In December Team Honda HRC and GEICO Honda announced that Jeremy Martin would take on the first three races of the 2018 Monster Energy Supercross Series aboard a factory CRF450R race bike before taking on the 250 East Coast series. Although the move was once very common in the sport it has fallen out of favor with teams as they try to keep the young riders as ready as possible for the shorter 250 SX series, one which Martin is expected to excel at. With the first race of the deal done (Martin transferred to the 450 Main Event via his Heat Race and ultimately finished eleventh in the feature) we caught up with Martin at Milestone MX Park during a practice day to discuss the pace of the class, the bike, and his expectations for 2018.
Last weekend went well. How did you feel in your first of three races on the 450?
I felt pretty good. I got a great start and the boys kind of muscled me around a little bit. I was in seventh for a while but I think with ten minutes to go I started to get arm pump and was tight. I thought I had ninth but on the last lap I OJ'd the crap out of the triple right before the whoops and finish line, so JG and Coop got me.
How is the 450 class? This is the second time that you've raced it, but the first time in a real Supercross, because Daytona is so unique.
It was a lot different being in a Supercross environment. Daytona is so unique like you said and it's a different race since it's outdoorsy and has a different style. To be there at Anaheim One and the 450 racing against guys that are all in their best form was really fun. I learned a lot and I'm looking forward to the next two rounds.
What are the expectations of yourself and Honda for this? Anything would have to be good because it's not like they expect you to be a title contender or to contest for wins, but you're learning for the next few years.
I think so. Like you said, there are really no expectations. The main priority is the 250 and we're out here trying to get better and to get in a race environment to learn from the best guys in the world. Everyone was awesome and respectful last weekend and I'll try to keep that momentum going so the nerves won't be as bad for the first East Coast 250 round, because I will have been racing the best guys already.
How was the adaption to the bike? It seems like you're going really well on it, especially for being a smaller guy, and you're not out of control like some people would have feared.
I'm pretty in control. Sometimes it gets away from me [Laughs]. Sometimes I'm really good on it and then sometimes it goes so dang fast that I'm like, "whoa!" With time I will get better and better on it because right now I'm just learning. I've really enjoyed the process of riding the 450 because it's a heavier machine and you have to respect it a lot more. I think it will only help me on the 250.
Are you only riding the 450 right now?
Yeah, I'm only on the 450. It's significantly faster so I feel like during the season it will help with my timing, because I'll be used to the power.
When will you get back on the 250? Right after Anaheim Two?
Yeah, right after Anaheim Two I'll have to put the 450 off to the side and let it collect dust for a while [Laughs].
What are your expectations for the 250 season? This will be your first time back on the East Coast in a while, with the technical tracks and dirt.
Yeah, I'm looking forward to going back to the East Coast for the ruts and stuff. I generally enjoy that and I'm an East Coast guy, so I enjoy the scenery more [Laughs]. I just want to be competitive and be there with Zach to give him a run for his money. I don't want to give it to him easy.
A big change that you made in the offseason was the move to train with Eli Tomac. How did that help you? He's been very complimentary of your talent on the bike.
I've really enjoyed working with Eli and being in Colorado. It's such a different and cool environment. I feel like we have similar personalities, we both do our own thing, and it's been a fun journey so far.