After an impressive performance at last year’s Texas round of the Lucas Oil AMA Motocross Series, Mike Alessi was generally regarded as the man to beat for the 2009 series title. But then a devastating knee injury put the then Rockstar Makita Suzuki rider on the sidelines, ending his chances for a championship bid. For 2010, Alessi signed on with the KTM factory to showcase the new 350 SX-F in the AMA outdoor series. Again, many considered him a frontrunner for the championship. However, for whatever reason, things haven’t panned out for #800. After a moto win at Hangtown to kick off the series, Alessi felt he struggled in the heat in Texas, and never seemed to recoup after that.However, after turning in a 13-13 performance at Unadilla, his worst performance to date, Alessi roared back with a second place finish at Southwick, his first podium since Hangtown. It’s been a long, tough summer for Alessi, and after Southwick the Jagermeister/KTM rider spoke about what he’s done to get the ship pointed in the right direction.”I woke up the day after Unadilla and realized I was not where I wanted to be,” admitted Alessi. “That was pretty much the worst race of my career, so I just decided that something had to change. The morning after Unadilla I went for a run and thought about the things I needed to change. Basically, I just think I kind of lost who I was this year.”This sport is 90% mental and my season had been getting progressively worse. I thought things would turn around and they never did and it was going down a path that wasn’t successful. It was a situation where the harder I tried the worse I did. I got frustrated with my bike, I got frustrated with my training, I got frustrated with my home life. I just got so frustrated that I tried so hard to turn things around during the week that when I came to the races on the weekend I was practically exhausted. I didn’t feel I came to the races prepared; I was worn out and tired. But the last two weeks I think I’ve turned it around. I’ve been working hard and hard work always pays off. We went to a track this week that was about an hour away and we tested until dark and I think I made some very good improvements with the motorcycle.”To his credit, Alessi is the lone 450 rider for the U.S. KTM effort, and so all of the testing burden falls on his back.”I’m the only guy on the team so there is no test rider but me,” explains Alessi. “I’m pretty much coming up with everything on my own and I’m not going to say I’m the best tester out there. If I find something I like I’m going to stick with it, which has also been part of the problem. I’ve been trying a lot of stuff and once you go down a wrong road and start trying things you sometimes forget that the first setting was the best and before you know it you’re so lost that it’s hard to get out of it. I think the 350, being a bit lighter, was a bit of an advantage today on this track because [the light weight] makes it easier to ride. Being this rough, guys are going to get tired and we all have to ride the same race course, and I think we had good settings and that helped a lot. So I just think we are pointed in the right direction again and I think I have some momentum to finish off the season in a good way.”
Alessi Talks Turnaround
Shan Moore | Contributing Editor
Moore covers all facets of off-road racing for Cycle News – from AMA Supercross and Motocross to GNCC and National Hare Scrambles events.