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5 Minutes With... Tommy Hahn

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Canidae/Motosport Kawasaki’s Tommy Hahn moved up to 450s full-time this season, and after a supercross season with a postponed start (due to injury) and some subpar results (also due to injury), Hahn made good on the promise his team saw in him on a 450 at the Glen Helen Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship opener, running near the front in both motos on one of the roughest tracks in years. We caught up with him earlier this week...

Racer X: During the supercross series you kept telling me that you were really looking forward to the nationals, but I guess I didn’t realize how much you were looking forward to the outdoors because they got here and you hauled! Obviously, you really were looking forward to the outdoors...
Tommy Hahn: Yeah, I knew supercross was going to be difficult on the 450. I know when I was riding a 250F, I always thought it would be easy to get on a 450 and go fast because it’s easier to do jumps on, and rhythms, but yeah, it’s easy to ride a 450 in supercross, it’s just really, really hard to race one in supercross. Basically, supercross was a learning curve, and then coming in halfway through the season after being injured didn’t help. It was tough. I wasn’t getting the results I wanted, but I knew that I could go fast on a 450 outdoors because I had before – I’ve had one every year during the summer when I was practicing. I knew I could run up there. I just worked my butt off, and I’m at a good starting point after the first race. I went 7-6, and some people had some troubles that kind of worked in my favor, but I need to be a little bit faster on the raw-speed side. So I hope to do that. My fitness feels good, and I’m going to keep working on it and try to make progress throughout the season.

Obviously, Glen Helen was a really gnarly track, and you had a shoulder injury during supercross, so did that hurt you at all at Glen Helen?
It didn’t bother me while I was riding, but when I came off the track, I was like, “Oh, man, my shoulder hurts.” But while I was riding, it wasn’t something that I really noticed. The shoulder’s hard, though, as everyone knows who has had a shoulder injury, because you can’t do anything on the bike without using your shoulders...

Yeah, and the downhills especially at Glen Helen, when you’re going down into those huge braking bumps...
Yeah, I’ve been doing special shoulder exercises and that’s been helping out a whole lot, and I can tell a difference. If I didn’t do those exercises, I probably would be in a little bit more of a rut than I am. The main thing is that it’s getting better, and I’m getting better, so that’s all I can ask for right now.

The first moto, you weren’t up front for a while, then you just seemed to show up...
I went up that first hill off the start in about sixth or seventh, then I kind of got tight in the first few corners and got passed by a few people and went back to about 10th or 11th, and then I just passed everybody back before settling into seventh. I actually pulled a pretty good lead because [Davi] Millsaps was a little bit in front of me – like 10 seconds or so – and then the people behind me were 15 or 20 seconds back, so I rode the whole moto basically by myself. I just kind of settled into my pace and didn’t ride out of my comfort zone. It was a long shot to try and get the guy in front of me, but at the same time, the guys behind me weren’t going to catch me, so...

I think what you did at Glen Helen was what your team was hoping you would do when they moved you up to the 450cc class for this season, isn’t it?
Any time you can make your team and yourself look good is good, and I know exactly what they expected from me, and I know exactly what Kawasaki and all our sponsors expected from me, but it’s just been a tough first half of the year trying to get healthy. Now that I’m 85-90 percent, things should keep getting better. I just need to stay healthy and keep making that progress. I think I got seventh overall in ’07 in the outdoors, and that was the best I’d ever done, so I just want to improve on that. If I’m seventh or better, I’m going to be happy at the end of the year. I just want to keep putting in good and consistent rides and keep getting stronger.

It’s a stacked 450cc field right now, too. People talked a lot about it in supercross, but the reality is that you’ve only lost one guy since then with James Stewart not racing. Chad Reed’s out there, Ryan Villopoto’s out there, all the Honda guys, etc. Really, it’s almost like just doing as well as you did before – seventh – would be quite an accomplishment. To get seventh, you’ll have to beat a lot of top guys, and a lot of factory riders.
Really, aside from Reed, I’ve raced every single one of those guys outdoors before, and aside from Villopoto, I’ve beaten every one of those guys before, so it’s just a matter of applying myself and putting in my work to get up there to that level. You forgot about [Kevin] Windham, too. He’d be pissed if you forgot him.

He hasn’t returned my phone calls lately, so that’s my excuse for him slipping my mind. I’ll probably edit the interview so that I included him.
Yeah, Windham’s a bad dude outdoors. He is. There ain’t no two ways about it. But with the way the first race went, and the way I’m feeling right now, I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t be running up there with those guys. I think Villopoto and [Mike] Alessi and Reed and Grant, those four guys, they’re solid and they know how to get the start and check out really fast. I just need to learn how to do that. I’m usually up there in the start, but I kind of ride tight for the first couple laps. I need to learn how to just go through it and latch onto those guys and keep the pace as high as I can so that by the time the halfway board comes out I’ve got a huge lead on those guys behind me and I can either try to pass someone in front of me or keep my pace. But right now I just need to work on my first couple laps and work on my raw speed a little bit.

Okay, well good luck, T Hahn.
Thank you, and I’d really like to thank Ricky and Jeannie [Carmichael] for letting me ride at Ricky’s place in Florida, and Ivan [Tedesco] for letting me ride there, and [Ryan] Dungey, too. They’ve all been a big help for me.
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