Even before things were officially cooking on the World Supercross front, the AMA Supercross series was a magnet for the fastest competitors from around the world. Every year there’s a bigger variety of accents around the pits as more riders make the pilgrimage to try and succeed on the U.S. scene. This year, there will be riders from at least ten countries when the gate drops on the season at Anaheim, with riders from the U.S., Canada, Japan, Portugal, South Africa, France, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Australia.
The always fast Aussie contingent expands by another rider this season. Following Chad Reed’s championship-winning success last year, Yamaha of Troy enlisted the services of Craig Anderson, who is not only Chad’s cousin, but the guy Chad grew up chasing back in Australia. A multi-time champion back in Australia, Craig was also the third member of the Australian team (with Reed and Michael Byrne) that took the overall win at theWorld Cup of Motocross last Fall.
TransWorld Motocross: This is your rookie season in the U.S., but obviously you’ve been racing a long time. What’s the history on what you’ve done in Australia?
Craig Anderson: I’ve won 11 National championships at home. All 250 Supercross and Motocross. We also have a four-stroke series at home and I’ve won that three times.
TWMX: Which 125 division are you riding during the Supercross season?
CA: The initial deal was for the East coast, but now I’ll be riding West coast on a 250F. I’ve got a lot of work to do, but I’m ready to go.
TWMX: How have you settled in so far?
CA: It’s been kind of tough, because I was here for three weeks and we went home for 12 days, and we’ve been back for another two-and-a-half weeks. (Craig also went back to Australia on December 7th for his wedding).
It’s kinda tough living out of a suitcase and going training and riding. You’re not really settled. So I’ve been struggling a little bit, but we’ve just bought a new house, and got a new car now. Basically the first three weeks we just rented a car. We did struggle, but now I think it’s all looking positive. Once we get into the new house, and get settled, it’ll be more fun.
TWMX: So what are your expectations for this year?
CA: Honestly I don’t really know. Obviously top five…top three or five at the end of each championship would be awesome. I just don’t really know at this stage. I just want to go in here with an open mind and just get better and better as the year goes on. I don’t want to start off good and go backwards. I want to try and go forward all the way through the year. It’s gonna be tough, but I just don’t want to have any expectations.
TWMX: Does it help that you got to watch what Chad did last year?
CA: It does a little bit, because I’ve grown up with Chad and he’s done extremely well this year. I think he’ll do really well next year.
It’s gonna be tough. I’m looking forward to it. I think everyone that races is always looking forward to the challenge. I think it’s going to be a really big challenge.
TWMX: Have there been any surprises so far?
CA: Just the crash that I had at the Yamaha track. I hurt my neck. That was a surprise. I put five vertebrae out in my neck, so I’ve been going to the chiropractor every day since then. It’s getting a little better, but I’ve got a lot of visits to go.
Otherwise, everything’s about what I thought it’d be. It’s big, it’s a lot of people, and it’s tough over here.
TWMX: So does moving to the West Coast change things for the way you prepare?
CA: A litttle bit I think, ’cause I’ve definitely got a lot of work to do just with my fitness, with riding, getting used to the bike, getting used to the tracks. When you grow up in your home country it just seems easy. Then when you move to another country it’s completely different. It’s definitely a struggle with living and just getting comfortable.
TWMX: Does it change your mindset knowing that you get to race Bubba?
CA: I think any guy out there is going to be hard to beat. It doesn’t matter who it is. I’ve just got to go in there with an open mind and try my best. Obviously Bubba is awesome. I’ve watched him on videos all this year, and he was fast. I don’t think Chad had an overall answer for him. I think Bubba just was a little bit better that year. I’ll have to be really fit. That’s the biggest problem, that I’m not fit enough yet, so I need to get 100% fit.
I’ve been riding the Yamaha test track, and it’s really good. It gets me a little insight on knowing what the tracks are going to be like. At home our tracks are nothing like that. I did struggle a little bit when I first got here.
TWMX: How different is the Supercross in Australia?
CA: It’s a lot different. Here, it seems like there are more 180-degree corners. There are big long straightaways with U-turns. At home on a speedway track you’d have a bit of a sweeper and you’re jumping around the turns all the time. You have a lot more combination jumps. At home, a combination section would be one bit. Then you’ve got a one triple and a double, and maybe one step-on, step-off and that’s about it. There’s not a lot of variety, where over here on one straightaway there are three or four ways to do it.
I’ve always wanted to come to the U.S. to race, but just never really had the opportunity. Now that the opportunity’s here, I’ve got to really give it a good shot.