Serco Yamaha's dual champion reflects on his stunning SX-Lites series victory.
The 2013 season could not have turned out any better for 21-year-old Serco Yamaha racer Luke Styke.
After claiming the 2013 MX Nationals crown, the kid from Jervis Bay inked a deal to race in Europe, then set about solidifying his position as the fastest Lites racer in the country by claiming a last-gasp championship victory at the final round of the Terex Australian Supercross Championships at Toowoomba.
MotoOnline.com.au caught up with Stykesy as he began a well-earned break to recap both the race and 2013, and find out about his European plans for 2014.
Mate, congrats on what’s been a huge year for you. Winning both the motocross and supercross Lites titles caps off a perfect 2013.
I’m rapt with how the year went, for sure. At the start of the year my main goal was to go out and win the MX Nationals title, then that saw me sign a deal for Europe. Once I had that locked away I just wanted to ride safely through the supercross and not do anything stupid.
But then I got into it and managed to get the red plate at Mount Gambier, and decided I was going to push for the number 1 plate in supercross too.
I dislocated my shoulder in the heats at Phillip Island, but after two weeks I got the all-clear to ride. When I got back on the bike I felt the best I’d ever felt – that break was really good for me.
You entered the final round five points behind Gavin Faith. What was going through your mind, and how did it feel knowing that, to a certain extent, the championship was outside of your control?
Going into last round I didn’t really know what to expect or how I was going to feel. I thought I’d take it as it comes, but after practice I felt super-solid. I thought ‘I can do this and I’m gonna do this’ and didn’t look back.
Out there in the main I didn’t know what was going on behind me until near the end. I expected Gavin to be behind me, but then on the second-to-last lap I started to feel the heat from Harry (Brenden Harrison), who was throwing his front wheel up the inside of me.
I knew then that Gavin was at least third and would have a hard time getting past Harry, but I didn’t relax or let myself think I had it in the bag until I crossed the finish line.
The whole main I was just in the zone. I didn’t see any lap boards and was just super-focused on the race. That feeling only happens at certain races and it was like I just had blinkers on out there.
Looking back on 2013, what’s been the biggest thing you’ve learnt this year?
I think I learnt how to not only win, but to win championships as well. It’s a hard thing to do, but my trainer, Bernie McNeil and I put in a lot of hard work this year.
We’re both learning all the time about my body, strength, nutrition, fitness and stuff. It’s a never-ending journey and we’re constantly trying different things and finding out what works.
Bernie’s been right beside me every step of the way and he’s going to be my practice bike mechanic for the first three months of 2014 for all our pre-season testing here in Australia before I head to Europe.
I have to give a big thanks to Serco Yamaha, Gav [Eales] and the team for all their hard work too. Those boys really are a class team and I can’t thank them enough for everything they did for me this year.
Sweet. So what are your plans for the rest of the year? Are you taking much time off now?
Yeah I’m going to take a month off to give my body and mind time to heal and refresh. When I get back on my bike in a month I’ll be ready to get into it, and I’ll write some stuff down and make plans for 2014.
All through the year I write things down in a book to kinda track my progress and note down things I need to work on. If you think too much about bike technique, fitness, form and stuff you just get lost. Bernie has taught me to write everything down and it helps make everything simpler.
And what are your plans for Europe? Have you got accommodation and everything sorted over there yet?
From mid December to January I’ll ride a stock 250F that I picked up from Yamaha at their YZ250F launch at Toowoomba. I’ll get a feel for the bike, then head to Europe for a month and do some testing and engine development.
I’ll be back in Australia for a month leading up to the first round at Dubai on March 1, because it makes sense to train during our summer for a race that’ll be in 40-degree heat. I spoke to both Dean[Ferris] and Ben Townley and they both said that would be the perfect scenario.
As for accommodation, Dean has given me first dibs on his unit. I’ve bought all the internal stuff from him and I’ll rent it from there. It’s all worked out pretty perfectly.
Sounds like it! Well, enjoy the break, mate, you’ve definitely earned it.
Will do. Thanks mate.