How has the transition been this year back to Kawasaki?
Blake: It’s been really good to be back on a Kawasaki. That’s where I was my whole amateur career, from 60s all the way until I raced pro for the first time at the last three nationals in 2009. I really like the brand and the people that surround it. Being away from Kawasaki for a year was a little bit of a bummer, but it makes me really appreciate it when I was given the opportunity to come and race this year with Mitch and the Pro Circuit team.
What have you liked most about the Kawasaki KX250F? It’s not only a brand new bike to you, but to the team with the Fuel Injection and the Separate Function Fork.
Blake: I had never ridden a 250F with an EFI on it. It was definitely a change for the better. No matter where you are at, your bike is running amazing. You can really do a lot with it and we are still learning how much we can do. The things that you can change may seem small, but it makes a big difference on the track. The forks are also new to me and I think it’s a big help. It’s really hard to explain it, but they are super smooth. I think it’s just easier to ride with them and ends up being less harsh on the body. They seem easy to work with since we got the set-up dialed pretty much right off the bat.
Blake: I am feeling really confident. I have high expectations and know that I have the speed to win. I’ve done the hard work. I have the best trainer out there (Aldon Baker) and I’m on the best team. I’ve been trying to surround myself with good people, which makes a huge difference. The only thing I can do at this point is wait and see how everything turns out. Hopefully everything works out and I’ll have a championship.
You talked about having the best trainer out there. How has this year been different compared to last year coming into the season? Do you feel more prepared?
Blake: Well I definitely I feel better this year. Last year I hadn’t ridden much before the first race since I crashed two weeks before the start of the season. This year, not only have I been able to put in the laps on the track, I’ve got the confidence that I’ve put in the work before. It was a little tough at first making the transition over to the new way of doing things, but once you get into the groove, it becomes natural to you. I feel so much more prepared than last year. Physically and mentally, I am a lot stronger than I was last year. I guess we’ll have to wait and see if it pays off.
Last year you were a rookie, now you have one year under your belt. How do the nerves compare going into the first race last year versus this year?
Blake: Last year I didn’t really know what to expect. I felt a little blindfolded. I had done three outdoor races and that helped to open my eyes a little bit. I learned that everyone was very serious and they don’t mess around at that level. I was definitely nervous at my first supercross. It took me a few races to get comfortable and I think I did okay for my first season. I did make some rookie mistakes, but I was also able to earn a win as well. That was a huge confidence booster for me. I know a lot of people said I got lucky at that race, but a few weeks later I got a second. I felt like I did what I needed to do to back up my win.
It will be cool having the first race at Houston since that was the race I got second at last year. I think I’ll be nervous, but at least I’ll have some expectations to go into the first race with compared to last year I was completely new. I’m looking forward to it.