Kitchen setting his sights high for Pala
After winning the Anaheim II round, racing to podium finishes at Glendale, Denver and Salt Lake City and placing a fighting third overall in the final 2023 AMA 250SX West Region Supercross Championship, Levi Kitchen will now focus his attention on Fox Raceway and the opening round of the 2023 AMA Pro Motocross Championship set for this Saturday afternoon in Southern California.
Heading out of Florida with his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammates on Wednesday morning, Kitchen, who placed 11th in the 2022 AMA Pro Motocross Championship, has gained a terrific amount of confidence and speed in the past year and is now driven to make a serious run at the 2023 outdoor title atop his Yamaha YZ250F.
Q: You’re really ready for this outdoor season, aren’t you?
LEVI KITCHEN: Yeah, I’m feeling really good. Coming into the outdoors, I have a lot more experience now that than I did in supercross. I’m definitely feeling motivated after the way that supercross season went. It’s going to give me a little bit of confidence going into Pala, for sure. I also think my starts are a bit better than they were last year, and confidence is better too. And for how well it went last year up until I got hurt, I was coming from 15th place through 20th place with the bad starts I was doing. So I think if I start up front this year, I’ll be a lot easier on myself. The goal is just to be in the fight. I want to be no worse than in that top five. I want to be in the battle all the time. If I’m consistently there and fighting for podiums and wins, then I’ll find myself up towards the top at the end of the season.
Q: What’s your take on the competition you’ll be up against come Pala and beyond?
LK: It’s getting deeper and everybody is fairly close. Right now there are four or five or six guys who could potentially win races. I would love to be that standout guy, but it’s going to come down to putting yourself in a good position and minimizing the mistakes. I’m really looking forward to it. And I think it’ll be a great summer.
Q: How is everything with the team and your race bikes?
LK: The bikes are great. The team is good, and everything seems to be great. I really want to win and I’m finally in that position now. I’ve always wanted to win. I think everybody does. But I think it’s realistic that I can do that now. There’s several other guys that are saying the same thing right, but we’ll see. We’ve got we got about a week and we’re going to see who’s done the work and where everybody’s at.
You’re really flying on the bike outdoors. It’s what we grew up doing when we first started riding a dirt bike, so it’s more natural, and I think the outdoors comes down to being able to suffer out there on the track. You’re pretty exhausted and then you have to gear up 30 minutes later and go do it again. So it’s a whole different mindset. For me, it’s just basically trying to turn my brain off completely and let my instincts and desire kick in.
Q: How about Pala? How do you feel about that place? You looking forward to it?
LK: It’s okay. It just depends on the preparation and everything. It looks like the weather will be good on Saturday. I don’t mind the track. I know a lot of people. I try to do the best I can and be positive with every track and take the positives away from them.
I think a lot of people are going into Pala and they might not be the biggest fan of it. So I’m okay with it. I think it races okay. I just need to execute my starts. It’s important to if you want to be in a fight for a championship. I’m going to have to really go for it. By round four, you know what’s up. It’s almost like you see everybody kind of fall into place. Like, they kind of just think this is where they belong in the races and even the championship, and this might be where they end up. I tried to not do that last year and I came off a with a pair of eighths and then I went and won the first moto Colorado. This year I don’t want to go into the second round thinking that somebody is much better than me or whatever the case is.