MotoOnline.com.au catches up with Raceline Pirelli Suzuki's Errol Willis.
Entering his rookie season in the Lites class for 2012, hot off of his dominating 2011 Under 19s season, Raceline Pirelli Suzuki’s Errol Willis was confident in his abilities and expected big things from himself.
Admittedly underestimating the competition and the challenge of making the jump from the Under 19s class, Willis struggled to find his feet in the deep field of talent, whilst a mid-season injury proved to slow his progress considerably.
After a breakthrough Newcastle Australian Supercross podium to cap-off his rookie season, MotoOnline.com.au caught up with the charismatic rider to chat about his rookie year experiences, injuries, 2013 plans and more.
After a stellar 2011 season in the Under 19s class, winning the Australian motocross and supercross titles, you carried a lot of confidence into your rookie Lites season. How do you feel that transition went for you and what was the biggest difference stepping into the Lites ranks?
I feel like I went into it confident, and I think I went into it a bit over-confident and underestimated it a little bit – I can realise that now. But I look at it after 2011, I had two ways to go about it. I had to be faster, I had to be two and a half seconds a lap faster, and I also had to be fitter.
So with the moto format that we had, with the two 15s and then the one 30, I decided to be going out and chasing the speed in the off-season, instead of the stamina. So that I could concentrate on getting two moto wins and then work on the 30 once I had my speed, you know?
I just worked on pure speed, I had never done a 30 at all leading up to the first round, I’d just done sprints and stuff like that. I found my speed and stuff like that, went to the first round and showed that I was fast enough, so that was good and I could then work on my endurance.
I went out and did that for a while and then when I started to find form in my 30s, I had an accident and dislocated my hip which put me way back past square one. So that’s what made the year so tough.
Touching on that hip injury you suffered, how much of a toll did that take on your confidence and the improvements you had made throughout the season up to that point?
Yeah, it was major. I mean anybody that’s been through it, or anyone that’s in the sport and saw what Ben Townley went through with it all year. He was out for the entire year – I got six weeks to sit on the couch and that was it.
I came back and I was able to race, it was probably stupid, I probably should have just taken the time and got it right. It’s ended up that it’s fine now, my hip’s fine now.
It’s just at the time I was trying to race and trying to do what I thought I could do for the season, and it’s just not possible when you’ve got an injury like that to carry around with you.
You scored a breakthrough podium ride at Newcastle’s season finale of the 2012 Terex Australian Supercross Championships. How did it feel to finally stand on the box after such a tough season?
It was amazing. It’s always good to be on the box, it’s always good to be able to thank your sponsors, and just for me it felt like it was a long time coming.
It felt like it was something that I thought I should have been able to do all year and I just never really put myself in the right positions to do it. I mean, everyone around me did the right things, I had the right team, the right people there and all that type of thing.
It’s just that I never really made it easy for myself, I wouldn’t qualify good on one day, I’d have a first-turn crash or something would always seem to just not be really going my way.
I believe you make your own luck, and I just don’t think I really made my own luck for most of the year. Until that last round I just sort of let it all hang out, and it turned out it’s what I should have been doing all year.
Do you now feel that you belong in that position and is that where we should expect to see Errol Willis in 2013 after ironing out the bugs from your rookie season program?
Well I don’t want to go down the same path as I did this year and say that I think I can do really well and chase a championship. But I’ve got the same common goal as every other rider on the track.
I’m there to win, I’m there to be on the podium, I’m there to chase the championship, but so is everybody else. I mean, I’m just going to go down the route of how I did with the Under 19s.
If you have a look at my first year of Under 19s, I had one race win and besides that I had nothing – I never even stood on the box or anything like that. Then in my second year I came out and I dominated.
I’m not saying it’s going to be the same, I’m just saying I feel like I’ve learnt a lot from this year. I know I can move forward through the sport with the right people around and hopefully I can get a team on my side to be able to do that.
Finally, speaking of teams, do you have anything lined up as of yet for the 2013 season?
I’ve got nothing really on the table, I’ve got no one saying that, ‘yeah we want to have you’, or anything like that. So I mean it sucks, but that’s the sport and that’s how it goes.
I can accept the fact that I had a bad year, but I know there is a lot more I can do in the sport. Like I said before, there’s those guys that are always going to be good there and I feel like I’ve had my year.
I’ve had a horrible year and if someone can give me the chance to prove myself, I know I can make it a lot better.