Exactly one year ago, Dean Wilson’s racing career was completely up in the air. After two reconstructive knee surgeries in two years, Dean was left without a ride and with very few options. However, after buying two Yamahas and getting a little support from just a few trusted sponsors, Dean hit the opening rounds of the 2017 Monster Energy Supercross Series with a vengeance. In those opening rounds last year, Dean was able to secure some consistent results and in the process garnered the attention of the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Team. Under the leadership of Team Manager Bobby Hewitt, the Husqvarna team signed Dean for the rest of the season, and re-signed him for 2018 and 2019. As Dean is now preparing for the 2018 season, he obviously feels much better about the situation he’s in now compared to last year. However, as he tells us in this interview, right now he’s even more motivated than ever before.
MXP: Hey Dean, as we sit here at the 2018 Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Team launch, you must feel a lot better than you did last year at this time?
DW: For sure Palms, you know last year at this time I wasn’t even sure if I was going racing. I had a few Yamahas and I was riding and training really hard to be ready for the supercross series, but I wasn’t sure what races I would do or how things were going to work out. Fast forward to now, and obviously I’m in a much different place both mentally and physically.
MXP: It must be very satisfying knowing that you’re back on a factory team for 2018.
DW: Well, yes and no! On one hand I feel different because I’m not dealing with the stress of trying to find a way to the races, but honestly on the other hand, I feel just as motivated as I did heading into 2017. Yes, I have a great ride on a great team and I’m very excited for 2018, but I still feel like I have so much to prove. I’m doing everything I can to be ready for next season.
MXP: Although your story had its share of adversity with not just one but two very serious knee injuries, you must feel really proud for coming back and getting yourself into the position you are now.
DW: Without a doubt. It was a nightmare going through those injuries and the recovery involved. I know injuries are part of this sport and everyone has to deal with them, but there were definitely some pretty dark days as I pondered my future. However, I tried to stay positive and do all of the thing I could to recover and get strong. Regardless of how talented you are, nothing takes the place of hard work, and that was the mindset I took into my comeback last year. So yes, I’m very proud of getting back to where I am right now, but like I said, I feel like I still have a long way to go.
MXP: Heading into next month’s opening round of the 2018 Monster Energy Supercross Series, how has the preparation been going?
DW: Everything has been going good so far. We’ve had a few hours on the new Husqvarna, and now with a month to go, we’re just going to head back to Florida and finish things up. I feel great right now, and really, if the season started tomorrow I would be ready. We just need a little more testing with this new bike then we’ll be good to go.
MXP: Recently you’ve added world traveller to your resume. Take us through your trip to Australia, and then to Paris.
DW: It was pretty cool and pretty tiring (laughs) at the same time. We headed down under for the Aus-X Open SX and it went pretty well, actually. I was able to get a win on the Saturday night, which was very cool. From there, we flew to Paris for the Paris SX and then back to California for some more testing. So it was pretty much around the world in ten days.
MXP: Obviously, everyone knows how far Australia is from here and how tired you’d be after flying all of that way. As a rider, how did you deal with the jet lag yet still compete at a high level?
DW: It definitely wasn’t easy, that’s for sure. There are things you can do to ease the effects of jet lag, but at the end of the day you just have to fight through it. The good thing was that I actually felt great when I was riding so that made racing okay. I think you just try to stay hydrated, sleep as much as you can and just deal with it.
MXP: Then from Australia, you went to Singapore and then onto to Paris.
DW: Yes, our flights got a little messed up so we were stranded in Singapore for a full day before going to Paris. It was okay though, we made the most of it and got to see a little bit of the city. The trip was tiring, but at the same time I love travelling and I wouldn’t change a thing.
MXP: Okay, let’s talk for a second about this new 2018 Rockstar Edition FC450 Husqvarna. This is an all-new bike for 2018 and everyone is very excited about it. You mentioned that you don’t have a lot of time on it. What are you initial thoughts on the new FC450?
DW: Yes, we haven’t had too much time on it but that will change here in the next few weeks. So far, though, I really love the new bike and I cannot wait to race it next year. I think we’re going to have the best bikes on the track, and there’s no reason why Jason and I shouldn’t be up front each weekend.
MXP: At this level you spend so much time practicing during the week. Is your practice bike the same bike as your race bike or is it a little different?
DW: You know that is a good question and I’m glad you asked me that. That is one of the things I love about the Husqvarna Team and the bikes in general. These bikes stock are so good that we actually don’t do a lot to them when we turn them into our race bikes. Obviously there are a few things we update, but you’d be surprised how little we do. So having said that, my practice bike is pretty much the same as my race bike. This makes the transition on race days that much easier, without a doubt.
MXP: We’re now less than a month from Anaheim 1. When you think about this race, what are your thoughts?
DW: As important as it is to get off to a good start in 2018, Anaheim 1 really doesn’t matter too much as far as the series goes. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’d love to win it, but my goal is to just be consistent and be a top five rider each week. We’ve seen so many times over the years that the rider who wins the opening round doesn’t go on to win the championship. The supercross series is such a grind that you have to just stay focused and remain as consistent as possible. With the format changes next year, it’s going to be even more challenging to stay inside the top five each week.
MXP: Well Dean, everyone in Canada is pulling for you to stay healthy and to win some races in 2018. With the way you’ve battled back from adversity, you have certainly set a great example for every rider out there. Good luck in 2018 and thanks for taking the time to chat.
DW: Thanks Palms! I appreciate you taking the time to chat with me. I love all of my Canadian fans and I hope I can make them proud next year. We’ve worked hard to get here and we’ll keep it going as we head into 2018. Merry Christmas to everyone and we’ll see you in 2018!