To say Ryan Villopoto had a monster night on Saturday would be an understatement. The 20-year old Washington native made a triumphant return to the series at his “home field” and brought the hometown crowd to its feet with his first career AMA Supercross class victory at Seattle’s Qwest Field.
To celebrate his return to the Northwest, Villopoto collaborated with the design team at Thor, his longtime apparel and helmet sponsor, to create custom gear for the Seattle round. Dubbed “Frankenstein” because of its purple and black color way, the Villopoto-inspired custom gear was designed off Thor’s premier Core line of riding apparel and featured a vibrant yellow #2 on each leg to match the number on Villopoto’s Monster Energy Kawasaki.
The Frankenstein Custom Core gear was the third and final custom collaboration of the season for Villopoto. He also wore custom designed Core gear at Anaheim 2, Atlanta, and Daytona.
The following is a brief interview with Villopoto to find out what he thought about his breakthrough victory, his rookie season and the Frankenstein gear.
Question: You were able to win coming back from an illness that took all of your energy away. Did it mean more to you to be able to come back after something like this, beat both James Stewart and Chad Reed, and get such a huge victory?
Villopoto: Yeah it was awesome. I was able to get a really good start while Mike (Alessi) got the holeshot. I stayed close and raced with Mike for about eight or nine laps. I caught up to him and was pretty close, but I hadn’t made a pass on him yet so I was able to look at what he was doing. I calmed myself down a little bit and stopped making little mistakes and then really closed up on him and the pressure forced him to make a mistake and he slid out. I didn’t hit him, but he was in the main line which allowed Davi (Millsaps) to get pretty close to me and I actually had to put on a pretty good charge the rest of the race to get a gap.
Now that the first win is out of the way and you’ve proven you have what it takes, what does it do for your confidence from here on out?
My year has been ‘ok.’ A little up and down and then I got sick and had to take some time off. But it was actually nice to not have to travel for a little bit outside of the actual part of being sick. It helped give me a little break that I needed and now I came back and came out feeling better than I have in a really long time. I’m going to finish out the last two (supercross races) and get ready for the outdoors. Hopefully with a little head start on the rest of these guys.
What went into the design of your gear this weekend?
Well, moving up into the (Supercross) class, you get a chance to wear some different things. When I was in the Lites class, we wore the same gear every week. So this year, Thor told me that we could wear three special sets. I had an orange set, another set that looked like it got hit by paint balls, and then (the Frankenstein) set. Those are the three I picked. Moe (Thor designer) actually designed 10 different sets of gear and I was able to go in and pick out the stuff I really like. It made it easy for me because I don’t really have that kind of design background.
What was it about the Frankenstein gear that stood out to you?
It was just different to me. There hasn’t been a lot of purple gear done before. I thought it was cool because it had a lot of purple in it as well as black and it really stood out with the fluorescent yellow mixed in.
It really ended up working out really great to have an special set with it being your comeback race, in your hometown, and even your first win. What was it like for you?
I love going back home whenever I can. There just isn’t anything like it. I love the rain, the whole scene with all the green everywhere. And to be in front of all my hometown fans, its just something that’s really cool. Doing well is always good, but winning my first race adds to it all and (obviously) makes everything that was going on even better.
Thor has been with you for your entire career. What has the relationship with them meant to you?
Working with Thor and Hylton (Beattie), Jeff Fox, and Jeff’s dad Fred Fox has been great and just works really well. They definitely put the effort into everything they do and they want to have the coolest stuff out there. It seems like all the gear now is well built now by all the brands, but Thor takes it to another level by giving everything such as good look. It always stands out. The effort they put in that and Moe as a designer makes being a part of the team something I’m proud of. They’ve been behind me for a long time, even when I was riding amateurs. It’s been a long, good career with them.
Whats it like to be able to have the opportunity to be a part of a company that gives you the opportunity to wear specially designed gear that lets you be unique and stand out?
Once you get the opportunity to move up into the premier class and be a part of a factory team, there are a lot more opportunities for things like that. For me, that is something that I’ve never had a chance to do so yeah it’s definitely something cool. I also am fortunate enough to ride for a team that lets me wear different things. Kawasaki is pretty lenient with all that so I can kind of wear whatever I want which is awesome for what Thor has done this year.