Only days before his Grand Prix debut Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Ryan Villopoto has been given a large vote of confidence by friend and former MotoGP champion Casey Stoner.
The American and Australian struck up a friendship last year during Villopoto’s final AMA Supercross Championship campaign and Stoner has been a keen observer of the 26-year-old MXGP ‘rookie’s’ trajectory to the pinnacle of AMA competition.
“Since 2006 I’ve followed his career and watched him come through and dominate and also fail. It was hard to watch supercross sometimes when he wasn’t racing! When I got to meet him – which was through Aldon Baker [famed trainer] – we immediately hit it off,” the retired former Honda and Ducati rider said.
When asked to assess Villopoto as a racer and his friend’s skill range in comparison to his own amazing feel on the motorcycle, Stoner – who is still an official HRC test rider – was full of praise: “I think he is above and beyond me!”
On the subject of how Villopoto will tackle MXGP and try to budge the monopoly of Red Bull KTM’s Tony Cairoli in the FIM series, Stoner believes that RV2 will bring his own level of intensity to the contest. “I kinda have to be careful with these opinions because honestly I think Ryan is untouchable,” he says.
“I’m not sure if I have seen a talent like him in any sport; what he can do with a bike is phenomenal. At the same time Cairoli has been really successful but I kinda feel it has come at the demise of his competitors also; he hasn’t beaten them downright like Ryan has.
Cairoli could be fifth in moto one and win moto two but if Ryan lost a race then it was a bad day. He dominates and if he didn’t then it was because he was held-up or got a bad start, otherwise he just ruins everyone.”
“The only thing I can see being a bit difficult for Ryan is when these tracks get muddy and when Europeans tend to not ride the track but the ruts,” the 29 year old Aussie continues. “That might be a little different for him. But knowing him and his talent I can only see him going well if he keeps injury-free. I can see him being very successful this year.”
Villopoto’s first official engagement as an MXGP rider for KRT will be the season-opening press conference at Losail this Thursday at 15.00 local time.