Tommy Searle is among a group of five or six riders who have been making the 250 class at this year’s Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championships extremely exciting. The British rider is fresh off a runner-up finish in last year’s MX2 World Championships and is riding this year’s U.S. series as a member of the Muscle Milk/MDK KTM team. While Searle brings an impressive resume to the outdoor series, he has yet to get acclimate to the American racing scene and at the latest round in Texas the 20-year-old went 5-6 for sixth overall.
We spoke to Searle before the Texas race to see what he thinks of motocross in the States.
Cycle News: What do you think of the American series, so far?
Tommy Searle: I’ve got two races under my belt so I kind of know what to expect now. I enjoyed the first round at Glen Helen, but not so much the second round at Hangtown. But that was my own fault. I didn’t ride so well and it makes it not too enjoyable to have a bad weekend. But everything else has been good and I’m enjoying it over here.
CN: What made you decide to come here?
TS: It’s kind of something I’ve wanted to do for the last three or four years. When I signed my deal with KTM it was to race in Europe and then to come over here. So that option has always been there and then last year we decided we would make it happen for this year and that’s what we did.
CN: Tell us about your team.
TS: It’s a really good team, everyone works really well together and it’s close – we’re all based around the same area, so if I have any problems I can go get it sorted out. But we haven’t really had any problems and I get along with the team really well - the engine guy and the team manager, everyone really gets along.
CN: Is there much difference between the bike you rode in the GPs and the one you’re riding now?
TS: Not really, both bikes are good, so I think you have to set them up a little different over there. But for me, both bikes are good.
CN: What about the level of competition?
TS: I think the guys here are really fast. Obviously, I’m not winning right now so there’s definitely room to improve. There are so many strong riders here in the top 10 and then after that it kind of falls off a little bit. But for sure, the top guys are really fast.
CN: You’ve only seen three circuits here, counting Budds Creek for the Motocross of Nations two years ago. Do you like the courses here?
TS: I liked Glen Helen, with the hills and stuff. And then at Hangtown, I really didn’t like that track so much. I thought everything was narrow; I thought everything was going to be really wide with lots of lines, but it didn’t really happen at the second race. But Budds Creek is one of my favorite tracks of all time, so hopefully there will be other tracks like that.
CN: What were your expectations when you got here?
TS: I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t really know where I weighed up, but after the first round I had two fourths and I expect to be around the top five every weekend and that’s what I’m capable of. As long as I can do that and work my way up. I want to finish top three in the championship at the end of the year. But I need to ride like I should, I can’t ride like I did in California or that’s not going to happen.
CN: What are your long-term plans? Will you stay here and move up to the 450 class or will you go back to Europe?
TS: I have another year on my contract and then I’m not sure. I’m a pretty tall kid so when I get a bit older I’ll ride a 450, but right now I don’t want to ride a 450 yet. I’ll say that will be my goal; I can’t ride a 250 for ever.
CN: Aside from racing, what do you like about America?
TS: I have to say I like the weather here. It’s a big change from home. At home it rains a lot and every week you’re kind of relying on the weather. You have to ride this track if the weather is good and that track if it’s bad. That’s probably the best thing, waking up every morning knowing what kind of weather your going to get.