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5 Minutes With… Jimmy Albertson

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Have you heard the news that Mr. Albertson is going to Europe? The Oklahoma resident found himself out of work recently following a few disagreements with his Valli Yamaha team, and it was slightly surprising to hear that he’d signed a two-year contract with the Italian-based Martin Honda team to contest the FIM World Championships. We caught up with Jimmy this morning, two days after he got back from his trip to Italy to sign his contract.

  • Jimmy Albertson is will ride GPs for Martin Honda in 2010.
Racer X: Jimmy, you got a ride!
Jimmy Albertson: Yeah, I did. I got a ride with one of the top teams in Europe to ride the Grand Prix. I’m excited about it. It’s on factory equipment, and racing over there will be different. I didn’t really expect it, but I’m looking forward to it. I haven’t been this excited about racing in a long time.

How sweet was that bike, a full-on works Honda?
It’s pretty much the same bike as the guys over here, but the team does some special things to it also. They are really passionate about the bike and want to do well. The bike was incredible. It was amazing for sure. I wasn’t sure about the team and things like that, but they were all really nice. I didn’t know the bike would be that good, to be honest. I got on it and immediately felt better than I ever had on a bike. I hate to be the guy that sits there and complain about not having factory equipment, but it really makes a difference. It’s no wonder that these guys get the results that they do year in and year out. I have a strong team around me and I have a great opportunity to do well with Martin Honda.

Can you take me through the process of getting that ride, how they contacted you, and how it all went down?
It was funny, because it was a rumor on the internet that I read. When I read it, I hadn’t been contacted or anything and just laughed about it. I hadn’t seriously thought about going over there at all. I knew about them but had no idea that they would be interested in me. In the post on the internet, it said that they welcome Jimmy Albertson to the GPs, and I was amazed because I hadn’t spoken to anyone! I was thinking that would be cool and all, but like I said, there was no contact with me.
My agent, Bob Walker, and Paul Lindsey got together and hashed it out with them soon after that. I still didn’t think it was going to happen. They were seeing that I was a top-ten guy over here, and they wanted to get an American that was still improving and a little more aggressive. They liked the American riding style, I guess you could say. So I went over there and they wanted to see me ride; they wanted me to go through a complete physical evaluation. I rode the bike and they were impressed, I guess. I was impressed with the bike, I’ll tell you that! I felt great, the tests went good, and pretty much right before I left they gave me a piece of paper and asked me to be part of the team.

You’re going to live there full-time and not commute like some guys have done in the past, right?
Yeah, I’m there the whole time. I leave January 4, and I’m pretty sure I’m not going to come back until August for the last couple of American rounds. I’m going to live in Spain in the beginning and then when the weather gets better move up to Belgium and live there.

I was talking to some guys over here who were interested in hiring you, and one of the things that you really wanted was your brother Gregg to be your mechanic. Did that happen with the Martin deal?
No, but I’m going to make enough that I can take care of him and bring him there with me. He’s going to be there for me, be the practice-bike mechanic, and help me with the transition. It’s a big deal for me, because my family never had the money to go out and put a big effort into racing, and we scraped by. My brother has stuck with me through everything and made sure my bike was good and helped me regardless of whether he was getting paid or not. I feel like I owe it to him, and I want him around.

What are your expectations for yourself over there?
Well I’m really confident in myself and think I can do well, but those guys are fast. We go to the des Nations and guys like [Antonio] Cairoli and [David] Philippaerts run with our best guys. Some of them come over here and can run the pace right away. I know they’re fast. I do not underestimate them at all, but I believe that if I showed up at the U.S. nationals on the equipment and the support that I’m going to have over there, then my results would have been different also.

What do you know about the tracks over there?
I’ve looked at the tracks on the internet, and I know what I’m getting myself into over there. A lot of sand tracks, so I’m sure I’ll be riding in that. We’re going to do three preseason races over there before the GPs begin. The track that I rode for my test was the opening round of the GPs last year, so I have some experience on that one. That was a tough track. I’m looking forward to all of them and seeing all of Europe, going to Brazil, and everything involved with traveling around the world. I’m going to take the time to look around a bit. A lot of people never get something like this, and I’m very thankful for my agent to help me out with this. I just want to race my dirt bike - doesn’t matter where I’m at. To go over and race the world championships has been in the back of my head. To do what Mike Brown, Ryan Hughes and Donny Schmit did is awesome, and it’s cool to be representing your country every weekend.

Most importantly, how did Trey Canard take the news? Did he break down?
[Laughs] No, he was cool and really happy for me to get this opportunity on a good bike and team. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be racing. He dug me out of a hole when I didn’t have much going on. He was excited for me, and hopefully, if he has time, it would be great for him to come out and hang out with me. I’d like to come back and race some U.S. nationals on off-weekends or whenever. It would be cool to come back and show people how different of a rider I’m going to be.

I asked Jimmy’s buddy Trey Canard what he was going to miss about Jimmy now that he’s going to Europe and he gave me this:
1 - His messiness
2 - His ping-pong skills
3 - My riding buddy
4 - His brother
5 - “I’m going to miss seeing him kill it in Europe.”

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