Yamaha Motor Canada Presents MXP Chatter With Tanner Ward

As all of our top Canadian riders begin their preparation for the 2018 season, it’s interesting to see what type of program each rider is doing. Some riders decide to just go to one or two training facilities to do their work, while others try and hit as many races as they can. For Tanner Ward, he decided that he needed as much racing experience as possible so he can be ready for the opening round 2018 Rockstar Energy Triple Crown Series in late February. This past weekend, Tanner headed to cold Dayton, Ohio for Round 1 of the 2018 Amsoil Arenacross Series. Newly retired rider Austin Watling was also on hand in Dayton and was able to catch up with Tanner at the end of the night.

Words and Photos by Austin Watling

MXP: What have you been doing this winter to prepare for the season?

Tanner: For the 2018 season I’ve been down at GPF training for the Amsoil Arenacross.  I’ve been there for about a month now and that’s pretty much it so far.  Coming up in February I’ll be going to the Club MX practice track with Kaven Benoit, him and I are gonna be training together for the winter to get ready for the Triple Crown Series in Canada.

MXP: What were your expectations coming into your first pro AX race?

TW: I didn’t expect too much out of my self, really wasn’t sure how everything was going to go.  Just wanted to make the night show and go from there and that’s exactly what I did but yeah I didn’t want to put too much pressure on my self.  Main goal was to make the night show and get a taste of what that is and progress from there.

MXP: Tell us a little bit about the team you were riding for?

TW: I’m riding for Team Carey, for a guy named Mike Carey.  He’s out of Chicago, Illinois.  He pretty much messaged me one day saying he wants to help me out for the Amsoil Arenacross.  Couldn’t be more thankful, he’s helped me get to the races and it’s awesome having him there.  After timed qualifying he had a few really good points that helped me out!

MXP: Give us a run down on how your first pro AX went.

TW: My first qualifier did not go very well, I mean, I really struggled to find my flow and just felt really uncomfortable.  Actually felt like I was trying to hard and then went into the second qualifier just to have fun and that’s when I rode my best.  Still didn’t qualify the best, I got 24th in the lites and 28th in the open class and I was actually surprised I qualified for the open class.  Then I went into the night show and was actually feeling good and got off to a decent start in the first AX heat race but coming down the start straight just tucked the front end trying to get around a rider.  I actually landed on my knee awkwardly and that kind of set the tone.  Went into the next heat and right before the whoop section there was a big pile up that I got caught up in and had no where to go so I had to wait for everybody to get up.  Then caught back up to 9th but they only take 7 so, went to the LCQ in both my classes.  Didn’t ride to well in either of them, first LCQ, same thing another pile up before the whoops and no where I could go again.  Had a bit of bad luck but it is what it is and I definitely learned a lot throughout the entire day and I’m excited to hit up the rest of the races in the east coast!

MXP: How are you going to prepare yourself for the rest of the rounds?

TW: Coming into the rest of the east coast I think it’ll be mostly mentally.  I need to know that I belong up there and that I can do it.  I know everyone around me believes I can, now its more or less I need to believe in my self.  It’s something I struggle with  and I definitely struggled with it this weekend.  I was really nervous coming into the first round, not really knowing where I was going to stand but I feel like coming into the next few rounds I will be a lot more confident and that’s going to help me a lot.  Confidence is almost everything in this sport, so if I can come in knowing where I need to be, I know I’ll be able to prove myself!

MXP: What are your plans coming into the spring?

TW: I’m going to finish the rest of the east coast of Amsoil arenacross.  In between rounds I will be home hitting up some indoor tracks.  Once we go south I will be heading to Club MX practice facility like I said earlier with Kaven.  They have an arenacross track there, so I will ride that a little bit before Triple Crown Series starts.  Then it will be full tilt for outdoors.  Once it gets warm enough at home to ride I will be going back to Alpha MX to train with Kyle Keast to get ready for the outdoor season.

MXP:  Do you have anything signed or in the works for the 2018 season?

TW: As of right now I don’t have anything signed.  I have been talking to JSR and KTM.  That was my goal when I started riding for them back in 2015 was to one day be one of their pro riders, so really trying to make that happen.  Feel like I proved myself last summer so hopefully I will be under the KTM tent for the triple crown series!

MXP: Who would you like to thank?

TW: Team Carey, KTM Canada, Thor, Oakley, Team LTD, TCD Racing, ON Time Courier, TZR, Woodstock KTM