AMA Supercross Champion Ryan Villopoto is using the forced downtime after his knee surgery to again pay a visit to a round of the FIM Motocross World Championship and will be present in the paddock this weekend at Teutschenthal for the Grand Prix of Germany.
Rumours had already floated across from the USA that the Monster Kawasaki rider was increasingly tired of the demands of the AMA calendar – that can now reach up to 32 weekends of racing per year for the top elite – and would consider a season competing in the FIM series as early as 2015 and the last year of his contract with Kawasaki.
“He is obviously very interested in the European scene and it a multi-time champion in the U.S. I guess at a certain stage you re-assess your career and the toll of injuries and the long season over there,” offered Kawasaki Motor Europe Racing Manager Steve Guttridge when pressed on the idea of ‘RV’ making the switch to the Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team for MXGP. “I imagine he has earned his money and now it is about whether he wants another goal or wants to see things out in the U.S. and retire.”
Villopoto himself began the surge of momentum towards a Grand Prix attempt when he mentioned a willingness to try a campaign back in 2012 when he visited Bastogne and the GP of Belgium. “I think he is definitely interested in it,” added Guttridge, who frequently liaises with KMC in the U.S. and counterpart Reid Nordin. “Genuinely I don’t know whether it would come down to money or to the passion. I do know he is a winner, so if he came here it would be to win.”
For Kawasaki it would mean some re-organisation of paperwork and resources but it would be hard to turn away arguably the fastest rider in the world and one of the most decorated.
Villopoto wrapped up his fourth consecutive title in the premier 450SX supercross category before electing to go under the knife to fix an ongoing problem with his knee. He was also a visitor to the Catalan round of MotoGP last weekend. “It would be stupid not to [make arrangements for RV in GPs],” says Guttridge. “Of course we would try to accommodate Ryan in Europe but as it stands he has a contract with Kawasaki U.S. Normally he would fulfil that. Until I get a call from the Americans saying ‘it is fine with us, look after Ryan’ then it is a rumour to me too.”
“If he would like to come to the world championship then it would be a fantastic opportunity to finish out a good career and be able to challenge the likes of Cairoli while they are both still at the top,” the British race boss added.