THE RYAN VILLOPOTO RUMOR FACTORY: SOME COMMON SENSE
The European rumor factory is operating at 100 percent this Summer as it swoons over the possibility of Ryan Villopoto racing the 450 GPs in 2015. Meanwhile, people get angered because Ryan won’t fire off a press release in August 2014 telling every keyboard commando what he’ll be doing in January of 2015. Relax. In truth it doesn’t matter what or when Ryan decides whether he is going to race the AMA series or the FIM series—until he actually lines up behind the gate. Didn’t we learned anything from Ryan’s “I’m racing the the Nationals” rhetoric of earlier this year. The proof will only be undeniable when the gate drops and he is moving forward.
It’s not that Ryan doesn’t want to tell anyone is plans, even though he probably doesn’t, it’s just that there are a lot of factors involved in the decision.
HERE ARE SOME IMPORTANT FACTS:
(1) Signing: Contracts are complex things and until every signature has its “’i’s” dotted, it is not ready for public consumption. Ryan has a year to go on his Kawasaki USA contract. No big deal if he wants to stay in the USA—just show up, collect your paycheck and go about your business. But, if he wants to go to Europe, then Kawasaki USA isn’t going to pay for it. That means that Japan and Kawasaki of Europe will have to pony up the cash—and Ryan will want more money than he makes now…more money than any rider ever got in the history of GP motocross.
(2) The knee: Ryan missed the 2014 AMA 450 Nationals to have knee surgery and a fickle rehab is always a possibility. Although, if you had to choose a series to race with a bad knee and not a lot of training time, Supercross, for a rider as skilled as Ryan, is probably the easiest — thanks to cool temperatures and 15-minute mains. The AMA Supercross series starts in January and the FIM GPs in February. Ryan has to judge whether his knee will be ready—for either the sooner Supercross start, the February GP opener or wait until May for the 2015 AMA Nationals. The knee is a major factor at the moment.
(3) Place in History: Would you rather be the only rider in motocross history to win 5 consecutive AMA Supercross Championships — a feat that even the greatest Supercross racer of all-time, Jeremy McGrath didn’t achieve — or race for an FIM World Championship (with the caveat that the people in Ryan’s hometown know little, and care less, about Grand Prix motocross).
(4) Locales: A lot can be said for the exotic travels of the Grand Prix series — Qatar, Thailand, Brazil, Argentina, Russia and Mexico — but how many of those places are on your wish list? They can call most of us when they start holding races in Tahiti, Hawaii or Fiji. Plus, let’s not forget that Ryan Villopoto is a multimillionaire who could travel the world in comfort and luxury for six months out of every year of his life (after all, it’s not like he’s going to get a job at 7-Eleven when he retires). He doesn’t need a race series to get him to France, Germany or Italy. On the flip side, he’s been to every AMA National track and Stadium (save for the recent additions) many times. No excitement there.
(5) Burn out: We are pretty sure that even though Ryan was burned out at the end of the 2014 Supercross season—and didn’t hide it — the time off recuperating his knee has probably brought back some of his focus. Many times when a rider thinks about quitting he gets a new perspective after a couple months off, and wants to do it again. So, for MXA the question isn’t whether Ryan will race in 2015, but where. And, we are more than willing to leave him alone until those “i’s” get dotted and he decides what he wants to do. Otherwise, we are all just asking questions that can’t be answered until the fateful day.
(6) Respect: Ryan doesn’t owe the fans anything. Yes they rooted for him, but he performed for them. It doesn’t take a historian to know what happens to cheering fans once a rider retires or does something that the unwashed masses don’t like. Ryan is his own man. He can do what he wants—which doesn’t mean he’s doing it to hurt his loyal fan in Cleveland. No racer’s life is ever spent totally in the winner’s circle…thus, every racer should enjoy it while he can and end it in his own private way.