Late last week we learned that 450 series points leader Ryan Villopoto would be racing the new 2012 Kawasaki KX450F at the last four Nationals, so we ran him up to get his thoughts about the season thus far, and the last four races. It’s obvious that RV has been struggling a bit on his current race bike, as he has failed to put two solid motos together throughout much of the season thus far in what is really his first full 450cc-class season.
There are four rounds left in the year and you just took over the points lead in Washougal. How would you say the season has gone thus far, and what is the strategy from here on out?
I need to some more overalls. I only have one. We are only one point up, so it is still the same strategy to win races and try to get more overalls. The easiest way is to go 1-1 and get six points, but if first and second swap out then it is the same and you have only three rounds to go.
Is it exciting for you? It is essentially a four race series now.
Yeah, I have definitely struggled this year, but I think we are in a good position now with some new things that are coming up and things we are going to pull out of our sleeves at the last four rounds.
I’ve heard that you are riding the 2012 bike. What is it about the new bike that you like better?
The frame is different, so that’s mainly the biggest thing. Obviously you can see the plastic is different, but it is what they have done to the frame to make it plusher and softer feeling.
When Chad (Reed) and Nick (Wey) were racing the bike Outdoors, they struggled with the front end of the bike. This being your first Outdoor series on the KX450, are you struggling with the same thing on the 2011 bike and glad to get on the 2012?
No, it’s not the same thing. But for me, I guess I’m just struggling with the harsh feeling. Our bike has only had Nick ride it, and then Chad for not very long, so we are quite a ways behind on outdoor testing in general. I hadn’t raced it outdoors before and neither has Jake, so I think we are just behind. There was work that has to be done, but there is only so much time before you have to go racing. I’m already really happy with the set up on the new 2012 bike.
Going in to Unadilla this weekend, are you pretty excited to be on a different bike?
I definitely feel better. We went back to California and we rode it and tested a bunch after Washougal and made sure that it is what we wanted to do, and worked on the suspension, too. The suspension is the same; we were just fine tuning it. I feel like it is a lot better and we are hoping it will make it a little easier.
What is the biggest difference?
For me, it’s the feel of the new chassis. It’s thinner and more forgiving. Basically, the new bike feels a lot more forgiving and plush.
Has this been the plan all along or was this an opportunity that has only recently presented itself?
It was an opportunity that we jumped on recently. I’m excited and more confident than ever. Both Jake and I will be on them. We’ll see how Unadilla goes!