Billy Laninovich had a rather disappointing 2008 season thanks to some injuries and other bad luck. After missing half of the Supercross and outdoor season due to three herniated discs in is back, Laninovich made the jump from the Lites bike to the mighty KTM 450SX-F. After a slow start, Laninovich started creeping his was into the top-10 overall each weekend and started gaining some confidence. However, after the Washougal National, MDK/KTM informed Billy that he would be sitting out the remainder of the season. We caught up with Laninovich this afternoon to see what he's been up to since the Washougal National and what his plans are for 2009.
Looking back on your season, how would you say things went?
My Supercross season didn't start out too well. We had a few mud races, and I didn't qualify for the first round and maybe even the second round. I was struggling a lot with my starts, but I was riding well. I had a pretty good pace going and a got a fourth at Anaheim III, which was my best finish in Supercross. At one of the East Cast races I decided to race the KTM 450SX-F. Unfortunately, I went over the bars in the first practice session and had a minor shoulder separation, so that put me out for a week. After that, I was only on the bike for a couple of days before I again crashed while riding at Perris Raceway. I knocked myself out and also had three herniated discs in my back, which put me out for three months. I only had two weeks worth of riding under my belt before I came back to ride the outdoors, and I was really out of shape and didn't want to go out there because I knew it wasn't going to be good riding two 30 minute motos… I just wasn't ready for that; however, everybody thought I should just race my way into shape. The first couple of races I struggled, but at Red Bud I finished 12th overall. My last race, which was at Washougal, I got 10th overall, which was good because I was making a lot of progress.
After the Washougal National we never saw you again. What happened?
I got a call from MDK informing me that they wanted me to sit out the last few races so that they could bring on somebody else. Since then I haven’t really ridden until last Monday. I got a call from a German team asking me to come race, but I really didn't want to do it, however, Casey Johnson told me to ride his bike [2009 Honda CRF450R], and I really liked it and felt really comfortable! I enjoyed myself and I think that put the fire back inside of me. Before that, I was working for my girlfriend's dad, who has a construction company, and did that for a couple of weeks, but I did not like that whatsoever (laughs). So, since I got that offer to race in Germany, I’ve decided to head over there because I'll make some pretty good money if I do well.
Photo by Topete
When MDK/KTM called to inform you that you would be sitting out the remainder of the season, was that a disappointing time?
I felt pretty good at Washougal, and I knew I was improving each weekend and more than capable of finishing inside the top 10. I was definitely bummed, but I did struggle with the bike a little bit. The bike was really fast, though! Some guys, however, can come back from an injury and ride a bike that they're not comfortable on, but I, on the other hand, am the type of rider that if I am not comfortable on a bike, I can't ride to my full potential. I did struggle with that a little bit, but that is nothing against KTM in any way.
As of right now, you do not have anything lined up to race Supercross in the states?
Nope. I'm not going to go out there and do it by myself. I do have a lot of people who want me to, but everybody has such good equipment these days and I don't have the right support to go out there and race. I am just going to wait for a call, but if that doesn't happen I will probably do the European Supercross season when that comes around.
Photo by Topete
When will you be heading over to Germany?
It'll be January 9th, 10th, and 11th. I forget what the race is called, but I have a month of riding and training to get prepared (laughs).
In regards to training, what's your routine like?
I just started riding again on Monday, and I went to Starwest and then to Perris Raceway a couple of times, too. I've been doing a lot of cycling and getting as many miles in as possible on my bicycle to get my cardio up. I've also been going to the gym and shedding a few pounds. I just want to go over there and have fun and see where I end up. I honestly have no idea what to expect. I am going back there for some Kawasaki team, and I have no idea how the bikes are going to be. I don't even have a Kawi right now, so I am trying to find one that I can ride until I head to Germany.
Photo by Topete
Once you finish up the races in Germany, what's the next step?
I am just going to continue training and riding, and hopefully I'll get a call to fill in for somebody. If I can do that it'll give me the opportunity to go out there and prove myself to everybody. I still have that fire inside of me, and I feel like I am great shape. Since healing up from my back injury to now, there is a huge difference in my riding. I would go out to Perris and be exhausted after three laps; but now I can go out there and do a couple 30-minute motos and feel good afterwards.
Last time we spoke you were in the middle of dealing with your back problem. Are the discs all healed up now?
I don't have any problems with my back any more. It does get a little sore here and there, but it's nothing that will slow me down on a motorcycle.