Photo: Ray Archer
If Ryan Villopoto does race the 2015 MXGP Championship series he'll face probably the stiffest competition he's has had in a while.
Antonio Cairolo clinched his eighth World title on Sunday a round early - a feat Villopoto seems to do regularly in both Supercross and Motocross. Cairolo finished on the podium in all but three races this year and played it relatively safe in Round 16, considering his nearly insurmountable lead, to secure his spot in the center of the final podium.
Cairolo took fifth in Moto 1 which gave him the championship. He took third in Moto 2. He finished the day with 109 points more than the second-place Jeremy Van Horebeek of Belgium, who also locked-in his runner-up status on the final podium. Cairolo said he'll race to win in the final round in Mexico.
Many Motocross fans love the idea of Villopoto, arguably the greatest racer on the track today in American racing, going up against the Italian Cairolo, who is 28 years old compared to the 26 year-old Villopoto. Villopoto's resume includes nine AMA 250 and 450 titles and Cairo has now his eighth MXGP title. Villopoto has 73 victories to Cairolo's 72 wins.
The two riders faced each other once in the 2006 Motocross of Nations. In Moto 1 for MX1 and MX2 bikes, Villopoto took third to Cairolo's 10th place but in Moto 2, for MX2 and MX 3 bikes, both riders battled for the checkered flag with Cairolo taking the victory over Villopoto. Overall, Villopoto took the class win and team victory. Cairolo is on Team Italy this year but Villopoto is not on Team USA.
Villopoto won his fourth consecutive Supercross Championship a round early in April. He stayed out of the Motocross season (and an attempt to grab his third title in four years) to repair his knee and now rumors abound on Villopoto's future. Early reports indicated a plan to retire as many speculated he seemed unhappy this season in Supercross and was done racing. Then news floated in that he might head overseas and take on the World Championships.
But, Villopoto could also return to Supercross for an unprecedented fifth-straight Supercross Championship. That along with another Motocross Championship next year could seriously challenge Ricky Carmichael's GOAT status.
In a June 2012 interview with Vurbmoto, Villopoto said he and his wife had thought about living in Europe and, at the time, had three years left in the United States and maybe he'd come over and race the GPs after that. Much of Villopoto's future depends on how well his knee heals and whether it heals in time.