Photo by: Doc Weedon
These “Privateer Showcase” interviews presented by Race Tech Suspension at MotoXAddicts tell the stories of the guys in the trenches week in and week out trying to chase their dream of racing professional motocross and Supercross. While the riders at the front of the pack get the money, the T.V. time and the glory that goes with it, there’s a huge pack of guys just hoping to get a spot inside a factory semi. We tell their stories.
This week’s “Privateer Showcase” is with the Australian on the #63 51FIFTY Energy Drink / Yamaha, Hayden Mellross. Hayden did a lot of winning in Australian SX in the SX2 class and first touched down in the US in 2015. That year started off with Hayden breaking his leg twice before he ever actually raced a single Monster Energy Supercross race, and it seems like every time he has gotten some momentum since then, the injury bug bites him again.
Last year, Hayden had a mid-season injury but was once again building some momentum down the stretch with four top tens in a row—finishing 11th in the Western Regional SX Championship—but heading into ’18, he was struck down again with a major injury. Racing his way back into shape to start ’18, Hayden finished a career-high 7th at A2, but just a few races later, he separated his shoulder in Indy. It’s been two steps forward and two steps back for the Aussie, and yet he was already getting back after it last weekend in Seattle.
In the mud of Seattle, Hayden fought through the pain of his separated shoulder to finish 11th. He now sits 10th in the 250SX West despite scoring just 1 point in Indy. After the Seattle SX, we got a hold of Hayden to talk about his 2018 season so far.
Hayden, how was your very muddy Seattle SX—or mudcross or whatever you want to call it? It was an interesting one for sure.
Yeah, definitely. It was more like a mudbog, I guess. It was fun but an interesting day. I’ve never experienced an SX quite like that one. For me, it was really unexpected, just learning everything throughout the day and the bike changes, just learning how to ride in the mud. Being from Australia, we don’t really experience stuff like that too much, and living in Florida, we’re full of sand down there, so we don’t experience that. It was a good day, though. We ended up P10 [10th] in the main event, and it was interesting.
I’ve seen you guys have a few good mudders during SX in Australia. Granted, the Seattle mud was different—thick and slimy.
There was a big mud race in Oz last year, but I was injured and didn’t get to race it. There’s been a few, but this was sticky; this was different. It was interesting, that’s for sure.
Yeah, every rider I talked to after the race said they thought during track walk that they would be able to triple this section or double that section but ended up going single-single-single everywhere. How surprised were you that it was barely rideable when you got on the track?
I was surprised. I knew the rhythms would probably be double-double. I didn’t look at the rhythms in track walk and think we could triple here, we could triple there. I knew it was only going double-double, but I honestly thought the triple and the finish line we could possibly hit. I didn’t think it was going to be that bad, and when I got out there I was shocked. I guess that’s all part of it. The guys did all they could possibly do getting the track ready, and the show went on as it had to. We were out there doing our best.
Did you have any idea at all where you were on the track as far as your position?
I had a little idea, and to be honest with you, there was a really long rut or ruts going past the mechanics’ area that I’d take. Every time I was in the rut, I would look at the mechanics area and get so squirrelly. I’d go over the top of the rut and nearly crash. I looked over once and seen P9, and I was like, “Okay, we’re in an okay position.” I seen 8th and 7th in front of me, and I just tried to ride smooth. I made a few mistakes and Justin Hill got by me, unfortunately. I just never looked at the board after that. I’m like, “It said P9 and one person past me, so I have to be P10 now.” (laughs) If people had DNF’ed or gone out with a mechanical then, hey, that’s good for me and I’ll find out after. I just didn’t want to crash, so I got it in my head about where I was and I just focused on riding smooth.
How hard was it to learn that track under those conditions with just one 10-minute practice/qualifying session?
To be honest, it wasn’t quite hard because we didn’t jump anything. We doubled the two triples and maybe in the first rhythm I doubled two and the second rhythm section I doubled one. We didn’t really have to do too much. The whoops were hard and challenging, but it was more just learning how soft it was and trying to stiffen the suspension to make up for how much more the bike was going to weigh.
How tough were those transitions? They looked totally unpredictable. One would be pretty decent; the next one would be so cupped out it would rip a rider’s hands off or the rut in it would be zig-zagged and send someone right off the track into the muck.
Yeah, (laughs) the transitions were bad—in the whoops, the worst. I was pumped when they took them out. [The whoops were removed before LCQs]. They were the worst—like walls—and they were slick as ice. You would just roll, hit a wall, and oh my god, it was a nightmare. When I came around for the main event and they were gone, I was pumped! That’s for sure.
You’re 10th in the points and you have a strong team behind you this year. Not a bad spot to be in, but I know you want more. What are your thoughts on 2018 as a whole so far or how would you rate it?
Average, that’s for sure. I want to do much better and I feel like myself, my whole team, my training group and just everybody, we deserve to do much better. Everybody’s always throwing curve balls, though. For myself—since prior to the season starting, I probably experienced one of the most severe and hardest injury that I ever had to come back from—in trying to get better, I’m trying to learn my body and the way it’s reacting to it now and trying to adapt to it on a motorcycle. I had a few other issues coming into Anaheim 1. We were kind of behind the eight ball. We’ve been trying to build and build and build, and then in Indianapolis, I dislocated my shoulder. It’s just hard and you try to do the best you can with what you got.
You’re here two weeks after separating your shoulder so that in itself says a lot about how badly you want this right now.
In a perfect world, I think I can be on top and in front with those top guys, and I still believe in myself. My team believes in me, my family, my trainers and everyone does. I do as well. I have no doubt in my mind, and I work my ass off just because I want to get those results. Nothing comes easy in this world. We’ll just keep working hard and one day we’ll get that luck and everything will fall into place. I’ll then be able to show everyone what I can do in a perfect world.
I don’t think you came halfway across the world from Australia to the US to get 10th. We all know that.
Exactly, that’s it.