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Levi Kitchen interview - Podium

Levi Kitchen interview - Podium

May 27

  • Interview

Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider Levi Kitchen had a strong start to the 2024 AMA 250 Nationals when the talented Monster Energy Pro-Circuit rider managed a podium in the opening at Fox Raceway last weekend. After a quick time in qualification, then in moto one of the 250 class, he had an excellent first corner, when Kitchen secured second place into the first turn. Kitchen took the lead midway through the race, but lost a few seconds when a track marker got caught in his boot, ultimately finishing second.

In moto two, Kitchen demonstrated his consistency by starting the race in the top three and swiftly moving into second place behind the Moto 1 winner. As the track deteriorated, the No. 47 rider made a late surge, ultimately securing a second-place finish.

“It was not a bad way to start the 2024 AMA Pro Motocross season. 2-2 on the day and a lot more in the tank for the rest of the season. I was happy to get first in qualifying with a great lap and then in Moto 1, we were going good all race, until a track marker got caught in my boot, stabbed my shin and so I had to reach down and grab it while (Haiden) Deegan was right behind me. In the second moto, my KX™250 started strong again and I got right behind Deegan. We battled the entire race and I finished second. Ultimately, we are in a good spot. I feel good and ready for some more battles next weekend.”

Deep into his third year of being a factory satellite 250cc competitor Kitchen has three 250SX supercross main events wins to his credit, but an overall win in the AMA Pro Motocross Championship still eludes him.

“Yes, I want that first outdoor win bad. I know I’m in good shape, and it’s going to take two good starts and I think that’s what I need to win one of these. I just need to put two motos together. Last year I had the speed. I would put a strong moto together pretty regularly. I think I just need to nail two good starts and go from there. The thing about outdoors that is kind of cool is that you don’t necessarily have to win to win the overall. You can go two-two and win the overall. You’ve just got to put two motos together and you can give yourself a pretty good shot at winning. I was feeling good heading into Pala. We got some testing done, and that puts me in a good spot. Yeah, I’m feeling good. Kind of feeling like I want redemption after the supercross series.”

Kitchen lost out on winning the 2024 AMA 250SX West Region Supercross Championship by four seconds and five points to rival RJ Hampshire at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, last May. Kitchen talked about the emotions that came afterwards.

“Now after it’s all said and done, it’s tough to lose, I guess you could say,” he said. “But honestly, it wasn’t too bad a couple of days later. I kind of turned the page and now the focus is the outdoors. I couldn’t believe how quick it came up. I don’t want to say that I forgot about it, but there is a lot more racing ahead, so it wasn’t as bad as I thought.”

In recent interviews, Kitchen has spoken about self confidence in world class motocross racing. “Once you win, you learn how to do it, and I think I’m finally learning to do that part,” Kitchen recently told Ricky Carmichael and Ryan Villopoto. “It helps. There’s just so much confidence when I’m on the line now. The mindset is completely different now this year. From supercross especially, I led some races from start to finish and won. I know I can win. I also felt like, just overall speed-wise, I was in a good spot. You don’t have much time in supercross, where in outdoors, I think that if I can just start even in the top five and let the race come to me, I think I can check some of those boxes and win some of these. And honestly, after you win one, you’re not satisfied unless you win again. It changes your mindset. Last year, if I got a podium, I would be jumping up and down. I’m still grateful for having those results and even being able to do it, but I’m not truly excited and happy unless I win now. My motivation changed a little bit.”

In his very first year as a member of the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team, Kitchen believes he has fallen right in step with team owner Mitch Payton’s battalion of mechanics and technicians.

“It’s been such an unbelievable relationship, for sure,” he said. “There is Mitch, and the whole crew has been great. They’re super-laid back, which is kind of my personality. They trust in me enough to know that I know what I need to do, and I think that goes a long way when you don’t have people in your ear all of the time telling you how to do stuff. In order to do all of that takes trust, and I feel like they have trust in me and I trust in them. It has been really good. While I’m in California, I’m actually staying at Mitch’s house. He’s got a little apartment. It all feels like a family. I would say that is definitely kind of a different atmosphere than the previous team I was on.”

Kitchen talked about the emotions Payton felt after losing out on the 250SX West title.

“He was the same as me, you know? We didn’t want to talk to anybody and we were just upset and taking it all in,” he said. “As bad as it sounds, it is good to see how upset Mitch is. It just shows that he wants it and so do I. Yeah, I think he’s good now and he’s also super-motivated like all of us. That’s the cool thing. It’s like he’s one of us out there racing because he just wants it so badly.”

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