Photo: MXGP

That didn't take long.

After a rather difficult start to the 2015 Motocross World Championship in Round 1, Ryan Villopoto roared back winning Race 1 and the overall for Round 2 held on Sunday in Thailand. It was the first time the United States flag was held high at an MXGP event since 2009.

Villopoto, the United States best chance for an MXGP Championship since Bobby Moore did it in 1994, took seventh overall for Round 1 including a ninth-place in Race 1 thanks to his bike stalling at the start and then he hit the dirt twice during that race. He didn't fare much better in Race 2 rolling up in eighth-place after riding with a busted rear break for half the race. He returned to Europe for more testing before heading off to Thailand, which apparently worked.

Villopoto won the qualifying race by 33 seconds, won Race 1 for Round 2 by nearly 11 seconds and took third in Race 2 for the overall win, just one point more than Clement Desalle of Belgium. The track in Thailand was new and also in a new city. Heat and humidity were off the charts and officials reduced Race 2 by five minutes because of the extreme weather.

"We only had two days to test when we went back to Europe but we made good progress with the bike," Villopoto said. "We made some big suspension changes and then some fine tuning here. I think the track here is not only new for all of us, it is also a little more jumpy than the usual GP track and suited me. For sure there will be weeks when a track suits me best, and other weeks when the track suits the European guys."

The track in Nakhonchaisri, Thailand was considered tight and technical but fast, which sounds a lot like an American Supercross track. Villopoto won four-straight Supercross titles before deciding to end his career chasing an MXGP Championship.

"I didn't ride this sort of heat for one and a half years, and it even started snowing when we were training in Belgium on Tuesday, so it was a shock change for all of us," Villopoto said. "I guess I have some things to learn too. I also backed off my pace in the qualifier but I think the other guys did so even more to save energy in the heat. There's a strategy to GP racing but I'm gradually getting used to it. I got pushed around a little in the first few turns of race two but when I got to third I just tried to be smart, and at this stage of the season a safe third is better than risking a crash."

The much ballyhoo surrounding Villopoto and eight-time MXGP Champion Antonio Cairoli is just beginning to start. The Italian took fifth in Race 1 and first in Race 2, for his first win of the 2015 season. Cairoli took third overall and is now in second-place for the season with 79 points. Desalle who rang up two second-places, just as he did in Round 1, is now the points leader after Max Nagl of Germany who swept Round 1, took fourth-place in Race 1 of Round 2 and 11th in Race 2 for seventh overall.

Villopoto is now fourth in the standings with 70 points, eight back from Nagl in third. His performance in Round 2 bumped him up three places from Round 1 while Nagl dropped from first to third.

Riders get a three-week break for Round 3 which is across the globe at the Patagonia Race Track in Neuquen, Argentina.

2015 MXGP Thailand Overall Results

  1. Ryan Villopoto (1-3)
  2. Clement Desalle (2-2)
  3. Antonio Cairoli (5-1)
  4. Romain Febvre (3-4)
  5. Kevin Strijbos (6-5)
  6. Gautier Paulin (7-6)
  7. Maximilian Nagl (4-11)
  8. Todd Waters (9-7)
  9. Tyla Rattray (8-8)
  10. David Philippaerts (12-10)

2015 MXGP Season Standings

  1. Clement Desalle - BEL (88)
  2. Antonio Cairoli - ITA (79)
  3. Maximilian Nagl - GER (78)
  4. Ryan Villopoto - USA (70)
  5. Romain Febvre - FRA (67)
  6. Gautier Paulin - FRA (67)
  7. Kevin Strijbos - BEL (55)
  8. Evgeny Bobryshev - RUS (45)
  9. Todd Waters - AUS (40)
  10. Shaun Simpson - GBR (38)