Interview: Aldon Baker on RV, Weimer, and Rattray
by Racer X Virtual Trainer
Aldon Baker is the man responsible for making sure his riders (currently Ryan Villopoto, Jake Weimer, and Tyla Rattray) are fit and ready for battle. Although we are only three races into the 2013 supercross campaign, Aldon and his riders have seen the highs and lows of the sport. Ryan Villopoto's season didn't exactly start with a bang (16th at Anaheim 1) but since then RV has rebounded with a 2nd and 1st in the last two rounds and sits in 4th place overall. Jake Weimer has had a good start to the season but is now battling off the track gremlins in the form of a cough and fever. And Aldon explains what is wrong with Tyla Rattray and what they are doing to fix the problem.
RV rebounded big-time in Phoenix with a 2nd overall.
Virtual Trainer: Hey Aldon, thanks for taking the time to chat a bit today. So, tell me how has the season has gone so far in your opinion. RV, Weimer, and Tyla have had some ups and downs but all three are still in the points chase.
Aldon Baker: Well, from my end things didn't start off as well as I would have liked to see. Jake was okay but Ryan and Tyla had tough evenings at A1. Its tough, you know when you're put in a bad position its always hard to dig yourself out of that hole. But each of the guys are figuring out some things that can only be figured out when you go racing. Its tough to figure everything out on test tracks. They are hard as concrete and one lined so they aren't a perfect reflection of what the actual race track is like. I mean, the only real way to test something is to go racing. With RV specifically, the team is definitely figuring some things out with that new Showa air forks. The suspension is overall a better setup for sure but it takes a little while to figure it all out and get it set right for each riders needs.
Well, Ryan certainly had a rough start at A1 but since then he seems to be finding his groove with a 2nd at Phoenix and a win last week. He sits 4th in the points heading into Oakland. Talk a little about A1 and the troubles Ryan faced. Was it nerves and the excitement of the new season?
Well I don't think it had too much to do with nerves. Like I said, when you get a bad start and put yourself in a bad situation I think Ryan started to rush things because he knew where he wanted to be. I think if he would have calmed down just a little things would have been a little better. Definitely would have liked to not have had three crashes like that. I think he was trying a little too hard and by the end of the evening trying to make passes in areas that earlier in the night would have worked. The track got slick and the inside lines that he likes to work, and is good at, where harder to make work. The first crash bent the bars pretty bad so trying to ride the bike like that is never easy. Then in the second crash the fuel cap came off and he got gas all over his gloves. Things just started to pile up and it was a mess. We are lucky he got out of there without an injury.
I was a little concerned in the crash he had with Stewart that he hit his head. He was riding like a dazed rider and I thought maybe he had another concussion similar to the one he sustained at the Monster Energy Cup.
Yea, at Monster Cup he definitely hit his head. He even said he felt little groggy afterwards. That is why he didn't come back out and race that night. But at A1 we talked about it after the race and he didn't feel like he hit his head again. He didn't have any symptoms or anything like that. The only thing he said was his leg hurt a bit from where he has all that metal in his ankle. He said it just ached like he banged it real hard. But he didn't feel like at any point that he hit his head. He actually said he landed on a tough block which may have made the crash a little easier. But once you bend those bars the bike is just hard to ride. And once he started charging, one thing lead to another and things just got worse. But we have learned a lot since A1 and I'm pretty happy with where we are now.
For sure. 4th overall after a 16 place in the opening round is great. Let's talk a little about Jake. I was surprised when I looked at the results that he is actually behind RV in the points and sits 6th overall. He has had some solid rides with a 5th, 6th and 5th last week so I sort of expected him to be ahead of Ryan.
Yea, for sure he is doing pretty good so far. The bummer about this weekend is he was battling an illness that he actually picked up before Phoenix. Unfortunately it has got worse and developed into pneumonia, so he has to really take it easy until he is over that. Actually, I've heard that a few of the riders have been sick.
Tyla (left) and RV (right) enjoy some training time at the Anaheim 1 Specialized ride day.
Yea, these guys need to stop kissing after the races and passing around their germs (laughs).
Yea, I know (laughs)! There isn't much you can do but back it down a bit and get over it. It's tough for these guys to stay away from illness because the night before a race they have dealer signings and stuff where they are shaking all kinds of people's hands. And man, that is just not good. We try to wash hands and all that the best we can but somethings are just hard to avoid. Plus, these guys are usually a little immunocompromised since their bodies are always so beat down and in recovery mode. Especially after a race: it's cold outside, it's late, they are tired. So it's tough. But overall for Jake he has done well so far but it hasn't been easy on him. But I like the position he is in.
Let's talk a bit about Tyla. On the surface it would appear he is doing oaky with an 8th, 12th and an 8th. He sits in 6th overall which is a great position to be in but it just seems like something is a bit off.
Well, for sure Tyla is struggling a bit. He has not looked as good this year as he did last year. He was riding so well before and then he cracked a bone in his neck and that was it. And that injury happened at Oakland so he wasn't that far into the season and still now lacks a lot of actual Supercross race experience. Right now, Tyla is battling with confidence in his setup and that is a big concern at the moment. We have talked about it quite a bit and he just feels like he cannot push like he wants. He was nervous at Phoenix with that quad and didn't want to take the chance and hit that. Davalos and Baggett both ate it on that thing. I think at this point he is just not real comfortable with the bike setup and that is making him nervous that he doesn't trust the bike. The team has been testing and working real hard this week with him to get him feeling more comfortable. I have a good feeling that they will get it sorted out . But most people don't realize that he doesn't really have all that much race experience. He has raced two West coast SX series and he hasn't finished either one due to injury. There are only 9 rounds in the 250 series and I'll bet he has only completed 9 races in two years.
So he is still pretty green out on the track.
Exactly and you can only get so much confidence riding a practice track. You cannot push like you have to during a race. The practice tracks are usually hard as concrete, bone dry, and one lined. So most of the learning on a SX track has to come from racing. It's also tough because during testing the rider can only push so hard and the bike gets set up that way. But in a race when they are pushing harder, the bike reacts so different and its hard to set up just right to give the rider that confidence that it will react the way they want. So with Tyla right now he is just not confident the bike is going to do exactly what he wants it to do so he is riding a little nervous. But he is figuring it out and I'm sure he will get better and better each week. I think Tyla is gong to be fine, we just need to put some races together and gain that experience.
Yea, and speaking of doing fine, what do you think about Tomac?
Wow, what can you say. That guy is on another level right now. He is riding great and is just unreal right now. The other thing about Eli is he raced against Jake at Bercy on a 450 and then the Monster Cup on a 450. I always say, if you ride a 450 and then back it down to a 250 you can really rip it. I had a feeling Tomac was going to do well since he rode that 450 so well at Bercy and MEC. Rokzen is riding good but Eli is just on another level right now. He seems to have that prefect fit right now with his riding abilities and bike setup. I think people don't realize sometimes just how hard that is to find.
Speaking of other riders, I realize you don't know the exact extend of James Stewart's ACL but how debilitating is a torn ACL to a professional rider?
Well, it all depends on how bad the thing is torn. It all comes down to stability and confidence. If his PCL and MCL are still stable then the rider should be good to go but if everything else is torn apart then it can definitely slow the rider down. The problem is if you keep on catching your leg and eventually blow through the meniscus you have bone on bone and then it's over. The pain is just too high. I can't comment on what is actually happening with James but something is definitely holding him back. It's strange though because in practice he can still put down that fast lap and be right at the top of the board. But in the mains he is obviously holding back and I can only guess that the knee is the problem, either because it is really torn up or he just doesn't have the confidence to put his leg out and risk catching it again and completely blowing the thing out. Without knowing exactly what the extent of the injury is, it's hard to speculate on the actual problem.
Well, Aldon as always, thanks for your insight on your riders. Its always good to hear from you.
No problem, Mate. Anytime!
That's it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness.