On Saturday, August 15, at the Unadilla National in New York, it was announced that Jake Weimer would rider the MX2 class at the 63rd annual Motocross of Nations set to be held at the Autodromo Daniel Bonara in Franciacorta, Italy on October 4.
“I think he should do really good,” said Payton watching Weimer climb aboard his bike and adjust the levers. “He’s won races over here. [Marvin] Musquin is going to be fast on a Lites bike. I really think he’ll be the fastest guy over there and Jake, I’m sure, will be that speed or quicker. I think he’ll do really well.”
Added Payton, “This is the United States of America. We don’t usually lose and we’re not too good with it when we do. I think our guys will be fine. There will be a lot of good guys, but we have a solid team.”
And with that, Weimer motored out and put in a solid 20 minute stint. Afterward, we sat down with him and talked about what was soon to be his debut in the world’s greatest motocross event.
Jake, was that your Motocross of Nations race bike or test bike you were riding out there?
I don’t even know exactly what it is. I think it is a test bike, though.
Was the Motocross of Nations a big deal to you as a kid?
Yeah, for sure. I was always into it. I don’t even know for sure what year it was, but I want to say 1996, I remember when Lamson and Emig and McGrath went over and Emig rode the 500.
That was the Motocross of Nations at Jerez, Spain in 1996…
Yeah, I remember that one. I don’t know… It’s always been something really cool to me: Team USA, our riders, all the gear was so cool and different. As a little kid, I remember the helmets and all the gear and all the bikes with the American flag, so it’s definitely something where there was a lot of feeling. It was something that catches the eye really quick. It’s something really cool and obviously to be able to win and to be able to say you guys are the best in the world is something really special and something that’s important to me.
So when you walk over to the Pro Circuit box van today and see your red, white and blue bike and number plates and race clothes and all that, is it sort of like a dream come true?
Yeah, for sure. It definitely makes it real. You’re announced and you do your press conferences. I’ve been excited for a while now. We come out here today and we see our helmets and we see our gear and we see our bikes and it definitely makes it real and makes you realize that this is serious and that we all want to go there and win. And no matter what it takes and no matter how we do it, we just want to come home with the trophy. Seeing all this today, it kind of changes it a little bit. It kind of changes your outlook.
Will you test and ride quite a bit before the race which will take place in exactly 17 days?
I’m going to ride a good amount, yeah. Testing? Not a ton. I actually tested this Tuesday and I kind of changed a few things that I wanted to change, but for the most part, I’m dialed-in and I’m ready to go. I’ll be doing some riding and training and making sure that I’m ready to go.
How did you find out you made the team? Did you have a clue or did it come totally out of the blue?
I had an idea. I talked to Mitch on the phone and he asked me, “What do you think about the des Nations?” I said, “It’s cool and blah, blah, blah.” Then he was like, “Would you want to ride it?” And I was like, “Yeah, I want to ride it!” So he was like, “Alright.” He kind of jacked with me for a minute and he told me that Roger [DeCoster] and everybody involved had asked him about me and he told me that he told everyone that I didn’t want to do it and that I wasn’t ready. I was like, “What do you mean?” Then he told me, “Well, there’s a possibility that you might be doing it.” I said, “Alright! Cool. Right on!” I didn’t get too excited because it was still so up in the air that it wasn’t even close to being done. I told him to keep me posted. I’d always call him and say, “Hey, do you know anything? What have you heard?” I talked to him at one point and he said, “There’s a pretty good chance that you’re going to go.” So then I was like, “Well, let me know when you know for sure.” So then I waited a couple of weeks and he messed with me some more a little bit and then he told me that I was going. I was super-excited. I called my dad. I was pumped, for sure.
When you found out, despite being excited, way in the back of your head, did you think, “There’s going to be alot of pressure on me at this race…”
I think there’s pressure, no doubt, but I kind of rode with pressure all year. Coming into a new team, a one year contract – I had to perform or else I was in big trouble. Then when I was announced to be on the U.S. team I’d had good races and I’d had bad races, so I felt that I had some pressure on me. When it was announced at Unadilla I felt like I had quite of pressure on me. I felt I had to do well because obviously nobody wants people – the Americans - talking bad or looking down on their own people that are going to try and win it for the country. I felt pressure there, as well, to do well and show everyone why I was picked.
Your outdoor season started off a little rough. You went 8-8-14-0 at the first four rounds. What was going on? One of those deals where anything that could go wrong, did go wrong?
I don’t know if I was so focused on supercross that I just hadn’t switched over to outdoor mode yet [Note: Weimer won three races and finished only five points behind Ryan Dungey in the 2009 AMA Supercross Lites West Region Championship]. My starts weren’t good. I was struggling with starts. I was falling. It was just a mess. At High Point – the fourth round – it was a complete blow and a complete bottom. After that we took a couple weeks off and I kind of rested a little bit and got my mind right and came out at the next round and it all changed from there.
After such a tough start, how did it feel to win that first National at Thunder Valley?
It was huge, for sure. After the couple week break, I’d kind of just put the first couple rounds behind me and I didn’t even really think about it. So, I wasn’t like, “Oh man, I just won this round and at the last round I didn’t score any points!” I kind of completely blocked that out. In that moment, it was huge for me. Everyone’s first win is something big for them and something special. My first outdoor win - that was something really cool to me.
You went on to win at Red Bud, place third at Unadilla and win at Budds Creek. You really switched gears mentally during the second half of the season, huh?
Yeah, the rest of the season went well. Obviously, Budds Creek, that one really stands out in my mind the most just because it was so crazy with so any elements in there. Southwick I wasn’t happy with. I felt like I rode well enough that I could have been on the podium, but I fell in both motos. I stalled it in one moto twice in the exact same spot. I was just making kind of stupid little mistakes. Steel City… I rode alright, but I kind of made some personal bad decisions as far on what I wanted to do with bike set-up. I also didn’t get the starts I needed. I felt Steel City was an absolutely horrible day and I still ended up sixth. So it’s good that my horrible days now are not quite as bad as what they used to be.
I read a remark you made a while back in which you said that unless you are Carmichael or Stewart, you’re not going to be untouchable in every race. You then went on to say that some days you’re going to shine and on others, you’re not going shine as much. I found that interesting. Is that how you look at your racing? Sort of like you just mentioned. The bad days aren’t as bad anymore…
Right. Yeah, I think that’s the whole goal. Anybody that has won before is obviously very talented and has a lot of skills and they are capable, so it’s just a matter of figuring out how to do it every time week-in and week-out. Every time you get on your motorcycle you want to be fast. So yeah, I still have that same perspective and view on the whole thing. It’s just a matter of making it happen every time.
Come Italy and come the pressure and the crowds, do you think you’ll thrive on all that?
Yeah, totally. Going over there for your country and where you’re from and the American fans. And there’s such controversy because everybody’s country wants their country to win. I think, for sure, I’ll thrive off that. I think that all of us that are on the team will. I’m proud to be from America. I love our country and where we’re from. I definitely think that will play into it.
I spoke to Mitch this morning and mentioned that I counted up about 10 riders that are capable of getting near the podium in the 250 class in Italy. He told me that he thinks you’ll do awesome and the only guy who will run with you is the new MX2 World Champion Marvin Musquin. When you look at these dudes (Weimer looks at the Motocross of Nations team roster), do you get any kind of read on them?
You know it’s hard to even say. I’ve heard a lot of the names… As far as the real competition I’m going to have to say [Tyla] Rattray. Rattray or [Brett] Metcalfe. [Tommy] Searle is from over there, so he’ll probably be pretty comfortable. It’s so hard to say. It goes back to what I said before. When I look at every one of these names, every one of them has shined at different times. So they are capable, it just depends who shows up that day and is able to go fast. Obviously Musquin has been on top of it. It’s just one of those things where you have to wait and see.
What’s your goal for the 2009 Motocross of Nations?
Obviously winning is the number one goal. Honestly, the goal for me is to go over there, get the best starts that I can get and ride smart and shine. I want to ride like I can ride. To beat all of my class is something that I want to do. I just want to stay calm and just ride like I know how I can ride. I know you’ve heard that 1,000 times, but the bottom line is that I think that’s all we need to do. Every one of us just needs to ride like we know how to ride and we’ll be fine.