Ryan Villopoto Wins 450 Debut at Glen Helen
A new era of American Motocross began on Saturday as the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship kicked-off its 2009 season at the 15th Annual South Point Hotel & Casino Motocross National from Glen Helen Raceway. In his 450 Class debut, Oakley’s Ryan Villopoto, of Poulsbo, Wash., rode to an impressive pair of moto victories to become just the third rider in history to win his first premier class race. Villopoto became the only person other than Oakley’s two-wheel legend Ricky Carmichael to claim three-straight 250 motocross titles and then win his 450-class debut.
In the entry-level 250 Class, Oakley’s Ryan Dungey outlasted his highly-talented competition to take a hard-earned overall victory.
Villopoto overcame mid-pack starts in each moto and battled his way through the field to take each win, passing long-time rivals to take the top spot in each race.
“It was tough,” explained Villopoto. “My starts out of the gate were good but we can get better. The first moto wasn’t too bad, I was fourth, but in the second I was 10th so I had a lot of work to do and Mike (Alessi) was way ahead of me. I knew where he was and paid attention to him but I kept doing what I was doing and running (my pace), not letting myself get into my head that I couldn’t catch him and I eventually I caught him.”
Perhaps the most crowning achievement of RV’s young career was his utter dominance of the 2007 Motocross of Nations. Riding his 250F, Ryan smoked the world’s best MX offerings regardless of bike, country or credentials. Even the other Americans couldn’t hang with him and Ricky Carmichael and Tim Ferry followed his lead to sweep the MXoN event. Villopoto again contributed to a MXoN victory in 2008, his final appearance on the quarter-liter. Now he has moved into the space vacated by James Stewart and will ride the fuel-injected KX450F full-time in 2009.
“It feels good to start (the season) off the way we did,” said Dungey. “Glen Helen is always a tough track for me. Not physically but more in other areas since I didn’t really ride on anything like this until I was about 16. I really look forward to the east rounds, but to be able to win at a track like Glen Helen that’s so tough is awesome.”