Ryusei Yamanaka: “This situation is difficult, but it is a very important moment for the whole of society”

Lockdown and postponements have interrupted your rookie season in the World Championship. Where are you currently residing and how are you dealing with the experience, especially from the point of view of your fitness?
“Right now I’m living in Chiba, Japan, where we have some restrictions in place -although not as severe as in Spain. I can’t continue my training in the gym because it’s closed, so I try to keep fit by exercising at home, playing football with my brother and going for a little run.”
How is the situation in Japan?
“Honestly, the situation in Japan is getting worse with every day. Right now it is already difficult, so we are at home practically all the time, following the instructions of the authorities.“
Let’s take advantage of this moment of inactivity to get to know you a little more. Tell us about your origins; Your birthplace, your family, if there was a tradition of motorcycle riding in your background and how you started competing.
“I started riding on a bike passed down by my brother. I think he was six years old at the time. Little by little I started participating in races in Japan; in 2008 I won the Japanese Pocket Bike Championship at the Keiyo circuit, in 2009 I was third in the Mobara Motowest GP Championship, in 2010 I won the Mobara Motowest GP and also the Life Pocket Championship. Before starting the Asia Talent Cup, in 2012 I was the NSR 50 Mobara Motowest GP Mini Bike Champion.”
You are making your full-time debut this year with a permanent spot in the World Championship, but you left Japan when you were very young in your quest for a career in international motorcycling racing. Tell us about that stage of your life.
“I left home to participate in the Asia Talent Cup (ATC) and spent my first season abroad. In 2017 I started riding in the MotoGP Rookies Cup, where I competed for two seasons. In 2018 I participated in some FIM CEV Repsol races and the following year I rode the entire season with Junior Team Estrella Galicia 0,0. That is the summary of my career up until this year, when I am riding my first season in the Moto3 World Championship. There are currently more Japanese riders at Grand Prix level than in previous seasons, which is perhaps the result of the work being done in the ATC.”
Last year you joined the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Junior Team to ride in the FIM CEV Repsol, and even won a race. You also participated in several World Championship rounds. What memories do you have and what lessons did you learn from that time?
“My best memory of last season was my victory at Valencia in the FIM CEV Repsol, since it was my first podium and at the same time my first win. The invitation to run the Catalan GP as a wildcard was also a great moment, because I got my best result in the World Championship to date. That ninth position gave me a fantastic feeling and a lot of confidence for the rest of the season.
How are you continuing your work with your Estrella Galicia 0,0 Moto3 crew during the break in the action?
“I am in constant contact with the team, who constantly motivates me. They have always helped me a lot at home and they have never given up. They are very satisfied now to see me competing with one of the best teams.“
“Right now I’m in Japan, where we have some restrictions -although not as severe as in Spain”
What were your impressions of things when you were on track at the first race in Qatar?
“At Losail I could see once again how competitive the World Championship riders are. I managed to finish the race and gain experience, so I hope to continue progressing when the competition resumes. Qatar was very difficult. I’m not particularly satisfied with the result -20th- but it was important to continue working and to finish the race without any setbacks.”
What goals do you have for your first year, once the competition resumes?
“Naturally, my goal is to do my best in my first year. I would love to progress and become Rookie of the Year. Our motto is to continue working very hard to improve continuously, and never stop giving our best. To achieve this, we must move in the right direction.”
Finally, you have spent time away from your family and friends due to your job. Could you give any advice to your fans on how to cope with this moment of isolation during the lockdown?
“Obviously this situation is difficult for everyone. Nobody likes having restrictions on when they can leave the house, and it may even be a little boring, but this is a very important moment for the whole of society because there is a great risk that millions of people will be affected by any infection. It is very important to stay at home, maintain good hygiene and respect the instructions of the authorities. Of course, if you have the possibility of exercising, it is something that has both physical and psychological benefits.”