MXA INTERVIEW: RJ HAMPSHIRE GOES INTO DETAIL ABOUT HIS SWITCH TO ROCKSTAR HUSQVARNA
RJ HAMPSHIRE TALKS ABOUT HIS SWITCH TO THE ROCKSTAR HUSQVARNA TEAM
Rj Hampshire is excited for his new opportunity with the Rockstar Husqvarna team.
After five and a half years with the Geico Honda team, Rj Hampshire has officially signed with the Rockstar Husqvarna team for 2020 and 2021 seasons. After finishing fourth overall in both the 250 West Coast Supercross series and in the 250 AMA Outdoor National Championship, Rj actually took a pay decrease to switch teams, but he’s confident that it will pay off in the end. With a new team, new trainer, new house and a baby on the way Rj Hampshire has a lot going on this offseason and he was kind enough to sit down with us and give us some insight on everything that is going on.
By Josh Mosiman
2019 WAS YOUR LAST SEASON WITH THE GEICO HONDA TEAM, HOW DID IT GO FOR YOU? Honestly, coming into Outdoors I felt like I should’ve been better than what I was. I felt like I should be battling for wins and I wasn’t really happy with where I was on the bike after round one. We made some changes on the bike and showed up to round two and I placed second in the first moto and I felt like I rode good. Then I just kind of spiraled for a little bit. I had a bike problem and we had big struggles, honestly probably the biggest struggles that I had during my whole time at Geico. During the weeks it wasn’t easy. But I do feel like it made me a stronger person, I feel like I’m better on the bike now. I just wish the results would’ve been better. I struggled also, but we also struggled as a team and I think most people know that. But like I said, it made me a stronger person and I’m thankful for the last five and a half years that I’ve had there, it was a lot of highs and a lot of lows but I feel like it built my character.
Here’s Rj Hampshire riding his Rockstar Husqvarna FC250 for the first time.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS NEW OPPORTUNITY WITH THE ROCKSTAR HUSQVARNA TEAM? I’m thankful to have this opportunity, I never really thought that I would be riding for factory Husky when I was growing up. I didn’t really care for dirt bikes. Now I’m headed into my sixth year as a Pro and it’s awesome, it’s a great opportunity. Just to be able to make the choice on my own. I had a talk with the owners of the Geico Honda team after the San Diego Supercross. I just told them that I don’t really want to race dirt bikes that long and if I’m going to do this I’m going all in and I want to win. I feel like that’s what this whole move was about, I made a complete change. Only two of my sponsors carried over from the Geico team, everything else is new. I have a new practice mechanic, new race mechanic, new trainer, brand new bike, I’ve been on the Honda for the last ten years. It just kind of brings more excitement, I feel like it’s the first day of school today, I’m just stoked to be here and I’m having fun.
Rj Hampshire earned a career number in 2019, from now on Rj will run the number 24.
WHEN DID YOU ACTUALLY SIGN THE CONTRACT WITH THE NEW TEAM? I didn’t even sign the final deal until Indiana, I signed a letter of intent before that but it was still kind of up in the air until Indiana.
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO COMPLETELY CHANGE EVERY ASPECT OF YOUR RACING PROGRAM? It’s definitely risky but I feel like you can’t pass it up. I’m having a baby any day now. So here’s my how my offseason looks, I’m having a baby, new team, new trainer, new mechanics, new house. I found out at Indiana and I had to list my house that week, I bought a house in Clermont and we had to move an hour away. But like I said, I don’t want to keep doing this if I’m not going to put everything into it. I said look, I’m going to be a fifth place guy or a fourth place guy then I don’t really want to keep doing this for that long. I’m putting it all in and I want to win. I wouldn’t have done this just to be a podium guy. I mean I got out of a contract, I took less pay and I paying more for a trainer. It’s huge and it’s risky but I’m just excited. I just want to be better, I’m coming into this offseason doing everything I can to be better and whenever the time goes for round one whether it’s East or West, I’m going out there knowing I did everything right.
RJ is not planning to settle, he wants to continue pressing forward. He said: “I love riding dirt bikes but I don’t love getting fourth or fifth place. I see my career lasting really long as long as I’m out here having fun and progressing forward.”
THE AVERAGE RIDER WOULD BE HAPPY TO BE A FOURTH OR FIFTH PLACE GUY BUT YOU’RE NOT HAPPY WITH IT. EXPLAIN WHY? Honestly, during my first three years at Geico I didn’t feel like I did everything I could’ve done to be the best rider that I could be. I was just enjoying it and having fun. But in the last two years I changed my mindset and I was out there to win. As a racer you’re risking your life out there, I’ve had so many injuries. You know you ride in pain. My wrist is destroyed pretty much, it’s held together by a wrist brace right now and yeah it feels great when I’m riding now because of the Mobius brace, but last year I did that while I was racing and I had to race through it for six rounds of Outdoors. It’s just a lot man, we do well with racing and I’m super blessed and thankful for it. You get that win and you get that feeling that I got last year, but then we struggled this year.
Rj Hampshire went without name and number for his first day on the Rockstar Husqvarna bike.
WHAT WERE YOU STRUGGLING WITH THIS YEAR? I’ll be honest, I struggled with the manager we had. We didn’t see eye to eye with a lot of things and that kind of effected me pretty bad. But then at the end of the season I felt like I was riding really well and I scored a career number which was one of my goals. We had fun this year and my wife and I got to experience quite a bit. We got to enjoy the places (states/cities) we were at and just grow up a little bit. I love riding dirt bikes but I don’t love getting fourth or fifth place. I see my career lasting really long as long as I’m out here having fun and progressing forward.
Rj and his new team manager “Scuba” Steve Westfall.
Rj Hampshire’s riding style looks completely different on the white bike, but he’s still fast.