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Ryan Villopoto Retires After Nine AMA National Championships

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Arguably the second most successful off-road racer in U.S. history (behind Ricky Carmichael), Ryan Villopoto announced his retirement earlier today. After four straight supercross crowns, Villopoto had moved to the MX World championships based in Europe this year, and competed in a handful of races before a big crash caused several injuries, including to his low back area. At first, Villopoto thought he could quickly return to racing, but it didn’t turn out that way — as he explains in his own retirement message that follows the press release from Kawasaki printed below. MD wants to thank Ryan for the memories, and wish him the best of luck in his retirement.

Kawasaki’s Release:

Irvine, Calif. (July 9, 2015) – Following his announcement today, Monster Energy Kawasaki would like to congratulate Ryan Villopoto on an amazing Supercross/Motocross career. Villopoto’s entire professional resume was built on a Monster Energy Kawasaki KX™ and he leaves the sport as one of the most successful riders in history. The Poulsbo, Washington native joined Kawasaki Team Green™ in 2003 and for the last 13 years has found incredible success with Kawasaki.

“Ryan defines the word champion,” said Kawasaki Motors Corp. U.S.A. Vice President of Marketing Chris Brull. “Since he started with Kawasaki on Team Green, Ryan has pushed himself and Kawasaki to be better every year. His dedication to his craft has paid off in the championships that he has won, and the developments we have been able to make throughout our KX line. Ryan will always be a part of the Kawasaki family and I speak for everyone at Kawasaki when I wish him all the best in his retirement.”

Villopoto’s first national title came on a KX™125 at the AMA Amateur National Championships at Loretta Lynn’s in 2005. After turning pro, he went on to sweep three consecutive AMA Motocross championships from 2006-2008 in the 250 class while also claiming the 2007 250SX AMA Supercross West Regional championship. Villopoto is one of only four riders to ever win three consecutive 250 class titles. Once he moved up to the KX™450F, Villopoto won four straight Monster Energy AMA Supercross titles from 2011-2014 while also claiming two AMA Pro Motocross titles (2011, 2013.) Villopoto’s nine professional AMA national championships places him second in the record books behind only Ricky Carmichael.

“We have sponsored Ryan and his teams throughout his entire career,” said Monster Energy Vice President of Sports Marketing Mitch Covington. “Since 2006, Ryan has been able to give us everything we have asked for on and off the track. He is a great racer who started to build his legend from the first time he lined up on the starting gate as a Pro. We look forward to seeing the next chapter in the Ryan Villopoto story.”

With all of his success in the United States, Villopoto set his eyes on the MXGP World Championship in 2015 as part of the Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team in Europe.  After earning an overall win in the second round of the series, Villopoto was injured in a crash at the fourth round of the series and has been unable to race.

“Ryan brought a real buzz to the MXGP World Championship this season that was incredible to witness and be a part of,” said Kawasaki Motors Europe Racing Manager Steve Guttridge. “It is such a shame that he was only able to compete at the first four rounds because I honestly believe that Ryan was adjusting well to the big change of racing around the world as he became more acclimatized to the different circuits and race format in MXGP’s. Though his time over here did not go as planned due to the unfortunate injury, everyone on our team is proud to have worked with Ryan and we have all gained a massive amount of experience in the process.”

In retirement, Villopoto will continue to be a part of Kawasaki.  We plan to see him continue in the industry because of his deep connection to the Kawasaki brand and the sport of motocross.

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Farewell by Ryan Villopoto:

It is with gratitude, humility, a bit of sadness but without regret, that I announce my retirement from motorcycle racing today.

As many of you know, I experienced a pretty horrendous crash back in April that left me with multiple fractures in my tailbone along with soft tissue damage. My initial thought was that I could be back riding in a few weeks if I just stayed quiet for a while. That has not proven to be the case. Follow-up X-Rays have made clear that I also suffered severe compression of multiple disks in my lower back. I am still in significant discomfort and I realize that even if I start my fitness program and training now that I been cleared by my physician, I will not be able, prior to the end of the MXGP season, to achieve the fitness necessary for me to compete at the level I have always striven for.

I am grateful for having had the opportunity to do something I have loved since I was a kid and turn it into my livelihood. I am grateful for the support of my family for all the years they spent hauling my bikes and me around to races, interrupting their lives in the process.

I am grateful for the support of my many sponsors through the years. What people don’t often think about, when it comes to individual “action” sports like motocross, is that we rely on sponsors to compete. In motocross, the sponsors aren’t just a name on your jersey – they are part of your racing team. If they are good, they are sponsors in the truest sense of the word. They are involved in building the best bike, putting together the best team, supporting your training, and so much more. So, with that in mind, first and foremost I want to thank Kawasaki, which has been my bike of choice since my Team Green days. They have been with me through ups and downs, serious injuries and great successes. They’ve always cared about me and I’ve been successful in large part because of it. THOR/Parts Unlimited and Monster Energy Company have been with me through it all as well. Thanks also to DC, GoPro, Oakley, Alpinestars, Atlas and Mobius Braces. Each of you has been an integral part of making this an amazing career.

I want to thank my long-time agent, my friend, Bobby Nichols, and his agency The Sports Syndicate, for the strong guidance and support they have offered my entire career.

But most of all, I’m writing this retirement note to my fans. I am grateful for the hundreds of thousands of fans, not only in the U.S., but throughout the world. It is amazing to know that you have cared so much and been so supportive along the way.

That gets me to the sadness about making this decision now. I was so stoked to make the decision to be a part of MXGP racing. It has always been important to me to ride my best and to be in the best possible position to give my best, in part because of wanting to give back to you, the fans. I am sad that this year did not work out the way I had hoped in that regard. I wanted to be at my best, to compete with these riders who are among the very best in the world and leave it all out on the track as each of them does every race. The sadness is that I only got to do that for a few races.

I am grateful to have had the chance to race with the very best in world, my competitors in Supercross and Motocross in the States as well as those who make the MXGP what it is. I am grateful to know that our competitiveness helped to continue the growth of our sport.

I leave with no regrets. I have been blessed to experience so much of life through my racing. I have never wanted to disappoint my fans nor my supporters and my hope is that for the most part I have lived up to that.

Again, thanks to each and every one of you who have been a part of my team.

Sincerely,

Ryan Villopoto

20 Comments

  1. Davey says:

    I’ve been a fan of Villopoto for a long time and will miss his skill and competitiveness. Truly one of the best. Good luck Ryan in whatever you choose to do.

  2. Kagato says:

    still lots for this guy to do–I bet he’ll take a good long break then start coaching. Keep busy young man!

  3. Cagefree says:

    Its too bad he got hurt but a wise decision. Time for Reed to make the same call before he gets really hurt.

  4. Tommy See says:

    He is one the best ever . Going to miss you Ryan and you can be very proud of your accomplishments. Enjoy life to the fullest.

  5. Andy says:

    Thanks for the memories Ryan. Enjoyed watching you come up though your career. Just as I did many other MX racers, Road ( Track races really ) Races and GNC racers.
    You did the sport good guy. Shame Europe didn’t work out like you wanted and we hoped. But I knew going in was gonna be a tuff row to hoe for you. Their tracks, their system and They be fast too.
    Hope we get to see more of you working with Kawasaki during the coming years. It will always be a pleasure. Again, Thank You.

  6. Tommy D says:

    Watching his conversations he had during his last SX season, asking older vets questions on how they are still doing it… I think he was showing signs of being burned out long before he got hurt in April. The intensity he brought into training and his work ethic must have left little room to really enjoy life. He had talent, sure! But he trained like an slave to that red number 1. I hope he can now relax and enjoy the fruit of all that work. He has earned it.

  7. garjo says:

    What a bummer.When i think of Villopoto i recall the 2012 AMA450 finale at palo ,ca, Villopoto leads Dungey in points by a comfortable margin, and really only needs a top ten finish to secure the title. Riding hard, taking many really unnecessary chances and dicing with Dungey throughout the motos, once landing from a big jump so hard his left hand came off the bars in a big save, gained much respect and admiration from me, a suzuki dungey fan.Ryan Villopoto , A true professional.

    • Dave says:

      That’s a description of stubborn impulsiveness, not professionalism. It’s why he didn’t finish the first few seasons in the 450’s.

      Great dude though, I’ve really enjoyed watching his career. I hope he’s on to things that make him happy. I also like that European racing has evolved into something that can be credibly called world class. It used to be that if a European dominated over there, they’d come to the US and find out how good they really were. Now It’s a very comparable level.

      • Garrett in ct says:

        perhaps i should have used the “true racer” , his sponsers and kawasaki must’ve had their hearts in their mouths

      • guu says:

        Huh? He missed two “seasons” during his 450 career (2009-2015): 2010 outdoors due to crash in SX when he was racing Dungey who was leading the points and 2012 outdoors due to a small tip-over resulting in a knee injury in SX when he had already won that series. When you are paid millions in salary and win bonuses you are expected to win or at least race your very hardest – every time.

    • guu says:

      That would be 2011, Dungey won the 2012 series. Villopoto won the series but 12 points, not a whole lot.

  8. Nomadak says:

    Ryan, may God continue to bless you in all your endeavors in this life. You are a forever champion. A true class act.

  9. Dougy says:

    Villopoto is definitely one of the class acts in sports. Dogged, focused & always ready to race, a true champ. Too bad most people in the U.S. dont even know who he is.

  10. YankeeCajun says:

    That last picture and that smile says it all.

  11. RRocket says:

    Will be fun to listen to the international press dog Casey Stoney over this! Stoner previously said Villopoto would be “untouchable” in MXGP.

  12. Gham says:

    What a class individual.