Team owner Mitch Payton and rider Martin Davalos have been working relentlessly toward the 2019 Monster Energy Supercross Series after a tough 2018 campaign. “I’m ready to roll,” enthused Davalos of the clean slate that is 2019. “I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve got one month to get ready, and yes, I’ll be ready.”
Q: So, 2018 really amounted to something close to nothing for you, didn’t it?
MARTIN DAVALOS: Yeah, honestly, I would say that it was one toughest years that I’ve had. Coming into the 2018 season, I’d never felt so prepared. I was coming from a 450 outdoor season where I did pretty well, and then I tore my ACL with one round to go. Not long after that I talked with Mitch Payton, and we agreed to give it a shot for 2018. I let it heal and gave it some time.
“Mitch gave me the opportunity to race the East Coast in 2018. I was coming in super-confident. I had a great off-season training with Timmy Ferry. The whole day at the opening round at Dallas this year was going absolutely perfect for me. I clocked the fastest time in qualifying, and I won my heat race. I was pretty close to the holeshot in the main event when someone decided to keep going straight in the first corner. I ended up with a concussion and couldn’t finish the race. Besides all that, I had a T7 fracture in my neck and my fingers going numb. I kept crashing.
At that point I couldn’t handle it anymore. I was just crashing too much. This sport is dangerous as it is, and it got to the point where I said to Mitch, “I can’t do this. I have to get healthy.” Mitch then said, “Go ahead. Fix your stuff.” Mitch has been, absolutely, the best person to me. Mitch has always believed in me. I like to ride for people who have believed in me. Unfortunately, I’ve had bad luck throughout the years. I’ve shown speed and have been close to the championship a few times, but I’ve never been able to keep it going.
Once again, Mitch has believed in me.
I’ll be honest with you right here: This past year, 2018, was going to be my last year of racing on the 250 regardless of what happened. Championship or no championship, it was going to be my last year no matter what. Even if I didn’t get a ride, I was going to retire. Coming out of the motocross season I had as a rookie on the 450 in 2017, I really thought that maybe some doors would open up for me. I had two podiums and I was thinking somebody was going to snatch me up and give me an opportunity, but I had to stay on the 250. Mitch gave me another opportunity for 2019, and I want to race for the best, and Mitch was willing to give it to me.
Q: And then there were all the medical issues that forced you off the track and onto the sidelines in 2018…
MD: Yeah, 2018 wasn’t even a year for me. I couldn’t give myself a fair chance, you know? Mitch Payton called me and said, “Are you willing to do it again in ’19?” I told him I was. I told him I needed to have a healthy year. I wanted to give myself a chance, unlike the stupid thing that happened that happened at the first round and that put me out for the full year. So, yeah, the spark came back to me and I’m as motivated as I’ve ever been.
Q: Earlier in this conversation you spoke of bad luck and getting knocked down at Arlington in the opening round of the AMA 250SX East Championship. That was straight-up bad luck, huh?
MD: Yeah, a lot of people say that you make your own luck, and I agree with that, but there are a few times, and for whatever reason, you just happen to be there at the wrong time. I’ve walked into that space a few times. I hear what you are saying right now. Hopefully, I get a little bit of luck. In any sport there is also luck involved.
Hopefully, in this 2019 racing year, I can perform to my best and just have a solid year with positive vibes around me. I just want to have a calm year and a positive year. There is nothing more that I want than to have that kind of year. I need a breakthrough year. I know there are only a few people that still believe in me. That’s all I need. This is a self-motivated sport. I don’t think there is anybody that can put you on the bike and make you ride. This is a self-motivated sport and I think I still have it in me, man. I still believe in myself and I think that is a huge part of this. If I didn’t believe in myself anymore, I don’t think I would have accepted this chance that Mitch has given to me.
Q: This week is Thanksgiving week. Not a lot of time to be ready for Anaheim 1 come the first weekend in January. Are you all set?
MD: To be honest with you, it was a pretty crappy summer because I was rehabbing my knee. So I was sitting at home and trying to move around with my knee. This year has gone by so fast. October, November and December is just crazy. It’s a tradition that I have Thanksgiving here with my wife’s family. My wife is from Whigam, it’s a small, little town nearby Cairo, Georgia. Every year we do Thanksgiving at my mother-in-law’s house, but the hurricane came through the area pretty badly this and the yard got all messed up. We’re going to do Thanksgiving at our new house here in Tallahassee.
December is going to get busy. On December 3rd, I have to go to California and we’re going to be there for two weeks. I know everybody has team photo shoots and some engine testing and a little bit of tinkering with the bike here and there. I’ll come back to Tallahassee for another two and a half weeks to finalize any preparation and then I’ll wait for the call from Mitch. We’ll see.
Q: 2019 will mark your 13th year of racing in AMA Pro Racing motocross and supercross. Having said that, you sound real positive.
MD: Yes, I’m excited just to go racing again. I still love it. I really and truly still love it in my heart.