2007 may be less than two months old, but Ryan Villopoto has already taken an AMA title.
The 18-year-old clinched the AMA Supercross Lites West title Saturday by winning the Supercross Lites West round in San Diego.
It marks the first Supercross title for Villopoto, who was named AMA Motocross/Supercross Rookie of the Year last year, after clinching the Motocross Lites crown and being a member of the winning U.S. Motocross of Nations team.
Villopoto was nearly unstoppable in the Lites West series this year. He won all but a single race en route to the championship and wrapped up the title with one race remaining. He needed only a fifth-place or better finish in San Diego to win the championship.
But RV was generous in victory, being quick to give much of the credit to his Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki team.
"I can't thank my team enough for what they've done for me," Villopoto said. "It helps to have the best team in the series behind you. I don't think it has set in yet, but I have worked for this. It's definitely something that I want to continue to do. I think that my consistency has paid off and that's why I was able to win the championship a race early. You have to be consistent especially with only eight races. Outdoors is a little different because you have room for error."
Villopoto won the opening round of the series and never lost the points lead. However, he was tied briefly when team-mate Christophe Pourcel earned the victory at round two in Phoenix.
It marked yet another successful season for Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki. The team made a rare sweep of the podium in Phoenix with team-mates Pourcel, Villopoto and Christopher Gosselaar finishing one-two-three at Chase Field on Jan. 13. It marked the fifth straight AMA Supercross Lites West championship for Kawasaki and their 11th title in the series.
Villopoto said he will now focus his attention on defending his Motocross Lites Championship, adding that he'll practice Supercross again a few weeks ahead of the annual Dave Coombs Sr. East/West Lites Shootout at the Las Vegas Supercross in May.