Last year there was no bigger surprise in the 450 class than the emergence of Rockstar/Hart & Huntington's Matt Boni and his charge to the top privateer award. And this was in a field of privateers like Nick Wey, Paul Carpenter, Heath Voss and many others. Boni topped them all and it was made even more amazing because he switched from the BBMX to H&H a quarter of the way through the series!
For 2010, Matt has a new teammate (Chris Blose) but everything else is more familiar to him and he looks to take a step up this season. I spent the day with Boni and Blose (the BB Brothers!) at the Hart & Huntington SX test track and they both look ready for this Saturday's race. Here's a quick little interview with the "Southern Outlaw."
Matt, we're days away from A1. How are you feeling?
I feel good, I didn't race the outdoors so I really had an extra four months to prepare for the Supercross season. While all the other guys are out there beating themselves up, I started working on my base cardio level and I feel like I'm prepared better than ever before. The Rockstar/Hart & Huntington team have stepped up their level and given me everything I could ask for, so no excuses. It's up to me now.
Can you win the top privateer award again?
Yeah, I think so. You know, a lot of good factory guys lost their rides this past year and I think competition will be stiffer. I don't really know who is a privateer and who isn't and to tell you the truth, I don't really care. I have to take care of business on my end.
The advantage I have is that they've been riding faster, lighter and better bikes all those years not to mention they've been used to making those big salaries. Me, I haven't changed anything. I'm on a better bike from last year, those guys may be bummed on their bikes and I feel good. There shouldn't be any reason why I can't win the award again. Those guys aren't any better than me skill-level, they may have some more experience than I have but experience is just learning and I felt like I learned a lot last year. I've busted my ass to get ready this year.
I think a big part of your success is that you're no longer intimidated by those guys you feel like you belong, right?
Yeah, definitely. You know, if we were all getting one base salary and not performance driven, I wouldn't be the rider I am. I was taught that you give it all you can get and what you end up with is yours. The sport is going through a bit of a down-turn right now and it makes it even more important that I go out there and be aggressive. I don't have any mercy for anyone out there and I've never been shown a whole lot of respect out there so I will get into the mindset that, no matter who it is, I ride with that edge.
What were you weak on last year and what did you work on to get better this year?
I think my corner speed was the problem, I was doing the same rhythms as anyone else out there except for James (Stewart) and (Chad) Reed but I think those guys race a different sport than anyone else. Or maybe different bike. I need to ride loose, pick up my corner speed and not let things bother me. Sometimes my head gets in the way and I have to work on that to ride to the best of my ability.
What are you looking at this weekend? What place would make you happy?
I think that, with the first race, 8th through 12th would be great. That's where my skill level puts me and I think that I can do that. I can't win the top privateer at the first race but I can sure lose it. I'm going to try and be there for seventeen races and still be standing there at the end. I need to be consistent and put in good, hard races.
You're here in Vegas now but when do you head back to Florida for the year?
Are you still leasing Langston's track there?
No, I bought my own house with some land and a having a track built. My dad, I mean my agent, has been working really hard on all that and making sure everything is set on that end.
From what I understand, you're not too happy with my move to TransWorld. Can you explain why?
A tear may have fallen when I read that.
Why is that?
Well my last picture in that magazine was Toronto SX Lites class two years ago (laughs). And that was with the whole Butler Brothers team on the podium, nothing exclusive or anything like that. I thought that winning the top privateer award was worth something and pretty cool. I see some guys that haven't put in the results that I have on the point charts and they're all over the magazine. That makes me angry (laughs). I put in the work and we need some more variety in the magazines.
Do you think that Donn Maeda hates guys named Matt?
I think he hates guys named Matt Boni (laughs).
Did you do anything to the Asian community that we should know about?
No, I haven't done anything. I like all of them.
Well, maybe I can help you out with this.
Yeah, like I told you on Twitter (Matt is MattBoni on Twitter) I feel like my first photo in two years is coming on strong this year. That's my goal in 2010, not to do well in sx but to get a photo in TWMX. Anything from a quarter size to a half page would be great.