To say that 2020 is an important year for Dylan Wright would be a gross understatement. You see, in any athlete’s career, momentum is extremely important. Once you have it, as Dylan does right now, you definitely don’t want to lose it. As you know, Dylan is coming off a great season last year that saw him win his very first pro national championship. From the beginning of the 2019 Rockstar Energy Triple Crown Series to the end, Wright was the rider to beat, and when all was said and done the GDR Honda rider was named the 250 Triple Crown Champion. Well, that was last year and now Dylan is ready to take on his first season as a 450 rider and as the new team leader on the Honda Racing GDR Fox Team. We caught up with Dylan at Walton Raceway on Friday while he was busy preparing for the MXTour series opener next month.
MXP: Other than maybe a couple of years ago in Quebec City, this is the first time I’ve seen you ride a 450. You look pretty good on the big bike, how was practice today at Walton?
DW: We had a good day today. The Walton crew did some good work to the track, and some parts were pretty rough and rutted. I had my mechanic, Justin, and new suspension guy Colton Facciotti here helping me test some chassis and suspension settings. Also, my teammate, Tanner Ward, was riding so it was a good ‘Team’ day. We got a lot done today.
I noticed you were going back and forth between bikes today. Did each bike have a different set-up?
Yeah, we had two bikes here, and right now I’m kind of in between set-ups so we wanted to compare them on a National track that we’re going to be racing on this summer. One set-up does some things well and the other is better in other areas, so we’re just trying to find that perfect balance.
It was good that the Walton crew had this type of day, and it was great to see a decent group of fast pros out here riding. It was kind of like the stop watch nationals as all of your crews were recording lap times all day.
It was great to get out today and ride with some fast guys. For the past few months, we’ve only really been riding by ourselves. It gives you a slight idea of where you’re at because there was a little bit of intensity out there.
We know these past few months have been difficult on everyone, including pro riders who mostly rely on racing to make a living. What have you been doing to keep busy and to keep from getting really frustrated?
I think the most difficult thing for us is just the uncertainty with not knowing when we’re going to go racing. When I went down south after Christmas, I obviously had a plan to get ready for the opening round of the AXTour, which was supposed to be back in April. So, you’re training and you have a specific date in mind that you know you have to be ready for. Then that date gets changed and the AXTour gets postponed so you have to start thinking about the MXTour. But you don’t know when that is going to start. So, it’s just been that and trying to nail down when you have to peak and be ready for the gate to drop. Thankfully, I have a great trainer and a great team of people around me so I’m well looked after. Now we have a firm date for the opening round so it’s time to build towards that.
I know from talking to a few riders and trainers in the USA that they decided to treat some of this time as a mini off-season and they just chilled and took time off from the daily grind. Did you do the same?
That is exactly what I did! When we thought there was still a chance that the series would begin in Calgary last weekend, we kept training and working hard to be ready. However, as soon as those western rounds were cancelled, I just shut things down and took some time off. But now I’m back and it’s time to get ready for Gopher Dunes next month.
It sounds like you guys are finally going to go racing on July 25th at Gopher Dunes, so that’s great news. Has this delay been tougher on you mentally or physically?
I would say it’s been tougher mentally as I hate waiting for stuff to happen. Physically, I’ve been ready to go for a while now. I could race today if that was the case. So yeah, just the waiting and trying to stay positive and focused has been the hardest part, for me anyway.
I know for me personally there have been a few positives to come out of this lock down. You just mentioned trying to remain positive yourself. Have you been able to find some good out these crazy times?
For sure, I mean it hasn’t been all bad as we’ve had valuable downtime during this time of the year. Usually we’re wide open during May and June, and so far, it’s been nice to have some time to slow down. Also, from a bike point of view, with this being my first year on a 450 it’s been great to have this extra time to test and get things ready. But I definitely feel like enough is enough and it’s time to go racing.
Going back to your winter training down south. You spent a lot of time at Ricky Carmichael’s track training with his mom. How was that experience?
It was great and very challenging at the same time. I’ve never trained like that before, the way she does things, it was different than anything I’ve done. But it was what I think I needed and it definitely made me a better rider.
What types of things does she do with her riders?
Instead of doing straight motos she mostly does sections and things like that. And to keep all of the riders accountable she gets her watch out and times each section. So not only are you practicing technique but you’re also tying to do it fast. Also, she’s not afraid to stop you and give you crap about something. She’s also very supportive and obviously helpful. I still text her from time to time to give her updates. It was a great experience for Tanner and I to train there and I cannot wait to go back.
Did it bring you back to when your mom used to give you crap?
(Laughs) A little bit. The only difference was that my Mom used to give me crap at home and not at the track, that was my dad’s job!
Overall, how has the 450 riding been going?
Everything has been great so far. I really like the bike, and with being a little heavier and stronger I think it suits my riding style really well. The last few years on the 250 I always felt like I had to ride it really hard to go fast, but on the 450 I can be a little smoother. So yeah, everything is great and now I’m just waiting to go racing.
Looking ahead to the series, as a rookie in the 450 class I feel like the schedule fits you perfectly. No long flights out west or time zone changes to add to the stress, just 15 motos on tracks that you’ve won on before…well, except Moto Park, but I think you’ve won Intermediate races there before.
I couldn’t agree with you more, the series sets up really well for me, and for all of the eastern riders really. Five rounds in seven weeks is good for me. Get it going and get it done. Hopefully the MXTour goes well and then we can have a successful fall indoor season. I think once the series does begin at Gopher Dunes it’s going to be pretty busy until the final Triple Crown race in Hamilton.
With the US Outdoor Series beginning a week before Round 1 at Gopher Dunes, are there any plans to go to Indiana to race the opening round of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship?
I’d love to but I don’t think the timing will work. It would be fun but it would also be a big risk for me to take. I think I have a great shot at winning races up here this summer so the focus is solely on that. Maybe in the fall if there are some races close to home we can go and do them, but we’ll have to see.
Well Dylan, thanks for doing this interview. I think we did a great job of talking while still maintaining some social distancing. Good luck this summer and hopefully we see you out at a couple of the upcoming AMO races.
I think I’ll plan to hit a couple of them here in the next few weeks. Thanks for the chat and we’ll talk soon.