Features 4 Nov 2020

Conversation: Justin Brayton

Penrite Honda Racing signing on what's to come in Supercross 2021.

Following a single year at Team Honda HRC, Justin Brayton has found a fitting home for 2021 as he partners with Penrite Honda Racing in the premier 450SX class of Monster Energy Supercross. A four-time Australian Supercross Championship and last year’s AUS-X Open winner, it’s a perfect match for both Brayton and the Yarrive Konsky-owned team that first made the step into US competition earlier this year. We spoke to him in detail about the deal and his thoughts on next season’s schedule.

Image: Octopi Media.

Your future has been confirmed for 2021 with Penrite Honda, the same team that you have had so much success with in Australia with four-straight championships. Tell us about that, I’m sure it’s an exciting time for you.

I’m super-excited, working closely with Yarrive and his whole team down in Australia for the past four years, I really got to know the team well, knowing what they’re all about. When he made a push to come here to America in 2020, I thought it was really cool and his passion for the sport speaks volumes. Yarrive thinks big, he thinks like me in a sense, which you just don’t feel like there’s any limits – that’s why he and I get along so well. Obviously, being with American Honda this year in Supercross, riding for the factory team, I was still close with Yarrive and the Penrite guys. We’ve always talked about doing something in America. We never knew for sure if we’d get the right support or if it could ever happen, but if there was ever a way to make it happen, we were going to do it. We’ve been working on it a long time and yeah, we’re going racing here in America and in Australia. We’ve got an awesome program put together and it works well for me, having some continuity with the same team. I’m excited about it.

You’re highly experienced and really well respected within the sport, so from speaking to Yarrive, it seems as though you’ve had a major influence on helping the Penrite team get established in the US, helping open doors and that kind of thing.

Yarrive is a genius when it comes to the marketing side and sponsorship side, so I just open some of those doors and get him introduced to the right people. Racing for as long as I have, I know a lot of people in the sport and the right people to talk to at each company. That’s been really fun for me, to be super-involved and we talk pretty much daily to try and put all this together, get all the pieces of the puzzle to connect where it makes sense for me and also for him as well. I feel like we work well together and that I know what it takes over here to truly make something work, because he’s obviously got the Australian thing mastered. But it’s also very similar once you know the right people, get the right pieces and parts for the motorcycle and understand the landscape of it all such as travel and things like that. The older I get, the more I enjoy to help programs get to the best level and essentially be kind of a team manager and rider, you know? It’s been quite fun.

There’s obviously a new Honda on the way for 2021, so do you know what specification you guys will have to work with at this point?

My relationship with American Honda’s really good, obviously riding for the team this year, I know a lot of guys there. The 2021 model is quite different, so I haven’t actually ridden one yet, but we’re hoping to get them here in the next couple of weeks. If I need any assistance, if we have any questions, we can go right to them and get those questions answered. As far as pieces and parts to the motorcycle, we’re just going to have to wait and see. If I get on and feel that we need specific parts that will make it better, I don’t know what exactly that looks like. We’ll have good support from everybody that we need to get support from and my bike will be as good as any other bike out there.

Image: Foremost Media.

Before we wrap this up, what were your thoughts on the new Supercross schedule released for next year? It’s obviously really unique, but super-exciting to see it coming together for hopefully 17 rounds.

I think it’s great that we’re going racing. We can all be so happy and thankful that Feld Motor Sports has put together a race series for us to have teams and riders show up and do their job, but also I think it’s awesome to see change. I’ve been riding for a long time now racing for a long time, so for me, I love to see the change. I think it’s going to be great to race, you know up to three times in some of the cities and two in others, then one at Daytona, but yeah, I think it’s cool. I think to mix it up, it’s actually going to be fun for the teams to hang around the same city for a week at a time and just kind of hang out in really low stress on a couple of those days, because it’s such a high pressure deal at the Supercross races that you don’t really get much downtime to just speak to your friends and things within the paddock, so I think it’ll be fun and you’d meet all at the same time. For me, racing so long like I said, it’s nice to just mix it up and not have to fly in on Friday and fly out on Sunday, something I’ve done for 15 years.

You mentioned the Australian Supercross Championship, which hopefully will be back for 2021, and you’re also the current AUS-X Open winner from last year, so that’s definitely part of the plans?

That’s definitely in the plans. The Supercross series is in Australia plans definitely for two more years in 2021 and 2022 and then we’ll just kind of see after that, but yeah, hopefully the travel bans are lifted. I know speaking with Adam Bailey and the guys, sounds like they’re eager and ready to have the best championship in a long time, so it’s cool to still see them excited, motivated, and, like I said earlier, kind of part of my yearly deal that this year I’m missing out on it, missing everyone in Australia, but also excited and eager to get back there and hopefully get number five and yet to be defending AUS-X Open champ, that was a big kick for me last year to finally get that race [laughs]. I’d been so close for a few years now, to finally win that, the race and championship at that last round was, was pretty special. Excited to get back there and see all my friends and fans and everybody. Yeah, it’ll be here before we know it.