Photo: Courtesy of Supercross.com
Last season–after a long, hard fought road to the top–Star Racing/Valli Motorsports/Rockstar/Yamaha’s Ryan Sipes emerged on the scene as a Championship contender in the Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, Eastern Regional Lites Series and, by the end of the year, had two wins under his belt. His first win came after an epic battle with Blake Baggett and eventual Eastern Lites Regional Champion, Justin Barcia, at the Indy Supercross. Then he followed it up with a win at the East/West Shootout at the finale in Las Vegas. Ryan ended up finishing the Championship third overall with a very solid five podiums and a win back East.
With a solid, confidence-building year behind him, many experts had the fast veteran Yamaha rider on their list as possible contenders for the 2012 West Championship, but so far, things have not gone his way. At the opener Ryan showed he still has the speed to win with the fastest qualifying time of the day, but once the lights went out in Anaheim, it became a uphill battle. He salvaged a fifth at the opener, but not before having to go to the LCQ.
Round two in Phoenix would go from disappointing to heartbreaking. After struggling once again in his heat race, Ryan would end up in the SX version of a bar room brawl referred to as the LCQ. Ryan found himself in a heated battle with Matt Moss for the final transfer spot. That battle would end with Ryan being cordially introduced to the side of a 2012 KTM and the back side of a berm. In the end, both he and Moss ended their Phoenix SX with a DNQ.
Over the years, the dedicated country boy from Kentucky has become a very popular crowd favorite, and after Saturday’s incident, emails and tweets came in requesting a Sipes interview. We gave Ryan a call to find out how he’s doing and to get his take on the incident on Saturday night. We caught him in his truck driving from Phoenix to Anaheim, and this is how the conversation went down.
How’ve you been, Ryan?
I’m good man, just good. Last weekend was a bummer for sure. Ya know, nothing good comes out of being knocked out and feeling sorry for yourself, so we’ll keep working and doing the right things. I know how to win races. I’ve done it before, so we’ll keep working and we’ll get them next week.
Yeah, I would much rather have waited until after a podium or win to talk with you, but I have gotten some requests to find out how you are doing. Is that illness you had during the outdoors still lingering at all, or is that behind you now?
No, I’m completely healthy. I’m good. I feel good. My fitness is there. The one heat race was my mistake. Maybe I was pushing too hard trying to get by Rattray and had a tiny mistake that led to a bigger one. I’m good, though; I’m healthy. I’ll be ready for this weekend.
Well, we saw saw your speed was there at Anaheim 1 when you qualified first.
Yeah, my speed’s there. It’s just the little things. It’s never going to go all right, all the time. I could be mad and bummed, but it’s not going to accomplish anything. Just keep working and keep going. That’s what we do.
Check out GoProMX Footage from Ryan’s helmet cam during the LCQ in Phoenix.
I want to touch on the Matt Moss incident from the LCQ in Phoenix. I just watched the GoPro video from the battle, and I wanted to ask if they edited out your voice. I ask because I would have been cussing up a storm under my helmet during that battle.
Well, it kind of took my breath away when he hit me. It was no big deal, but I was upset obviously. I was just trying to get on my bike and get going, maybe I could somehow luck into the main. I guess it just is what it is, but it just don’t make sense. I mean he took himself out of it too. When you hit somebody with the throttle pinned down to the stop, you’re going down too. I cut the corner super tight so he wouldn’t be able to but he still tried. I mean, I hope he feels good about it. Now he doesn’t even get the gas card. (Laughs)
Yeah, I’m all for aggressive riding, especially on the last lap of the LCQ, but what didn’t make sense to me was that it looked like had no intention of turning. (Laughs)
No, none. That’s what doesn’t make sense. If I would have left the door open and he had block passed me, good for him; he made the pass. He basically hyper-extended my elbow doing it. It’s one thing that we didn’t make the main, but if we got hurt doing it, I really might have had to whoop him. (Laughs) I mean, it’s uncalled for. We’re professionals; it’s not a local fair race. It’s whatever. We’ll come back next weekend.
I agree. So since you didn’t make the Main and the Championship is now a long shot, how does your approach change for the remainder of the season? Are you just looking for wins?
Yeah, that’s all I can do, just go try to win. Like you said, it’s a long shot, but I don’t even need to be focusing on that part of it anyways. I just need to go out there and get some wins–just put my bike up front from the start and be solid for fifteen laps. When you win races, good things happen. Ya never know.
So this week you were in Phoenix which is your trainer, Steve Hatch’s, neighborhood. Were you able to hang out with him at all?
Yeah, still working with Steve Hatch. He lives out in Scotsdale, just north of Phoenix, so I went up there. He actually got pretty bad food poisoning at the race, and he’s still in bed right now–super sick with it. But we went out and rode. He’s friends with Taylor Roberts who races WORCS series and Endurocross, so we all went out for about a three and a half hour ride today and were working on some stuff . I’m heading on over to Anaheim right now. Then we’ll get a couple of days on the SX track and we’ll be ready for L.A.
I am hearing that LA. may be a mudder. Last report I read did have rain in the forecast for Saturday and Sunday so it might be a fun one. (Laughs)
I heard that, but ya never know.
How is it working with the Star Racing/Yamaha team now that you have merged with the Valli/Rockstar team? You guys have a huge entourage over there now.
Yeah, it’s a lot of people. It’s good, though, and nothing has really changed on our end of it. Our bikes are the same, and we had some cool sponsors step-up. They’ve allowed Bobby Reagan and Chad Lanza, the owners], to merge and make a better team. I think it’s good. Obviously I had a really bad weekend, but that doesn’t show what we can do. We have a lot of good guys, and everyone is working hard. I’m out at the Yamaha track and I see these guys working hard. Nobody is slacking.
Will you be staying 250 outdoors, or will you be giving the 450 another go in 2012?
I don’t know yet. The plan was to do 250’s outdoors, but it just kind of depends, I guess. I might be able to talk my way into a 450 ride. (Laughs) I would definitely like to. I had a lot of fun in 2012 when I did it, but I can ride the Lites bike too. I’ve trimmed back down from where I was. I’m still heavy compared to some guys, but right now I’m at a decent weight for a Lites bike. I can still do it in the outdoors and whatever they tell me to ride, I’ll ride.
What are you packing around right now–about 165lbs? Those Cosworth motors will pull you.
Yeah, about 160. Our Cosworth motors are good. Yeah, last year in the outdoors I was heavier, and I was still pretty much top-5 every start.
One last thing: can you tell us about the new video series filmed by Ben Linderman called “Week In The Life: Ryan Sipes?”
Yeah, it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, and I finally just decided to pull the trigger, hire a video guy and get it done. It’s cool to kind of show the fans what’s going on and what we really do.
So the series was all your concept? I love it!
Yeah, it’s all me. I just wanted to do it. I’m always down for stuff like this. It just seems like a lot of guys don’t do it. You see Racer X videos and stuff, and I’ve done quite a few of them, but this is just kind of my behind the scenes thing. The guy that shot it said after it was done that it’s kind of a reality show. It’s just what we do behind the scenes. It rained a lot during the first couple of days, so you get what we do on a rainy day: play basketball. (Laughs) But there’s riding coming up, I promise.
Check the Tuesday episode of Week in the Life: Ryan Sipes
To view Sunday and Monday’s episodes click here>>>
Well, that’s all I got for you, Ryan. I hope next time I call you it’s after a podium or win.
Yeah, well you just got to make sure you call me. (laughs)
For sure, drive safe and good luck in LA.