Catching Up With Mike Alessi

Team Red Bull KTM’s Mike Alessi made the switch to the premier Motocross class for the 2007 Nationals, and mounted aboard the electric-start KTM 450SX-F he has turned in some respectable finishes on the all-new machine. We caught up with the elder Alessi brother for a quick update on how he’s feeling three races into the outdoor series…

TWMX: So how would you sum up your season thus far?

MIKE ALESSI: The season started off pretty good. I had good times at Hangtown, and in the first moto I got a good start but I faded. In the second moto I got a decent start and I was about seventh or eight and I was battling with Kevin Windham and I ended up beating him for seventh overall so that was okay. At High Point, it was supposed to be a really great weekend. I had great lap times, but in the first moto I was riding and the gas cap just popped off my bike in the second turn. So I had to pull off, put that back on and restart in last place. I rode hard and came back to 11th. In the second moto I just rode mediocre. I think I overdid myself riding that hard to come back from last place. Then today here at Southwick, I rode okay. I had the speed to get top five, and I expected to be right there in fifth. But the season so far has been so-so. This whole year, really, has been really weird. I’ve hardly gotten any starts, which is odd for me. I’ve rarely been out front, and I’ve been in a lot of first-turn crashes.

Is there some turmoil in your program right now that you can fix, or is it all just a mystery? Are you healthy?

I’m totally healthy and my bike is really good. It’s just…I don’t know. I can’t really even tell you what’s wrong. It’s my starts, for one. I don’t know. I just cannot seem to get out front like I am used to. I just want to be up there in the top five.

I have to admit that it is odd to hear you say that a top-five finish is your goal. Having finished on the podium in the 450cc class in your second-ever National, did you expect to be doing a lot better in the Motocross class?

Well, when I switched to the Motocross class for the outdoors, I expected to do a lot better than I have been, but the season is still young. The thing is, too, that the Motocross class is a lot tougher now than back when I finished on the podium. You have all the same guys—Ricky Carmichael and James Stewart—plus the seasoned guys like Kevin Windham and David Vuillemin, and all of the other new guys in the class like Davi Millsaps, Grant Langston and Andrew Short. Beating Carmichael and Stewart is pretty much impossible. It’s not possible, and even racing against the new guys is tough. It’s a lot harder to do good right now than it used to be. It’s a lot different. It’s a little but harder now. I just need to get some confidence and know that I can run up there. Me and Millsaps and Short and Langston are all about the same speed. We’re all battling for third, fourth and fifth.

How is your bike? It’s the first race season for KTM and the all-new 450SX-F in the AMA Nationals…

My bike is good! It’s really, really fast and the suspension is working awesome. I feel good on the bike and everything, it’s just been a really weird season for me and I am not running where I should be. My goal is to be consistently in the top five, right there around fourth or fifth, at every race.