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Jay Wilson Interview

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After a challenging rookie year in the premier MX1 category, Jay Wilson was recently told his services weren’t required at Crankt Protein Honda Racing in 2017. The 22-year-old has some international plans in the pipeline, however he revealed it’s unlikely that he will be contesting the 2017 Motul MX Nationals series. Continue reading as the former MX2 champion goes in-depth on a variety of topics.

We’ve just got word that you’ve signed with JK Yamaha for the 2017 UK Arenacross Championship. Firstly, congratulations, how did all that come about?

It’s all happened pretty quickly to be honest. I only found out at the AUS-X Open in Sydney that I no longer had a position at Honda in Australia, which at the time was disappointing for me. I knew that I hadn’t had the best season, but with the team being brand new and also being my first year in the 450 class, I felt that we had learnt a lot together. I’d consistently finished just outside the top five, I was actually looking forward to working with the team again in 2017. With the new bike and 12 months of knowledge under our belts we could have done some good things together, but that’s racing. I have been in the same position before, and although it was not what I was expecting, I’ve won a championship coming off being in the same position in the past. Once I knew that I was a free agent, I explored my options here in Australia, which to be honest was a bit of a dead end. By the time we all got to Sydney everyone had pretty much signed their riders for 2017, and it didn’t leave me with any time to put anything together, so I began to explore my options overseas and the UK Arenacross deal popped up. I’ve had a long and successful history with Yamaha, and the brand has been very loyal to me throughout my career so when the opportunity came up to be back with those guys again I jumped at it. A good friend of mine Kenny Hamer has put the whole UK contract together, and I’m really excited to head over.

So you’ll be racing a 2017 Yamaha YZ450F in the UK?

Yeah which I’m really excited about. I’ve always gelled really well with the Yamaha and most of the best moments in my career have been on blue, so to know I’m going to have that equipment over there is awesome. Knowing that I’m stepping back onto a machine that I trust 100 percent, and that I understand so well also gives me a lot of confidence – I’m feeling really good about the whole deal.

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So when will the UK Arenacross kick off for you?

The next few weeks are going to be pretty crazy for me getting ready to head over. My fiance Misty [Walton] and I are moving to the Gold Coast from Melbourne before Christmas Eve, and then I’m heading to England straight after Christmas. The first round is at Manchester on 7 January and then we have seven rounds of racing which will finish up in London on 18 February.

The UK Arenacross has no shortage of talent from what we understand, who are you most excited about lining up against?

Obviously Tommy Searle – I’ve watched him race for a long time, so it will be cool to line up with him, but then there’s guys like Thomas Ramette and Cedric Soubeyras who will be strong too and have done well at the AX in the past, so it’s going to be an awesome experience.

Once you get home you’re still going to be pretty busy too?

Yeah you could say that [laughs]. Misty and I are having our baby in March which we are stoked about, and I’ve also been in discussions with Josh Coppins and Mike Ward who are two really key people in my corner about exploring other options in terms of racing once I’m home, so there’s a lot going on, but it’s all really exciting stuff. A lot of people have said ‘wow you’re young to be having a family’ or ‘do you think it will affect your racing and how teams look at you?’ but the truth is, I know what I want, and I’m not afraid for it to be different to other riders. I’ve never been interested in going out, drinking, or partying, I get my highs from doing well at the track. When I was 17 mum had cancer, our family has gone through financial struggles, I’ve had to take myself racing, I’ve nearly lost my brother, so all of that has made me grow up quick and my priorities are probably very different to other 22 year old’s. I think if anything, having a family makes you more determined to do great things with your life. Misty and I are both pretty driven people, she has her own business now and is going to continue covering the MX Nats and SX next year with baby, and I’m going to continue trying to race overseas. We know things will change a bit, but our goals are still the same and we support each other 100 percent.

Image: Jeremy Hammer (Foremost Media).

Image: Jeremy Hammer (Foremost Media).

So in terms of 2017 in Australia, are we likely to see you line up at the MX Nationals next year?

At this stage the short answer is no. It’s hard saying that, especially thinking back to just over a year ago when I won my last championship but I am actually happy not to be locked in to anything at this stage. I’m young in terms of my career, and I really want to explore my options overseas. Next year I’m hoping to do some one-off GP races and see where that takes me.

So you have nothing locked in for 2017 in Australia?

I could have signed on for nothing here in Australia but I didn’t want to do that. I truly believe that we should all be getting paid something – we’re out there risking our lives, and even if it doesn’t help me in my career, me saying no to racing for free may help another rider coming through in the future. If we all did it for free, then manufacturers wouldn’t need to pay anyone anything, and the cycle gets worse. If the right thing popped up here in Australia for 2017 then I’d definitely consider it, but I’m not going racing for free. The main thing for me next year is to continue training as if I was racing so when the right thing does come up I’m ready to go. There’s not a chance I’m going to spend the year sitting on the couch – we have a few plans in place so we’ll see how they go.

Honda in Australia has just confirmed that they have signed Luke Clout for 2017. The two of you have had a long standing rivalry in the MX2 class in the past, did Luke getting the ride bother you at all?

To be completely honest it didn’t. Obviously I had counted on being at Honda in 2017, but when I found out I wasn’t going to be there, it just allowed me the opportunity to explore other options and that’s how the JK Yamaha deal came up for the UK. I have been pretty vocal that my desire is to race overseas, so I really believe that this has all happened for the right reasons. Luke is a strong competitor, and I think he’ll do well at Honda. We are mates off the track, and I’m excited to watch him race a 450 next year.

So there’s no hard feelings with Honda?

Initially when I went there at the beginning of 2016, Dylan Long and I were both told we’d be there for two years to develop us both as 450 guys, but we’re in a racing industry which we all know is cut throat. Being dropped is always difficult at the time, but I’m really positive that good things are going to come from this, and I wish the Honda guys all the best for 2017. No hard feelings at all.

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