Chris Pomeroy -Walton TransCan Staff Writer
Ryan Lockhart has come a long way since he first turned pro back in 1999. His racing career has had a lot of ups and downs and over the years he has become a fan favourite. Off the track, Ryan is well respected in the industry; everyone wants to see this guy do well in everything he does. This is why his recent race at the Gopher Dunes National was so popular. It didn’t matter how he finished, it was just good to see him back on the track. I caught up with Ryan to get his thoughts on how his first national in four years went.
CP: Hey Newf, how are things?
RL. Things are good, I am just hanging out at Kyle’s (Keast) house watching television and relaxing.
CP: First off, how sore were you Saturday night after Gopher Dunes?
RL: (laughs) I was pretty beat for sure, it was a long day, but I felt really good inside knowing that I had a decent day. Obviously it could’ve gone better, but with the short time I had to prepare, I am happy with how I did.
CP: Just from watching you on Saturday, it looked as though you felt a little better in the second moto. Is that accurate to say?
RL: Oh for sure, I felt a lot better in moto two. It had been four years since I rode a National and raced with really fast guys so I was pretty nervous, to be honest. In the first moto, I really wanted to get a good start, which I did, but looking back I think that was the worst thing I could have done. To be up front like that right off the bat was tough. Things are really busy at the front of a national moto and I might have been better just to start further back and ease into it.
In Moto two, I was a little more prepared and hung in there longer. I was actually in ninth with a few laps to go but I was beat, I honestly don’t think I could’ve done one more lap. I just got really hot and felt a little dizzy, and on that track a 450 isn’t easy to ride at all, it feels like you always have to be on top of it. I had forgotten just how tough those bikes are to ride in those conditions.
CP: I was standing near your Dad during that second moto and he was stressing. It was just like old times.
RL: Oh yes, it was just like old times, Palms. You remember those days. I don’t know what he was expecting from me, I was trying for sure. I was just happy with how it turned out. I only put in four weeks of preparation so I am sure, with a little more work, I might have finished in the top ten. In moto two, I had the seventh fastest lap time so my speed was okay.
CP: Despite all of the pain and suffering during the motos, were you still able to enjoy the moment a little bit?
RL: For sure. When I pulled the holeshot in moto two, I was pretty excited. It didn’t last long, but still I was able to have clear sailing for a few corners and know that there was 39 riders behind me. Also, I think when the two lap board came out I was thinking how cool it was going to be to get up on the podium for my holeshot. Of course, at that point I was just trying to survive just to get to the podium. It was all fun though.
CP: Let’s talk about that holeshot for a minute. I think in moto one you actually had a better jump but it didn’t work out. In moto two, I saw you look over to see who was on the inside of you halfway down the start straight and you ended up with the holeshot. Talk us through that moment.
RL: Well, heading into Gopher I have been pretty cocky about my starts. I don’t know why, it’s not like I used to nail every holeshot when I raced full time. Our Machine Racing Troy Lee Design Bondi Engine Yamaha is really fast so I knew I could get a good start. Its f’unny, there was actually some drama on the line before the start of the second moto. Ryan Millar didn’t pick his gate until late so I got the short end of it. I kind of lost it and started yelling, so maybe that extra adrenaline helped me get the holeshot.
You are right though, I did get a better jump in moto one but I let off early and was kind of cautious. In moto two, I got a decent jump and when I looked to my left I only saw Tyler on the inside of me. As we got to the first turn, I checked up and let Tyler drift wide. I went up the inside and got to the white line first. It was actually a well thought out holeshot, I was proud of myself.
CP: I always say that when it comes to starts. I didn’t get too many holeshots that I didn’t think I was going to get beforehand. My point is, there is obviously some technique to it, but you have to believe.
RL: For sure, it’s so much about confidence and believing in yourself and your bike. Take Keast for example, we worked hard on starts before Nanaimo and he was really confident. In the three motos he raced, he was always near the front.
CP: I think you have always been a good natural starter. Let’s take you, Gauldy, Dube, Dehann, Lange and say JSR. These guys are all good. Who holeshots between you guys?
RL: Good question… It depends where the race is, I guess. If we were in Moncton then I’d have to say me. Quebec, especially the Montreal Supercross, then for sure JSR or Dube. Same can be said for Ontario with Gauldy and out west or at a US Supercross with Darcy. Like we said earlier, it’s all about confidence and where you feel comfortable. The hard part is being consistent and I think that is where JSR always excelled. You rarely saw that guy get a bad start, anywhere.
CP: I also heard that you made a little extra money with that holeshot.
RL: Yes, John Nelson said he would double the money the CMRC pays for the holeshot, so I ended up making $400, and John paid me Monday morning so that was awesome.
CP: John has seen it all. It was good to see him so excited on Saturday. Mez and Gauldy better be careful, the Newf might be taking over as John’s favourite surrogate son.
RL: There is a long way to go before that happens Palms.
CP: I heard you say on the podium that with how bad your knee was a few years ago, you didn’t think you would ever be back racing.
RL: Yes, when I originally hurt it back in February of 2009, I didn’t think it would be as bad as it was. Then it got infected really badly and I had to go in for surgery again. I remember the surgeon telling me before he was about to operate that depending on how bad the infection was, I might be in some real trouble. I came out of that okay and then it got infected again, but we caught it early that time and I was okay. It was just a really long ordeal and the last thing on my mind was racing dirt bikes. To get this far and be pain free is pretty amazing and I am so thankful for it. Standing up on the podium Saturday, even if it was just for a holeshot, was definitely emotional for me.
CP: That is amazing Newf, I am proud of you. So, what is next for you? Are you going to Ste-Julie?
RL: No, I am not going to Quebec this weekend. The plan is to race a local race on Sunday in Mt. Albert, then keep preparing for Moncton in a few weeks. I hope that with some more preparation I can get into the top ten before the Series ends in Walton.
CP: Will you be riding Plus 25 at Walton?
RL: Yes, for sure, Plus 25 and then the National on Sunday. I am looking forward to racing during the week at the TransCan, it will be fun to race with no stress. I like that track and obviously the atmosphere at Walton, so hopefully I can go and win a title there.
CP: You have competed at the TransCan as a Pro and as an Amateur. What advice would you have for a kid who is going there for the first time?
RL: Well, it is the largest and most important race in Canada. It is easy to go there and let your nerves get the best of you. But I would say just to make a game plan before and stick to it, no matter what happens. Take your time and learn the track in practice and really try to stay consistent all week. Also, don’t worry about who has the best looking bike or motorhome, just go and do your own thing and have fun. That is what motocross is all about, whether it’s a local race or the Walton TransCan.
CP: Okay, thanks Newf. I’ll let you get back to watching television with Keast. It was good to see you back on the track and good luck out East.
RL: Thanks Palms, it was good to be out there again, for sure. See you at Walton.