Racer X: In the past, you’ve talked about being very aware of this race. It’s not like earlier in this century when the young riders seemed not to really care about the Motocross des Nations. So what was going through your head as this date approached and you were thinking about coming out here? Jake Weimer: At first, it was almost kind of hard to believe. Obviously I knew I was riding for Team USA, but it didn’t really set in until I was packing my bags and I was packing all my gear. There’s no doubt about it, there’s a lot of pressure, and I think that’s why you see a lot of mistakes from everybody. There’s a guy on every team that makes a mistake. There’s a lot of pressure. Everybody wants to win because it’s not for yourself, it’s for your country, and it’s a big deal. It’s definitely different than anything I’ve ever been a part of before, for sure.
What was going through your head after yesterday? Obviously, you guys had a horrible gate pick, but what were you as a person, and you guys as a team, thinking?
For sure, I knew that I had my work cut out for me. All of us did. But I honestly believed that we had a shot at winning, and honestly I was so tired yesterday after everything that I didn’t think much about it. We had a little team meeting and we talked and went over a few things, and that was really it. I knew that if we got good starts and stayed solid, that other people would make mistakes. I made some mistakes myself. It’s just a lot different from what we’re used to doing. We’re used to racing for yourself, and it’s not like that. After my second moto, I was super-bummed on myself, but you can’t get selfish like you do at home because at the end of the day it’s time to go suck it up and go cheer on your teammates because you just rode the moto that they’re going to have to throw away. At that point, it’s time to go cheer them on and support them and hope they can pull it off, and that’s exactly what happened. It’s a team event. You all have to do your part. And I believe in that last moto, Ryan [Dungey] and Ivan [Tedesco] definitely did their parts.
What did happen to you in that second moto? You were pretty close to the front, and then you weren’t...
Yeah, I got a decent start, and the track was rough, and on the first lap, I just got some bad headshake and I slammed my stomach on the bars and knocked the wind out of myself for a minute. I got it back pretty quick, but then at that point I just had a really tough time regrouping and getting everything together since I only sat down for probably 15 minutes in between motos. It wasn’t long at all. After the first lap, when I slammed my stomach, I couldn’t regroup, and I fell three times! It’s one of my worst motos all year. I was definitely disappointed with that. I guess the bottom line is that I tried as hard as I could. That’s all I could do was try as hard as I could. I was happy with my first moto and the two guys in front of me that beat me on Lites bikes were starting on the inside, and we opted to start me on the 26th gate pick, so I had to come from a little ways behind. But I felt good, and it was cool to battle with some 450 guys. It was crazy. And at the end I made up some ground and I was happy with how I rode. I was definitely looking for a repeat in the second moto, but that’s how it goes sometimes. We race dirt bikes and we’re human and we make mistakes, so at the end of the day, we’ve just got to be pleased that we were able to pull it off.
I had a couple guys comment on your sparkly jersey. Was that your design, or did Thor throw it at you?
No, Thor threw it at me, but I was definitely pumped on it. I think it looks good. It doesn’t feel that good on my back, though! It’s hot! But it sure looks good, so I went with it.
There was a lot of talk coming into this race about this being a “supercross track”, but it seems like most of the people saying that hadn’t actually seen a real supercross track...
Apparently not! They were saying that down around where I was at home, but I had a feeling that it wasn’t going to be, and when we got here, it’s not. It’s fast. It’s really fast. There are some big jumps and there are a lot of them, but it resembles supercross in no way.
Yeah, what makes supercross “supercross” are the tight rhythms, the whoops, and the tight turns, more or less, and this track had none of that stuff...
Right, and this place is so spread out. I mean, if you look at the track map, this place is huge! Big, wide turns, sweeping stuff, big, fast jumps... It’s nothing like a supercross. Nothing.
What about Marvin Musquin and the other guys on 250Fs? What did you think of all of those guys?
Musquin’s fast. There’s no way around it. The kid’s talented. I think it obviously helps when you get a good start. We see that in the states. Starts can make a big difference, and he got good starts, and he rode well, so... Bottom line is that there is no discrediting them. They’re very fast. I do think it probably makes a small difference coming from halfway across the world, though. In the morning when we’re here at the track getting ready to race, it’s still yesterday at home. And the food we eat? I’m not saying it’s bad, but it’s completely different than what we eat.
And that’s your fuel as an athlete, too...
That’s what I’m saying. So everything, no matter what we do, is different. The gates that we go over are different than at home. We don’t have green fences that line the tracks. We don’t have a million people against those green fences. Everything down to the last thing is different, and I think that all adds up to make a big difference. But that’s how it goes at this race.
You’ve won seven professional races, but you’re now a Motocross des Nations champion. Your name is on that Chamberlin Trophy forever. It probably hasn’t sunk in yet, but when it does, that’s huge.
Yeah, it hasn’t sunk in. At this point, people keep asking how does it feel, but I’m a racer from when I was four years old, and I’m still kind of coping with my horrible second moto, so it hasn’t completely sunken in yet. I’m excited and I’m happy, and I’m glad the day’s over and that we won, because in the long run, that’s why we were here, but I’m a racer and I don’t like getting beaten, and my performance in the second moto was not ideal, so I’m still getting over that.
Does it feel better to win even though so many thought you wouldn’t?
Yeah, especially with the naysayers. We came over here supposedly as the “B Squad”, and I mean, it’s kind of crazy, because I don’t 100-percent understand it. It almost seems like the people over here [in Italy] want us to win more than a lot of the people at home! Honestly! That doesn’t make sense to me! Our very, very best riders, a couple of them were hurt, and at the time, we were the best three to pick. I had won a couple races, and for obvious reasons Ryan was picked, and Ivan has been here and won before. I think it was a pretty easy decision, and it makes absolutely no sense to me that you’re sending your people over to a foreign country to represent you, and you’re going to sit on message boards and talk trash. I obviously don’t understand it. At least stand behind your guys. I know there were some very fast riders who weren’t able to come because of injuries or whatever, and that’s just how it goes. At the time, we were the best guys to go, and we came over here with our “B Squad” and we won. That feels good because it honestly blows my mind that people don’t support their own. I’m not saying it’s all of them, but you know what I’m talking about, there are a few people who just wanted us to fail.
I honestly think it’s a cultural thing. America loves winners and rarely roots for underdogs, at least when compared to Europe, so when you’re not James Stewart, Ryan Villopoto and Ryan Dungey (on a 250F) on a team, they would rather not root for you. In Europe, though, if a team like the Patriots a couple years ago went 18-0, they would ALL want the Patriots to lose. In America, most people wanted them to win.
I would be, 100 percent, the first one to admit when someone’s faster than me. Do I think that if Villopoto could’ve gone in my place that he would be a better pick? Yes. But he couldn’t! He had knee surgery and he couldn’t go! At the time, we were the best guys who could go, and the bottom line is that I don’t understand why it happens that we go overseas to represent our people, and our people don’t support us to do it. You know what, maybe we were the B Squad, but we won with the B Squad, so...