While the Grand Prix riders involved in the 2018 MXGP Motocross World Championship series raced away at Imola, back in Southern California, Aaron Plessinger was finishing up his training for what will likely be the most important race of both his life at the opening moto of the Monster Energy Motocross of Nations at RedBud MX in pastoral Buchanan, Michigan.
It’s been one hell of a year for the racer from Hamilton, Ohio. He won the AMA 250SX West Region Championship as well as the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship 250MX National Championship. But that was then and this is now, and in the fierce reality that is professional motocross, a rider is oftentimes only as good as the last thing he does.
Q: The MX2 class will feature an impressive lineup of talented racers next weekend. Do you know much about the guys you’ll be lining up against?
AARON PLESSINGER: Um, not really much about most of them. Obviously, Dylan Ferrandis and I race against each other. Hunter Lawrence came over here during the middle of his outdoor season in MX2 and was testing with Honda. He got to ride over at Pala, and we got to ride with him a little bit. He’s a really good rider. I’m excited to see how it shapes up, because those guys are really fast and they have some good skills, and I can’t wait to see what they’ve got for me.
Q: Last week, I asked Dylan Ferrandis about racing the 250cc classification at the MXoN. I wanted to get your thoughts: “It’s my opinion, but I think that in the des Nations all three riders are important, but the guy who can make the big difference is the 250 guy because in the two motos you have to fight with 20 guys with much more power than you because they are on a 450 and you are on a 250. I think to ride MX2 in the des Nations is the most difficult and most challenging job on the team. I talked to Aaron Plessinger, my teammate and also my enemy for the des Nations, and told him, ‘Yeah, the 250 guy has the toughest job of the des Nations.’”
AP: Yeah, definitely. I think the 450 guys can do what they do and we’ve just got to do our best on the 250s, you know? We need to pass as many guys as we can coming off that start, because I don’t know if we’ll match up to the factory 450 guys off the start. Those bikes are pretty fast. I mean we’ve got some fast 250s, but the 450 bikes are unreal up there. We’re just going to have to dig deep and rip for 35 minutes, and hopefully we come out ahead. I’m wanting a moto win! I hear they’re calling for some rain next weekend, so anything can happen.
Q: Yes, some rain and some mud and some ruts. That’s your Ohio upbringing right there, huh?
AP: Oh, yeah. It’s a little sandy up there in Michigan, so it can handle a little more rain than Ohio can. You know I’m always down for a little mud.
Q: It sounds like there is going to be a huge crowd at this race…
AP: Yeah, it’s going to be unreal. I think they said that there will be close to 65,000 people there, or something like that. That’s about 40,000 more fans than the National this year. I also know camping sold out about two months ago, so it’s going to be one of the biggest races in the United States in a little while.
Q: With timed practice and training and qualifying motos and all of that, any sort of game plan formulated in your head for the approaching race weekend?
AP: Yeah, obviously in qualifying I’m going to go for it, for sure. I’m going to try and establish my place in the MX2 class, and then on Sunday, hopefully we get a real good gate pick. I’m just going to get the best start that I can and do whatever I can to get past the guys I need to, and hopefully we’ll end up in front.
Q: Americans haven’t won the Motocross of Nations in six years now, and the American fans aren’t going to settle for anything less than a win at RedBud. There is going to be a lot of pressure, but will it be fun pressure?
AP: Oh yeah. It’s definitely fun pressure. I think we’ve got the best team on the track, and I think we’re going to win it. That’s my prediction. I think we’re going to win it, and I think RedBud is just going to blow the top off itself!