On Wednesday at their Irvine, CA American headquarters, Kawasaki introduced the 2012 team line up, featuring factory riders Ryan Villopoto and Jake Weimer, along with the Pro Circuit crew.
Catching Up with Broc Tickle
For 2012 the pressure is on Broc Tickle. Though he won't be defending his Supercross Lites West Coast title, he has the full attention of Mitch Payton's Pro Circuit crew on him as he pilots the newly 450 effort in its maiden event. Never one to be arrogant or off putting, we spoke with Tickle to see what how he feels as he steps up for the new year.
You have had couple good months coming in to the year to get ready, so how do you feel on the 450 now?
I am still getting more comfortable as we go and I am happy to be where I am with the support that I have with Mitch, Kawasaki, Monster, and Pro Circuit. I mean, the support is unlimited and I think that is why we have such a good team, why everyone works so well together. I am glad that I have an opportunity to be with them again and the bike is awesome stock, so we started with a great bike and made it better with Bones testing the suspension. Everything is going good, and though I am a little off on speed right now it will comes as the season goes on. I want to be healthy and consistent all year.
Was there a lot of work to build a bike from the ground up for you?
It all came pretty easily. I rode it stock in the middle of the outdoors last year just so Bones could get some baseline for the suspension, and I was really happy for it. Our guy Aaron has done a lot in terms of development for both the 250 and 450, and he built the bike that Hansen raced in Australia and the Monster Cup bikes. He used to help Theo here at Kawasaki on development, so we are not behind the ball. I rode my race bike yesterday and I am pumped, so happy with it. I don't want more power than I have already.
What are your expectations for the year?
I want to be in the top five and podium, possibly win. I don't want to take away from anyone that I am racing in this class, because they all are great and are top guys. I just have to be on my game every weekend and if I do that I can achieve what I want to get done.
Did you get to wind down in the off season or did you jump right in to testing?
After Pala, I got right on the bike for Monster Cup. It seems crazy to me, because it seems like a week ago we were at Pala and now we are sitting here three days away from Anaheim. We got what we needed to done and I am looking forward to racing the big guys.
You and I talked earlier, and you said that when you were on the 250 you could rev the engine and scare someone out of the way, but you won't have that this year. Have you talked with anyone in the 450 about how to work through and deal with traffic?
I just will have to be more aggressive because a guy isn't going to move out of your way. That is what will be cool about racing, that there will be more going on than last year, when guys would get out of your way if you got a bad start. It will make you a better rider and you will be getting by the guys you need to be around.
Catching Up With Jake Wiemer
After a tumultuous off season that was marred by injuries, which ultimately forced him to sit out the majority of the 2011 Supercross season, Jake Weimer is back to make up for lost time. With equipment, training, and persistence that matches the current defending champion in nearly every way, it seems the 2012 could be the year that Weimer needs to break out of the shadow of his teammate.
With Anaheim One and the start of the season just days away, what do you do now?
Try to not get hurt (Laughs). We will stay pretty busy this week with media stuff and we will be at the stadium tomorrow and a signing on Friday night, so we are pretty busy this week. You just try to keep everything the same, try not to change.
Do you taper your riding down in the last two weeks, because it seems like we have seen more injuries in the past few weeks than all off season, or do you boost it up at the last minute?
It is personal preference, but this week is a little mellower than normal. The last few weeks, you are still searching and trying to get more, but this week is calmer to be ready for the race.
With everyone staying so low key this year, because there were no videos of Chad, of James, of Ryan, or you, is that because everyone doesn't want to give away that little edge?
To some yeah, but for me not so much because I fly under the radar anyways. I was in Florida for a while, but it is not in my head like, "Oh, I can't let a video out because someone is going to check me." It's more of just what happened, and that was really not the case.
You had talked earlier in the outdoor season about the 2011 450 and that almost all of the testing that had been done to that bike had been for Supercross because Ryan hadn't made it through the outdoors or there wasn't a 450 guy to help. Was there much of an overhaul to get the new bike ready for Supercross or did a lot of the settings carry over?
Initially a lot of the settings did carry over, but the bike in general was a lot better so we ran the same settings at first. But now at this point we have had some time in the off season that we have been able to do more testing and come up with better stuff. I feel the for me being healthy this year I have tested way more and rode way more than I did last year. We made leaps and bounds over where we were a year ago.
It is hard to say where you think you will be Saturday night, but with all the testing and work that you have done, you have a pretty good idea as to where your speed is. How do you feel compared to last year and compared to Ryan?
A lot better than last year. It really is a tough question, because you don't know and I have to assume that since he won everything last year…
That because you are able to run with him you are there.
Yeah. I want to be a podium guy, that is what I am shooting for. If I am not there, I want to be close.
That is not a far off thing, considering that you are at the pace and on the same equipment as the top guy.
Yeah, but it is just tough to say. I know what I want to do, but we will see Saturday. Maybe that is why the first round is so exciting, because the riders don't know and the fans don't know. You have an idea, but we haven't raced in a few months and it is a new year with new bikes and new everything. We'll see. I know where I want to be, I want to be a podium guy, and I better be close or I am going to be pissed (Laughs).