In the early stages of the 2007 Supercross season former Factory Connections pilot, Travis Preston, was proving that he was a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately for Preston, his season would be cut short with a shoulder injury following Daytona. While Mr. T was recuperating, he soon found himself without a ride for the upcoming 2008 season.
As many know by now, Preston was forced to watch the opening rounds of the 2008 SX season from the cheap seats. However, compliments of a misfortunate injury suffered by Monster Energy/Kawasaki’s James Stewart, TP11 found himself riding in place of the downed Stewart for the remainder of the season.
Since A3, where Preston made his debut aboard a Monster Energy/Kawasaki, we’ve watched Mr. T race his way into shape and slowly improve his performance each weekend. Now the ’08 Supercross season has come to an end and Preston is no longer aboard his factory Kawasaki. We were able to catch up with TP at the final round in Las Vegas to discuss his season and his plans for ’09.
Were you dreading the last race of the season, or looking forward to it?
I don’t know. It’s kind of weird. I think it’s more or less sad because I got to know these guys. I was starting to get settled in and comfortable on the bike and know we’re at the last round in Vegas.
You started the season at A3 and raced your way into shape. At what point do you think you were in your groove?
That’s tough. It still feels like I haven’t found that groove. I thought this entire deal would be a lot easier than it was. I thought that riding at Perris every now and then and doing this and that here and there would keep it going. Once I got out here and started running with these guys it feels like I never got into a groove. I still feel like I ride tight; I still don’t look comfortable on the bike. I don’t think it has anything to do with the bike; I think it was all the time off I had. I had a year where I didn’t ride Supercross, and then seven months of no riding at all.
Where do you stand right now?
Las Vegas is my last race and I have nothing good for the outdoor season so I am going to sit that out and work on a deal for ’09. For ’09 I am open for anything: Supercross, motocross.
Looking back on the season what do you feel was your high point?
I think the high point was just doing it! Just committing to it! When Fish (Mike Fisher) called me and said to get off the couch and come race – my life was so idle, so slow. I went full speed into racing, traveling, and riding everyday. It was a big change. Just to do that change, adapt to the bike, and finish 15th was hard to accomplish. I’ve improved, but I wasn’t where I was in ’07.
Do you have any interest in doing an Outdoor National here and there? Would Kawasaki let you do one?
No. Me doing this was a one-time deal. It is so hard to do this when you’re not prepared. I’m not prepared for the nationals and that doesn’t make me look good: riding unprepared and getting 10th place finishes. I would rather take the summer off, work hard and sign a deal early, that way I could start getting ready for the ’09 Supercross season.
Any talk or hints that Kawasaki may have a spot for you next year?
I wouldn’t think so. My results haven’t been the best (laughs)! If they feel bad for me, sure! I wouldn’t expect them to offer me a deal for ’09.
When you weren’t riding last season you were saying that certain rides weren’t that good. What level of a ride are you hoping for next year?
I just want a good bike. It doesnn’t have to be a factory bike. I just want Factory Connection suspension, a Pro Circuit motor, and hopefully I can ride a Kawasaki or a Honda. It doesn’t really matter what kind of team it is as long as I can get good equipment and a team that has a budget in which they make it to every race.
You’re open to racing Supercross and motocross, correct?
Yeah! It doesn’t matter to me. I don’t care if I am riding for Joe Blow in the back of the pits; I just want to have a good bike and have a lot of time to prepare.
Any parting words?
I would like to thank the guys at Kawasaki for putting up with me and dealing with me. I appreciate the opportunity.