Newly married Ryan Villopoto postponed his honeymoon so he could compete in the Monster Energy Cup over the weekend in Las Vegas.
Presumably, his wife has no complaints as the champion of the 2011 motocross and supercross circuits raced like an athlete possessed and claimed a $1-million dollar purse being offered to any rider who could win all three 10-lap main events.
It was a feat event sponsors clearly believed was highly improbable in this hybrid event at Sam Boyd Stadium. But Villopoto, 23, not only won all three motos, he won the first two from start to finish and trailed only around the first turn in the third. He then opened a commanding lead and hit his Vegas-style jackpot, raking in the richest prize in the history of motocross or supercross.
Afterward, Villopoto must have felt like riding a wheelie into the nearest bank. Instead, he shared these words from the podium: “I’m supposed to be on my honeymoon right now but I guess this is a good present for that. It’s a cool one-off race and I’m a million dollars richer now. It’s been hell of a year for all of us. It’ll be hard to have another one of these.”
There has been no other race like this. The hybrid track, designed by legendary riders Jeremy McGrath and Ricky Carmichael, featured supercross and motocross elements, with huge jumps and tight turns inside the stadium, and a more sweeping motocross portion of the same course outside the stadium.
It was said to be too physically demanding for any single rider to sweep all three motos.
But Villopoto, with an expensive honeymoon to consider, gained the holeshot, or early lead, in the first two motos, and never never looked back. He won the first by more than 12 seconds, and the second by almost as wide a margin.
Heading into the final moto he said, “I just need to get another good start like I’ve been doing. I’ll be happy leaving here healthy, and if I win, great, if not, this was still awesome.”
Villopoto, who rides for Kawasaki, was slightly slower out of the gate than Suzuki’s Mike Alessi in the third moto, but Villopoto caught and passed his rival moments after the first turn and methodically pulled ahead of the field.
He began to celebrate late during the third moto by pumping his fist over one jump, and turning his bike sideways over the final double jump, amid roars from the crowd.
“This is crazy,” Villopoto told the Washington Post after his triumph. “I was just happy I was able to pull it off.”
– Images show Ryan Villopoto in action in the third moto (top) and receiving a check for $1 million dollars for his victory at the Monster Energy Cup. Courtesy of Motocross.com