MotoOnline.com.au catches up with Australia’s AMA outdoor title contender ahead of Hangtown.
While much of the attention is on this weekend’s AMA Supercross season finale in Las Vegas, Australia’s current AMA Pro Motocross Championship number two Brett Metcalfe has steadily been preparing for the upcoming outdoor season ahead.
After joining the Rockstar Makita Suzuki team in 2011 alongside defending AMA Supercross and Motocross Champion Ryan Dungey, Metcalfe started supercross in consistent fashion with a string of eighth places, as well as sealing a solid fifth in Oakland.
Crashes in Atlanta and again Daytona halted his momentum though, a wrist injury effectively ending his rookie Supercross Class campaign on the RM-Z450 as he and the team opted to turn their attention to the outdoors.
Now, just weeks out from Hangtown’s opening round on 21 May, MotoOnline.com.au gave Metty a call to see how his preparation is coming along for the motocross season ahead.
Metty, good to speak to you mate. We haven’t seen you on track in supercross since Daytona, so what’s the story there?
Well, after Daytona I got checked out and it turned out I had a fractured wrist, tore the cartilage and sprained the ligaments. So, really after Daytona’s crash it made it worse, since I actually hurt it the weekend before in Atlanta. I couldn’t really ride good enough anymore with the level I was at.
Considering where I was in the points at that time – I wasn’t in contention for a top three result in the championship – the team and I decided to sit out for a while and get healthy. I ended up taking around five or six weeks off and then just started riding again a couple of weeks ago.
Now we’re just getting ready for the nationals, taking time with my wrist and it should be good. It’s a bummer I had to miss the last half of supercross.
You started off as a rookie on the 450 in supercross with a heap of eighth place finishes so the consistency was there, but ultimately it didn’t go to plan for you. There were some promising signs there considering the competition though…
Yeah, at the start of the season I didn’t really ride too aggressively early on in the year. I kind of gave myself a little bit of time to get used to the new team and bike, plus riding the 450 in supercross was something new for me.
I didn’t want to get too aggressive early in the season and I think that kind of showed with my consistent results. They weren’t really results that I was stoked with, but we had that fifth place there at Oakland, which was pretty cool.
I really started to get more comfortable as it went on and right before I got hurt I started to feel good, like it was time to start picking it up and pushing myself a little bit.
Right as I did that I made a couple of really big mistakes, so there’s a little bit to learn from that, just to pick and choose where to be aggressive and where not to be – that’s important on the 450 in supercross.
Overall it was a pretty good start for me, but unfortunately injury took me out. I think if I had of stayed in there it could have been an okay finish to the championship, but now we just have to wait for next year to have another go at it.
It’s unfortunate to miss the last part of the supercross season, but on the other hand you’ve already been riding outdoors and preparing for the nationals. How’s that coming along for you?
Yeah, I mean I don’t think there’s ever really and advantage in getting hurt and missing races, but it has given me an opportunity to get riding outdoors a little earlier than I probably would have if I was still in supercross.
You know, in the first couple of weeks back riding my wrist was pretty sore still, so I wasn’t able to push too hard. I rode a lot of pretty easy trail riding just to get my wrist back strong again, but a couple of weeks into it all things are coming around good.
I’m definitely excited for the nationals after having a really awesome year last year, so hopefully we can improve on some of those results and be up there to compete for some wins and the championship.
You finished second last year with the GEICO Honda team and this year you’re now teammates with the defending champion Dungey on the factory Suzuki, so how is the RM-Z outdoors? Is it everything you expected it to be?
Yeah, it is actually. Supercross was a little bit difficult for me to find the comfortable setting, but the outdoor bike really feels a lot more comfortable for me – it just feels awesome. I’m looking forward to that and I think it’ll be a nice transition since I have more experience with the bike and the team.
I know what I’m kind of looking to achieve out of it now, so I think going into the outdoors I’ll be better prepared. I think the competition this year is going to be pretty deep again, so we just have to see that championship all the way to the end like I did last year and really start to pour it on strong. I’m looking forward to jumping in there.
You’re based in Southern California, so where is it that you do most of your testing and preparation for the outdoor series?
There are quite a few tracks that are good. Glen Helen’s still one that we’ve been going to a bunch and of course we have the new race track where we have the national at Pala, which is pretty cool.
I also have my facility at MX Heaven, they have a motocross track out there that I ride. The last couple of weeks I’ve actually ridden out there a lot just to work on my riding and to work on those core skills.
There’s still plenty of tracks out here in California to test on and get the bike set-up good enough, then I’ll be getting in the motorhome and hitting the road for a few weeks, travelling around the country a little bit.
Cool, sounds like things are definitely on track for you, that’s for sure. Just finally, the big Vegas supercross season finale is this weekend. How do you think it’ll play out?
Yeah, it’s going to be pretty exciting I think. Man, it’s hard to say what’s going to happen during the race, but I think with Villopoto’s position in the points lead he can afford to lay up a little bit. But that will either work perfectly for him, or it’ll fall right into Chad’s hands.
Chad’s got nothing to lose as he’s the guy chasing, so he can kind of let it hang out and really go for the win. He can do whatever he needs to do on the way to getting it.
So, you know, if Villopoto lays up a little bit too much it still could be easy for a couple of guys to get in there and I think Chad still has a chance at it. We’ll see what happens, I’m not really calling any shots [laughs]. It’s going to be exciting to watch though!