MotoOnline.com.au catches up with JDR/J-Star/KTM’s Tye Simmonds at the team’s Californian base.
Packing up your bags as a teenager and moving countries is one of the most difficult things you could possibly do, and when that move has you leaving the New South Wales country town of Bourke to live in the concrete jungle that is Los Angeles, you can magnify the task by hundreds.
Yes, Tye Simmonds is living his dream on any given weekend as he goes head-to-head with the world’s best in AMA Supercross and Motocross, but don’t think for one second that it’s as simple as hopping on the bike and doing the business.
Lucky enough for Simmonds, who is one of Australia’s brightest young talents since Chad Reed, he’s made the trek to the U.S. with his familiar JDR/J-Star/KTM team, a factor that has helped him quickly settle in and enjoy the journey so far.
MotoOnline.com.au caught up with Simmonds at JDR Motorsports’ North American base in Temecula, California, today to see just how he’s adapting to date in his first full season overseas.
You’ve been here in the U.S. for the entire AMA Supercross season now and are two rounds into the outdoors, so how are you finding your feet so far?
Yeah, now I’ve definitely settled in a lot more and it kind of feels like home, which is really good. At first it was just such a big move coming from Bourke to here, changing everything really.
Riding was different, a different scenery and all different people. It’s just a whole different code.
At first I definitely did struggle a little, but now I’m loving it. The supercross was really good, I’m glad I got that series out of the road and I finished off with a good result in Vegas.
Moving into motocross I’m doing things a little better, riding-wise, and like I said to you before the interview started, I seem to suit the outdoors a little more after riding motocross all my life. It’s been a lot easier riding motocross than supercross, for sure.
What was the biggest change for you? The riding over here or the lifestyle?
The lifestyle, for sure. The riding wasn’t that bad because the tracks I have at home are unreal and I think they’re better than here to tell you the truth – I just didn’t have anyone to ride with.
Whereas here, you go to a motocross track and it’s bigger than a race day – everybody’s out riding.
I think the whole leaving Bourke thing was the hardest, I mean I’ve got everything there and I know everybody in the town. If I ever need anything I know somebody who can help, where here I didn’t.
I’m getting a little better now, but at first that was definitely the biggest thing. I’m slowly getting into it though.
It’s a massive move for you to come over here as a teenager, so how much of a help has it been for you to make the step with the JDR team, an operation that you’re more than familiar with from last year?
I think if I didn’t have them I would have struggled a lot more than what I have, and also I need to give a big credit to Nathan Ramsey [JDR/J-Star/KTM’s team manager], who’s kind of been like my dad.
When I first got here my dad wasn’t here and he didn’t come for a couple of months, so having Nate here and what he’s done for me is unreal. I’ll always be in debt to him and his family for what they’ve done for me.
But yeah, whenever we get days off I go up to Jay [Rynenberg’s] and play Playstation or whatever, just having fun, so I think that’s made it a lot more fun.
If I didn’t have that then I’d probably just be alone and sitting on my ass at home. I would have definitely been up struggle street, that’s for sure.
You’ve been thrown in at the deep end in some ways, being the only 450 Class rider for JDR as a rookie, and also going straight into that premier class instead of going into the Lites to start with. Do you feel like that was the best decision, like it’s giving you the base to keep progressing?
Yeah, definitely. Like I said, everything was a lot harder at first, especially when PJ [Larsen] was only riding the East Coast Lites class, which left me as the only rider on the team full time in the West Coast rounds.
That was a bit of pressure, but it’s good now and I feel like my riding has gotten a lot better and I’m definitely a lot fitter.
So yeah, I feel like I should be in the top 40 in motocross every weekend and at the end of supercross we had a few bad results. In Vegas everything was good all day long and I got a good result.
I feel like I belong here, it’s just a matter of working hard week in, week out, and getting better. We’ll see how we go.
In America they race back-to-back on most weekends, so is that something you like to do over here so far?
I do. I think I like it a lot more than in Australia where you race and then you have three or four weeks off. You sort of forget how to race kind of thing and that sucked.
It is taxing on the body racing over here though, it takes its toll riding a couple of days at home and then bam, you’re on the plane Friday, race Saturday and back home again early Sunday morning to get back into the routine.
You do that week in, week out, which is good, and I definitely like the back-to-back stuff that’s for sure.
We’re just getting into the nationals, you’ve done two rounds so far, so how do you prepare for the summer heat and longer motos compared to what you were used to in Australia?
Yeah, well Hangtown was the first time I’ve ever raced for 30 minutes plus two laps, so that was all kind of new to me. Already, like I said earlier, just because I’ve ridden motocross all my life I feel like I’m getting better at those.
And then in the heat at Freestone, I shaved my head going into Texas, but in California lately it’s been freezing cold.
That didn’t help at all going into Texas, but it actually wasn’t that hot. It was just the humidity, really draining and that stung me in the second moto.
It did in the first moto as well, but I recovered pretty well. In the second moto at around the 15-minute mark I got hit hard, just hit a wall, and I didn’t really think I was going to finish the race.
But as far as the heat goes, ask me that question in a couple of weeks and she’ll definitely be a lot harder when it gets hotter than it has been.
Just finally, what will you be content with for 2011 once motocross is over? What’s your goal as a rookie this season?
Ah, well at first just to come here and experience everything, I wanted to finish a little higher in supercross that’s for sure because I do like supercross more than I do motocross.
But it was a lot different and this year was the first time I’d done 20 laps, coming over here because I’d never raced that long at home.
In motocross already the results seem to be a lot better, so yeah, after the first two rounds I’ve been dying in sort of the last 10 minutes of the motos. I’d like to think I’ll get better at that once the season progresses.
In Texas I came from 15th to around 11th or 10th. It’s only early days, so I’d be pretty happy with the top 15, but I think I can get inside the top 10, or if not then 10th.
That’s definitely my goal and I’m going to do everything in my power to do it. I’ll train harder and just get those motos done week in, week out.