We’re out here at the Kawasaki test track, and you’re preparing for a championship season down under. How did this whole thing come about in Australia?
I was getting ready to prepare for the last few US nationals and the two USGPs, and unfortunately something happened with the Monster Energy Kawasaki team in Australia. Apparently there are some riders in trouble, but I don’t know all the details. Troy Caroll from Monster Energy Kawasaki Australia gave me a call after talking to the people at Kawasaki in the United States, and we went from there. We talked on the phone about a few things and put a deal together. Luckily, the Kawasaki crew over here along with the Showa suspension guys have been supporting me. It’s a big deal and I’m feeling a lot of love even though I’m at the end of my contract with the team.
How are you feeling about missing the two MXGPs to go race down in Australia?
I really did want to race those not only for the gate time, but to say that I’ve raced an MXGP. It’s a big deal and I think it’s really cool because we don’t always get a chance to do this. Yeah, it is a little bit of a bummer, but it doesn’t make sense to try to do the GPs and then lineup for a Supercross race with no time on a Supercross track. We all just kind of sat down and decided this was best for me.
How long have you been back riding, and how long have you been practicing on a Supercross track?
I think I’ve been riding for roughly five weeks now, and around two weeks on the Supercross track.
So you took some time to ride on a regular track before you headed for a Supercross track?
I went and rode outdoors for a couple of weeks because I was originally planning on racing the GPs, so there wasn’t even the thought of a Supercross track. While we were still prepping for the GPs is when I got the call and it just made sense to get back to this.
Have you been to Australia before?
Yeah, I’ve actually been to Melbourne and to the Gold Coast. That was for a little bit of leisure though.
Are you excited to race down there in Australia? The girls down there might be into American boys with braces!
I’m not really sure if they’re into train tracks or not, but maybe my accent is cool. Then again my braces can throw that off, too. Then I’ll just be back to semi-attractive. Getting braces definitely brings you’re overall score down a little. It’s basically the same thing as having no braces here in the US. (Laughs)
Who else is going down there to race along with you and Chad Reed?
As far as I know Chad is just racing Sydney; the AUS-X Open. Cooper Webb will be racing there as well along with Ryan Villopoto at the finale, so that should be a good race. Also, Gavin Faith and Jimmy Decotis, so it’ll be nice to see some familiar faces.
Who is the local that you have to watch out for?
The defending champ is Dan Reardon, so if anything he’ll be the guy. He’s got that number one plate for a reason, but there is plenty of talent over there. There are a ton of extremely strong competitors, so I’ve been studying up on everybody over there. I just hope to bring my A-game and I hope I can have some fun over there.
Down there in Australia with the team, are there any differences in the way the team works or the bike compared to what you’ve been accustomed to here in the US?
Like I said, I’m extremely lucky to have Showa in my corner, as I’ve developed a setting here in the US that I really like, so I’m looking to bring that with me down there. I think that’ll be a big help, as well. Kawasaki will be sending down my triple clamps and a few other parts that make the bike more comfortable for me. I honestly think I will be on pretty much the same bike save for the motor. Their engine package is a little bit different.
Will you be on the same team as Ryan Villopoto?
I’m assuming will be on similar if not the same bike. I really don’t know the details when it comes that. I’m sure we’ll be pitting out of the same truck, as well.
Will anything be different for you down there as far as your riding gear?
Yeah, I’ll actually be wearing Alpinestars gear and I’ll continue to wear Bell Helmets, which I’m very excited about because I get to continue my relationship with those guys. I will be wearing Oakley goggles, as well, so it’s not a complete change from head to toe. The team down there has a deal implemented with Alpinestars, so going down there I have to respect that relationship. They’re a big part of the team.
How did that go with the people at Answer?
It’s never ideal to leave a company early, but they understand that it’s part of the deal for racing down there. They’ve been extremely cool about the whole situation. They understand it’s a team thing, and it’s not like I’m choosing to bail out of a contract. I am wearing Answer today, and I will continue to until I get down there.
Have you been checking out the race tracks and racing format?
Yeah, everything looks pretty similar to what I’m used to, but they have a bit of a different qualifying schedule. They still have an eight-lap heat race and a 20-lap main. I think the tracks are going to be a little tighter than over here because there aren’t huge stadiums like that in Australia, but most of them look pretty cool. Most of the races are actually outside, but I think the finale is inside a stadium.
Are you going to stay down there or will you be flying back-and-forth for each round?
I’m going to stay down there, so I’ll probably be gone for roughly two months.
Where will you be staying? Those of us that haven’t been to Australia likely picture a lot of kangaroos and pretty beaches.
I’ll be staying on the Gold Coast near Brisbane. That’s kind of the cooler side I guess. I’ve been there before, so I know what to expect. It’s a really great place. Troy is helping me set up a place out there on a golf course, apparently. I don’t really golf, but I’ll give it a try when I’m down there. To be staying in this particular place the whole time is going to be great, and the team owner and I will be living fairly close to one another, so that’ll help out, as well.
You’re going to have some free time on your hands down there, so what will you be up to?
I just might hit some tasty waves down there. I can hang 10, get barreled and all that.
Are you going to be bringing your bicycle since you’ll have to train down there?
I don’t think so. Troy is setting me up with a bike down there, so I’ll still be able to cycle. In my downtime, I might go visit some friends down there, and it sounds like I’ll have the opportunity to do a few riding schools while I’m there, as well. When it’s an off weekend, maybe I can do some local stuff like that.
What do they have you lined up for you as far as transportation?
The community that I’m living in really only requires me to have a golf cart, and Troy is willing to let me borrow his truck. I’m not the best driver here in America, so that may have been a bad idea for him to say that since I’ll be driving on the opposite side of the road. Things will get interesting.