Monday Conversation: Mike Alessi

June 1, 2009 8:00am | by:
Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Mike Alessi finally scored his first 450cc national win in his third season in the class, and he did so with a 1-1 score (officially, anyway, as Josh Grant was penalized and docked a spot in the second moto, handing the win to Alessi). We caught up with Alessi after the race.

Racer X: You just won your first 450 national, and it’s been a long time coming. You had a lot of potential last year, but there was that “James Stewart” guy messing it up for everyone, although you might have been the only guy racing who still thought you could beat him before you got hurt. So what does it feel like to finally break through and win again?
Mike Alessi: It feels great! You know, I’m leading the points right now, and my team’s doing a great job. I’m working hard every day and hard work pays off.

When you’re talking about hard work, what are you talking about?
Running, swimming, bicycling, going to the gym, hard motos in the friggin’ hot sun up in the high desert, eating right, and it’s paying off. My trainer, Jay, has been pushing me hard.

Obviously, you had the holeshot in the first moto, but then you did something uncharacteristic and crashed out of the lead, but you won the moto anyway. What were you thinking when you were lying on the ground and everyone was going by?
I thought it was over! But I put my head down and charged and just picked guys off. I actually kind of liked it [laughs], to be honest. I kind of liked coming through the pack. It made me work harder. I got [Ivan] Tedesco right after halfway, and then I pulled away, but then I stalled it right before the finish line and lost at least 10 seconds, but luckily I still won by eight or nine seconds, so it was good. I just kept charging in the moto.

In the past – and we’re talking distant past here – you used to talk about how you weren’t good at coming through the pack because you are so accustomed to getting the holeshot. This wasn’t an easy track to pass on, according to other riders, but you still made it work.
Yeah, in the first moto I made it work, but in the second moto, they smoothed out the track considerably for TV, and it made the track pretty one-lined and it was hard to pass Josh [Grant]. But he was riding a good race and I just couldn’t get by him. He was taking all the good lines and riding good.

With Ryan Villopoto in the series, he was a favorite coming off of three 250 titles, and other people favored you or Chad Reed, but now it seems like people are thinking it’s between you and your teammate Reed now that Villopoto’s out.
You know what? I worry about myself, nobody else. I just think about my race, my lines, my start, and doing the best that I can, not worrying about anybody else but myself.

That being said, what does it feel like to maybe be the favorite in many people’s minds for an actual national championship?
It feels good! We’ll worry about that later on down the road, because right now we need to win motos and win overalls. I don’t want to give it up. I want to keep winning because I love this feeling.

But I’m a media guy, and media guys like me always want to talk about what’s going to happen way down the road like that...
[Laughs] I mean, a championship would be great, but right now it’s just about winning motos. Just keep winning moto after moto and get some overalls.

Do we have to wait until you’re retired before you tell us all how you get those holeshots?
Dude, I’m 150 pounds! I’m just so light!

James maybe weighs five pounds more than you do and you get holeshots on him all the time!
I just practice a lot of starts! What can I say?

That’s really it!

But you’ve done it your whole life! Even at the end of your 80cc career, when you were big on 80s, you were pulling holeshots constantly!
There’s no real secret! You just have to practice a lot of starts!

I’m going to pester you all year now until you tell me the secret...
And I’m going to tell you the same thing over and over!

You raced Texas last year and led quite a bit there...
Yeah, I think I led the most laps there.

Right, so what are you expecting going into that race?
It’s just another race. It’s going to be hot like it was last year, and we’re definitely going to be well-prepared and do the best we can. Hopefully I can get another couple of holeshots and win both motos and keep padding that points lead. I just want to win motos right now. That’s the main focus.

I know that it worked out in your favor today with the new flag and Josh Grant getting penalized so that you got credited for the second-moto win, but Trey Canard said in the press conference that it was difficult to see it because you’re used to seeing yellow flags and then all of a sudden there’s a yellow flag with red in it...
You know, you’ve just got to pay attention. It’s just a lack of paying attention. It’s as clear as day. You can see it’s got a big, red stripe right down the middle. You can’t miss it. If you do miss it, it just means you’re not paying attention well enough.

{LINKS}So, in your opinion, it’s all-good?
Hey, it’s racing. The AMA has to do their job. They’ve got to enforce it. It’s part of the rulebook. It sucks for him, but I’ll take it!