Courtesy of Arenacross.com
ELLENTON, Fla. - The fifteen-round journey to crown a brand new AMSOIL Arenacross, featuring Ricky Carmichael's Road to Supercross, champion gets underway this Saturday night at Cincinnati's U.S. Bank Arena. Since current champion Tyler Bowers has vacated the title this year to compete in Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, the door for the next rider to step up is wide open. One competitor that has the confidence and experience under his belt to claim the championship is Ohio native, and AMSOIL Arenacross veteran, Zach Ames. The Team Babbitt's Monster Energy Kawasaki rider told us this week he has never felt more confident going into a championship hunt than he does right now.
Zach, what challenges did you face last season that prohibited you from winning the AMSOIL Arenacross championship?
All of my challenges hit once we started the Race To The Championship. Honestly, I didn't really have a bad weekend all season until the points reset. I had one really bad weekend that consisted of second row starts and multiple crashes and after that I tried to climb the ladder and make up the points, but as you see from the results I ended up third and wasn't able to make it happen.
What transformations in your training and riding have prepared you for what is anticipated to be the most competitive title fight in AMSOIL Arenacross history?
The changes I made this year from last year are not huge. I felt like I was extremely prepared last season and the results showed [for the most part]. My main focus this year is concentrating on the longevity of the series. I have to be hitting all the right areas of performance when the points reset. I peaked a little too soon last season, so this year my focus is to have a solid, consistent race each time I am on the track and look at the big picture of the series and the final Race To The Championship.
You are from Prospect, Ohio, but moved to California to pursue your childhood dream of becoming an AMSOIL Arenacross champion. How has that experience shaped you into becoming the next champion?
It has been positively life changing for my career. The past four years Tyler Bowers has won the championship and I have lived with him throughout those years, which means I know what it takes, I've seen what it takes, and this year I plan to take the championship. The past couple of years I have really stepped my game up from being sixth place in points and not winning races, to being a little more consistent and having the red plate the majority of last season. I am very excited to put my game plan into action and I am looking forward to getting this season started.
Even though Tyler is competing in Monster Energy Supercross full time, do you still train with him?
Absolutely. We still ride together, live together and train together everyday. The training programs are pretty similar [supercross and arenacross] and he has been helping me out a lot, mentally and physically. There were some things that he knew in previous years that he was keeping to himself [he knew the ropes a little bit better] but now that he isn't competing in AMSOIL Arenacross, he is helping me out a lot, and in return, I am completely focused on this year.
So why do you think 2015 is this your year for the AMSOIL Arenacross championship?
I am tired of waiting and being so close to the championship. Honestly, I am just sick and tired of being number three [laughs]. I've had the number three on my bikes for the past two years [after finishing third in the championship]. This year, I don't want number two [for second]. I just want to win this thing and I will do everything I can to make this happen.
The opening round of AMSOIL Arenacross kicks off this Saturday night, January 10, from Cincinnati's U.S. Bank Arena. Racing begins at 7 p.m. ET.