Q) You entered the season as a pretty strong favourite, but broke your toe before the season even began – how close were you to pulling the plug on the whole championship?
A) I felt super prepared coming into the season given that the Husqvarna was a new bike for me – which was a slight challenge, but I just gelled really well with it. Then obviously having the injury wasn’t by any means the ideal scenario, and the doctors were all pretty adamant on me having an operation which would’ve actually put me out for the entire championship.
The injury was what they call an open fracture, where my bone had actually pierced the skin, which in turn leaves it prone to infection. Our feet aren’t usually the cleanest place on our body, so the doctors said that it’d be a 90% chance that I’d get an infection.
I was booked for surgery on that Friday morning, but when you sit in those emergency rooms for four, five hours, you quickly make the decision on what it is that you want to do; and for me it was go racing.
Q) What did that first round at Jimboomba look like for you – tough?
Racing Jimboomba – looking back at it – was the right thing to do for sure. I needed to get out there and show what I could do, but unfortunately I was only really riding at 50%, so to come away with fourth felt like a win. I was in the RaceSafe truck nine times that day getting injections into my toe to basically block the pain, which was successful to a degree, but then I couldn’t feel my foot anymore (laughs). So that saw me doing dumb stuff like landing with my back brake on, and just random stuff.
Q) Since then your season has really gotten back on track to the point where you won this past round in Port Adelaide. Do you feel as though you’ve got the momentum heading into Sydney?
A) 100%. The whole objective following the injury was just to progressively get stronger which has been extremely hard with riding and training – particularly cardio which you need your foot for – but after Coolum I kind of felt like we were getting somewhere. I led laps in Coolum and felt like I could’ve won, but I just didn’t have the stamina.
Then unfortunately at round three I needed to go to the LCQ which gave me bad starts for the Triple Crown, but in the final moto I ended up coming from 8th to 1st, passing everyone which on a thirty second lap over 10 laps was pretty good.
Onto round four, went 1-1-2 for the overall, and now heading into Sydney I think I’m in the best position I’ve been in all year long.
Q) You’re 11 points off of Jay Wilson going into the final round here in Sydney, so what’s the game plan heading in? Is it a must win situation for you do you think if you want the championship?
A) Yeah, it could be a must win situation for me depending on how you look at it. For me, I’m confident in myself and know that at the end of the day, if I ride like I know I can, I’ll win in Sydney. And in terms of the championship, it isn’t mine to win, it’s Jay’s to lose – so the pressure is on him and he’s got three guys who’re within striking distance.
After the inconsistency that he’s shown with the three race format over the last two rounds, I think anything can happen – as long as we apply the pressure to him, I believe everything is still to play for.
Q) Almost sounds like some mental games coming into play…
A) I’ve been doing it to Jay over the last two rounds – I’m not saying it’s been the make or break thing – but I don’t let Jay get a clean lap in qualifying; when he takes off in qualifying and practice, I take off right behind him. I’m always with him on the track, hence why you see so many photos of him now with me right there. Now when he goes for a hot lap in qualifying, I’m right there on his tail.
So I do play a little bit of cat and mouse, but I’m out there having fun – I’ve got no pressure at all, it’s all on him.
Q) You’ve spent the last couple seasons in the USA – is racing over there still the priority and what does next year look like for you?
A) Yeah, it is. I’ve called a couple teams over there to try work on something, but unfortunately the American industry is so tight right now and there’s lots of really good amateurs coming up so it makes it really hard. I have been weighing up my options and I’m still unsure of what next year holds.
I’m planning to race NZ on a 350 for DPH Husqvarna, and I’ll push extremely hard there battling with Reed and RV. I believe that after the NZ race I’ll have a better indication of what next year holds.