YOU OPENED A LOT OF EYES IN THE 450 CLASS THIS YEAR. The season was pretty good. I was riding fast and had some pretty good speed. I won some motos and won some overall Grand Prix races with really good fights with Tony Cairoli. Then I crashed in Germany, and my momentum was gone. When I came back, it was really only for training, not racing. I was never 100 percent after that.
CAIROLI HAD BEEN UNBEATABLE, BUT YOU WERE THE FIRST RIDER TO BEAT HIM STRAIGHT UP. DESCRIBE THAT FEELING. It was a very good feeling to beat him. There were several motos when we were side by side and I beat him, so that was awesome. When I started way back in the pack, it was difficult to even see him, but when I started getting good starts, the racing was really fun and enjoyable. He is not unbeatable, and I proved it this season.
YOU WERE A GOOD 250 RIDER BUT CHOSE TO MOVE TO THE 450 CLASS. WAS THAT THE RIGHT CHOICE? I actually could still have been racing the 250 class, as I only just now turned 23 years old. I was feeling pretty good on the 250 bike, but it was a great move coming into the 450 class.
When I came into the 450 class, I was only 21, but I was getting taller and heavier, so the 450 was better suited for me. My riding style is also better for the 450. I ride in the bottom part of the powerband and do not have an overly aggressive riding style. I just feel much better on the 450.
YOU RACED 250 AMA SUPERCROSS A FEW YEARS AGO. HOW WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE? It was very difficult, as my team, Monster Energy Yamaha, did not want me to go, but in the end I was able to. My job was to be ready for the 2010 Grand Prix series, not the AMA Supercross series. It was hard, but by the end of Supercross, I was feeling better. At Anaheim 3, I was fighting with Josh Hansen for the podium, but I lost my front end with two laps to go and finished sixth. It was a great experience. I would love to race Supercross again.
YOU’RE CONTRACTED TO RACE THE GP SERIES IN 2014, BUT WILL YOU RACE IN THE AMA NATIONALS LIKE DESALLE AND STRIJBOS DID? I am very focused on the 450 World Championship, and my main goal is in Europe, but we will see what happens. I know that for sure I will
not be racing Supercross because the World Championship starts so early. The AMA Nationals may be different, as we have a lot of overseas races. There is a small chance that I could go to America between rounds.
IS IT TRUE THAT YOU RACED BMX? I was World Champion and pretty good at BMX. I have some very good memories of that, but it was in my heart to be racing motocross.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE VENUE CHANGES MADE TO THE GP SCHEDULE? I really like the new locations. I think it was a big step forward. I did not like the security at some of the races, such as in Russia and Mexico. The rest of the series is really good. We have some good things and some bad things.
MANY PEOPLE BELIEVE YOU CAN DETHRONE CAIROLI. WHAT DO YOU THINK? I am proud to hear that. I feel that every year I have made some improvements, and I really like my Kawasaki KX450F. I think about racing a lot, and this year I passed some pretty big steps. I want to make it happen in 2014. I don’t want these to be only words. I want them to come true. ;
By Jim Kimball