Some people might have been worried about Ryan Villopoto’s poor performance at the FIM World MXGP opener in Qatar, where he finished 9th in Race 1 and 8th in Race 2. But last weekend in a very hot Thailand, the reigning AMA Supercross Champion came back with a vengeance, winning the overall by finishing 1st in Race 1 and 3rd in Race 2. Currently, Villopoto is 4th in the MXGP championship, but there are 16 more races this year, including the season finale at Glen Helen in California this September.
Before taking a look at these photos, here’s what Villopoto had to say about his dramatic return to form in Thailand:
“We only had two days to test when we went back to Europe but we made good progress with the bike. We made some big suspension changes and then some fine- tuning here. I think the track here is not only new for all of us, it is also a little more jumpy than the usual GP track and suited me. For sure there will be weeks when a track suits me best, and other weeks when the track suits the European guys. I didn’t ride in this sort of heat for one and a half years, and it even started snowing when we were training in Belgium on Tuesday, so it was a shock change for all of us. I guess I have some things to learn, too. I also backed off my pace in the qualifier but I think the other guys did so even more to save energy in the heat. There’s a strategy to GP racing but I’m gradually getting used to it. I got pushed around a little in the first few turns of Race 2, but when I got to 3rd I just tried to be smart, and at this stage of the season a safe 3rd is better than risking a crash. It’s cool to come here to Thailand and see things which you would normally only see in the movies; it’s a bizarre experience.”