When considering the amazing professional motocross career of Ryan Villapotto, it is always important to remember that he is a rider with exceptional guts and grit. This is because Villapotto has sustained multiple serious injuries from his motocross competitions, and had the ability and the mental will to continually come back to the sport and press on in his career. While many motocross athletes are no strangers to injury, Villapotto has been especially prone to injury in his career and it has been astounding to many analysts and fans of the sport that he was able to continue on for so long.
One of the most devastating injuries Ryan Villapotto endured during his career happened in 2010, during a major Supercross race that was a big deal in the succession of his career into the next events at the time. With this in mind, it is easy to see why Villapotto was so determined and committed that fateful night in 2010 when he got in a catastrophic wreck that severely injured and nearly destroyed his right leg. Coming back from that wreck was something that Villapotto has described as one of his greatest challenges in his entire career, and many in the sport were truly concerned that perhaps he should consider retiring after that crash.
When the vice president of Kawasaki USA goes on record as saying, “Ryan defines the word champion”, it is clear that you have had a successful career. This is a true quote from Chris Brull, and it pretty much says everything about Ryan Villapotto and the extravagant career he has pioneered for himself. Given that Villapotto is second place only to Ricky Carmichael in terms of overall major motocross competition victories. Villapotto has nine pro AMA competition motocross victory titles, more than almost any other professional motocross athlete.
Ryan Villapotto grew up in Poulsbo, Washington, where he got an early start in the extreme sport of motocross. This early start may have had a role to play in the phenomenal rise to professional motocross that Villapotto experienced in his teen years. IT was clear to almost every major motocross fan and spectator that Ryan Villapotto was a highly dominant rider, especially during the years when Villapotto was riding in a 250cc classification. That reality in and of itself was certainly impressive, but what truly impressed the analysts and motocross enthusiasts was that even when Villapotto moved into the 450cc classification he was still able to dominate his competition.
When he was riding in the 250cc classification, Villapotto won three straight competitions, which was likely a major factor in his decision to move up into the 450cc class. When he was in the 250cc class, Villapotto was riding a Monster Pro Circuit Kawasaki KX250F with a powerful, torque-intensive ¼ liter motor. On this bike, Villapotto was able to completely blow out of the water some of the major American professional motocross competition out there, which were also riding in the 250cc class at the time. Some great examples of these elite competitors that were bested by Villapotto on the 250cc were Tim Ferry and Ricky Carmichael.
In 2005, Ryan was awarded one of his earliest major accolades, which happened to be the AMA Sports Horizon Award. This was a big turning point in Ryan’s career, since it propelled his morale even more than it was already and rocketed him into a series of further victories and accolades. The next massive recognition Villapotto received after the ’05 AMA award was the next year in 2006. IN ’06, Villapotto earned the perfect award for a young motocross professional to win, which was the AMA Supercross/Motocross Rookie of the Year. It is definitely difficult to imagine a more exciting accreditation at such a young age than earning professional rookie of the year, and this was yet another huge boost to Villapotto’s continued success in his career.
2011 was another incredible year for Ryan Villapotto due to the fact that in that year alone he won four major titles. The first 2011 title was a 1st place finish in the AMA Motocross championship, next was a 1st place finish in AMA Supercross. After that in 2011, Ryan won a 1st place title in the Motocross of Nations competition, and yet another 1st place finish in the 1st Monster Energy Cup. 2012 brought another major title to Ryan Villapotto, which was the AMA Supercross title, though that would end up being one of the last major titles Ryan would ever earn in his primary professional career.
At age 26, Ryan Villapotto endured perhaps his worst professional motocross injury to date, and it happened to be the ending of his meteoric career in a sad turn of events. Although he says he has no regrets, and he is not sad to be retiring, one does sense a bit of bittersweet sadness in Villapotto’s voice as he announced his final retirement in the summer of 2015. The simple fact of the matter is that Villapotto had hoped to come back into the fold of professional motocross after his horrible wreck in a FIM motocross race in Italy during April of 2015. During that wreck, Ryan sustained compressed spinal disks and a litany of tailbone fractures, and at the time he believed that it would still be possible to heal up and return to the sport once more, as he had done so many times previously.
As time wore on after his crash in the Italian FIM race in April of 2015, it started to dawn on Villapotto that his injuries were not going to be healing up as they had in the past. Perhaps it was his body beginning to show age, or simply his injuries were too severe, but whatever the cause it was becoming obvious that Ryan was likely going to have to back out of continuing his professional motocross career. Despite the bitter reality of having to retire early due to injuries, it is quite clear that Ryan Villapotto has established himself in the elite echelon of professional motocross careers.