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Ryan Villopoto Joins Yamaha

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Yamaha invited the press to its team pits the morning of the Anaheim 1 race for an announcement, and when it was time to reveal the news, Ryan Villopoto emerged from the race rig. With a blue bike wearing the #2, it almost looked like a return to racing, but that is not the case (at least not supercross racing). We got a few minutes with Ryan to hear about his new deal, which was just about 48 hours fresh.

DR: It was a great surprise to see you come out of the Yamaha rig today. What’s your role with Yamaha?

RV: It’s not "professional racer" but on our schedule are a few flat-track races, the hooligan deals, Sturgis is one of them, Huntington Beach is one of them, so just [doing] some really rad events that I’ve wanted to do and Yamaha wanted to support that. Right now where I stand and sit it’s a marketing plan and deal that we’re doing. It might morph into something else. I’m here to help the race team, but as of right now that’s not my primary deal. If they need help I’m here to help them out and do some testing. What we plan on doing is all marketing and doing some cool and fun stuff.

DR: Streetbikes are the first thing you just threw out there. Is this something you’ve been wanting to get into for a long time?

RV: I’ve done a little bit of flat-track stuff on the DTX bikes—450s set up like a flat track—and I have a blast doing it. To get into it as a professional deal or a second career or something like that, no I don’t want to do that. But there’s a lot of really fun races and cool things, and cool content that we can build together by going out and doing those little types of things and those little races. I’m looking forward to doing that.

DR: Do you feel like you’re wired to be a champion and is easy for you to just go have fun at a race?

RV: I think where I stand now it’s not under this truck racing for race wins and championships in supercross. No matter how you look at it, it’s stressful. The riders want to win and so does the team for that matter, so doing the things that I do now—obviously we’re all competitive and I’m competitive too, but if we go out and don’t win, first off it’s not that big of a deal, second of all that’s [flat track] not really what I’m good at, right? So we’re there to build to rad content and do some really cool things and have fun at it.

DR: Does everything change if you win a big race?

RV: [laughs]. I mean it’s—we’ll see, right? We want to have fun at it and hopefully we can win, you know. That makes me and everything we’re doing look good.

DR: If you could give some advice to some of the top racers here at Anaheim 1, what’s the insight you gain from your experience that you could share with these racers?

RV: It’s tough. We’re sitting here at Anaheim 1 and all these guys have a lot of stress on them. It is the way it is. But this is what we do. Every rider is a little bit different. You don’t really have two with the same deal, but there are areas that I potentially could help with. Right off the bat what I could say as we’re standing here at Anaheim 1 is it has a lot of stress, a lot of hype around it, so if you can make it through in the top five with good points, that’s a win.

DR: When do you get a chance to ride a Yamaha dirt bike?

RV: I’m going to take one out on Monday, so that’ll be the first day swinging a leg over it.

DR: Do you carry all of your old sponsors into this Yamaha deal?

RV: All my personal ones, yeah. Answer, Monster, Alpinestars, and companies like that.

DR: You’re joining a team that’s got a two-stroke line. How excited are you?

RV: I’m pretty pumped on that, you know. It’ll be cool. I’ll probably get a 125 and 250 and have fun riding those.

DR: How many other rounds are you planning to be at for this supercross season?

RV: Not sure yet. San Diego, for sure. I’ll probably be at most of the West Coast rounds.