Michael LaPaglia is a young up-and-coming rider who hails from Murrieta, California. And after a successful ’05 season on the amateur circuit just recently signed on to the WBR Suzuki team for the ’06, and possible ’07 seasons. Growing up LaPaglia competed against Ryan Villopoto throughout his career, and with Ryan’s recent success as a gauge Michael is hoping to make a name for himself during his rookie season in ’06.
Since growing up Michael has been riding on his personal track that he says is quite tight and technical, and perfect for a young kid looking to turn some heads indoors. With that said, we decided to find out what Michael is up to while preparing to make an assault on the circuit next year.
How old are you?
I’m 16; I’ll be 17 here next month, in November.
Is this your first year racing pro?
Yeah, I did the amateur race circuit last year, and this will be my first Supercross and Outdoor season.
Why did you wait a whole year until turning pro?
I just didn’t want to rush it for any reason at all. Last year I wasn’t ready, and even this year I was kind of on the brink. I just felt like I was ready this year and we got a few offers, and went with the one that we thought was the best. There really wasn’t any reason to turn pro last year. I just wasn’t as ready as I would have liked.
Tell us a little about your ride with the WBR Suzuki team next year?
Actually it was kind of neutral there for a while. It was a team that was up in the air, and I didn’t really know what the decision was going to be. Then David Bailey called me up on day and pretty much told me that they wanted me to ride for them in ’06, and I believe ’07 season. That’s it, as soon as he called me we stayed in touch and got things worked out, and now we are going for it.
Do you have any Supercross experience?
I’ve had a personal track ever since I’ve been on a 60, and it’s always been somewhat of a Supercross style track, so I’ve been on it for a while. The past two years we’ve had pretty much a full scale Supercross track. I have been practicing on it for quite a while, and for the past four or five weeks I have been on it every day really. I have done it a little bit, and I like it. I think Supercross suits my style a little bit better than outdoors. I like more technical things and try to keep it smooth.
Did you race Ryan Villopoto growing up?
Yeah, I raced Ryan all last year. Ever since we were on 80s and 60s even.
When you see him do good in such a short amount of time, does it give you confidence in knowing that you can run with him?
We kind of went back and fourth at Mammoth and Ponca last year, and seeing that he did so well in the first three rounds that he raced… I was excited to see him doing so well, because if he does that well then there is no reason that I can’t. Watching him get a 12th then a fifth then a second, or third, that was really cool. I was really excited for him and excited for myself, because I am not far off that. It was a boost of confidence. I went to Glen Helen and watched him race, and it was a big boost of confidence.
Are you working with David Bailey like he does with all the other riders on Team WBR?
Yeah, it has really been good. Ryan Morais and I have been working with him pretty much every day. Well, I shouldn’t say every day, maybe three or four days a week. We just work with him on what ever—if he sees anything. The guy is so good at that kind of stuff. He just points things out and we work with him on that. I also still work with Kurt Hendrickson, he has been working with me for the past five years. So I work with him and David, it’s a good team.
What coast will you be riding next year?
Why did you choose the West Coast?
I’m from Murietta, so Anaheim and San Diego are both about an hour from me. The East Coast gets rutted, and I won’t be used to the dirt. So I’m going to stay on thhe west for my first year.
What are your expectations for next year?
I don’t know. My expectations for next year are that I at least want to get good starts. I’ve been good at starts my entire amateur career—every since I’ve been on 60s or something with a clutch—and if I get good starts, top-three or top-five, or even holeshots then I won’t be going backwards far at all. I don’t want to say any personal goals, because they might be far fetched for some, and they might sound low to some. So I’m just going to keep that to myself, but if I just get good starts next year then I’ll be happy.