Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto Makes It A Double Championship Year
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto completed a perfect 2011 season as he earned both the AMA Supercross Championship and the AMA Motocross Championship. With Villopoto’s second-place overall finish at Pala Raceway, he captured his first 450-class motocross championship. Combined with Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Dean Wilson 250 championship, Kawasaki swept both AMA Motocross titles in 2011. While the championship was wrapped up at Round 11, Wilson’s teammates Tyla Rattray and Blake Baggett secured second and third overall in the standings with 2-3 and 3-5 moto finishes, respectively. Broc Tickle salvaged 11th overall after a tough Moto 1, but impressive second moto to finish 19-6 on the day. Villopoto’s teammate Jake Weimer had a day of ups and downs and finished ninth overall with a 10-12.
After a successful supercross season, Villopoto was challenged to could come out and make it a double championship year with the AMA Motocross championship. He started the season riding with the flu, but still managed to make the podium week in and week out. It is said championships are won with consistency and Villopoto never finished off the podium in all twelve rounds.
“I didn’t start the season how I wanted,” said Villopoto. “I was getting over the flu and didn’t have a lot of energy the first round. Then things started to pick up when I got my first win. I just wanted to be there every weekend for a shot at the championship. It feels great to back up my supercross season and hopefully we can come out and do it again next year.”
Undefeated at Pala
The AMA Motocross Championship tour has only seen the riders grace Pala Raceway track since 2010 and after the fourth moto in the 250 class was complete, Wilson remained undefeated at the track. He claimed two outstanding moto wins in 2010 and put together another pair of moto wins to cap off his championship season.
“Winning the title felt amazing and now I was able to win the last race with my mom and dad around,” said Wilson. “They’ve supported me so much and it is really special to have them at the race. Next year I would love to back it up and I think the team has my back to do it again.”
Second In Series
With the championship already secured, Rattray was ready to maintain his second place in the series standings. In the first moto, Rattray grabbed a great start, filing in behind his teammate Wilson and held his ground to finish third. The next moto wasn’t as easy with a tough start pushing him back to 11th. He pushed steadily towards the front and eventually finished fifth in the moto and fourth overall.
“It would have been nice to win, but closing out the season second the standings isn’t bad,” said Rattray. “My teammates are tough and the track seemed to fit them (Wilson and Baggett) better. I am happy to finish the season healthy and ready for motocross of nations.”
Baggett showed speed all day and in the first moto he finished just behind his teammate for second place. The second moto didn’t start how he wanted in ninth, but worked his way into third to finish second overall on the day.
“I really wanted to win the final race,” said Baggett. “I won a lot of races, but wasn’t able to secure the championship. This is truly my first full season in the motocross series and I learned a lot. I am so lucky to have a great team behind me. I hope next year I can use what I learned and be a little closer to the championship.”
Never Giving Up
Weimer continued to show his starting skills with two great starts at Pala Raceway. In the first moto, he started third, but went down on the third lap and was pushed back outside the top 10. He pushed his way up and finished 10th. The second moto had him up front at the first turn, but he crashed on the opening lap. Weimer came around in 35th on the first lap and never gave up, finishing the moto 12th for ninth overall.
“Today was tough and I saw the ground a few more times than I would like,” said Weimer. “Overall I was able to salvage ninth and get sixth in the points. For my first season on the 450, I think everyone was very supportive and I am looking forward to building off this season for next year.”
Not Holding Back
Once again, Tickle’s results showcased his determination and never-give-up attitude. In the first moto, Tickle went down on the start straight, pushing him back to 39th on the opening lap. He utilized the 30 minutes plus two laps to make his way up to an impressive 19th. The second moto he made his start stick and eventually moved up to sixth for 11th overall.
“Bad luck seemed to find me a little too often this season, but when I was able to race up front, it was good,” said Tickle. “The season turned out decent with all things considered and I am looking forward to making the step up to the 450 class.”
The Kawasaki KX250F and KX450F had already been successful in supercross, and now the motorcycles have claimed both championships in the AMA Motocross series. The KX250F never left the top step of the overall podium and the 2012 KX450F made its first appearance with a 1-1 victory.
“We have great motorcycles to work with and the proof showed throughout the season,” said Mike Fisher, Monster Energy Kawasaki team manager. “I am very proud of all the riders that put in 100 percent every weekend.”
Motocross of Nations
Baggett and Villopoto will be making the trip to France for the 2011 Motocross of Nations trying to help Team USA claim another victory. Teammates will turn into rivals, as Rattray will be assisting South Africa and Wilson helping Great Britain. The race will take place September 18.