Budds Creek had the honour in 2007 of being the second American motocross circuit to host the Motocross des Nations. The first time it had happened was 20 years earlier when Unadilla had the honour.
And while many (old) people still talk about what an amazing performance Bob Hannah put on in the Unadilla mud on his RM125, the way Ryan Villopoto stamped his authoritaaah at Budds Creek 20 years later was a feat that is, to this day, one of a kind.
It’s not that an MX2 (or 125cc) racer had never won a moto outright at the Motocross des Nations before – Steve Lamson pulled it off on a 125cc two-stroke in 1996 against a grip of 500s – but Ryan Villopoto didn’t just beat the open class (MX3) bikes in the MX2/MX3 moto. He also beat all of the MX1 (450) racers. Villopoto won both motos going away on his KX250F, even beating Team USA’s Ricky Carmichael in the MX1/MX2 moto.
He has only had a chance to race at Budds Creek one time since that day and that was at the 2008 AMA National which he dominated going 1-1.
But that was on a 250F. Villopoto has actually never raced Budds Creek on a 450. And like he showed in 2007, it’s possible to go faster around the track with 200 less cubic centimetres of displacement.
The good news for Villopoto is potentially bad news for everyone else – he just got his groove back. He won the first moto at High Point last weekend with a pretty dominant ride and came from way behind for second in the second moto to take his first outdoor win since Glen Helen in 2009 which was the series opener that year. That was also his first 450 National and the last time he raced a National healthy prior to 2011.
So, while the first four motos of the season definitely didn’t look promising for Villopoto, as it sits now he has basically won half of the 450 Nationals he’s raced (not counting Hangtown in 2009, which he attempted to race after blowing out his knee during the week, then dropped out of the race and season).
It’s very possible he’s just catching his groove at exactly the right time, right before probably his favourite track on the entire calendar. And that means the ball is sort of in his court to really start building some confidence.
However, the opposite is also true and if Ryan Dungey or Chad Reed are able to beat him at Budds Creek it could be a huge confidence boost for them to stop RV at his home away from home.
This is why they run the races…