Carlton Dry Honda Thor Racing's Ford Dale reflects on his MX2 title with MotoOnline.com.au.
In one of the most dramatic twists of the 2012 season, Carlton Dry Thor Honda’s Ford Dale turned a 31-point deficit into a 21-point advantage heading into the Monster Energy MX Nationals finale at Coolum after his main rival, Serco Metal Mulisha Racing Yamaha’s Luke Styke, suffered a horror round at Moree.
However, the nerves and pressure got to Dale at Coolum and he bled 14 points in the first two motos. Only a lucky, mathematical roll of the dice (when Josh Cachia passed Luke Styke for the final race win) sealed the championship win for Dale, but the likeable Sunshine Coaster isn’t complaining in the slightest.
MotoOnline.com.au caught up with your new MX2 champion two days afterward to see how he’s faring.
Ford, congratulations on the win again, mate. Has it all sunken in yet?
Ah, I think so… probably not completely yet, though. It was a long series and I was pumped to not just take away the win, but to get through the season uninjured.
How were your nerves going into the day? Being your home round and carrying the red plate no doubt there would’ve been a lot of pressure on you, and a lot of friends and family trying to get up in your grill?
Yeah, usually I’m a pretty chilled guy as you know, and I’ve always got time for friends and family, but on Sunday I just wanted to keep to myself, steer clear of everyone and stay focused. It probably put more pressure on me, but I was really pumped everyone was there to see me win.
I felt really good in practice and qualifying on Saturday, but I choked on Sunday. I was really nervous as I’d never been in that position and I wasn’t used to that pressure.
This was the very moment you’re training for and put so much effort in for, and when it comes so close you can almost taste it, the pressure is almost overwhelming. I’ll be the first to say I didn’t ride to my potential on Sunday, but it doesn’t matter now.
Take us through that last 30-minute moto. Midway through, with Styke leading, you in third and only four points between the two of you in the championship it looked like he’d take it. Were you freaking out? Did panic set in?
I got a crap start and tried pushing to the front on the opening laps, but the top two through the first turn can really pull away in the first few laps at Coolum. I started to gain on Luke and Josh, but when I saw Cachia catch and pass Luke I chilled out.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t doing to maths in my head during the race and trying to figure out the points, and I knew if Josh caught him it was going to be fine. I didn’t panic at all, though. I think one of the biggest things I’ve learnt this year is not to rush, even when I’m under a lot of pressure.
This title has been a long time coming for you, as you’ve had more than your fair share of injuries. Do all the setbacks make this win that much sweeter?
Yeah, this is only the third championship I’ve completed since stepping up to Seniors in 2007 and I believe it’s a turning point. Getting injured sucks, as you train your butt off and one split-second error can change your year. But I honestly feel a lot smarter now because of my injuries – I’ve learnt from my mistakes.
Ben [Townley] has had a huge influence too and he helped build my consistency this year to podium at eight of the 10 rounds. I’d still have a couple of bad races when the ‘old me’ would come back and I’d try rushing and crashing, but I think it was a huge step forward from years past.
Absolutely. Quickly, what was the last national championship you won?
In 2005 I won the Australia National Cup, which was the Under-19 equivalent, so it’s been a long time between drinks. In 2006 I got a guest ride with Craig Dack’s CDR Yamaha team, then signed with them in 2007.
So what are the plans now? Are you taking any time off before diving into supercross training?
I’m just having this week off the bike, but [Carlton Dry Thor Honda race team manager Yarrive Konsky] is currently in negotiations to get me a ride at the last round of the AMA Motocross Championship at Lake Elsinore.
Hopefully I find out today, and if it works out I’ll be on a plane tomorrow, then will come back straight into supercross training.
Awesome! Hope that all works out for you. Finally, a championship win like this would’ve raised your stocks a lot and it’s no secret you want to step up to a 450. Any word on where you’re heading in 2013?
I’m definitely not riding a 250 – I want to ride a 450. I’m pumped on Honda and I’d love to stay with them, but the goals I’ve set for myself and my career is to step up to MX1 next year.
There’s a high chance I’ll remain on Honda, Yarrive wants to keep me on and if everything works out I’ll be riding for them. I love having Ben Townley as a teammate and hopefully it works out that way.
Fantastic, thanks for your time, bro. Good luck for your US trip if it all works out.
Thanks mate, catch ya soon.