By Brendan Lutes
Last week in Dallas, Texas, the 250 East Coast riders began their eight-round series with Geico Honda’s Wil Hahn pegged as one of the front runners. All throughout the day, Wil lived up to the expectations, as he qualified fourth, ran up front in his heat race, and finished third in the main event. For Wil, it was his best showing at an opening round, and gave him the confidence and momentum needed for a successful run at the 2013 championship. We caught up with him between testing sessions out at Milestone’s Supercross track.
The first round of the 250 East Coast Series just kicked off this past weekend in Dallas, Texas. How did it go for you?
I think the round went really well. I was super nervous in practice, which was tough for me, because it never really sunk in during the off-season [that I was going racing soon]. Then all of a sudden, I’m there, all the fans are there, and all of a sudden I realize that all my prep is done and I’m at the races. It went pretty well, though. My heat race was so-so; I got a little excited in the beginning and threw it away. In the main, though, it was good. My first couple laps weren’t that strong, and I tried to rush some passes and didn’t quite get it done. I just stayed to my game plan, though, ended up coming in third, and I’m happy with that.
This is the first Supercross season for you where you’ve had a good first round and now have some momentum on your side, right?
Yeah, I’ve made it through the opening round before, but I’ve never come in from a whole off-season with everything coming together. It’s a good feeling, because I’ve never finished on the podium at the first round. It’s just nice to have that one out of the way and know where I sit. I expect to be on the podium, and I expected that to be the case going into the season. It was nice to meet my goal, and from now on, I’m just going to move forward with it and keep consistent.
What are your thoughts on your competition now that one round is under your belt?
You know going in that guys like Marvin [Musquin], Dean [Wilson], and my teammate Zach [Bell] are going to be strong. Of course there were a few surprises… And actually I shouldn’t even say that Gavin Faith was a surprise, because he rode great when he filled in for me on this team [Geico Honda]. For me, everyone has been saying that West Coast is this or that, but I expected it to be just like it is. East Coast may not have as deep of a field as the West Coast, but there are some heavy hitters up front.
You’re out here today at Milestone testing with the team. Do you do a lot of testing?
I do my normal routine, and when the team comes up with something that they need someone to try, I’m usually the only one here to try it or I get thrown into it. It’s a role that I’ve taken on and embraced. I like that they rely on me to bounce things off of and run through and try. I wouldn’t call myself the test rider, but I test quite a bit and enjoy every minute of it.
So you’re not one of those riders that loathe having to test settings?
I like going out, doing my motos, and going home—you feel complete. But I also like learning the bike and giving myself knowledge for the weekend, so I can go to the race and be able to diagnose a problem. Mike [LaRocco] and the test team are so good at working together that I can bounce ideas off of them about what I’m feeling, and they know what I’m talking about, because they’re so familiar with everything.
Looking ahead at Atlanta this weekend, what are your expectations after finishing on the podium in Dallas?
I just want to move forward. I want to get a better start, and ride my laps at the beginning of the race like I know how. My expectations are to keep getting on the podium every weekend and challenge for some wins.