After spending his summer campaigning in the 2008 outdoor Nationals as a privateer, Sean Borkenhagen has found himself a dream ride with the Troy Lee Designs Honda squad for the 2009 West Coast Lites Supercross series. We caught up with Borky shortly before the Saturday afternoon timed qualifying practice sessions were underway to chat about his new team and his thoughts coming into his first-ever Supercross season.
Looking back on your first-ever outdoor National season, are you satisfied with the things you were able to accomplish?
Doing it the way we did last summer was pretty stressful. When you're a privateer like that you have so many other stresses and concerns besides riding. I feel like I did my time and now things are beginning to pay off for me. I hope I'm able to move on from that privateer lifestyle and maintain what I have now, being on a team from here on out. There is a night and day difference from being a privateer to being on a full fledged team.
Were you happy with the results you posted last summer?
Yeah. I was content with what I accomplished, but I know I could've done a lot better if I had a faster bike. At this level, it's all about the bike. We are all fast and have similar styles, but don't get me wrong, I know I don't have the speed of guys like Trey Canard and Ryan Dungey, but I am getting there and being a part of this team and having this bike certainly helps me. In the outdoors, you need to have a competitive motor, otherwise you are not going to be battling up front and it makes things that much harder.
How did your deal with Troy Lee Designs Honda unfold?
David Pingree called me up and invited me out to be a part of their team tryouts. They had an available position because Jake Moss was injured, so I tried out for the team and here I am, riding for my first factory team! I was so stressed out, though, because I wanted to be on this team so bad. Just having the opportunity to ride their shop bike was insane.
Leading up to Anaheim 1, how had testing been going?
Testing has been going awesome. We had Bones come out to the test track to help up us out. Everything is good, and we have really good bikes! I'm blown away that the team has a 250F that goes this fast. I've been able to ride with [Chris] Blose, [Jimmy] Albertson, and all of the factory Red Bull Honda guys, so I was able to learn a ton really fast. Being able to have so many good people around me helped me pick up on things pretty fast.
This being your first-ever Supercross season, how difficult was it adapting to SX?
It's really gnarly. You really need to respect the tracks because if you slack off it'll put you in the hospital. I've had three pretty good crashes already, and I've learned a lot from each of them. They happened when I was getting tired and least expected it, but I was able to escape any injury. Supercross is so intense and your heart rate is maxed out, but I've come a long way with my breathing. I have my breathing points down, but people don't realize that there is so much more that goes into riding Supercross besides being able to jump the jumps.
Coming into tonight, what goals and expectations do you have for yourself?
My goal is to get into the main event and just go from there. I want to take it one step at a time and represent my team really well. I want to set some good lap times, qualify out of my heat race, and do what I can in the main event. I've never done this before, so I am going to be learning while I'm out there. I am not putting a lot of pressure on myself…well, I am, but I am not going to try and go out there and set the world on fire. I need to go at my own pace, and I think that good things are coming. I feel so comfortable with my team and on my bike, so good things are definitely coming.
The Troy Lee Designs Honda team is only competing in the Lites West Coast Supercross series. With that said, what are your plans going to be once it's time to line up at Glen Helen for the first outdoor of the season?
Hopefully I'll have something for the outdoors (laughs). Like you said, our team is only competing in the Lites West Coast SX series, so hopefully I'll have a good showing in Supercross that will allow me to have something good for the outdoor season.
Photos by Elmo and Swap
Early this afternoon, Borky phoned into the TWMX office to chat about his Anaheim 1 experience and his thoughts on racing Supercross. Check it out…
Now that everything is all said and done, how did Anaheim 1 treat you?
Everything went great! I felt good, and I felt prepared. I finished 12th in the main event, but I need to focus a little bit more on what I'm doing out there. I was definitely a little distracted by the whole atmosphere of Anaheim 1 and all the people that were there, but I felt the same way at the first outdoor National. I think I'll be all good this weekend, though. I feel like I had more in me, so once I tap into that we'll be making big progress.
You grew up coming to the Anaheim races, so was it surreal be sitting in the tunnel at A1 while the opening ceremonies were taking place, know that you've finally made it?
That was a great moment! That was the highlight of my entire day, actually. My mechanic, Clint, and I have been putting in a lot of hard work and things worked out really well. It was really cool to take all of that in. But, also, I tried not to get too caught up in the moment, so I did my best not to think about all of that stuff and just focus on what I needed to do.
After finishing 12th in the main event, was it a big relief to have your first-ever Supercross now behind you?
Yeah! Absolutely. I was excited that the night was over, and now I know what to expect. I am going to take what I learned on Saturday and apply it to this weekend. It was a relief knowing that we finally got the first race out of the way, but Anaheim is my home race and it was cool to ride in front of a ton of my friends and family that came out and supported me. All in all it was a great experience.
During your first practice session, you set the fastest lap times in your group. However, I spoke with you after practice and you mentioned that you didn't feel too great. Did things change once the night show rolled around?
That first session was definitely good, but as the day went on I felt more comfortable and more confident. Really, though, I feel like I have a lot more in me. I could've hit the whoops harder; little things like that I could've done better. I am putting in the effort and trying to find that edge so we don't have to deal with some of those guys in the back of the pack and I can connect to those lead guys. But, yes, that first practice session was great! That was a cool feeling.
What was the biggest thing you learned during the main event and running just outside of the top 10?
The biggest thing I learned is that at the end of the day, no matter how hyped up a race is, we're just riding a dirt bike. However you want to build it up in your head is exactly what'll it be like. You just need to treat like another race and ignore all of the outside distractions that are at a Supercross. The pace is definitely what I expected from those guys. All of those guys are human, they can all be beat, and they all have their problems; they're not that much different from me. I need to find a little extra, and I want to be one of the guys up front. I want to be one of the big dogs in the race. I'm getting there, but it's just going to take some time.