The challenge of Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Ryan Villopoto for the FIM World MXGP Motocross Championship received a temporary set-back when he was eliminated from the fourth round in Italy.
The US champion, already a winner this season as he challenges the world stars on strange tracks, had shown his determination and ability to learn quickly when he led qualification for two laps in a hotly-contested race around a hard-pack track littered with tiny stones, the like of which he had never previously encountered.
Eventually earning fourth choice of gate for the points-scoring motos at Arco di Trento, he quickly settled into third place in the opening moto and, keeping the leaders in his sights, only surrendered one place to cross the finishing line fourth.
A similar race on the treacherous surface in race two saw him hold third place for nine of the 19 laps before he lost control of his bike on the bumpy straight in front of pit lane and crashed heavily.
He was able to get to his feet without aid but was unable to rejoin the race. Initial medical investigations in the mobile clinic at the track have revealed no broken bones, but he will undergo scans on Monday to confirm these findings. Ryan now holds down sixth place in the world standings, but is only five points shy of fourth.
Team-mate Tyla Rattray withdrew from the GP on Sunday morning as he had suffered severe headache the previous evening in the wake of an incident during the qualifying race when another rider hit him. The South African was also due to be medically examined in Monday.
Ryan Villopoto was unavailable for comment after crashing during the second moto, but prior to racing he had commented: “This is a difficult and technical track. You need to be smooth to be fast.”
“It’s been a very disappointing weekend for me,” says Tyla Rattray. “In the qualifying race I was in the top 12 when another rider hit me before the end of the first lap. I hit my head pretty strong, and together with the team it was decided to take it easy and not to race today as I had a strong headache Saturday evening. I’ll visit my doctor on Monday and, if everything is good, we’ll prepare for Valkenswaard.”