By Brendan Lutes
Photos by Garth Milan
With the off-season in full swing, and the teams getting their new bikes and programs sorted out with countless days of testing, we decided to pick up the phone and give Red Bull Honda's Andrew Short a call to see how everything was going for the red rider. A few weeks ago, Shorty made the long trip to Japan to race the final round of the Japanese National Championships aboard the all-new CRF450R. Since returning from that, though, it's been nothing but Supercross testing for the Colorado native. To see his thoughts so far on his new bike, testing, and his latest trip to Japan…
What have you been up to lately?
I just spent the last 10 days in Japan, which was a great experience for my relationship with Honda over there in Japan, and the HJC side of Honda over there makes a lot of the parts for our race bikes. I also did a race and it went awesome. I won both motos, but it was close; (Sebastien) Pourcel was over there and he gave me a run for my money. In the end, it was a great race for me, and a great trip, but I'm just glad to be back home. In a nutshell, that's what I have been up to lately.
What was it like over in Japan? Have you ever been there before?
I actually did the same trip last year, so I knew exactly what to expect. In terms of the experience, though, it was just awesome. The culture over there is a lot different than here with the different transportation and way of life. It was cool, because everyone over there has the same common love for motorcycles and racing, which is a lot of the things that Honda stands for—that was really cool to see all of that. But the transportation with the trains it's pretty amazing—those things go so fast. It's a different experience for sure. The cities are really compact, and that's what's great about going out testing and riding, you get to see the countryside, places that you would never go if you just went to go visit. It's fun and it seems like every year we visit a different track to test at. On this trip, I got to go to Motegi, which is a Honda owned race facility where they have twin rings for Indy car racing. They also have a museum with the history of all the bikes, so it was really cool to see all of that.
How's Supercross testing been going for you?
It's been going good. When you have a new bike, there is a lot to feel out. But that's really exciting for me as a rider, and the team as a whole. It seems like we have a lot of opportunities and we've made a lot of ground so far. I feel really comfortable, and I love the bike. It seems like it turns really good and the power is so linear compared to the old bike, so it's a lot easier for me to ride. It's already so good and I know it's only going to get better before we race Anaheim I.
How much time did you have on it before you raced the U.S. Open?
Not very much. I rode it at the end of the outdoor series just to kind of have a shake down of what the bike was about. I didn't really have much time on it before the U.S. Open—I would guess I probably rode it about four or five times before that race. From the time I've hopped on the new bike, though, I've always felt more comfortable on it than the old one. It just gels with me and I feel really good on it. I think you can tell when you watch me ride it.
You're an averaged sized guy. Do you think that the new Honda's size and ergonomics fit you better?
It feels like a 250f to me. The weight is a lot more centered and it just doesn't have that heavy feel. The front end also just carves now, where the old one seemed to push for my riding style. The power is also deceiving. It feels slow because of the power delivery, but when you put it on a clock—which the Japanese do—it's amazing that it is faster, and when you jump back and forth between the two bikes, you can actually clear stuff a little easier. I like it, and it seems like it's going to be an easier bike for me to ride for 20 laps.
It's great for me. I've always loved working with the guys at Fly and Western Powersports. The people that own the company are great, and that makes a big difference for me. I was really excited to start wearing their helmet. They have a new high-end helmet called the Formula, and it's a whole new product for them. I'm really happy to be involved with it. It's a great looking helmet. It's always fun to wear something new. This year as well, I'll be wearing Scott goggles (rather than Spy), and it's a great combination for me. But more importantly the people that I work with make a big difference to me.
You've signed another two-year deal with Honda, and even though you've had another good year of results, was it difficult to find a ride with the state of the economy right now?
I think the silly season lasted a lot longer this year than it typically does, and I think the economy does raise some eyebrows and everyone is paying a lot of attention to where their money is going. They have to, though, because in the end the manufacturers are paying for all of us to go racing. I just feel very blessed to be able to do what I'm doing and get paid to race, and on top of that to be involved with Honda. It's a great team and I wouldn't really want to be involved with anyone else. It feels like a family to me. I'm going to be there for a total of six years, so I feel very lucky to have been on this team as long as I have. I'm pretty pumped, and in the greater scheme of things, to get paid to go racing is awesome.
What are your expectations for the 2009 season?
I would like to just go one race at a time and have fun with it. I know I'm prepared and I have a lot of the elements it takes to succeed in our sport, and I have to capitalize on those things and minimize my weaknesses. If I do that, I know the results will come. I don't really have a goal of where I want to be, that's kind of up in the air. More importantly, I'm just looking forward to going racing. I have a lot of new things to try, and I think seeing the results will be the exciting part. I can't wait to line up on the gate after all the hard work is over.