CYPRESS, California, March 6, 2014 – Jeremy Albrecht has been around the sport of motocross his entire life. His older brother Joel was an amateur MX standout in the ’80s and into the ’90s, and Jeremy raced from early childhood until he stopped racing to become a mechanic for his brother Joel in the pros in 1993.
He won nearly a dozen professional championships as a mechanic before becoming team manager for Joe Gibbs Racing’s startup motocross effort in 2008.
We caught up with Albrecht today just before he headed out for some testing for this weekend’s Daytona Supercross:
Leading up to the season, how much preparation and what kind of preparation did you guys have to put in to get things ready, especially with the new bike?
Jeremy Albrecht: Well, I mean we definitely put in quite a bit of testing, but it’s normal with a new bike. So, we were excited. I wouldn’t say we did more than normal, but starting out we had a lot of new things: We switched to KYB [suspension], which took quite a bit of testing, and it was a new model, so we were trying to get all the parts together and trying to figure out what works going on the dyno plus trying it on the track. So, there’s definitely a lot to do, but it’s no different than any other year, except we just had some new things to work with. You don’t know how it works until you get to the races. When we got there, we were happy.
And now you guys are preparing for Daytona, which is a little bit of a crazy one-off race because the course is so different from anything else in the series. How much do you guys have to change stuff around, especially when it comes to suspension and things like that, to make it work?
Jeremy Albrecht: Well, it depends on the rider. Some guys like to leave it. Some guys want to change some things. I mean, we’re going tomorrow actually to test for Brayton. Jonny [Oler], our suspension guy, has been working all day to build some different settings to go try. We took a day prepping the track, making something different; bumps, kind of like they do at Daytona. We’re trying to see if we can be more prepared than normal this year. So we’ll see how it goes, if we prepared correctly. But we’re trying, I would say, harder this year than normal to do something just specific for Daytona. In the past few years we kind of go with maybe just a little bit softer than the normal setting and maybe a gearing change, but nothing too crazy. Brayton really wanted to work harder on making stuff specifically for Daytona. Some people do, some people don’t, but he’s wanting to test, so we’re doing it. We’re willing to test. It’s usually we don’t have a guy here wanting to do it, but he’s wanting to, so it’s great.
A lot of Supercross teams nowadays use their supercross settings as a baseline for outdoors, too. How different are Brayton’s outdoor settings compared to Supercross?
Jeremy Albrecht: His stuff is quite a bit softer for outdoors. It’s not really that close. I mean, this is the first start to outdoor testing. We did a little bit when he first started riding the bike, before we started Supercross testing, to get a baseline. So we’ll be starting from there when we start outdoor testing. But probably what we learn from Daytona, and then where we were at when we ended last year, we’ll be able to come up with something for outdoors to start. But he’s quite a bit softer outdoors than he is in Supercross. He really likes a stiff bike in Supercross.
And because Daytona is obviously similar in a lot of ways to outdoors, do you expect that those settings will be similar once you guys do get to outdoor testing? Will it be somewhere in the ballpark?
Jeremy Albrecht: Yeah, we’re thinking probably a hybrid between Supercross and motocross that would work. That would be a good baseline to see how we start outdoor testing. But back in the day, when I worked for [Jeff] Emig, he actually won [Daytona] with the outdoor suspension. So it seems like they’re stiffer now than they used to be. But I think softer stuff, if you get the right settings, should definitely work better.
Back when Emig did that, that’s when they actually had the Supercross season sort of ran into outdoors and the Gatorback National was right before Daytona, right?
Jeremy Albrecht: Yeah, they used to do a whole Bike Week thing. We’d go do that. That was hard, to go race an outdoor race right in the middle of Supercross. I mean, it definitely made it difficult on the teams, but the good thing is everybody is in the same boat. So it’s hard on everybody. It wasn’t just one team that had the problem.
You brought in Phil Nicoletti for a few races while Josh Grant was down injured. He seemed to be trying really hard. And then Grant has shown some speed this year, too. What do you think about what’s been going on with those two so far this year?
Jeremy Albrecht: I think it was nice to have Phil so we could let Josh heal up. He wanted to keep riding, but we felt like it would be better to let Josh heal and be able to show his speed, rather than keep limping through it. So, I got him talked into one week and then after that, he agreed to do two. And I think it actually helped because I felt like the last two weekends, Josh rode a lot better. It looks like he can hold on in the whoops now, so I’m happy his shoulder is healing. Phil was making the mains no problem, but he’s definitely had some tough main events. I think maybe he’s just trying a little too hard, but he’s not doing bad. I do expect him to do better than he has been. He’s actually going to be racing Daytona, so we’ll have three guys at Daytona. I’m hoping that he can get up there, for himself, to show what he’s capable of. The last race, Phil was in like 12th or 13th the whole race, looked like he was finally going to do pretty well, and then he just slid out and crashed and hurt his knee that was already injured. So, we’re kind of excited to see him do what he can do. And then obviously Josh, he rode better last week. He was in seventh and he crashed with two laps to go or something. So, they’re both doing better than what it’s looking like on paper. They’re both getting healthy, so maybe Daytona is the weekend.
The magic weekend?
Jeremy Albrecht: Yeah, the magic weekend. We did go first and second here before, so maybe we can do something like that again. That would be awesome.
Phil showed a lot of speed during the outdoors last year, so maybe that will also translate a little bit...
Jeremy Albrecht: Yeah, that’s what I was thinking when we picked Daytona for one of his races. He definitely seems more comfortable outdoors and I feel like this is one that he should be able to do pretty good at. He’s in shape, cool kid, and I hope he can do something.