Racer X: That was your first-ever 450cc podium... Tommy Hahn: That was my first ever podium outdoors.
I could’ve sworn you got at least one on a 250F...
Nope, I got some fourths and fifths, but never a podium.
What about a podium in a moto, any of those?
Holy crap! So you’ve never been on a podium, and that second moto at Colorado, you looked for a while like you were going to be tracking down Tedesco!
Oh, I don’t know about that... He was a good ways ahead of me, and he was riding good, but I felt like I could’ve gotten second. I actually got into second and made a really stupid mistake coming down a hill. But I feel good. I feel like I’m coming around, and my program’s working for me, and I’m not going to change anything. I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing, because I’ve been getting better every weekend. I had a little bit of bad luck here and there, but I’ll take it. With bad luck comes good luck, so I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing and take it one moto at a time.
Well, it’s got to tell you something when you can track top riders down like Andrew Short, right?
Yeah, I mean, it gives me confidence. I know what I can do, but it’s hard to tell. It’s only one race. I’ve gained on those guys at the last couple of races, like in Texas and Mt. Morris, so I know that I have it, it’s just putting it all together, and it’s been my whole problem my whole career. I don’t think my speed’s ever really been an issue, I just always seem to find a way to blow it – get a bad start or just suck, basically.
That’s not uncommon, though. A lot of guys run into the problem that they’re fast in practice but not in the race.
That’s been my whole deal. I’ve been called the “practice champion” I don’t know how many times. During the week, I’m always fast. When Ivan lived in Texas, we would ride together, and I’d be the practice champion, then we’d go to the race on the weekends and not even see him.
Do you think maybe it’s that you put too much pressure on yourself?
I know definitely when I was with factory Honda that I definitely was putting too much pressure on myself, and I’m just now starting to figure it out, I think. I’m still learning as I go, and I’m in my fifth year racing professionally. It’s just the thing about putting everything together, and it’s something I’m starting to figure out with the help of some really good people helping me with that. I changed my whole program this year, and I’m having fun with racing again. It’s something I haven’t done in years. I’m having fun riding a dirt bike again, and I’m having fun at the races, and I’m even having fun riding my dirt bike at home. That makes a huge difference when you’re not stressed out all the time, and you feel like crap, and you’re tired and rundown. It just makes it a lot easier to have fun.
Do you feel like you might have a win in you at some point this year?
I think under the circumstances, if I can get a good start and break away, I think I could win. I’m definitely physically in shape enough to win any race or any moto, it’s just about putting it all together and putting myself in the right positions.
What changed for you this weekend? Did you decide just to not pressure yourself? What was it? What was the main change that came along to make it so that you can run up front and not freak out that you’re running up front?
I said to myself at the beginning of the season that I wanted to start in the top 10 and then just get better, and that’s what I’ve been doing. My outlook hasn’t changed. I just want to get better. I got third this weekend, and if I can get better, or just stay in the top five this year, I’ll be pumped. I’ve never had a really good year where I’m solid the whole time. That’s what I want to do. I want to finish the season overall in the top five, and I think that’d be great for me. It’d be the best I’ve ever done, and my real goal is to get a permanent number, and I think that would be really good.
For every James Stewart or Ricky Carmichael who comes out and wins a lot right away, there are quite a few Timmy Ferrys and Mike LaRocco’s who slowly work their way into championship contention. But many times, guys like that may not get the chance to be around long enough to become a Timmy Ferry nowadays. Do you hope to be a Timmy Ferry type?
I hope so! I didn’t really start doing good as an amateur until I was on big bikes throughout my amateur career. A lot of the guys that smoked me on 80s, when I first got on the big bikes, I started beating them. Some of them aren’t even around now. Hopefully, it’d be great to have a long career like Mike LaRocco or Timmy Ferry. I think that’d be awesome, but I just want to keep taking it one race at a time right now and do my best. Then I’ll see where that takes me.