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Privateer Profile: Ben Evans

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Ben Evans has a lot going against him. First, he’s a rookie, and second, he’s a privateer. But that hasn’t stopped him from putting his bike up front. He finished ninth at round one and two in the Lites class, beating a lot of top riders in the process. After three rounds, he’s eighth in points, in front of Dan Reardon, PJ Larsen, Jeff Alessi and a lot of other top riders. We got in touch with him this week for the Privateer Profile.

Racer X: So you got your pro start after Loretta Lynn’s last year, riding out of the Team Solitaire rig. Was it harder than you thought? How did you feel when you first hit the track in the nationals?
Ben Evans: It was definitely tough. I was kind of coming up out of Loretta’s as one of the top amateurs, but I knew going out and racing those outdoors, with those top guys on the 450s in the 30-minute-plus-two-lap motos was going to be a challenge, for sure.

Given the limited experience you got from those first couple of races, what did you expect coming into the supercross series this year?
Honestly, I felt like I learned a ton. It was a good experience for me, and I didn’t have the best results. I felt like I had some good speed at some points, but for supercross, I think my best practice was going over to Germany. I raced once in Switzerland and twice in Germany, so I felt really good and ended up winning both times [in the Lites class] in Germany. Actually, I had a lot of confidence coming into supercross, and I knew I’d be able to make the main and tear it up.

You were a bit overshadowed in the “unexpected results” department by guys like Chris Blose, but you put in two solid top-10 rides in the first two rounds. You had to be pretty stoked with that, weren’t you?
Oh yeah, my team, my coach and my family, we were all so excited. To be in the top 10 is really cool, you know? It definitely was a little bit surprising.

Have you taken a look at some of the names that are behind you right now?
Yeah, we checked the points standings, and it’s stacked. You’ve got factory guys and all kinds of people just surrounding me, you know? You’ve just got to be consistent. That’s what’s paying off for me. There are a bunch of guys that have missed a main or crashed or whatever. It’s definitely easier said than done, though.

Did you have supercross experience prior to turning pro?
Honestly, I just started riding supercross a couple months ago. First, it was a little bit scary, and some of the jumps were a little bit intimidating, but I’ve actually grown to like it. I was able to ride with Cole Siebler and [Damon] Bradshaw in Idaho, and Cole has a supercross track up there, and he let me ride there, and Bradshaw was getting ready for the U.S. Open, and those guys taught me a lot. I felt like I adjusted really quickly.

So it wasn’t like you were stuck on an island trying to learn it on your own...
No, not at all, and I feel like a lot of amateurs probably go through that, where they go out to a supercross track with nobody out there, and they’re just kind of like, “Aaahhh!” You know? Like, “How fast do I hit that triple?!” They have to guess. But it was a great opportunity. And then Cole rode for Honda Meyer in Germany, and he basically got me the deal over there, and told them I’d been riding pretty well with him. I got to practice some racing and stuff over there. Those guys aren’t quite as fast as the U.S. guys, but it was great experience and good practice, just getting timed qualifying down, and all the little details that go on at the races here today.

Did you give Siebler 10 percent of your earnings?
The 250F guys don’t make quite as much as the 450 riders do, so he was pretty cool and let me keep as much as I could. I tried to give my mechanic bonuses, but those guys were so cool that they wouldn’t even accept what I offered them.

You’re kind of a bigger guy for a Lites bike. Did you think about that coming in, that maybe it might hurt you, or did you think you could use it to your advantage?
I definitely weigh more than a bunch of the guys out there, but honestly some people say that weight will kill you on the starts and different things, but I really don’t believe that. I think it’s more technique and things. I’m not super-heavy, but I’m pretty tall, and in some ways it’s an advantage. It kind of helps me in the whoops and some places like that, you know? I feel like I’ve got a pretty solid bike this year, and that definitely helps, too.

So what’s the story from here on out as far as your team and all of that stuff? Are you doing the West supercrosses only? Or are you going outdoors, too?
Right now, my deal with Ti-Lube is just west-coast supercross. They kind of just threw it together these last couple of months. They picked up Alex Martin and I, just a couple rookies, and we just kind of went racing sort of as a family together. We don’t have a very big budget, and my dealership, Carl’s Cycle Sales [in Boise, Idaho] had to give me bikes, and Fly Racing, who has been with me for a long time, said they’d sponsor the team, and it just kind of all worked out. I had a lot of individual sponsors, plus team sponsors, that all backed me up and made it possible for me to go racing.

So you’re still looking for a way to go to the nationals...
Yeah, for sure. Now, I mean, I feel like if I keep doing well, that will help me get a ride for the Nationals.

{LINKS}Who would you like to thank?
I have so many guys to thank, with obviously Fly and Ti-Lube, Alan Brown at Brown Motorsports, “Dr. D” Doug Dubach has been helping me with starts and stuff last week, and that definitely helped, and I’d like to thank Pirelli tires, my coach Joe Rockwell, Race Tech Suspension – Ronnie from Race Tech has done a lot of testing with me and made the bike super-good – and Carl’s Cycle Sales for giving me my bikes.

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