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Monday Conversation: Ryan Morais

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Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Ryan Morais probably couldn’t have had a worse year in 2008. But in 2009, he’s back, and he’s second in points going into the first week off for the Lites West title. We talked to him after his second runner-up performance of the year – and his third-straight podium – last Saturday night.

Racer X: So talk about your holeshot!
Ryan Morais: In the main event, I didn’t get the greatest jump – I think I was kind of mid-pack – and I didn’t want to be there, going into that first turn, with the way it split, and I knew it was going to be bad, so everyone kind of braked, and I was like, “Man, here we go. I’m just going to leave it on and see what happens.” I was able to barely squeeze by Dungey on the outside and pull a holeshot. I was just so happy. I couldn’t believe that it worked out. To lead, I think it was, six laps, was a big step for me in my career. I’ve never, ever led a lap in a main event. I wasn’t sure what I was capable of coming into tonight. I haven’t swung my leg over a bike since Phoenix. I’ve been really sick and I’ve just been sleeping, and for me to come out with this solid ride tonight is just awesome. I can’t thank Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki enough.

Having never led before, what was it like for you?
Oh, it was awesome. I was just pushing as hard as I could. I knew that if I could push as hard as I could right at the beginning and pull away, it would make the last half of the race a lot easier, so I was just giving it all I had that whole time. Ryan got by me, and I tried latching on, and he was riding really good – he’s going to be hard to beat this year – but I feel like I can win my first main event this year, and I’m going to work really hard to get that. It’s going to take wins in order to win this championship, because with me, Ryan and Jake, we’re all on the podium every weekend. I think it’s going to stay this way the whole year, with us three staying pretty tight, and it should be a good year.

And that’s weird, because normally the Lites class is pretty inconsistent, but you three have been all over the box, with the only other guy getting up there being Justin Brayton last weekend.
Yeah, you know, coming into the first round, if you looked at the lineup, it was like, “Man, this is a deep field. There’s a lot of fast guys.” You never really know. I’ve been there where I was really fast one year and the next year I sucked, and I think us three – and Brayton – have separated ourselves a bit. And I think Trey [Canard] has had some bad luck. It sucks for him. It’s nothing really that he’s done or can do about it. It just happens, and everyone has had it. I think he will come on strong at the end of the year, but I just want to stay consistent and keep my feet on that box every weekend.

Taking a ride like this with Mitch Payton’s Pro Circuit team is kind of a double-edged sword, isn’t it? I mean, on one hand, you get the equipment and the team and all of that stuff to be successful, but you also get the expectations, the pressure and the feeling that you have to perform on this team, right?
Yeah, definitely, but I was down there begging Mitch for this opportunity. I didn’t have a ride for a good three weeks. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, and I was thinking about what other opportunities I could find for jobs, and I’m so thankful Mitch gave me this opportunity. And I knew that this was my last chance. If I don’t prove myself over here, I’m not going to get it right anywhere else, because if you can’t come over here and do it, where you’re on the best equipment, then no one else is going to give you that chance, and I’m so thankful for this opportunity and all of the effort that they’ve put into me. This whole team is amazing. They’ve helped me rebuild my career, for sure, not just with my bike, but with the input and everything that they do for me.

So what was it with this illness this week? What was it? Just a cold?
Yeah, I think it was just a cold or a flu or something. I’ve injured my spleen real bad and had to have it repaired, and organs taken out, so I kind of have a weak immune system and it kind of takes me a long time to get over stuff. When I get it, it hits me hard, so I had to be real careful. Me and my trainer talked about it, and we just took it easy. We knew that today’s the most important day. It’s not what we do during the week, it’s what happens on Saturday, so we just put everything into tonight, and it worked out.

{LINKS}You’re still very much in the points hunt. Does that change your mindset at all going into the week off for you guys?
I think I might take a couple more days off just to make sure I can get over this deal, and then work on what I think my weaknesses are, and then just come into San Fran, my hometown race – I haven’t been there for three years – and go out there and give it all I’ve got. It would be awesome to go out there and win my first main event in front of my hometown crowd.
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