by Kyle Cowling
Undoubtedly one of the more gifted riders to touch a dirt bike, Billy Laninovich has shown flashes of brilliance. However, they are heavily outweighed by the knee surgeries, broken bones, and concussions that have wrapped their way around Lano’s career. BL132 was able to procure his very first Supercross win during the 2005 season inside AT&T Park, which proved that Laninovich was more than capable of taking more wins down the road. While Lano has spent quite a few years in the Lites class, the time has finally come for him to make the jump into the premier class. Unfortunate timing, however, has yielded Billy’s permanent jump to the 450s. After taking a trip over the handlebars at the watering hole for all of the top motocross stars, Perris Raceway, BL132 is in the midst of recovering from a herniated disc in his lower back. It’s obvious that the MDK/KTM rider will be missing the opening round of the Outdoor Nationals, but we were able to catch up with Laninovich to talk about the extent of his injury and his thoughts on racing the 450 this summer.
Your season didn’t go as well as you planned. What was going on?
I think my biggest problem was my starts. I had the speed, but I couldn’t get a start. There was one race where I did get a good start and I ended up finishing fourth.
How are things going with the MDK/KTM team? You were racing KTM’s in your rookie season.
Everybody on the team is so cool! That was one of the reasons why I wanted to go back there. The bikes have improved a lot over the past four years. The environment is good and I was expecting to do really well, but I ended up with another year of struggles.
What are your plans for next year?
I’ll be doing 450 Supercross and 450 outdoors for MDK/KTM.
Are you going to be riding a 450 at the nationals this year?
We saw you on a 450 at one of the East Coast rounds, however, you had a big get-off and we haven’t seen you since.
I crashed at Indy five laps into the heat race and separated my shoulder. But, that only kept me off the bike for a week. I came back from that injury a week later and I ended up crashing while riding at Perris Raceway. I came up short on a little triple jump and I went straight over the bars. I was knocked out for a minute and I couldn’t remember anything for 45 minutes after the crash. I tore a muscle in my back and they had to drain a quart of blood out of me. My lower back keeps locking up. I’ve been doing physical therapy three to four days a week. I told the doctor that my lower back kept locking up on me and that’s when he said I might have a herniated disc. I’ve been trying to heal up; it’s been two months.
Do you feel more at home on the 450 compared to the Lites bike?
Oh yeah! For the outdoors, I think I can have a lot of top-ten finishes. Hopefully I can finish inside the top five each weekend in a moto, you know? It sucks, though. I haven’t been able to train or ride. I was able to get into the pool last week. That’s about all I can do for training. I can’t ride my rode bike or mountain bike. Every time I get on one of them my back locks up. I was riding my road bike last week (this was before I found out I had a herniated disc) and I only did half a mile; the next thing I know my back locked up. I got off my bike and I couldn’t stand up straight or sit down. That’s when I knew something was seriously wrong.
How long are you expecting to be off the bike?
(Laughs) Dude, I have no idea. It’s getting better, but it’s healing really slowly. Backs are not the best things too mess up.
You don’t wear a Leatt Brace do you?
No. But I am going to start!
Before the season comes to an end, are there any chances we’ll see you racing some of the outdoors?
Oh yeah! I am planning on racing the nationals. I am hoping that I’ll be able to start riding in two weeks. I was shooting for only one week, but I can’t do work around the house, so how am I going to ride a dirt bike?