Coming into the 2021 Triple Crown Series Honda Canada GDR Fox Racing rider Dylan Wright is your defending 450 class champion. As you may remember, last summer Dylan dominated his rookie year in the 450 class and beat out veteran riders like Phil Nicoletti and Matt Goerke to win his first-ever big bike championship. It was a special year for Dylan and his team and one that they will never forget. However, with the opening round of this new season being less than 48 hours away, the GDR Team is now focused on 2021. We caught up with Dylan Wright as he was making the final preparations for his sophomore 450 season.
MXP: Well Dylan, we’re less than two days away from the opening round at Walton Raceway. I guess the golden question is how are you feeling?
DW: Hey Palms! I feel good and ready to go. It’s been a long off-season and I think I speak for all of the riders when I say that it’s time to go racing!
It’s has been a long off-season as the last time you guys all raced together was in September. It’s been over nine months since the 2020 Triple Crown ended at Gopher Dunes last year. So, everyone, including yourself has had more than enough time to prepare. You raced a few weeks back at Gopher Dunes and had a slight mishap while leading the opening Pro moto. How is the body feeling right now?
Yeah, I made a dumb little mistake and ended up catching my foot and tweaking my knee pretty good. Unfortunately, I couldn’t ride the rest of the day, and then on Monday after the race, I went to see my doctor in Ottawa and he gave his assessment. We did some rehab and strengthening and a couple of weeks ago I was able to start riding again and so far it’s been good. Thankfully, it was just a tweak and since I’ve been back on the bike the knee is feeling strong.
Well, that is good news! You mentioned feeling good on the bike. For 2021 Honda has an all-new CRF450R and we’ve seen this bike have a lot of success thus far in the USA and Europe. How has testing been going and are you comfortable on the new bike?
The new CRF450R has been great and in the past few weeks, we’ve really fine-tuned it to how I like my bike set-up. When I went to ClubMX in the winter we hadn’t done any testing so I started off by running a few of my settings from last year. With this being an all-new bike my old settings were a little off and I struggled a bit down south. However, since I’ve been back we’ve been working hard to get the bike right and now I think we’re exactly where we need to be. I actually had Colton dust off his Fox boots the other day and take my race bike out for a few laps. He thought it was great and that we’re on the right track. So yes, new bike, new number, but hopefully we can have the same results as last year.
That’s great news about your bike as I know the first year of a new bike can be a real challenge. So the bike is good, physically you’re feeling race-ready, how are you feeling mentally compared to this time last year. You’re the defending 450 class champion and the rider that everyone will be gunning for once the gate drops?
Obviously, I’m in a different position than I was last year with having the #1 plate. But nothing has changed as far as how I feel or the work I’ve put in during the off-season. I worked hard last year to be ready and I’ve done even more this year. I think as defending champion all you can do is put in the work and do everything you can to be ready. You can’t control what other riders are doing or what they’re thinking. I’m sure my competition has done the work also so it’s just up to me and my team to go out and do the best we can. As an athlete, you just have to believe that when the time comes you’re best is good enough to get the job done. Heading into this weekend at Walton Raceway I don’t feel any different than I did last year. It doesn’t matter what number or colour background I have, when the gate drops I’m going to race as hard as I can. That’s just me!
Speaking of Walton Raceway. For the first time, the Triple Crown Series is starting at Walton. You’ve had a lot of success there both as a pro and as an amateur, are you excited about beginning the series at Walton?
Yes, Walton has always been good to me and I have a lot of fond memories of going there as an amateur and racing at the TransCan. I really enjoyed racing the 450 there last year so hopefully it’s the same this summer. With the deep ruts and tacky dirt, Walton is a fun track and if you have the right technique and set-up it can be a lot of fun. Honestly though, as I said, it’s been such a long off-season I don’t care where we go racing right now, I just want to go racing!
For sure Dylan! What are your thoughts on the format changes for this weekend? On Friday, the motos don’t start until later in the afternoon and then don’t finish until late. Then on Sunday, they’re running three shorter mots in each class. Do you think either of these changes will affect the results this weekend?
I don’t think having the motos later on Friday will affect too much. For me, I ride at different times during the day anyway so it doesn’t matter when the motos are. Also, I’m not a big eater on race days as it is so having a late final moto isn’t going to bother me. I’ll probably just eat a bigger breakfast on Friday morning and go from there.
As far as the shorter motos on Sunday. This could change the results a little as I’m sure a few of the riders will be able to run at a fast pace for 15 minutes. I like long motos but I also like to sprint so as long as I can get off to a decent start then things should be okay. I like that the series is trying a few different things to try and make the opening weekend a little more exciting. I’m sure everything will work out and the fastest riders are still going to do well. The one change that I’m really looking forward to is having fans at the races. This is going to be awesome and they were definitely missed last summer.
I think this is going to be a great weekend and I think the entire country is excited to see you guys go racing. As you said, it’s been a long time!
For sure, we’re all racers and at the end of the day, we just want to race. I’m looking forward to getting that first gate drop out of the way and get the series rolling. There are a few fast riders who no doubt want to take my #1 away from me so getting off to a solid start on Friday will be important.
Thanks for your time Dylan and we’ll see you tomorrow at Walton.
Yes for sure. I can’t wait to drive into the track tomorrow and see everything set up. Thanks for calling Palms, it should be another exciting summer of racing!