It’s been a frustrating season for Jake Weimer. After filling in on the RCH Suzuki squad for the better part of last year’s Monster Energy Supercross series, the Huntington Beach, California, resident elected to sit out the 450 Nationals to have a plate removed from his upper arm. Healthy and ready to race, Weimer got no offers to go racing in 2017. After exhausting all of his contacts, it looked as if he would be a spectator at this weekend’s Anaheim One season opener. Last night at 6:30 p.m., he got a phone call that changed his weekend plans dramatically. JGRMX Suzuki’s Justin Barcia suffered a broken wrist in pre-season testing, and Weimer was asked to fill in aboard a familiar Suzuki RM-Z450 for at least the first four races. For the past several weeks, Weimer has been staying sharp, riding a RCH Suzuki that the team was allowing him to spin laps on, so accepting the invitation to race under the JGRMX banner was a no-brainer. We spoke with Weimer today, just after he finished testing aboard the new bike at the Suzuki Supercross test track…
The news broke that JGR’s Justin Barcia broke his wrist, and you’re slated to fill-in for him. Are you excited?
Yeah, I am, but it is unfortunate for Barcia. I don’t know anyone that wants to see somebody else get hurt, but unfortunately that’s part of the job. The upside for him is that was the only injury he sustained; it can always be worse.
How long did it take for you to receive the phone call after you found out that Justin got hurt?
I actually got the call when I was sitting on the couch Tuesday night around 6:30 PM. I had no idea that Barcia hurt himself to that extent. It’s like everything else in that you hear a lot of things through the grapevine, but I didn’t realize he was hurt to the point of having to be sidelined. I heard that he had crashed and his wrist was feeling sore, but that was it.
After your 6:30 PM phone call with the team, you headed for the test track this morning to ride the bike for the first time, right?
Exactly. A bunch of other phone calls ensued after the initial call from the team so that I could get dialed in with the right gear and everything else. I literally wasn’t even signed up for Anaheim One; I didn’t even have a credential! I spent the majority of the night on the phone trying to sort things out. I stopped by Pro Taper on my way to the track this morning to pick up some handlebars, but after that it was seat-time.
Things like credentials, entries, etc… Is that all up to you to handle or is that the team’s job?
The team has actually been helping me a lot with that kind of stuff, especially since everything has been so last minute. There are a few things that have to be done by a specific date, so that’s why they’re helping me out. Since Barcia was already signed up for everything, they’re just going to put my name in there, instead. Obtaining my pro license is on me, though.
You took a different route than Dean Wilson because he ultimately built his own program. You were fortunate enough to maintain your necessary seat-time throughout the offseason, so that has to be a big help right now, right?
Yeah, but in my opinion, there really is no right way to go about what we’ve done. You have to do whatever feels right at the moment. I was exploring a lot of different avenues as far as racing and they weren’t panning out. It’s not like I wasn’t trying and it’s not like I was asking for a ridiculous amount of money, either. By the time I had exhausted all of my options, it had almost become too late to start my own deal by A1 like Dean. To be honest, I planned on sitting on the couch this weekend because of the way things had been working out. Injuries will always be a part of this sport and it’s the kind of thing that you can’t plan for, but you have to do what you can with what you got.
How long is this deal with the team set for, and is it beneficial for you other than the opportunity to race?
Yeah, I am for sure attending the first four rounds. After that, it depends on whether or not Barcia is healthy enough to race. That kind of thing is out of my control, but when he’s ready to return I’ll step back and let him do his thing. Even though I wasn’t prepared to race Anaheim One, by no means did I ever consider retiring. I want to race and I want to continue racing for a while.
You’ve consistently been at the test track, but primarily with the RCH crew who unofficially had you in their back pocket as a fill-in, right?
I actually never had that conversation with the team, so nothing like that was ever in place. If that was actually the case, though, I would have ridden a little more over the last few weeks than I did. However, I’ve been riding Supercross for several months, now along with doing everything else in the gym, so it’s not like I’m unprepared. I would have done things a little differently had I known I was going to line up this weekend, but either way I’m still in race shape and I’m ready to go.
Today was day one on the JGR bike. How does it compare to the RCH bike that you’ve been riding?
Day one on the JGR bike went really well, and there are some noticeable differences in the two bikes. Having a lot of time on Suzuki last year has made this transition very easy, so that’s been extremely helpful. Although both teams are supported by the factory, the race bikes are comprised of different aftermarket accessories and things like that, so they will have a different feel to them. These bikes are extremely solid, and almost immediately I was comfortable on this new bike. We made a few adjustments to get some things a little comfortable for myself, but other than that transition has been fairly easy. I’m thankful that I’m not switching bike brands the week before Anaheim one because that’d be a challenge (laughs).
When it comes to the motors, is there a noticeable difference in power between the two bikes?
Each team has a different motor package, so they are a little bit different. Either way, I think both bikes are up to par with today’s standards no matter what direction you go.
Have you spoken with anyone from RCH since the deal with JGR has come about?
Yeah, I immediately let them know what was going on and they were totally cool with everything. It’s not like I had a contract or agreement with them anyways, but I still felt it was necessary to inform them. RCH has been a tremendous help in my program because I was able to have a bike even after my contract had ended with them. The people at RCH even told the JGR guys that they’d be available if I needed help with this transition, so it goes to show you how generous they are.
Fill us in on all of the other details when it comes to gear, goggles, and boots.
I will continue to ride for Seven, Sidi and Bell Helmets. JGR has a deal set in place with SCOTT Goggles, so I’ll be wearing those. I will have the same look for next year save for the goggles.
What was it like to get that phone call after not planning on lining up for A1?
It’s a crazy feeling to get a call like that, but more so because the opening round is in three days. I am beyond excited for this opportunity and I am very excited to go racing. That’s all I’ve wanted to do from the get-go, so to have the opportunity to line up again is a great feeling. It’s funny because I was just talking to a few buddies of mine and I told them that I was going to join their fantasy Supercross league. After I told them the news about JGR they said, “So you’re not going to join our fantasy league anymore?” I just said, “No, probably not [Laughs].” The last 24 hours have been pretty exciting for me, and I’m excited to see where all of this takes me.
What will you be happy with at the end of the night this Saturday?
I don’t know because that’s always a tough question to answer. Last year I was consistently inside the top 10, so to better myself would obviously be great, but there’s no way to tell what’s going to happen. None of us know where each other stand, so it’s hard to put those expectations over your head at the first round. I feel that I am completely capable of putting in a good solid ride at the opening around, so anything inside the top 10 will make me happy.
If you end up in the opening ceremonies, how would you feel about wearing your Transworld SLAM Belt on the floor?
[Laughs] Yeah, I could do that!