Yamaha Motor Canada Presents MXP Chatter With Mike Alessi and Jacob Hayes

This weekend at Gopher Dunes, the riders who lined up were absolute warriors. Not only did they have to battle the incredibly rough track, but they also had to battle their inner voice that most likely told them to quit about 50 times per lap. One of the riders that found a way to dig deep and persevere was Monster Energy Alpinestar Kawasaki’s Mike Alessi. After finishing third in Moto 1, Alessi grabbed the early lead in Moto 2 and never looked back. It was an amazing performance and one that, as you will read in this interview, has been a long time coming. After his podium celebration, Alessi was gracious enough to invite me into his motorhome so we could sit in the A/C and conduct this interview. I got lucky as not only was Alessi there, but so was his MX2 teammate, Jacob Hayes. Here is our chat for this week’s Yamaha Motor Canada MXP Chatter.

MXP: Okay, who wants to talk first?

Jacob Hayes: I can go first.

MXP: Well, you had a good second moto today, you led for a few laps so that must’ve been cool?

Hayes: That was good, I actually felt pretty good going into Moto 2 because I DNF’d the first moto so I was still somewhat fresh.

MXP: What happened in the first moto?

Hayes: It was something to do with the shock, it all of the sudden went away and the bike was unrideable. On a track like this there was no way I could continue, so I just pulled off and got ready for Moto 2.

Jacob Hayes DNF’d the first MX2 moto with a shock problem, but in Moto 2 he came back strong and led some of the race. Photo by James Lissimore

MXP: It was cool to see you up front in Moto 2.

Hayes: We went with a shock that I’ve never used before so the bike definitely felt strange. But, I passed a few guys early and got into the lead and tried to stay smooth. Honestly, though, just after halfway I was worn out and it was hard to hang on. From there, I just backed it down and rode it home to fifth. It’s frustrating because I just can’t seem to get any momentum in this series. Before I crashed in Regina I felt like I had some, but then I lost it when I crashed.

MXP: Well, Gopher Dunes is a hard place to build anything as you’re mostly just trying to get through the day.

Hayes: Exactly! We’ll figure things out here soon and go on from there.

MXP: Mike, speaking of momentum, it’s interesting because you came into Round 5 with a little bit of jam. Two weeks ago in Regina you led the second moto for over 20 minutes, so that had to have given you confidence. You looked great in practice today and then carried it right through the day.

Alessi: First off, I really do want to thank my wife and family, my team, and all of my sponsors who have stood behind me all season long. The entire Monster Energy Alpinestar Kawasaki Team want to win just as badly as I do and today we got it done. Like you said, I felt great in practice and I just carried that through the day. Everyone knows how tough this track is and how much it takes out of us. We all try as hard as we can, and sometimes you have a good day and sometimes you don’t. For us, today was special.

MXP: Jacob just talked about building momentum and how hard it is to do. You started off this series a little off, but week by week you’ve gotten better and here you are. Is it one thing, two things, or just everything?

Alessi: It’s definitely a process that doesn’t happen overnight. Since the opening round we’ve made some changes and lately I’ve just got better. I’ve improved my fitness, my intensity, my bike set-up and how I ride, and today I think we just saw all of those things come together. Now we just have to find a away to keep it going.

At Round 5, Alessi was able to get great starts and find his flow early on the rough Gopher Dunes track. Photo by James Lissimore

MXP: Well, no one can say that you had it easy today. In that second moto, Epstein was all over you for half the race but you held tough and wouldn’t let him by.

Alessi: There was just no way that I was going to let him by in that moto. I did everything I could to hold him off because I knew how important track position was. No one wants to be behind someone and eat sand all of the time. He tried a few times to pass but I just fought him off. I’m really happy that I was able to do that.

MXP: As the moto went on it kind of looked like whomever was leading had the best chance of holding on for the win as everyone looked pretty tired.

Alessi: I knew that Medaglia was back there and I knew that Goerke and Colton weren’t in the picture, so I knew that if I could just wear Epstein out then I had a great shot at winning.

MXP: Other than maybe the last few laps you looked really strong during that moto. How did you feel?

Alessi: I pushed hard until I saw the two lap board come out, and then I backed it down a little. Like I said, lately my fitness is starting to come around and I’m also riding the bike better. When I feel like I did today, I go for holeshots and I’m not afraid to sprint hard at the beginning of the race.

It’s been a few years since we’ve seen Mike Alessi on the top step of the podium in the MX1 class. However, if he keeps riding like he did on Sunday, we’re going to see it again very soon. Photo by James Lissimore

MXP: That’s what you were so good at in 2014 when you raced up here.

Alessi: That’s what I’ve been trying to get back.

MXP: Well, you looked great today. You need to work with your teammate now and give him some confidence.

Hayes: I just need to stop making mistakes, and I need a little luck.

Alessi: You’ll get there dude, I keep telling you that.

MXP: Going back to momentum, it’s crazy in this sport how long it takes to build some momentum, but you can also lose it so quickly.

Alessi: Exactly, hopefully I can keep it going and hopefully Jacob can get some going here soon.

MXP: I know Cole Thompson has a big lead in the MX2 class, but in the MX1 class the title chase is still pretty close. This win today Mike puts you right back in the mix.

Alessi: I’m still over 30 points behind Goerke so I have a ways to go, but this is definitely a big step forward.

MXP: I will let you two go and relax and recover from today. Thanks for giving me the time and thanks for the invite into this motorhome where’s it’s nice and cool.

Alessi: No problem, thanks for taking the time to come and chat.

Hayes: Thanks Palms!