No matter where a rider comes from, it’s always a challenge to adapt to the outdoor Nationals that run throughout the summer. Even the very best must learn to adapt to high speeds, huge jumps, rough tracks, and the intense heat. There is a fair amount of racers who come from Europe and Australia, and the neighboring country of Canada, but it is less common to see someone make the transition from Japan. Despite this, Team Honda HRC’s Toshiki Tomita was more than willing to take on all of those challenges and face some of his own as well.
Naturally, when we asked Tomita what the biggest difference was between racing in Japan and racing in America, his reply was the speed. “In Japan, our tracks are very slow. They are technical and have smaller jumps. American tracks are very fast, and the jumps are much bigger,” said Tomita.
However, those high speeds and big jumps led to another challenge that Tomita would have to face throughout the 2017 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. While practicing to race last year, he suffered serious injuries that included his lower back. The injury didn’t actually occur in a crash, but simply a very bad case. “It’s hard because going that fast is so scary. After hurting my back, I don’t want to go that fast. It’s gotten better, but I still get scared sometimes,” said Tomita.
Even with those fears in the back of his head, Tomita continued to push forward all summer long and was able to score points in the 450MX class on several occasions. Although he had higher hopes, Tomita does feel like the experience was good for his career and his future, as he hopes to return to America again next year.
It wasn’t just the highly competitive 450MX class or the overcoming of fears that lead him to feel that way though. “It’s very challenging to learn all of the new tracks,” said Tomita. “I have only raced Glen Helen before this, so every weekend was new for me. I had a lot to figure out from week to week.”
While his hopes are to return to America in 2018, many have wondered what he will do in the meantime. After attending the 2017 TransWorld SLAM Festival, where he finished fifth in the second moto, he explained what he’d be doing next. “I’ll be in America for two more weeks, then I’ll head back to Japan,” said Tomita. “One of the screws in my back is actually loose, so I will get that taken out when I get home. Then, I want to race some All Japanese MX Nationals, because our schedule will go late.
“Next year, I want to come back to America and race again. I’ll probably race some opening Japanese rounds too. Right now, it really depends on what Honda wants me to do and where they will have room for me. All of that is up to them, but I would really like to come back and race here again,” said Tomita.
Altogether, Tomita’s summer came with many challenges, some to be expected, and some that many would shy away from. Despite that, he kept a smile and positive attitude all year long and even did some racing outside of the Nationals. While there’s no guarantee where he’ll race in 2018, there’s a good chance that a fully healed back, more confidence, and a year in America under his belt will make Tomita a more formidable competitor than ever.