The Monster Energy Cup is going off this weekend in Las Vegas, Nevada, and it is shaping up to be quite an exciting event, even though several of the sport’s top riders (Chad Reed, James Stewart and Ryan Dungey) are not attending. Ryan Villopoto and Kevin Windham are the heavy hitters in the unique event, but given the fact that the format consists of three 10-lap main events, it could open the door for many hungry riders who are coming in under the radar. One of those riders could be Mike Alessi, who is forging his way as a privateer in 2012 aboard a fleet of Suzuki RM-Z450s that he recently purchased. If you follow Alessi on Twitter, you already know that he’s been hard at work getting his machines ready, and has teamed up with his long-time friend and engine builder, Terry Varner.
Mikey, we’ve been tracking your progress on Twitter. It looks like you’ve bought some Suzukis and are looking to forge ahead as a privateer in 2012?
Well, right now I don’t have a ride and I didn’t get any offers after the season was over. As hard as it is to say, I am a privateer right now. I finished fifth in the 450 Nationals, even after crashing at Hangtown and missing the first two rounds. I think that fifth was respectable, but apparently it wasn’t good enough to catch the eye of any team managers. I am just doing my own thing now. I got some help from some great sponsors: Tuf Racing, Terry Varner, MB1 Suspension, Hinson, Pro Taper and One Industries. I am really happy with my program right now, and I am ready to go racing at the Monster Energy Cup this weekend.
Why did you choose the Suzuki RM-Z450 when it came time to buy bikes?
Mostly the success I had on the bike in 2008 and 2009. I know that bike so well, and I knew that I could get right on it and feel at home. I think that it is a great bike to use as a starting point.
And you are reunited with motorman Terry Varner!
Terry has been awesome. I can’t say enough about him. He has had some tough times. He lost his kid this year in a crash at Glen Helen. To see how motivated he is to help me is just amazing. He is wit me all the time, watering the track, prepping my bike…everything. He helps me so much. He is like my second dad!
How are you feeling on your new ride?
As far as the bike is concerned, it’s great! We’ve put a lot of hours into getting it just right. Terry has worked hard with the guys from Hinson clutches and FMF to get the thing working perfectly. From the Pro Taper bars to the Talon Hubs, to the One Industries graphics, to the Dunlop tires…everything is perfect and getting help from so many great companies is awesome. I really appreciate all of the help.
What are your thoughts about this weekend’s race?
The race is gonna be interesting. I’ve never ridden something this unique. As long as the track isn’t too Supercrossy, you can run motocross suspension. I think the racing is going to be great. I love the old school format with the heats, the semis and the LCQ. And then the three mains will be cool too. And the track will go up into the stands like the old days. The fans are gonna be pumped! It’s gonna be bitchin’.
What are your plans for 2012 then? If you impress people this weekend and get an offer, will you take it?
The phone is not ringing and it hasn’t rung for a while, so I am gonna go it on my own like Chad Reed did. I spent quite a bit of time with him riding at his track in Florida, and he told us all about the obstacles he had to overcome to field his own team. We took notes, and that’s our plan right now: to do it like Chad did. I am gonna flip the bill. I’ll spend every cent in my pocket is that’s what it takes to go racing and prove to everyone that I can still run at the front of the pack.