Irvine, Calif. – Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto helped lead Team USA to its seventh-straight victory after an impressive third moto win aboard his Kawasaki KX™450F amongst the best in the world at the Motocross of Nations (MXoN) at Circuit du Puy de Poursay in St. Jean-D’Angely, France. After finishing third in his first moto, Villopoto stepped up to claim the best overall result of the day with a 3-1. USA teammate Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett placed 17th in both motos. Showcasing his talent aboard a big bike, Tyla Rattray put his 2012 Kawasaki KX450F on the podium of the final moto of the day and helped propel South Africa to sixth in the final country standings with a 5-3. Dean Wilson’s Team Great Britain finished fourth overall as he rode through an injured wrist to finish 9-27 in his motos.
Bringing It Home
Going into the final moto of the day, Villopoto knew that his team sat nine points back of France in the overall standings. Compared to a mid-pack start he got in his first moto, Villopoto was near the front and made a great pass for the lead on the fifth lap. He was leading by more than 10 seconds, but slowed to celebrate the finish with Team USA teammate Ryan Dungey.
“Every win at this event feels incredible,” said Villopoto. “This one is definitely special because I haven’t raced the event since 2008. It was hard to watch from the sidelines those two years and now that I’m back, it’s better than I remembered. Coming into the final moto, it wasn’t looking that great, but I knew that if Dungey and myself rode how we do in the states, we had a good chance.”
For Baggett, racing amongst the best in the world was a new experience. The different procedures and new competitors didn’t seem to affect him on Saturday, but the track conditions changed drastically on Sunday and provided new obstacles. In typical Baggett fashion, he worked his way through the pack in both motos, including in the second moto where he came from 36th to 17th.
“I was on the ground a little too much for my liking, but I didn’t ever want to give up because I knew that every position counted,” said Baggett. “I’m not really pumped with how I rode, but USA won and that is something to be proud of. It’s a great feeling to be a part of something so special. Hopefully I can prove myself again next year and make the it back for 2012.”
Impressive Debut on the Big Bike
Rattray was already experienced with the world championship format and had raced the track prior to the MXoN. While those elements were familiar, racing aboard the Kawasaki KX450F was new. Along with the new bike, Rattray proved he could handle the pressure of racing the MX1 class and stepped up to end the day with a 5-3 to finish for second overall his the class.
“It was a great day for me and I had so much fun riding the KX450F,” said Rattray. “I didn’t want to let my team down and we ended up doing pretty well, finishing sixth. Anything is better than not being able to race so we are happy to see a good result for the team. Hopefully we can come back next year and keep moving up the overall results.”
Through The Pain
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Wilson and his country of Great Britain started the day off with the lead after the first moto with help from his ninth-place finish and fellow Kawasaki rider Tommy Searle’s fourth place. In the second moto, Wilson crashed twice and aggravated his already injured wrist. He ended the moto in 27th and x-rays after the race showed a broken wrist.
“If I was to get an injury, it’s best I get it now that the season is over,” said Wilson. “We’ll get it all healed up when we get back to the states and hopefully be back on the bike really soon. I feel like I let my team down a little bit because we were leading at one point and then fell back to finish fourth. It wasn’t a bad day, but I think we could have had a really good shot at the podium with our team. Hopefully we can be competitive again next year.”
Seven Consecutive Wins
The 65th running of the Motocross of Nations has come to a close and Team USA was able to secure its seventh-straight victory, along with adding another win to make the total 22. The impressive total is the most of any country since the start of the race in 1947.
“Being a part of something so significant is definitely special,” said Villopoto. “I’ve been lucky enough to race in four motocross of nations and every time I can’t believe we were able to bring the Chamberlain trophy back to the USA.”
While all the riders said the track was tough, it might have been toughest for injured Wilson, who felt every bump and landing. The course is built into a hillside and with the amount of rocks mixed into the dirt along with the rain that came down at least once in every moto made for one of the most challenging tracks of the year.
“The track was really tough and it really separated everyone,” said Wilson. “There is one drop off that has a pretty gnarly landing that would hurt every time. We did get to experience the track in both the dry and the wet and it was a pretty difficult track. I’m just wondering about that sand track we will have to get through next year. Maybe we had it good this year and I’ll remember that if I get to Belgium in 2012.”
Riding Through The Moments
Over the past few years, Team USA had to dig deep to come out with the overall victory. The 2011 Motocross of Nations wasn’t any different as Villopoto made sure an American finished out the last moto on top. With help from Dungey who finished second in the final moto, Team USA finished 13 points ahead of France.
“Having been in this situation before in England, I knew that it wasn’t over until the final race,” said Villopoto. “It’s easy to get down on how the day has gone, but everyone came together and got us revved up for the last moto. We went out and did what we needed to do in order to have a chance and ended up getting a little bit of a gift to put us on top.”
The Motocross of Nations has been known to bring out the best fans in motocross and the race in France was no exception. The fans lined the track and cheered with horns, bells, and whatever else that could help with a great amount of pride for whatever country was represented.
“Whether they were cheering for us or not, we could hear them on the track,” said Villopoto. “That was amazing because the bikes are pretty loud, but the fans were louder. I didn’t care who they were cheering for because it helped us either way.”