Michael Leib’s career is difficult to map. After a successful run as an amateur, his time in the professional ranks has been hampered by the lack of rides and a poor economy. With little to no support in his stateside endeavors, he headed for Europe, where the latest trend has teams on the Grand Prix series welcoming American riders. An illness last summer cut his time overseas short and Leib is now back in the United States, racing the 250 West Coast Supercross championship. With support from his family and a tight crew of sponsors, he turned in an impressive 10th place finish at the Anaheim opener and hopes to improve from there.
Your time in Europe was cut short by illness. What were you suffering from and are you feeling any side effects of it now?
I went over to do a couple of GPs for Dixon Yamaha and I ended up getting sick. I was released August third, but I don’t feel any side effects of it now. I am back to 100-percent, and I actually feel better than I have in a couple of years. It was a bit of mono and Epstein-Barr. I went straight from Supercross into the GPs, and I didn’t have time to train for the outdoors. Flying back and forth from Europe wore me down and I ended up getting sick.
What was your off-season preparation like?
I started back in August with my trainer, Randy Lawrence, and we picked up where we could. Back in September, I was in a pretty low state and was trying to get myself healthy. We did a lot to bounce back and get to where we are now, and the last month and a half has been really good for us. It was like starting from ground zero, which is something that I have never had to go through. It took until midway through November for me to get back to being able to pound out laps and get back into a normal routine. Once that happened, everything came back really quick.
How is it to work with Randy and is his program like anything else you have done?
It’s cool to work with someone that when you go into their garage, you see the number one plates they helped people achieve. We have gotten really close, from a trainer and rider point of view, and we understand different things about each other and they way that we work. It has paid off for us and we hope to get the results soon.
With the way Anaheim One went, you have the good results already. Was tenth place what you expected or are you a little surprised with how things went?
Any race that I do, I want more and expect more; I think that is the way the racing mentality is. But if I look back at last year and compare, then I didn’t make the main, and this year I was in the top-10. We had a couple of issues in practice that we had to deal with, and that kind of hindered us, but for the first night, it was alright. I am looking for more as the season progresses in the next few weeks.
Who is supporting your equipment program this year and how has preparing the bike gone?
The bikes feel amazing. We switched to Merge Suspension and they were out the entire week prior and through Anaheim with us, which helped us get the bike fine-tuned for us. Eleven10 Mods is helping us out a bit, as well as my Dad with Rocket Exhaust, my buddy, Josh, and then Renegade Fuel. That has been our main engine package and I think we have some really strong stuff under my legs for a privateer effort.
The plan is for you to race the full 250 West Coast season, but will you stay in the United States after and race the Nationals, or is Europe still a possibility?
I want to go all the way through the West Coast. As far as going to Europe, I will leave my door open to that. Staying here would be my first pick, because my dreams and everything started for me here when I was younger. If the right opportunity came about, as far as a rider, I feel that I have really good opportunity of fulfilling that. As it stands right now, there is no way my family and I can afford to do the outdoors. Doing the West Coast is easy for us; we are still spending a lot of money, but it is realistic. To do the outdoors on our own would be really tough, so the West Coast is what we are focused on. That is where the road is paved to so far, and we hope that the rest unravels itself. It is up to my results.