It’s almost here, the opening round of the 2008 AMA Toyota Motocross Championship. This year’s tour will be picking up right where it left off last season at California’s Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino. Unfortunately, the gate will be dropping in the AMA Motocross class without the defending champion Grant Langston behind it, but the rider who finished runner-up to Langston last season, Mike Alessi, is more than ready to go. Also a two-time runner up in the Lites division, this will be Mike’s second full season in the premier class, and he’s hoping to pick up where he left off last year when he closed out the series with three consecutive runner-up finishes. In the off-season, he switched from KTM to Rockstar/Makita Suzuki and entered the 2008 Monster Energy Supercross series with modest expectations. After going 6-6-4-15-6 in the first five rounds, his indoor season was cut short after he suffered a broken collarbone in practice at San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium, and that’s really the last we heard from the Apple Valley, CA resident, at least until today. We gave Mike a call to get a heads up on his preparation for the 2008 AMA Toyota Motocross Championship.
Mike Alessi is eager to race
Mike Alessi: Yeah, it’s been a while. Right now I’m just getting ready to go on a road bike ride—a 100-miler! I’ve just been doing a lot of training. We only have a few more days till the nationals, so it’s right around the corner.
Mike Alessi is eager to race
At this point you’re probably 100 percent ready to go, as far as training is concerned.
Yeah, I feel like I’m as ready as I can be. I’ve been working pretty hard in the last couple months. Since I got hurt, I took some time off and let my collarbone heal up, and I was going to come back for the last few supercrosses, but by the time I felt I was ready, supercross was just about over, so there was really no point. I just started focusing on outdoors.
A lot of people online were wondering why you didn’t come back to race supercross. Was it your decision, or Roger Decoster’s?
It was a team decision. There was real no point, because I’d race two races and that was it. So we all thought it would be smarter to focus on the outdoors, and to get a jump on testing and training.
My results were pretty good. I was pretty consistent and finished fourth and sixth a couple times, but I got hurt, so I never really got to show my potential. What really sucks is if I had consistently been finishing fourth through sixth the whole season, my points would’ve averaged out to third-place in the championship. But it’s hard to look at it like that.
When you were on the sidelines did you still follow the series pretty closely?
Yeah, I followed it pretty closely, but I was more focused on just trying to train everyday. Road biking and running and riding has been my life the last couple months.
I saw you raced up at Washougal last weekend; was that your first race back?
I did a few local races before that, but Washougal was my first major race back. I feel pretty good. The bike is working really good. All of the testing we’ve done the past few months really helped out. I’m fit, focused and I’m ready to go. I know this season is going to be a lot harder than in the past because everything is more crammed and closer together. We raced like three weekends in a row and then have one weekend off, but now it’s going to be really important to stay consistent throughout the whole season and stay healthy. It’s really easy for something like that to happen, and if you miss one race, that could be the championship.
Compare your Suzuki to the KTM you rode last year.
The bike is awesome. Suzuki is way different than the KTM, obviously, with the linkage, but as far as handling, I like it a lot. I’m having a good time riding it and I’m just really looking forward to this weekend.
What are your thoughts on the series opening up at Glen Helen?
I think it’s good. I think it’ll be really good for the California fans. It’s not going to be blazing temperatures, either. And man, there are a lot of good guys in both classes, so I don’t think there is going to be a runaway in either class. I think it’s going to be good.
Besides yourself, who do you think will be the best guy in the AMA Motocross class?
Everyone is going to be good, but for me, I really don’t think about anyone else. I’m just worried about Mike Alessi and riding at the potential I can ride at. If I do that, I know I’ll be fine.
When the checkered falls at the end of the second 450 moto at Glen Helen, what would you be happy with?
I want to win, Billy! Everyone wants to win. I’m sure Stewart will be going there planning on winning, as well as Townley and everyone else. I think it would be awesome to win there in front of my hometown fans. It would be my first-ever premier-class win, so we’ll see. Last year I was winning the second moto and more than likely if I didn’t crash I would’ve won the overall, but that’s racing and anything can happen.
Alessi at Glen Helen last week photo: Steve Cox
I just want to thank all the guys at Rockstar/Makita Suzuki for doing a great job, but more than anything I just want to thank God for keeping me safe. I’ve been riding and training really hard these past few months, and without God being there keeping me safe, I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing. I also want to thank the rest of my sponsors, like Alpinestars, Smith, Shark, my mom and dad, my girlfriend Danielle, Dr. Stein at Stein Chiropractic, and just all my family and friends who have been cheering me on. I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone at Glen Helen this weekend!
Alessi at Glen Helen last week
photo: Steve Cox