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I got a hold of Mike Alessi as he was hanging out in his motorhome in a Walmart parking lot on his way to Quebec.
Longname – Have you been driving across Canada in the motorhome?
Alessi – No, it’s just for the next six races. I flew to a lot of the races last year but I got really screwed at two different races. One of them I didn’t show up until like 2 in the morning on race day, so I hardly got any sleep and obviously, I didn’t race well. So I just said screw it this year I’m just going to drive and not have to worry about flights when it comes to weather and cancellations.
Longname – What did you do on the off week just before Gopher Dunes?
Alessi – Well on the off weekend my wife, practice mechanic Nick and I came up here and set up the bike and got all the kinks worked out on my practice bike. I feel like we put in a good solid 3 days. I got some good moto’s in and I felt like the preparation was good. On the Saturday before the race, I kind of told the team that my practice bike was turn key, and everything was great on it, and I told them that if I race this bike tomorrow I have a good chance at winning, but if I race my race bike that I raced in Regina it’s possible I might not win. It’s just because I haven’t felt all that comfortable on the race bike the first couple rounds. But on my practice bike, I just ride it much better. The team wasn’t too sure about it at first but I had to make sure that they knew the bike was ready to go. So we all agreed to let me race my practice bike and it paid off big-time and it gave us the win this past weekend. I’m happy, the momentum is starting to come back and it feels good.
Longname – Gopher Dunes has always been known to be a rough track but this year it looked rougher than past years, what did you think about it?
Alessi – Honestly I don’t care who you are, gopher is the roughest track I have ever raced by far. This weekend was just nasty! Everything that you have nightmares about when it comes to tracks, this was pretty much it. It was definitely gnarly
Longname – You’ve raced in Canada a few years now, what about it makes you want to come back each year?
Alessi – The people here are awesome, the weather is just always perfect on race day, people are just super pleasant, and it’s just a good time. The best way I can explain it to people is that in America you can’t just walk into another competitors rig and they be okay with it, they would give you death stares if you come into their pit. But here in Canada you can just walk into another competitive semi you know, kick up your feet and if you want to drink or a sandwich it’s cool. It’s just the people totally welcome you into their pits. Just the hospitality, the people, the weather, all combined just makes it relaxing. At the end of the day that is the reason, we all started racing and riding motorcycles in the first place, because it’s fun.
Longname – Yeah that’s what I’ve been hearing a lot from Americans, it’s more cut-throat at the races down there. What are your overall thoughts about this weekend?
Alessi – I was really impressed with not just but the track but with the whole landscape of the way that Gopher Dunes is run by Frank and Derek, they do such a tight job putting on a great race. At the end of the day, everyone knows that Gopher is the gnarliest track probably (paused) in the world I would say. I was thoroughly impressed by the way they had everything set up with the track conditions, the banners, the flaggers. It seemed like it all went perfectly smooth and it had a great turnout of people. It was just a great weekend with great weather so I definitely can’t complain.
Longname – In moto 1 how aware were you of Goerke’s position through the moto late in the moto when he was catching up? And what happened when you went off the track?
Alessi – Yeah I didn’t know he crashed in the first turn and caught up all the way back to 3rd. But with less than two laps to go I got a nasty kick in the rollers, I mean I completely swapped sideways, I literally saw the rear of my motorcycle in front of me. For the life of me, I don’t know how I saved it. Then I went flying off the track like sideways. I put my hand up in the air kind of in this sense that I surrendered my spot because I didn’t want to get disqualified, so as I did that Matt went by. Then I brought it back on the track in third and that’s where I finished.
Longname – Yeah you could tell at the end of that moto a lot of the guys were beat and making a lot of mistakes. So rather be safe and sorry kind of thing.
Alessi – Yeah exactly. And at that point in the race with two laps to go I mean all you really do is try to hold on that position. But at the end of the day you got to be smart and think that there is still a second moto I got to go ride on this gnarly track and if I don’t have the energy and strength to do it because I’m going to push all out on the last two laps to hold on to one position, honestly it’s not worth it. You got to save a little bit for the second Moto. After I made that mistake I kind of backed it down and said just give me a 3rd and we can manage it and still possibly win the overall with a win in the second moto, and that’s what I did. I put myself in a good position with a second off the start and got by Colton pretty fast off the finish line. Then I just pinned it and rode a great race. The team was really good with the pit board letting me know my lap times and the gap to 2nd. At one point I had a 16 or 17 second led so I knew I could kind of manage it then. At about four laps to go, I started to slow down a little bit. I was able to manage it and bring it home and get my first win for not just myself this year, but for the first win for the Kawasaki team in over 3 years. It felt good just to get the monkey off the back for me and for my team as well. Everybody at Monster Energy Alpinestar Kawasaki has been doing such a great job and Parts Canada, Scott goggles, HTC helmets, Frenchie my mechanic, C4mx, Race Tech, Marin bicycle, Dunlop tires, Nut Up, I got a great group of sponsors that have supported me this year. I’m looking forward to the next five races. So we’ll see what happens but we’re going to give it our all these next 10 Moto’s and see where it lands us in the championship overall.
Longname – So now that we’re halfway through the season are you starting to think more about points each race?
Alessi – I’ll be completely honest, the points to me don’t even matter because I started off so slow at the beginning of the season. Like coming into Kamloops I didn’t have a lot of prep time, I literally only rode the bike like 2 or 3 weeks prior to the first round. I didn’t come in fully prepared when it comes to fitness, intensity, and my bike setup. So the first four rounds were a little bit of a struggle and we lost a few points to the guys that are ahead of me now. But at the end of the day, there’s a lot of motos still to come. I’m not worried about the points I’m just taking it race-by-race, moto by moto, lap by lap. I’ll just see where that puts me at the end of the season.
Longname – So you would say that was what you are missing in the early rounds just wasn’t prepared with fitness and other prep? And is that clicked for you in the last 2 rounds?
Alessi – Yeah it’s not really an excuse, it’s just fact, that’s all it really is at the end of the day. And it’s really no one’s doing other than myself because I got hurt in Supercross at the end of March, so I wasn’t able to ride all of April. I didn’t start riding again until the Monday after Vegas Supercross on May 8th. So from there to round 1 at Kamloops was only 4 weeks, so we’re talking two or three weeks of riding to be ready for the first race. I’m riding by myself so when you’re riding by yourself you feel good and fast so I was like I was ready to go, and I’m going to win. Then you get to the first round it’s like wow it’s a big eye opener, the intensity is way higher than I thought the speed is way faster than I thought and you realize real quick that maybe I wasn’t ready and prepared enough. And that’s just kind of how it goes. You know Rome wasn’t built in a day, it takes time and effort, and with time you just get stronger and fitter. That’s kind of where we’re at in this moment. I’m just getting stronger every week and I’m putting my time during the week with my motos and bicycle rides. I’m just steadily getting better and better each week and it’s been showing on the track in my results.