Yamaha’s Ryan Villopoto made a surprise appearance of sorts at the inaugural TransAm Vet Classic last weekend, and to no one’s surprise he raced to a perfect 1-1-1 moto tally in the 30+Pro class. Since retiring from racing, it is apparent that RV is enjoying the time he spends in the saddle of a dirt bike, and that his new marketing partnership with Yamaha has lit a new fire in his belly. At Glen Helen, RV pitted smack-dab in the middle of vendors row and took time to speak with all of the vet racers and fans who approached him. Simply, put, it was awesome to have the 11-time AMA Champion join us at our event!
It took a little convincing to get you here, but now that you’ve done it with easy 1-1-1 sweep, how was it?
Yeah, it was good! It was a lot of fun, the track was bitchin’ on Saturday after all the rain, Sunday it dried out a little bit, but it is still really good for Glen Helen. Just a chill mellow weekend, myself and John came out from Pro Circuit and just hung out, having a good time.
It was kind of a reunion of some sorts because you started your pro career with John Mitcheff…
Yeah, it was. John was my mechanic for the full three years at I was at Pro Circuit. Leading up to the race we were at the shop getting my bike set up, getting a new suspension put on it and stuff like that. Then we came out and hung out.
You seemed really uninterested and reluctant when we asked you to come out and race, but once you committed it seemed like you got kind of excited about it.
Yeah, it’s cool )laughs). It’s kinda like getting off the couch and coming out on a weekend to go race again. Once you’re out here its fun, always a good time. We watched Supercross last night in the building and everyone hung out, it’s been a just a really mellow weekend.
This was your “Vet class debut” and it was your first race since the AusX Open right?
Yeah, first gate drop since Australia.
Even so, I’m assuming there were no butterflies…
No, not really it’s not racing a bunch of guys at the level I was at. I felt alright, but it’s hard to tell kinda where I’m at when everyone is telling me, “Oh you should race again.” I wasn’t racing anybody current, so it’s hard to tell where I stack up.
Talk about the preparation for this race, I mean, you did do some testing and got your bike done up?
(Laughs) Kinda. I had some stuff in the works with Bones at Pro Circuit; just getting some suspension dialed in, not necessarily for this race but when this race popped up I asked Bones if I could get my stuff done for this weekend. It definitely helps out a lot just to have some decent suspension underneath you, I wouldn’t say I’m unbelievably fast anymore, but the speed I am going it is definitely safer to have some good stuff underneath you.
What did you think the overall vibe of the weekend?
The vibe of the event was rad, you have a little vendors row here, just hanging out, and to be honest, it was really mellow. It didn’t seem like anybody really got hurt, I think Mike Sleeter was probably the biggest crash we had this weekend. I guess like you said this is my first Vet weekend, so without all the mini bikes and things like that, it is just more of a mellower vibe. Great job to you guys with the TransAm.
Dudes were stoked to be on the track with you at the same time.
Yeah, everyone is pretty pumped to have me here riding and getting to watch me race again. It’s pretty cool too, first gate drop on the Yamaha.
You’re getting along with the bike pretty well, I’ve heard you say to numerous people that you really like it.
I love it actually, it’s rad. It’s got gobs of power, this bike is bone stock other than the pipe and suspension. The power is awesome.
This is the first race win for Tag Metals since the relaunching of the brand.
This is the first race win for Tag Metals, yeah! I actually used to run Tag grips years ago so now that Eddie Cole is behind the brand, I’ve switched over to that.