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5 Minutes with...Davi Millsaps

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Serving as the outgoing phone ring tone on Davi Millsaps’ cell phone, I sat and listened to the Bon Jovi song Living on a Prayer while waiting for the Team Honda Red Bull rider to pick it up. Being 7:45 a.m. on Tuesday, I knew it was a crapshoot on whether he would answer or not, but to my surprise, he did. Finishing up his breakfast before heading out to the Honda test track for yet another comprehensive test session, Millsaps, who won two races (Atlanta and Detroit), scored eight podiums and finished fourth in the 2008 Monster Energy/AMA Supercross Series, has been living in California the last few months and has been fast at getting both himself and his motorcycle ready to make a run at the 2009 AMA Supercross Championship. Only 20 years old (although a big, strong guy), and with the resources and might of Honda behind him, Millsaps, as everyne knows, has everything it takes to be a champion on a 450. However, when it comes time to line up with Reed, Stewart, Villopoto, Short and company, consistency, speed and endurance will be variables that need to be both addressed and fine-tuned if he wants to make it to the top step of the podium and remain there. To that end, Millsaps has been hard at work on his bike, body and mind, and is very much looking forward to the opening round of the new supercross season come Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California on Saturday night, January 3, 2009.

Racer X: Davi, are you getting ready to head out and go ride?
Davi Millsaps: Yeah, I’m riding today and Wednesday and Thursday.

We’ve heard you’ve been on a the bike quite a bit...
Yeah, I’m just trying to get the bike ready to race, you know? I’ve been on it so much for the fact that I’m just trying to get ready — me, myself, and the bike.

How long have you been riding the 2009 bike?
I started on it about a month ago.

Have you been riding primarily on the Honda test track?
Yeah, I haven’t ridden anywhere else.

You’re living in California now, correct?
Yeah, I’m living out here.

How do you like it out here?
It’s different. I wanted to be out here for the preseason and to get ready for the supercross season, but when it comes time for the East Coast races and stuff like that, I will be going back home and coming back to California. I guess I’ll be going back-and-forth.

We understand you’ve been doing a lot of testing with the 2009 Honda.
I’ve got to. It’s a new bike.

Do you like testing? Do you like developing a new motorcycle? Or can things get a little monotonous at times?
Sometimes it gets a little overwhelming just because it, like, never ends, but then you have to think about it, you know, because you’re making your bike better for yourself so you can do better. So it doesn’t really bother me that much, but when it is every day or whatnot, you lose a lot of time for training and then you have to catch up with your training part because you’ve been testing so much. So basically, in other words, I try to get one or two days of riding in a  week and then test as much as I can. You try to equal it out.

How do you like the new motorcycle? Is it really coming around?
It’s actually coming around really good. We have a lot of high hopes for it [laughter].

Have your teammates Ivan Tedesco and Andrew Short been testing as much as you have?
I think I’ve been testing the most, but I know they’ve been riding.

How’s your health? Is the shoulder you dislocated last summer healed up and are you at 100 percent now?
Yeah, I’m good now. I’m normal and 100 percent for riding. I’m just trying to get back into shape from when I did get hurt, you know?

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How’s the training going? Have you been working at that?
Of course, bud. I have. I’ve just been working with Johnny [Louch] and we’ve been really getting at it.

You didn’t ride the U.S. Open. Wil you do any of the off-season races before Anaheim?
Maybe. I got an e-mail yesterday asking if I wanted to do a race overseas and I said, “Yeah, I would.” Now, I’m just waiting for the confirmation.

Do you know which race it is?
Yep.

Can you tell us which race it is?
Well the e-mail asked if I wanted to go race in Barcelona.

You were at the U.S. Open as a spectator. I know it’s a small venue and a small track, but as far as Short and Tedesco, as well as James and Chad and their new bikes are concerned, could you pick up on anything while watching there?
Of course. You can see how they are riding and see where they’re advantages and disadvantages are and try and go off of that. It’s different when you’re racing instead of watching of them.

How did James and Chad look to you?
The same. It didn’t really look like anything changed.

As far as all the riders go, do you think much will change come Anaheim I?
No, I think it’ll be the same guys on the same level. Maybe some guys might step it up to a different level as far as the top level, but honestly, I don’t see how much faster you can really go. We’re going as fast as we can go and we’re just trying to step it up to what the top guy’s pace is and hopefully some of us can do it.

What do you think about Ryan Villopoto joining the class? Will he be able to step it up?
I don’t know. I haven’t seen him ride the 450 at all, but he’s a good rider. He’s kind of small for the bike. It might show a little bit in supercross, but he’s gong to be as fast as anything outdoors. We’ll have to see. It’s hard to say, you know?

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How has making the adjustment to the 450 been for you?
I moved up in the outdoors in 2007, so I didn’t have to move up in supercross. I don’t know... It was hard because it was long motos and I had never ridden a big bike before. My first race ever on a big bike was at Hangtown, you know? It was pretty fun and I liked it and enjoyed and made it more fun. The faster I got on it, the more I expected, and then every time I would try and step it up, I’d crash trying to go to the next level. We’re working on it and I think it’s going to be fun for next year. And I think Villopoto is going to do good next year, for sure. I wouldn’t count him out of anything.

Do you see riders in particular really stepping it up in 2009 supercross?
That’s a hard question, you know? I haven’t really seen anyone ride. I know Short is going fast like he was at the U.S. Open. I guess it all depends on how it goes at Anaheim. Practice can be whatever, but when it comes race time it’s a lot different.

Do you see any of the younger guys, guys such as Josh Hill, in the mix in 2009?
Well, I mean Josh Hill was last year, so we’ll see how he does this year. There aren’t really any other younger guys out there, you know?

Going back to your 2008 supercross season, you had two wins and eight top-three finishes. I’d assume you’re petty confident heading into the 2009 season. I mean, you know you have what it takes to win.
Yeah, I’m definitely more confident than I was last year and I’m way more comfortable on my new bike. I don’t know, I’m hoping for a good year. It’s a matter of getting more riding under my belt and getting ready for it and getting the bike to 100 percent.

How did it feel to win your first 450 supercross before 70,000 fans in Atlanta last February? Was it like a dream come true?
Of course. Every win is. To me, it’s not, “Oh, I won again. Whoopee!” It’s more along the lines of I worked my whole life for that and I’m doing it and that’s what makes me pumped on it.

What’s your plan come Anaheim and the first few rounds?
That’s my plan, bud [laughs].

You’re keeping your masterplan on the down-low?
No, I just want to run up front, like I always want to do. I want to be up there with those guys and challenge them. And I know I can, just have to get my mind straight and do it.

{LINKS}If everyone can stay healthy, do you foresee a very competitive supercross season?
That’s what supercross wants, so that’s what we’re shooting for.

Okay Davi, you’ll race 17 rounds in 2009. What will make you happy come the end of the supercross season?
A championship, bud.

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