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Talking point: Adapting to MXGP

Talking point: Adapting to MXGP
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It hasn’t been as easy as many expected for Ryan Villopoto in the World Championship and even those who thought he would find it difficult at times believed it would be more in the European rounds than the first three events.

But so far Villopoto has only been on the podium once (the GP win in Thailand) and sits fourth in the championship, already 27 points behind the leader Desalle. Villopoto now heads into the main part of the championship playing catch-up and will be racing tracks even less like the USA, than the first three rounds.

But maybe the difficulties everyone thought he would encounter at GPs in Europe, Villopoto has already experienced and will have fixed his issues before round four this weekend in Italy.

Writing in his column on his website,, Villopoto admitted the difference between racing in the USA and the World Championship has caught him off-guard but he feels he is figuring it out.

“It’s tough because our tracks in the states are much different than the tracks here,’” admitted Villopto. “The speed you can ride is so much different. We can push on our tracks, but on theirs the dirt is very particular and you have to be very aware of when you can and cannot push. Sometimes you have to go slower to go faster, which for me is hard to wrap my head around. The bike settings are much different as well because of the dirt. You have to run a softer fork setting because you don’t have the same load on the suspension. I think we are getting closer each day so we can more or less do some fine-tuning from here on out.

Ryan went to explain how the style of racing is also different: “The racing itself over here is just different as well. In America, I like to say we play checkers, while here, they play chess. There is a lot of strategy involved since the races are stretched out over two days. (I am on a big learning curve).”

In some ways it still seems slightly shocking that Villopoto was not aware that the tracks in the World Championship were not all going to be wide open, full-throttle affairs on loamy soil like the USA. Most people who watch both series can see the tracks in the World Championship are slower and much more technical and diverse.

He has also raced the MXDN three times so was aware of the two-day format and qualifying races etc but it shows again just how much tougher racing the World Championship series is compared to a quick visit to the MXDN with team USA where the depth of field isn’t as strong.

It also give further evidence of how much of a bubble the American riders are in and just how little coverage the World Championship really gets in the USA. And that lack of knowledge ( and versatility) is something I believe has hindered Villopoto in the first three rounds, he just did not know what to expect and got a shock when he got there.

Now, after three rounds Villopoto knows the score, the guy is smart, he clearly has identified the where he needs to change and adapt and is working hard at doing so.

The question is, can he adapt quick enough to challenge for the win this weekend in Italy, on another very different track and again in the sand in Holland one week later?

These next two rounds will be the biggest tests of his season so far, not only will the tracks be very different than the first three rounds but he will also have to contend with all the European championship racing that will make the track much rougher. Villopoto is about to get his first full-on experience of GP racing over the next two weekends!

After that we will get a clearer picture of where Villopoto stands and how quickly he can adapt to the variety of tracks in the World Championship.

Podiums would be a success for Villopoto in the next two rounds but even then he can’t keep losing ten points per round to the leaders or he will put himself in a must-win situation by round six in order to claw the points back to the leaders in the championship.

But if he can win even one of the next two rounds, Villopoto will make a big statement and serve notice that he will be a force to be reckoned with from here on out and that he has already learnt all the lessons he needs too in GP racing!

After the first three rounds, things are about to get serious for Ryan Villopoto in the World Championship.

You can read Ryan’s interesting full blog about his first three GPs here:

Article: Jonathan McCready

Picture: YS

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