It was recently announced that Hayden Mellross would be leaving the 51FIFTY Energy Yamaha team to contest the 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship aboard a CycleTrader/Rock River/Yamaha YZ250F. At nearly the same time, we happened to come across Mellross testing at Perris Raceway for his first day on the new bike. In addition to a new team, this is also the first time Mellross will compete in the outdoor Nationals in quite some time. Between practice motos, we caught up with the Australian-native to discuss his new deal and what’s in store for the summer ahead.
Looking at the 2018 Monster Energy Supercross Series, there were some ups and downs throughout, but overall it seems like you had good results and picked up some good experience. How do you feel like it went?
I think you hit it on the mark when you said there were ups and downs this season. Overall, when we look back at it, it was a great season. There are a lot of positives to take away from it. Mentally, we came into the season a little underprepared on my behalf because I was recovering from injury. It hindered on that for the first couple of rounds and racing back-to-back it was hard to improve. We worked hard to keep pushing and my coach, Timmy Ferry, helped me out dramatically. When we hit the mid-season break, it was really nice. We wanted to hit the last four rounds hard, but unfortunately, at the seventh round, I suffered a separated shoulder which put a damper on everything. It was challenging, but to finish this past weekend in Las Vegas with a tenth was very rewarding for myself and the team and trainers. It was a great result and to come away with a tenth at the East/West shootout and mix it up with those guys was awesome.
As you mentioned, you’ve been working with Tim Ferry and now you’re here in California getting ready for the outdoors. How has your training and preparation been going so far?
It’s been going really good. I’ve been riding motocross the last couple of weeks on a 450 just in preparation for it. Today is the first day riding the 250 on motocross. It’s a little different, but I’ve got a good team here so I’m pretty excited about that. They’ve been working pretty hard already to get the bike as comfortable as possible. I’m sure we’ll be here for a long couple of days to get things figured out with this bike, but I’m up for the challenge. I think this outdoor season is going to be a lot of fun.
You’re here with the CycleTrader/Rock River/Yamaha team today, which is a new deal for you. Take me through how things came together with them.
I got in contact with them a couple of weeks ago. Christina Denney reached out to me in regards to my plans for the motocross season. You know, I’ve wanted to do the motocross season so badly coming over here from Australia. I’ve just raced the Supercross stuff and sat back and watched motocross. That’s hard to take. We train so hard and for me, I want to keep racing and improving my skills. I want to be on an international level not only for myself and those behind me, but for all of my fans back home in Australia. It’s really cool to see the support from those guys and be on the TV for them. That’s kind of nice. I appreciate that this team picked me up and I’ve been working with them for about a week now to try to get everything finalized here at Perris Raceway for my first day on the bike. It feels good, the team has a very home-like feeling. I’m excited to see what we can do and I think we have a lot of great guys with good knowledge. I’m excited and I think we can get this bike set up good to be competitive.
It’s been a few years since you’ve raced the outdoor series. What are you looking forward to this summer, and what are some challenges you’re preparing to take on?
Yeah, it’s been awhile since I’ve raced the motocross series. I did it as a privateer in 2015 and it’s been a couple of years since then. Some tracks have changed and other things change, but I learned a lot that year and I’m hoping to take that one year of knowledge that I’ve got into this season. The mechanics and crew chief and everyone here have a lot of knowledge with the motocross series. I’m hoping they can help me out a little bit with everything. My fitness feels good, but my speed I’m not so sure about because I haven’t raced any motocross in a long time, but hey, I’m up for the challenge! To be at all 12 rounds is very important to myself and the team. If we can be at every round to learn and improve as much as we can, that’s going to be key to getting good results by the time we hit midway into the season.
Do you feel like Supercross fits your style better than motocross or vice versa?
Supercross I think I just enjoy more. It’s a whole other challenge and a different aspect of racing. It’s high intensity and the crowd is very interactive. It’s a whole different side of dirt bike racing. It’s also the only thing I’ve done for these last few years so while I really enjoy it, when you ride something for so long, it’s really nice and refreshing to get out on the motocross track and spin some laps. I love Supercross, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love motocross. I think it’s going to be very enjoyable and I’m very excited for this opportunity. I’m really looking forward to the start of the season.