Ryan Morais is easily one of the nicest guys in the pits, and he’s also one of the most underrated. A perrenial challenger in the Supercross Lites class, Mo finished a strong third in the Anaheim 1 main event aboard his new Rockstar Suzuki ride and hopes to finally have a breakthrough year in 2010. We caught up with Morais on the phone to see what his thoughts on the new season are…
Did it feel like déjà vu at Anaheim One this weekend, finishing right behind your buddy Jake Weimer again?
Yeah, pretty much. In the heat we went one-two just like last year, but in the main he took off and I made a mistake in the whoops and I tightened up. That allowed Trey Canard to get past, but I'm really happy with my finish. I could have definitely lost the chance at the title there but instead I'm left Anaheim 1 in the hunt for it.
What's it going to take for you to win one of these things?
I think it will come down to my starts; if I get the holeshot and put my head down I feel that I can check out from everyone else. My speed is better than it was last year and I felt better my first couple laps than I did last year, but it just comes down to riding 15 mistake-free laps against Jake and Trey.
Is it hard to race aggressively against Jake, when the two of you are such good friends?
No, not at all. We had dinner Sunday after the races and he and his girlfriend came and watched a movie at our house, so we know that we have a friendship. I know when I line up next to him that he won't try anything dirty and that our battles will come down to who is a better rider.
Tell us about the new Rockstar Suzuki team…
It's awesome! Even though we got a little bit of a late start, Bill Keefe and Bobby Hewitt have done everything they can to make sure our bikes are competitive and I think it showed this weekend that they are able to be one of the top teams. Pro Circuit is doing our engines and suspension, so I know the bikes are as good as anything else out there.
You and Hannah are dog people, so has Canidae been hooking up giant bags of food for them?
(Laughs) We do get free food, but since we have little dogs they are a bit pickier and we have to watch their diet and all. We kept them on their old food.
So you have little picky dogs? You should get a giant dog so you can feed it the Canidae food!
(Laughs) Well, Hannah was never a dog person until we got our first one and I'm more of a lap dog guy, so you'll never see me with a bull dog like everyone else has.
We talked the other day about your bike, and because Suzuki didn't ship any 2010 bikes to the US early enough, you're still on a 2009 model, right?
Yeah, but we do have a 2010 front fender and numberplate on them, so it's like a combination of the two (laughs). I've seen Austin Stroupe on his 2010 at the test track but I still haven't thrown a leg over one, but I'll get the chance when the tour heads East and we have a break. I'm really happy with the 2009 because Roger and Ian at Suzuki and Mitch and Bones at Pro Circuit have done everything we asked to make the bike how I want it.
With a year of development on the bike already under their belts, was there much testing to do, or did they hand you the bike and say "This is as good as it gets?”
No, we still worked on it to make it even better with the new parts. With Ryan Dungey having a year on the bike and Mitch tweaking the motors and suspension for a year we had a great platform to work off but we just refined it to suit me perfectly.
For the Nationals, you may be stepping up to the 450, correct?
I'm not sure just yet, it all depends how I do during the Supercross season and who lines up for the 450 class when we head outdoors. I hope that I wind up on one and I'm doing what I need to so that I'm ready when the time comes because I feel like I'd be a good fit on the bike. At the end of the year I rode a 450 quite a bit when I didn't know where I was going to end up team wise.
A Pro Circuit Kawi is regarded as one of the best bikes on the track, but you are on a Suzuki that is also built by Mitch and crew. How do the two bikes compare?
There are a few differences because with Mitch's house bike you have the most up to date stuff, things that are fresh from the shop, but the new Suzuki showed that it is right there with everyone else. Bones has done a great job and made the transition to the Suzuki easier than I expected. The Pro Circuit bikes, the Factory Connection Honda, and our bikes are the best bikes on the tracks because they are all close to equal.
Straying away from racing a little bit, you've told me you are a fanatical cyclist. What is it about a road bicycle that you like so much?
I like getting out and getting my mind of things. I know a lot of guys are wired to an iPod and have music going the whole time but I just go out and run it with nothing going. I used it to my advantage when I was out with my shoulder injury that kept me out all summer. When the Tour de France was going, I rode every day they rode and took the days off that they took and put in as many miles as I could. I did my own version of the Tour, I guess…
Is that borderline nerdy?
(Laughs) I don't think so. I did it just because I love to ride my bike I guess.
So do you think you'll ever line up in a road bike race in the future?
No, because I would get handled by those guys (laughs).
Something many people might not know is that the Hannah you are married to is Andrew Short's sister. Are you and your brother in-law close, away from the track?
Yeah, we are. We spent the holidays with Andrew, Jackie, and their daughter Emma because we like the close family atmosphere.
Your wife Hannah is a registered nurse, so she has a life away from the track doesn't she?
Yeah, she does (laughs). She has been working at the hospital for two years and she enjoys it.
I have another friend whose wife is a nurse and while she was still in school, she asked if she could practice putting a catheter in on him. Did you ever contribute to Hannah’s studies like that?
(Stutters) Um, there is no way that I would do that. I have had a few put in for surgery and they are not fun at all, so there is no chance one of them is going in by choice (laughs).
So now that the season has finally begun, talk about the goals you have set for the rest of the year…
I've always taken it race by race because it takes steps to reach the end goal. If you’re focused solely on the championship itself, you lose sight of the little things that you do to make it to that point. I want to go out there and be a consistent podium finisher and my desire to finish up front will put me there, along with the help from my team.
Have you thought of what you are going to do over the finish line when you get a win?
I'll probably just jump straight and doing nothing cool at all. I'll just downside it, something that no one will be too pumped on (laughs).