Privateer Profile:  Mariana Balbi

Privateer Profile: Mariana Balbi

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You might recall that just a few years ago Brazil’s Antonio and Mariana (Mari) Balbi were the only brother and sister act racing Lucas Oil Pro Motocross. While Antonio is now back home racing, the prettier half of the Balbi duo is still racing the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross. Despite taking a bit more conservative approach this summer, Balbi took a solid second in moto two at RedBud –- putting her into fourth in overall points. Although Balbi has finished on the WMX podium before, and even earned World Motocross GP points in 2009 and 2010, injuries have sidelined any true threat to take an American Championship. But that could all change soon as the Brazilian is focusing on riding smarter and faster.

Racer X: Mari, nice job in the second moto at RedBud.
Mariana Balbi: Thanks, Jim. I’m very excited and happy right now. I rode fast, but also smart, which I just what I need to do! Getting on the podium in that second moto makes me feel awesome.

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Balbi currently sits fourth in the WMX points standings.
Andrew Fredrickson photo

It’s been a while since I’ve seen you on the podium. What’s been happening?
Well, in the beginning of my career here I just didn’t have the right support. I was just a complete privateer. But I know that these other girls that are winning [Ashley Fiolek, Jessica Patterson] deserve what they have. They are both very professional and really do put in a lot of work. They also have a lot of good people around them that really help a lot -- they have the right support. In 2010 I got support from MotoConcepts, I got more help and started to get better. But unfortunately I then got hurt and tore up my shoulder pretty good. I still ended up racing the whole season and took fifth in the standings, and even got on the podium a few times, but the injury definitely hurt me trying for a championship. Last year I was doing pretty well, but crashed in Colorado and hurt my neck, so I missed a couple races then. It has been really great that I got on a good team with MotoConecpts, but have been hurt for much of the time. This year I have been trying to find that happy medium of trying to go fast without crashing. I want to remain healthy this year.

After finishing second now, can you get a win this year?
Sure! Ashley and Jessica may have a bit more speed than me now, but I just need to keep working on it. They have been racing as professionals a bit longer than me. I have good support from my team, and I have the right physical conditioning. I think that it has just hurt me with being injured these past two seasons. That’s why I said that my big goal is to remain healthy this summer, then maybe I can get that speed that I need.

MotoConcepts seems as if they have really stepped it up this year.
It’s been great, and especially good for me here this year. Last year I was the only rider on a 250, and we didn’t have the testing time on a 250 like we did this year. Jake Canada has been doing a lot of testing on the MotoConcepts 250, and this has been so great for me and my race bike. We also have Mike Alessi on the team who has been doing excellent. Just being around Jake and Mike has been very helpful, and I have learned so much. It’s great, we all try to do some riding together during the week, even with Mike if he is in California. Then I do my own training and working out. I work with Ryan Hughes, who has been a huge help to me.

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After not racing at Millville, Balbi and the rest of the WMX Class returns this weekend at Washougal.
Andrew Fredrickson photo

You’re now fourth in points in the WMX series. What are you goals for the remaining rounds?
I’d really like to end up top three. Like I said, I know that they may have a little bit more speed than me, but they also ride so fast that they can crash and get hurt. Jessica may have a broken wrist now, and Sayaka Kaneshiro recently crashed and it out for the rest of the series. I really want to be smart, and take the lessons that I learned the past two years and not get hurt. I want to pick up the speed that I need, but do it in a way where I don’t take too many chances. I need to take my time to build up my speed.

Before finishing up, is there anything we missed?
I really want to thank the whole MotoConcepts Team. Mike Genova, the owner, has given me the right support, and always helped me. I also want to thank Tony Alessi, Ryan Hughes, and my family back in Brazil, especially my brother. Without Antonio I wouldn’t be here. I really miss him!

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