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Supercross Preview With Factory Kawasaki Riders Ryan Villopoto & Jake Weimer

Wed, 04 Jan 2012

In anticipation of this Saturdayís Supercross opener in Anaheim, California, Kawasaki invited a select crowd of enthusiasts and journalists to join their employees at the corporate offices in Irvine, California, for the annual Team Monster Energy Kawasaki pep rally. We sat down with defending SX champ, Ryan Villopoto, and his teammate, Jake Weimer, to get their perspectives on the upcoming season.

Both men entered last season at less than 100%. For Villopoto, perseverance paid-off with both the SX and MX championships as well as winning the Motorcross of Nations and the inaugural Monster Energy Cup. Weiman struggled without much pre-season practice or training and ended the season in a disappointing 26th position, but bounced back to 4th place in the outdoor series.

Villopoto: Iím definitely at 100% and ready to get the season underway. Last year I struggled at the beginning and had some mixed results, but Iíve been able to train and practice in the off-season which makes me confident going in to this Saturdayís event.

Now that youíre the defending champion, is there more or less pressure?

Villopoto: Itís not really more or less pressure. The pressure, or desire to win, to do good, remains the same. But, if anything, thereís less pressure because Iím better prepared for this season than I was last season.

Although not defending champion, Weimer is in a similar position starting the season in good health.

Weimer: Itís definitely a good feeling beginning the season in full health. Last year I had no riding time on the bike prior to the start of the first race so I was at a disadvantage before the season even began. I havenít changed anything for 2012, Iíve just been putting in a lot time riding the new bike and preparing for this year.

Any nervousness racing the 450s with people looking for good results from you?

Weimer: Will I be nervous this Saturday at the first race of the season, sure. But no more nervous than any other race in any other class. Some nervousness is a good thing, it means youíre taking the race seriously and that you want to win and give it your best.

Do you foresee any one rider being especially competitive this season?

Villopoto: All the same players are returning, Reed, Stewart, Dungey, Canard and any one of them have a chance of winning at every race. Theyíre all fast and want to win as bad as the next guy so this season should be as good as last season.

Weimer: Thereís no one guy to beat, you have to beat all top five guys right now, not just one dominant guy. As long as no one gets injured there will be some really close racing this Saturday and the rest the season.

Does having a handful of riders equal in talent make the competition tougher, compared to having only a Carmichael or a McGrath to beat?

Villopoto: Itís definitely more difficult. You can have a couple fast guys in front of you youíre trying to pass and a couple of fast guys behind trying to pass you. With McGrath and Carmichael you only had to focus on beating them, now youíve got five guys to worry about.

Weimer: You can get a poor start and have a better chance of finishing in a good position when thereís only one dominant guy, but against five guys, if you get a bad start youíre best finish will be in 6th place.

Howís the 2012 KX450F?

Villopoto: Itís a better bike all around. Weíve done some engine work as well as tweaked the chassis and suspension. The 2012 bike is definitely more competitive than last yearís model.

Weimer: Because I wasnít injured and was able to ride in the off season weíve made a lot of progress on the 2012 KX. Thereís a little more power and the handling is improved.

Any predictions for Saturday night?

Villopoto: Wait and see.

Weimer: Not sure, but the race should be as good as last yearís.

By Tom Roderick

See also: BSB 2012; Mystic Mac investigates, Randy de Puniet's custom W650, Stuck for a gift? Solution No3: Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki or Kawasaki merchandise.