by Kyle Cowling
You may remember seeing Sarah Whitmore on a Yamaha with a big number four on her bike; however, things have recently changed in Whitmore’s pit. Once the 2008 WMA season kicked off at Hangtown, Sarah made her debut aboard an RMZ250F. The bike wasn’t the only new change; Whitmore retired her big number four that we’re all so used to seeing her run in order to take on a brand new digit: 89. With an all-new look, Whitmore is having an already exceptional season. With two races in the books, Sarah finds herself second place in series standings and atop the podium in each moto. We caught up with the girl Michigan after the racing subsided at Freestone County Raceway to see what was going on in the world of Sarah Whitmore.
How did you get set up with Suzuki?
I actually rented a room from Bryan Noah for the last two years out in California, and he works for Suzuki. He kept asking me if I wanted to ride for him, and he was able to get Cole Gress to back the deal. I always thought he was joking about the entire thing until they made me an offer, and I couldn’t turn it down. I fell in the love the bike as soon as I rode it! I’ve been riding Yamahas since the fall of 1994, and I’ve rode for Yamaha since 1999. So, it was a big change for me, but I fell in love with the bike as soon as I rode it.
What is it about the Suzuki that you prefer over the Yamaha?
I’m a light person, and I think the Suzuki suits a smaller rider like myself. It turns and jumps really well! The bike also has a lot of power on the bottom for a stock bike.
Coming into the opening round of the WMA season, what kind of training were you doing?
I’ve been working really hard since I moved out to California after Christmas. I’ve been running a lot. I actually did a half marathon last fall, so I’ve been in really good shape. Unfortunately, I suffered a concussion three weeks before Hangtown, and I bruised my sternum a week before that at a race in Canada. I was only able to ride three times before Hangtown. It’s sad because I was on it all winter long, and I felt really confident and really good, but I wasn’t able to ride before Hangtown. I knew I was off my game coming into Hangtown, but I wanted to be somewhere on the podium at the first two rounds.
What made you decide to go race in Canada?
I’m from Michigan, so I only live an hour away from Canada. My best friend is Canadian, my brother is dating a Canadian, and I have some French Canadian blood in me. I really enjoy racing the series in Canada; it’s really laid back but fun at the same time. I thought it would be a good warm up race before the opener Hangtown, however, I wasn’t expecting to hurt myself before I got to Hangtown (laughs). But, that’s just racing. It could’ve happened at any practice track.
Were you racing a women’s race in Canada?
Yeah. Canada has a series similar to the WMA, excect for the fact that they race both of the motos on Sunday in between the guys motos (laughs). They actually give the girls a lot of respect up there, and I’m actually on the Suzuki team in Canada. I get to ride out of a semi.
How is it pitting out of a semi?
Well, I drove up there for the first round, and they took my bike from there to the second round on.
Were you expecting to finish third at Hangtown after being off the bike?
I didn’t really know what to expect at Hangtown, and when I was out there for practice I was worried about the jumps because they were pretty big. I guess I was so worried about the jumps that I forget about the rest of the track because my mechanic started ttelling me I was hauling! That really pumped me up! I came into the first moto pretty confident and I ended up getting second place. That was my goal: to finish inside the top three. However, I didn’t know if it was going to happen because I was hurt coming into the race, and I wasn’t able to ride for several weeks.
You were able to finish second-place overall at Freestone. How was that for you?
I was really happy! I was kind of bummed out about Saturday because I wasn’t doing some of the jumps and I was casing out on some of them. It was just taking up a lot of my energy, and I was mad at myself for getting tired. On Sunday, however, our second moto was in the morning, and the track was a lot better! I rode a lot better, and I sucked it up and did all of the jumps. It’s amazing how much easier landing on the downside of a jump is on your body (laughs).
What are you hoping to accomplish for the rest of the season?
I would love to win the title, but I know that’s going to be hard. Ashley (Fiolek) is really tough, but I know I wasn’t 100% at Freestone. I’ll be working really hard during the three weeks I have off, and I want to come out to Colorado (I really like that track) get on the podium and stay consistent.