MotoOnline.com.au gets an Industry Insight with Axis Motorsports' Andrew Hopson.
With his wealth of knowledge from an extended stay in the US working with some of the most respected brands, teams and riders in the sport, Axis Motorsports’ Andrew ‘Hoppo’ Hopson now puts his skills to work on home soil on a daily basis.
The Newcastle-based race shop provides a broad range of services to cater for all types of bikes and riders, but it is very apparent that Hopson has racing in his blood, fielding his very own race team.
MotoOnline.com.au spoke with the Axis Motorsports founder and owner to get a unique insight on his past, present and future plans as he continues full speed towards the 2013 season.
For more on Axis Motorsports, check out their website at www.axis-motorsports.com.
You spent a considerable amount of time in America working for companies such as Pro Circuit and American Honda, how did those great opportunities all come about?
There was a guy that I had met in Australia a long time ago when we were racing supercross back in the early ’90s and he was a Kiwi. He had gone over to America after here and I kept it touch with him, then a buddy of mine that I travelled with a lot here was Dave Feeney, who’s still over there now working for Pro Circuit – he worked for Broc Tickle this year.
He went over there just before I did, then I went over there and stayed with him for a while and ended up getting a job at Pro Circuit being a cone pipe builder for Mitch [Payton].
I stayed there for six years and I then went on to work for American Honda, and then another guy a worked with, Dan Bentley, who was [Jeff] Stanton’s mechanic all those times, him and I put together kind of the Factory Connection team.
Although Rick [Zielfelder] had already had it running, we took it in house and did all of the engines and stuff like that and had the suspension at Factory Connection. I was part of 15 AMA championships, I worked with Ricky [Carmichael], Jeremy [McGrath], [Greg] Albertyn, [Nathan] Ramsey, all those guys. A good 10 years plus in there and it was good times.
After such success in the US, what made you return to Australia and create Axis Motorsports?
I had always planned to come back and do something like that. Ricky was leaving Honda and going to Suzuki, I had a little boy and I kind of wanted him to grow up in Australia, go to school and that sort of stuff here.
So it was more along those lines than anything, I always had jobs over there – there was no shortage of jobs. It was just more of a lifestyle thing and having him grow up in Australia more than anything.
What kind services can customers expect from Axis Motorsports, can you cater for the average weekend rider all the way up to the full-time racer?
We are a full service race shop and we have our own race team also. Right now we deal with Pro Circuit and we do all of their hard parts and suspension services. We sell all of their suspension parts also.
So basically we are just a full service race shop, we work on any off-road motorcycle. From the average weekend guy that just rides once a week, to doing national level stuff, so we cover a wide range and all brands of machines also.
You mentioned that you run your own race team, Axis Motorsports Kawasaki Maxima, was that something you had always dreamed of doing?
Yeah, in America I had always been involved in racing, since the day I started there. Myself and Mark Houghton from 07 Motorsports had been in partnership for three years, prior to that we had always ran Honda’s with Cody Mackie, Micheal Addison, Dylan Peterson and Keiron Hall.
But in the last year there was an opportunity to do a deal with Kawasaki, so we took that, did Under 19s this year and we are planning on doing the Lites class next year.
You experienced an up and down 2012 season with some solid results and unfortunate injuries. Overall, are you satisfied with how it went and do you have any news in regards to your team line up for the 2013 season?
We’re talking to a lot of riders at this stage and a lot of sponsors, but we’re not going to know for quite a while how it’s going to pan out. We’ve got to do the best for us, Kawasaki, and our sponsors in the way of winning.
So like I said, I have a list of basically 16-17 guys in front of me that we’ve all spoken to at some sort of time or capacity. But it’s probably really not going to come out until after Christmas, until we are all said and done. Once sponsors are committed we can really start talking to a lot of riders that are serious about it.
Finally, what does the future hold for Axis Motorsports?
We’re just going to keep working on the team, we’re working very closely with Pro Circuit now, a lot with their suspension and engines. We do a lot of stuff here for them, they need to make sure that their suspension and engines are right all the way around the world, so they use us.
I talk to Bones [Jim Bacon] on a daily basis on settings, back and forth, they want to make sure that when they send stuff around the world it is good and it’s not just a California-based setting. So we’re always continuously working with that, back and forth with the new Showa works air fork that’s coming – we’ll be running a version of that also next year. So it just goes hand in hand.
Those guys do a lot of the hard work really, where we kind of just feed off the side of it. But we still do a lot of work here for those guys, a lot of things like noise testing, ignition stuff, different fuels, all that stuff. We’re always doing something to say yeah that’s okay here, or that could be a little different.