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Old 02-29-2016, 06:30 PM   #1
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Dakota Mamola - Coming To America

Photo by Andrea Wilson

Dakota Mamola makes the move to the U.S. to race MotoAmerica Superstock 600 in 2016.

With our domestic series on the decline since 2008, the dialogue has been mostly about young American road racers needing to make the move overseas and take up Spanish. But Dakota Mamola is doing just the opposite. The young American, who grew up in Spain and raced in Spain (as well as various championships overseas), is coming to the U.S. this season to race in the MotoAmerica Championship for the HB Racing/Meen Yamaha team.

Even with the rebirth of the domestic championship in U.S. in the form of MotoAmerica, some people might still wonder if you’re already set up in Europe, why MotoAmerica?

“It’s very expensive and hard to get a team [overseas], because of that in Spain and the World Championship, it’s really, really hard to find sponsors,” Mamola said. “It was a better chance for me here.”

The seed was first planted last year at the Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin, Texas, at the Circuit of The Americas.

“I saw Wayne [Rainey] at the Texas Grand Prix last year and he said, ‘why don’t you come over to our championship?’” Mamola explained. “So I started thinking about it, and because Europe was so hard I said, ‘we’ll start looking.’ And then it started falling into place. I met up with Ameen [Sajjadi from Meen Motorsports] and it kind of all fit in, it kind of clicked.”

Add to that, the young Mamola really wanted to get back to racing.

“Last year I didn’t do anything, I didn’t race. I was eager for anything that would get me on a bike,” he said. “I didn’t care where it was, what it was. It actually works out good to be in the U.S., everyone’s really excited… Racing in America will be very special to me because my dad [Randy Mamola] has so much history here.”

His Dad, well-known retired-MotoGP racer, will be juggling his MotoGP duties with as many of the MotoAmerica races his schedule will permit.

“He’s [Randy] got a busy schedule this year,” Mamola said. “I think he’ll be there for six or seven out of the nine, but he’ll be traveling between the Grands Prix and then he’ll be going straight to my races. But he’ll be there for most of the races, which is good. I think it’ll be good for my teammate [Richie] Escalante as well.”

Photo by Andrea Wilson

The next generation... Kurtis Roberts (right) was on hand at the Thunderhill test to help Mamola (right) in his return to racing.

Mamola also looks forward to being paired up with his young Mexican teammate.

“It’ll also be good for me because he’s [Escalante] Spanish,” he said. “He doesn’t know English and I’ll be able to teach him English. It will be good for my dad to be with them and help not just me but the whole team out. Also, I think it will also be good for the championship to have my dad there. We’re going to try to have Kurtis and Kenny [Roberts] out and just try to build up this championship because I slowly see it coming better and better.”

For Mamola it’s not just a new championship, but a new continent. He will relocate to the U.S. for most of the season.

“Once the season starts from the COTA test until I think July, after Laguna Seca, I’ll be living in the U.S.,” he explained. “It’s totally weird because my mom’s like, ‘I don’t want you to go.’ I feel like a lot of my life has been in Spain. I was born and raised there, so it’s going to be a big, drastic change. I’ll be here probably four or five months and then I’ll head back to Spain.”

But different doesn’t bother Mamola.

“It’s going to be different, but I like different,” he said. “I’ve always changed. I’ve never been in a championship more than two years. I always changed championships, Spanish to Italian to British 125s, so now America. So it’s really my lifestyle and I like it. I get to understand a bit more about not just one side of the sport, but a little bit more of everything.”

Although typically associated with 125s or Moto2 machines, Mamola also has had some time on a 600.

“I rode in the Italian Championship with Yakhnich, a Russian team, with the R6,” Mamola said. “So I do know a little bit about this Yamaha, which is good.”

The biggest challenge for Mamola will be shaking off the cobwebs after not racing for so long.

“It’s been really since 2014 October, the last race in the Spanish Championship with the Moto 2 team Aspar,” he said. “Last year I worked with Cal [Crutchlow], just because nothing really went well with signing up a deal or anything. So, the only thing is really just to get back on the bike. Everyone else I’ll be competing against have been racing two or three years and I haven’t been on a bike all last year, which is hard. But that doesn’t scare me. I know where I can be. I just really want to ride and enjoy racing.”

Photo Courtesy of MotoAmerica/Brian J. Nelson

Mamola got to shake the cob webs off at Thunderhill. His last time on a bike was on a Moto2 machine back in October 2014, at the last race in the Spanish Championship.

Mamola will also have to learn the tracks, something he looks forward to.

“I’m really excited, not only to be racing again, but also a completely different world in the U.S.,” he said. “I’ve never raced here, don’t know any tracks.”

Were there any tracks in particular that Mamola was looking forward to?

“Laguna Seca,” he said without hesitation. “Laguna Seca and Texas [Circuit of The Americas], those are the two big ones that I really want to ride, but really all of them. I like learning new tracks. I’m used to it because I’m always changing championships.”

Mamola still circled back to Laguna Seca and CoTA.

“But Laguna Seca,” he said again. “I’ve been there since I was really young on a scooter and it was like, ‘no way they’re going down this hill, right? It’s so steep.’ There’s nothing like it. And, again, I’m really excited to just to start the season in Texas too because MotoGP will be there and I’ll have some good people there and good support.”

Coming to a new championship after such a long time off the bike, what were Mamola’s goals for the season?

“The goal is to finish all of the races, as many as we can and as far up as we can,” he answered. “I’d like to start already at the first two races maybe get close to the top five and then start getting podiums and wins towards the end of the season. A rider’s goal is always to win, and my goal is to win always. That’s what we’re going to be aiming for and that’s what we’ll try to do.

“I never thought actually I would ever race here, really. I thought always Spain and Europe was where we had to be. But I’m really, really excited to be in the Moto America. I just want to thank Ameen [Sajjad] again for giving me this chance and Umberto at HB Racing… Just excited and ready for April to start the first race in Texas.”

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