Team MotoConcepts is having a pretty good outdoor season. Mike Alessi is currently second in the 450 Class and Jake Canada sits just outside the top ten in the 250 Class. The team’s other rider, Vince Friese, has also run up front at times. Team owner Mike Genova has eschewed a regular team setup, opting to go his own way and you know what? It’s working. We caught up to Mike to get his take on the season so far.
Racer X: Mike, we’re almost halfway through The Nationals and Mike is second in points and Jake has been his usual steady self. Are you happy with the way it’s going so far?
Mike Genova: Yeah, I’d say so. Of course the next step is number one, and we make no bones about it, that’s our intent for Mike. We planned for Mike to compete for the championship and that’s what he’s doing. Mike’s riding strong, his bike is good in a lot of ways but we have some room for growth there and we’re making headway in the area of suspension and handling. When we get those dialed in, we think that Mike can give Ryan Dungey some more trouble. He’s a great starter and a hard worker and we don’t have to worry about him. He’s proved us right in what we thought about him going into the year, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. Mike’s done some things that maybe caused him some pain on other teams but he’s a great guy, a fan favorite and an ambassador to the sport. He works hard to be nice to people and I’m happy for him and for all my guys. Our team is competing against those multimillion-dollar teams that have been around for thirty, forty years and as you know, it takes a lot to give a guy of Mike’s caliber the things he needs to compete against the best.
Although he has gone about it in a unique way, Mike Genova has been very successful in 2012.
Andrew Fredrickson photo
And Jake, he’s been good. When you scan the results, he’s often the first guy that is the top privateer. He got sick in Colorado in the second moto and couldn’t really ride, and after getting a great start, he went backwards. Then he tweaked a knee but yeah, Jake is a solid, steady guy. He’s right there and we think he could finish the year in the sixth to eighth range when it’s all done. Like I said, that may not sound as impressive as it is but when you look at the first five, six guys in that class and they’re all the factory guys from teams like Factory Connection, Pro Circuit and KTM. With Mike, we’ve got a guy finishing toward the very top, and with Jake we’ve got the same sort of thing. First finisher in the non-factory guys and that’s something that we take a lot of pride in.
I have to admit, I was skeptical of your program in terms of manger, equipment and running different brands, but it’s really worked out well for you. Obviously you must be pumped on the way the team structure has been.
Thanks for saying that and recognizing that, Steve. We are pumped and it is sort of a vindication, or a, “Told you so.” I don't mean that in a bad way. We changed up a lot and people told me that I couldn’t run a team, and I am. They told me that I couldn’t get along with Tony Alessi, and I do very well. They told us we needed a super experienced team manger who was an ex-rider like David Vuillemin, and no knock on DV -- just that type of guy. And we came out with this weird setup and it’s working for us. We’ve got different types of bikes and although people said it wouldn’t work, I say give me a reason why it can’t. And it has worked. I believe that it makes sense to put the rider on the most comfortable bike for him and that was a Suzuki for Mike and the Honda for the small bike. They were both reliable and capable of being able to be made fast. Our experiment has turned out to be successful and we’re thriving. The bikes can be better but they’ve been good. We’ve had no problems integrating the concept, no pun intended, into a working model and I couldn’t be any more pleased.
What about Tony Alessi? I like Tony, he’s a good guy, smart and works hard, but it’s no secret that he’s been a source of problems for some of Mike’s team managers in the past. How have you been able to tame the Tony?
[Laughs] I’ve known and dealt with Tony for a while now. First when Jeff rode for me a few years ago and then when Mike was thinking of riding for us before he went to KTM. It’s working out and I nipped a little of Tony in the bud, in terms of being our team manager, and that’s one of the reasons why it does work. Tony manages Mike and Mike’s program. He helps with the 450 program as well and fits in well with the team. Mike and Tony are a unit and we have a unit that is ran and administrated by Derek Dwyer and myself. I’m the team manager and make the decisions on who rides here and works here. I listen to everyone but ultimately it’s me who says which way we’re going. In terms of Mike Alessi and what he wants, in terms of anything at all, I have very rarely said no to Tony or Mike.
Mike Alessi has been a big part of that success as he sits second in points after five rounds.
Simon Cudby photo
The reason isn’t to kiss Tony’s butt, but it’s a testament to Tony in that he hasn’t been over the top. He watches the budget, he’s frugal and he brings up things that make sense and it’s easy for me to say yes. It hasn’t been crazy, there’s no tension and I let Tony manage Mike. People think Mike needs to get away from Tony but he doesn’t want that, he wants Tony around. Mike’s wife helps out a bunch as well. It flows really well and I speak with Tony every day about things. I settle him down every now and then and he teaches me things.
Let’s talk about 2013 a bit, what’s the plan?
We’re for sure going to have Mike Alessi and Jake Canada on the team and we hope to have two more guys of that caliber. One more 250 guy and one more 450 guy. We want two 250s, one on each coast, and two 450s. We might put Jake on the 450, he’s excited for a 250 ride, but we also think he can ride the 450 pretty well. We’re still working on that plan. In terms of the MotoConcepts brand of bikes, the MCR 250 and the MCR 450, we’re not exactly sure but we’re not afraid to go back to that setup. If we can’t get proper help and support from an OEM then we’re not going to do free branding for these guys.
I may make enemies with that and I’m not here to do that, I’m here to race the best way I can. I think we’re opening eyes for a couple of different reasons, and allowing other teams to put a stake in the ground and not just be taken advantage of.
It's been a breakout year for Jake Canada under the MotoConcepts tent.
Simon Cudby photo
We're beating teams and riders that have multimillion-dollar support and making them look silly in my opinion. We’re taking a non-factory team and beating them straight up. The supposed high-profile teams aren’t looking as impressive as everyone thinks they are. I read that so and so just needs to get on a better team than MotoConcepts and for me, that’s disheartening. We don’t cut corners and sure we don’t have the latest magnesium XYZ part, but we’re not cutting corners. We have plenty of parts on our shelves. We’re not clowns showing up in a pickup truck, so it’s a poke in the eye to us. No knock on big teams, but teams like JGR with their dynos, race shops and all those people working there and everyone amazed at them, we’re beating them. That’s the bottom line.