see the knee doctor that works with the Barcelona soccer team, which is one of the biggest soccer teams in the world. He’s a high profile guy. I just wanted to get that check-up out of the way and make sure everything was okay to do one day of riding just to feel out the bike and see if there was anything major I needed, or wanted to change. He was pretty happy with my knee. He asked who did the surgery and I told him ‘Tom Hackett from the Steadman Clinic’ and he had heard of them. So that was reassuring. Everything looked good, so with that news, I returned to Belgium to do a little bit of riding.
I was pretty surprised with how good the bike was. I didn’t have to change anything. I started off with my current setting and hard parts. After I rode once, I put on the team’s stuff and it was good straight out of the box. We ended up riding at a sand track in Germany. It wasn’t obviously the best track to ride for my first day back on the bike, as it’s hard to ride sand slow. So I had to ride a little more aggressively than I would have had we rode on a hard pack track. I was definitely sore after that, haha. But it was good to be back on the bike…
As of right now I am still looking for a place to live in Europe. I have a couple ideas and have some people helping us who know the area pretty well. The plan is to base ourselves near the team and travel the world from there. For transportation I will probably get a little van. Everything is smaller in Europe but they have these little Opal vans with a sliding door and a wall that’s built-in, so that will be our ‘touring van’.
We had some good food too when we were over there. Nothing too crazy though. We ate Italian a few of the nights. Probably the biggest difference over there is that they have little to no preservatives in food so it doesn’t make you feel weighed down.
Now that I’m back in America the plan is to slowly get back to riding full-time when my 450 shows up later this week. Then I’ll go back over to Europe in mid-November for eight to ten days and we’ll do a little more testing and attend the the FIM Gala in Spain.
My current practice mechanic Tanner Ellingsen will be my mechanic here in the States but once we get over there his role will change. In Europe, there aren’t any goggle, gear, or dedicated people that do that one specific job, so the riders have to take care of that themselves. It’s a luxury to have that here in America so that’s what Tanner’s going to handle once the season gets underway.
Will hit you guys with another update soon as I have some riding under my belt.
Hey everybody, so I just got back home from Belgium last night. During my trip I actually felt well enough to throw a leg over my new KX450F and put in a couple motos (after getting approval from the team’s doctor in Spain). I didn’t plan on riding as hard as I did, but if any of you have ridden in sand you probably know that you can’t just putt around. Needless to say I was a little sore the next day, haha. But it felt good to ride my dirt bike again and I’m pretty pumped on how good it felt out of the box. Anyways, I will fill you all in on the trip later but for now here are a couple of photos from the track. – RV
Finally able to throw my my leg back over the bike after months off (released a bit earlier than expected). It feels amazing to be back in my element (even though it’s just some slow-pace testing). My new KRT team is making me feel right at home though I am thousands of miles from it. That said, check out day one on my @gopro! There may not be a day two if I am too sore to walk, ha ha
By now you probably know that I will be racing MXGP next season. What a relief it is to get that off my chest and share it will all of you. I know the suspense was driving some of you crazy but I had to keep my lips sealed until my contract with Kawasaki of America was complete. Together we had a good run with some great memories, but now it’s time to switch gears and try something a little different.
I know a lot of people were speculating that I was going to retire, and to be honest, I considered it. Life for a pro motocross racer can be pretty tough—especially if you fall down a lot, lol. Did I want to have to climb back up that ladder? Get myself back into shape? I didn’t know if I wanted to tackle that all again. I’ve done that already twice—coming back from a fairly major injury. Even at this point right now its five months or so until the gate drops in Qatar…
Once I was able to swallow that one and be like ‘okay, yeah let’s do it’, it is definitely something that is a work in progress. It’s funny because although Kawasaki is one company KMC, KME, and KHI are three separate entities. So we had to get everything correlated and running in the right direction… trying to get all the moving parts aligned. It’s taken some time.
Then there is my own physical aspect: It’s not just like coming off a season and taking two weeks off and then kind of getting back into it. You don’t lose much at all if you do it that way. Definitely the hill is a lot steeper the way I’m going about it.
There are a couple of things that make me nervous. Obviously traveling to different countries. Some of the counties are a maybe little bit sketchy, so there’s things I have to watch out for. Learning the tricks of the trade. And I have to learn them very quick, lol. It’s going to be making the mistake of eating an ice cube that was frozen from tap water, then you get sick—that’s the sort of stuff I will need to learn real quick. Not make a mistake in that area.
When it comes to the bike, the tracks—that’s all the stuff I am really good at. I have a good base coming from KMC. Our factory bike is one of the best. Kawasaki of Europe, they have a good bike as well. The great thing is that it’s going to be essentially the same bike—with a few different parts and set-up a little differently. I know how I like to ride my bike and have it set-up, so I plan on doing the same.
As far as the competition goes, I have raced the majority at des Nations, but that’s a hard race to gauge off. It’s kind of like Anaheim 1—not the best place to make assumptions. I feel like Tony Cairoli’s probably going to be one of my strongest competitors. You can’t not think he’s going to be the guy—he’s won eight years in a row! Then there’s other guys like Gautier Paulin and Steven Frossard. The Europeans are going to be tough. I think they will surprise me in areas and I will surprise them in areas.
We’re flying into Brussels on October 10 to meet the team, I’ve met a few of the guys already, and go see the race shop. The race shop is in Holland which is about 40 miles from where my friend and teammate Tyla Rattray lives—basically just outside of Lommel. He’s going to do some testing at Saint Jean. It’s where I last raced des Nations in ’11.
Most of all, I’m just trying to go over there and really enjoy this last year. This is a one-time deal. I am going to finish my career win or lose after this next season… But I’d love to win and leave on top. I’m not going to say it’s going to be easier or harder—it will for sure be different though. I know a lot of my fans are bummed that I won’t be racing Supercross or Outdoors, but I hope you tune in and follow me in GP’s as this will be one ride you won’t want to miss.
KAWASAKI CONFIRMS RYAN VILLOPOTO TO RACE MXGP IN 2015
Ten-time US champion Ryan Villopoto will contest the FIM MXGP World Championship for the Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team in 2015, while Jordi Tixier will defend his MX2 world title in Green.
Having won the Monster Energy FIM Supercross world title for the last four years, 26 year old Villopoto, a loyal Kawasaki rider throughout his professional career, will take on the challenge of the world’s premier outdoor motocross series with the intention of bringing Kawasaki their first World Championship in the MXGP class; the worldwide series will host 18 rounds on four continents in 2015.
“I am ready for the next chapter in my career and to accomplish new goals,” said Villopoto. “I’ve never been one to look at the record books so when an opportunity like this comes around, to race against the best in the world and represent USA, I have to see it through. It will be a major change of pace and this will be the last chapter in my career win or lose, I am extremely excited about the opportunity and also to be joined by a former champion like Tyla (Rattray). He knows what is needed to succeed on the world championship stage and I know I can learn a lot from him.”
Racing alongside Villopoto for the Kawasaki Racing Team in the MXGP class will be Tyla Rattray; the 28 year old South African won the MX2 world title in 2008 and was a regular race winner during a highly successful career in the USA with Kawasaki.
For Kawasaki Motors Europe, Racing Manager Steve Guttridge commented: “Ryan Villopoto is a truly global motocross star; for fans around the world to see him race on their home tracks will indeed be a privilege. After such dominance in Supercross it is refreshing and characteristically brave to see Ryan take on the world’s best MXGP riders and set his sights on supremacy in this class as well.”
Team owner Thierry Chizat Suzzoni proudly added: “For 2015, we are very excited to welcome Ryan Villopoto and Tyla Rattray into the Kawasaki Racing Team. It’s a fantastic challenge for the team and we are aware that the 2015 championship organized by Youthsteam is going to be very demanding, but our team is very enthusiastic and has ended this season on a high at the Motocross of Nations so we are going to actively prepare with the goal of taking up this challenge. I would like to thank Kawasaki, Monster Energy and all our partners for helping us to make this project become a reality.”