Right from the beginning of the 2013 Monster Energy MX Nationals, Austin Politelli was the dominant rider in the MX2 class. He grabbed a healthy amount of points at the first round and never looked back. However, championships never come without some adversity and Politelli had his fair share in the second half of the series. After a bad crash at round five and a case of strep throat at round seven, Politelli dug deep in the final two rounds to claim the title. With the successful summer behind him, he is now training for Supercross and this weekend’s Monster Energy Cup in Las Vegas. For this event, Politelli has been given a tryout ride with the Red Bull KTM Team and he hopes to make the most of it. We caught up with him as he was relaxing after a long day at the test track with his new team.
Q: Hey Austin, what’s going on?
A: Not too much, just came from the grocery store actually and I’m going home to eat dinner and relax.
Q: Have you been doing a lot of testing to get ready for the Monster Cup?
A: Yes definitely, we’ve been working hard to get the bike dialed in. I’m obviously grateful for this opportunity and I want to make the most of it, for sure.
Q: In the past year you’ve ridden some really good bikes. How does the factory KTM compare? Did it take some time to get used to it?
A: Not really, the KTM 350 is an awesome bike and so far I feel really good on it. Coming off a 250F I think it’s good that I’m riding a 350 instead of a 450, but it’s working well and the team has worked hard to help me feel comfortable as well.
Q: Let’s go back to the summer – you were the dominant rider in the MX2 class, especially out west. Were you happy with how the series went? I mean, you won the championship so you must be.
A: Yes, it was good to win the title and get that number one plate. After winning the first three rounds I definitely had the ball rolling. Before the series started my plan was to try to get off to a good start and get the points lead as the series headed east. Looking back I’m glad I did because right from the first eastern round at Gopher Dunes I ran into a few problems and my points lead started to shrink. Things got pretty tense there for a few weeks but in the end I was able to pull it out.
Q: I saw one of your crashes at Gopher when you tangled with that guy and both of you went down hard then you had trouble starting your bike in the heat. I was honestly surprised that you even finished that moto.
A: Yes, that was tough day for everyone I think, but to crash with that guy and then have to kick my bike over for what seemed like an eternity, it was hard. I also hit my head a little in that crash so that didn’t help. I lost a lot of points to Topher that day but that’s racing and things happen. He had a good day at Gopher and he knows the tricks there. I don’t think it was a coincidence that he lined up both motos at the gate beside the box and he grabbed both holeshots. If that’s how you want to do things then go for it.
Q: I think all four holeshots came from the same gate that day so maybe you’re right. So you had a tough day at Gopher, Sand Del Lee was okay but then Deschambault was awful. Can you take us through that day?
A: I think just from all the travelling in the weeks before, my immune system got weak and I ended up getting really sick with strep throat. It was a real tough day to get through and honestly I don’t even know how I did it. There really wasn’t much I could do, I just tried to finish and get through to the next round.
Q: That does sound tough, but you came through in the final two rounds to win the MX2 Championship and that’s all that matters.
A: For sure. In Moncton I felt better and rode really well and then at Walton I crashed in practice and hurt my leg. We weren’t even sure if I was going to be able to ride that day but I needed a few more points to clinch so I just went out and did my best. In the end it all worked out and I won the championship.
Q: Winning a championship is never easy, even Metcalfe had his troubles at some rounds. It must feel good to not only win the title but to win it in the way that you did?
A: Definitely, there were some motos where I got out front and it was pretty relaxed, but at some rounds I really had to dig deep. To know that I did that and won, that feels pretty special. I have to thank the entire Leading Edge Team for helping me through those tough days. It was stressful on them as well.
Q: So you’re racing the Monster Cup this weekend for Red Bull KTM. That sounds like a pretty special deal. How did this ride come about?
A: Well, I’ve known Roger DeCoster for a long time, since my mini days actually. They were just looking for a guy to ride the 350 this weekend so he contacted my Dad and it all get started from there. I had a few decent rides in supercross this year so I think a few people took notice of that, and also winning in Canada this summer was awesome. I started testing with them a month ago and so far it’s gone really well.
Q: What result would make you happy this weekend?
A: Well, I guess first off I have to make the main events. After that, I think if I go out and ride well I can finish top ten or even better in all three main events. If I can get some good starts then I think I can do really well, so we’ll see. At the end of the day it’s a fun race, but I also want to do really well and keep this ride for 2014.
Q: Well Austin, since you’re the MX2 Canadian Champion we’ll all be cheering for you on Saturday. Good luck this weekend and we’ll talk soon.
A: Thanks for calling. Hopefully I can give you guys something to cheer about in Vegas.