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Billy Laninovich to go for Gold at Qualcomm

 This Saturday night at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, hometown rider Billy Laninovich (along with teammates Jake Weimer and Mike LaRocco) will race gold-liveried Honda CRF's and wear 24 karat gold riding gear to help launch an all-new energy drink: No Fear Gold. The 2006 AMA West Region Supercross Lites Championship sees Billy right smack in the middle of things. Five races into the eight round affair - with only San Diego, Dallas and Seattle left to go - he's only five points behind class leader Grant Langston. Heading into San Diego, the Sobe/No Fear/Samsung/Honda throttle man got us up to speed on his battle with Langston and Honda's Andrew Short
 
Billy, you're right there with the leaders in the 2006 AMA West Region Supercross Series. Were you able to use the off-season to shake off the injuries that have plagued you for the past few years?
Yeah, the off-season was really good for me. I actually hired a new trainer, John Emerson, and started training with him about four months before the season started. I came into the season in really good shape. During the off-season I also went back to Europe and did Bercy (Paris, France) and Genoa (Italy) and both went well. It was nice to get some races under my belt before the season started.
 
What did you do during the off-season to get in shape?
I did a lot of road biking and mountain biking. I did a lot of running and a lot of really hard training. I was also in the gym a little bit.
 
You're right their in the West Region championship chase. Are you happy with the way things have gone so far in '06?
Yeah, I feel real good. I podiumed at both the world rounds (Toronto and Vancouver, Canada); I also podiumed at the first two races of the season: Anaheim I and Phoenix.
 
How was the San Francisco mud race for you? Was it as miserable as it looked on TV?
Yeah, I was horrible in practice. Being from San Diego, I never ride in the mud so it doesn't suit me very well. But I got fifth in my heat race, which wasn't bad. I qualified right out. I was ninth off the start in the main and went to sixth in like a lap and a half. I was moving up, but then I fell down and went back to 10th. Then, by the end of the race, I got back to seventh.
 
When you fell, was it hard to pick the bike up and get going again?
Yeah, the bike was so heavy. I was lucky that I kept the motor running so I didn't have to try and start it.
 
You got out of there with a seventh. Were you okay with that?
Yeah, I was. The two guys in front of me finished 15th [Langston] and 13th [Short]. It was a race where you pretty much go out there and try and survive. My goal was to get in the top five. But, no, I was happy with it.
 
You placed fifth at Anaheim III. Did you like the track?
I kind of liked it. It was good. The whoops were real small. The tracks have been really easy lately.
 
What do you think about that? Is making the tracks easy the wrong way to go?
The whoops were big at Anaheim II, but I heard they cut them down. No, I don't like the easy tracks. It's like they're making them for beginners and we're professionals. I think it's more dangerous making easy whoops because you're going so fast through them.
 
Is it harder to get around guys on the easier tracks?
Yeah, it's like everybody is really close because there is nothing really to separate people.
 
Can you win the West Region title?
I need to get a win under my belt to stay in the title hunt. I need to be on the podium all the time.
 
Who do you think will be there at the end?
I don't know. You're going to have to stay consistent to win it. [Grant] Langston is riding fast. I need to do something to pick it up.
 
You're only five points out of the lead.
Yeah, I'm feeling really good. Five races in, I'm only five points out.
 
This Saturday at Qualcomm is your hometown race. Are you excited about that?
Yeah, hometown race. I feel good about it. I'm excited.
 
Nice to have all the injuries behind you?

Yeah, yeah. It's a blessing not to be injured. I made it through a whole season last year and that was awesome. Hopefully, I can do the same thing this year. That was kind of my whole goal going into last year: make it through a whole season without an injury. Being injured sucks.
 
Your game plan for 2006?
I'd be very happy to win the supercross championship this year. And in the outdoors, I want to be a top five competitor. If I get my confidence up and go into the outdoors confident,maybe I can win a moto here and there.
 
How do you like riding for the Factory Connection team?
I have a two-year deal for this year and next year. The team is awesome. Everyone has been working really hard. Our team is really mellow. There isn't a whole lot of pressure and stuff. They make you feel real comfortable.
 
How is Honda? Do they help you a lot?
Honestly, I don't know. I don't think so. They kind of do their own deal. They have Andrew [Short] riding their bike and it's not like we're teammates, we're competitors out there. When they do something good, they don't want to show us. That's just the way it is.
 
So Short is just another rider to you?
Yeah, pretty much. We know each other pretty good. We grew-up racing together in amateurs and stuff, but we don't really hang out and stuff like
that.
 
What do you think about the older and more experienced riders who ride the Lites class. Are you okay with it?
Oh yeah. That's what drives you - your competitors or your enemies. If it wasn't for them,  you wouldn't work for anything. Ramsey has been in the class a long time, but that just makes things more interesting.
 
What are your long term goals?

I want to win the championship this year and defend it next year. Then I'd like to go into the 250 class and just see where it goes from there. I'd like to win some championships if I could. It's tough. There's a lot of racers out there.
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