4+ For 497 | Brock Leitner | Houston Supercross

By Billy Rainford

We check in with Canadian #497 after he made his first-ever Supercross night program in Houston. | Bigwave photo

Motocross is all about progression. Of course, you dream of making it to the ‘big show’ under the lights of the stadiums and Monster Energy Supercross, but every rider knows there are many steps before you take that last one. Well, Canadian rider #497 Brock Leitner just took the next step.

Brock made his first night program at round 2 in Houston, Texas, Saturday night. On a track that was trickier than it appeared on TV, Brock rolled his bike out into the packed stadium for the first time, and raced the heat and LCQ. He didn’t make it into the main, but he gained the experience that will help make that final step more attainable.

We’ll be grabbing Brock each week to talk about the weekend, so sit back and check out how Brock’s visit to The Longhorn State went.

Direct Motocross: Hello, Brock. So, you stepped into the stadium for round 2 in Houston and onto the track for track walk. What did you think of it?

Brock Leitner: I mean, the track was good. For the most part, it was pretty simple. They had an on-on-off that was impossible to do, so I don’t even know why they made it. They should have made it like a double-triple-triple or something and use way less dirt. But it was good.

Looking at the whoops, I was a little nervous with the one set, to be honest. It was a long set of whoops and they were pretty big. I tried not to let it get to me too much because I knew that the other set before the finish line was easier. The rest of the track was easy.

Looking at the finish line on track walk, me and Austin Politelli looked at each other and both thought it looked like the Gopher Dunes finish line! They had so much sand because of the hurricane that they had, all the dirt was saturated. That’s why the track was so soft. They had to add so much sand to it to make it dry.

And then how was practice?

When I went out for practice (Brock was in 250 C Group), I jumped out first. That’s something I usually don’t do. After talking with my trainers, they said it was something I needed to do was to get out first and have a clear track. So, first lap I obviously just doubled some stuff and then on the second lap I started blitzing the whoops and I did everything on the second lap, which was good. It shows that I’m adapting to the track good and I don’t need to have a bunch of time on it before I figure it out, so I was happy with that.

The biggest thing was coming into the long set of whoops. It was weird having such a long straightaway before a set of whoops. That’s another thing that I’ve never really had. To have that was like a totally different technique to come into the whoops. They both had entry whoops which was really good.

Luckily for me, being the first practice, I had fresh whoops. That was good. But when I went out for qualifying, the track was totally different. The long set of whoops wasn’t even skimable, really, for me. I really struggled with that so I just tried to find a couple ways to jump through the first few and then skim the last half.

The set before the finish line literally just got 5 ruts straight across. You just picked one and tried to keep it straight through the whole thing because it was so tough. The dirt was so tacky that your tires would grab every little notch and just kind of pitch you. That was tough.

I mean, the whoops got a lot of people! (Marvin) Musquin, Justin Cooper…everyone.

“I tried to stay calm, but it’s so hard to stay calm when there are that many nerves going on.” | Bigwave photo

I was impressed that you went out first in your qualifier, and I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to watch Race Day Live, but so were they. You got a ton of TV time.

Ya, I actually watched it last night, just because my dad and everyone was saying that it was a lot about me, so I wanted to actually see myself ride. It was pretty cool. This week we’re working on a lot of things that I noticed that I struggled with.

Watching on the weekend, I’ve got a bad habit that I’ve got to break because it’s going to bring down my times. Watching my corner speed, I need to be more aggressive in my turns. The rest of the track, I’m getting more aggressive, but…I’m more aggressive in between the rhythms and everything, but now I just need to start coming into the turns harder and getting off the brakes earlier to allow for more rolling speed. Getting off the brakes, the bike will corner a lot better too. I have a bad habit of kind of dragging my back brake.

You’re always going to watch yourself on video and think you should have gone into the corners faster.

Even just today at Lake Elsinore, I came through the whoops super quick and at the end I hit a little notch and it kind of pitched me sideways. I was kind of going through the whoops drifting, kind of. I’ve never come into that corner that quick so it scared me but it was like a good scare, if you know what I mean. It shows me that I can come into the corner this fast and I’m still able to do the corner correctly. I just need to start getting out of my comfort zone. That’s what we’re trying to work on, getting out of my comfort zone and bringing more intensity and more speed to everything.

You go and watch the A practice and you feel like you’re going into the corners fast but then you look at the video and it’s like wow, I’m holding my brakes on this long, I’m pausing at my turns 3..4..5 tenths of a second and then finally coming out where all the top guys it’s just one fluid motion, and that’s what I’m trying to work on this week.

Well, not to point out the completely obvious, but that’s called getting better at Motocross.

(Laughs) Ya, no, exactly, and it’s cool for me because I’m starting to see and be able to criticize myself rather than always having to have someone say, “Hey, you’re doing this, you’re sucking here, you’re OK here, but there’s this that you can do.” I’m finally starting to criticize myself.

You’re up against the best riders in the world now, so you want to know what you have to do to keep getting closer to that level. So, you qualified 36th. How was that? Were you pumped with that?

I was obviously really happy and excited to make it. Before I figured out that I was 36th, I was right around 32nd and then some people threw down a lap at the end of the B practice because I was quicker than a few people in the B. When I got told that I was 36th, I was still happy but I was kind of bummed at the same time. I’ve got to make it so that I’m not like right on the bubble.

36th isn’t 38th or 39th but I want to be 22-29 or 32 or even better than that. I want to be able to give myself some room to not be stressed. I want to be able to go out and know that I don’t have to be stressed and be hoping that someone doesn’t go and throw down a bunch of fast laps.

“Literally, like 10 minutes before I went up for the gate drop, I was talking to my dad and my mom was already up in the stands and I just told him I’d talk to him at the end of the night. I told him I loved him and I started getting choked up and almost like crying.” | Bigwave photo

Ya, for sure. You don’t want the night program to be in question, you want to know how high up into the qualifying you can get.

Ya, exactly. No different than my first year racing the Canadian Nationals, now that I’ve made one, I’m definitely not going to be OK with not making one. Like, I know what it takes and I know how much more work I’ve got to do, so, like I said in my (Instagram @brockleitner) post, it’s back to the drawing board this week to do my homework.

You got 17th in your heat race, but had to start from like 4th from the outside.

Ya, I was like 4 or 5 from the outside. I had a good jump, but as soon as I hit the plastic on the gate and then the dirt on the other side was really blue-groove, I could feel myself spinning on the dirt, as weird as that sounds. I hooked up so good with that mesh starting pad and then it was just spinning a quarter of the way out. That was tough.

And then, I was trying to look at the track, sitting on the line, to see how the whoops looked and everything. I could tell that the whoops were peaked where they were rolled all day. When I first hit them at the start of the day, they were rolled. They were easier to hit. It’s not like we get a lap to kind of check them out, it’s just the gate drops and you’ve got to go for it!

So, the first lap I came around and I just committed and I got through them good, and then the 2nd lap I came in with a bit more speed and I was gaining speed through the whoops and I my front end skipped one whoop and ended up going over the bars. That was a bit of a bummer and took the wind out of my sails. I got back up and tried to shake it off.

In the LCQ, I knew I was going to have a bad gate pick, but I felt a lot better. Like everything, that first gate drop and first time actually racing in a Supercross stadium with that many people…I tried to stay calm, but it’s so hard to stay calm when there are that many nerves going on.

I felt a lot more comfortable. I felt good on the track. I rode more aggressive. I kind of brought it in on people and I wasn’t nervous or timid or anything like that. I felt like I did in qualifying or at the practice track.

With that being said, now that I have the first race jitters out, now I feel like I’ll be able to be a lot more calm and do better for the next ones.

My dad, my girlfriend…they were all talking to me like, “So, are you excited?!” I told them I was but that it hadn’t really set in yet. That was right when I found out that we were in, for sure.

Literally, like 10 minutes before I went up for the gate drop, I was talking to my dad and my mom was already up in the stands and I just told him I’d talk to him at the end of the night. I told him I loved him and I started getting choked up and almost like crying. It was actually setting in. It’s a dream come true but it’s one of those things that’s off the bucket list but there’s more to go. It’s that stepping stone and I’m getting over the hurdle and getting across each little bridge as it comes.

That was the first hurdle to get over and it’s not an easy hurdle to get over. So, when it set in I kind of got emotional. It kind of makes me feel like a baby but…I don’t even know how to word it. I guess I was just happy and proud of my accomplishment.

I’m pretty good friends with Josh Grant‘s mechanic (Travis Parry) and I saw them sitting under the tunnel waiting to go for opening ceremonies and me and my mechanic rolled up and I walked over and put my arm on his shoulder and he looked at me and is like, “Hell ya! You made it?!” He was just so pumped for me. He’s seen me ever since I started riding Supercross so it was cool to kind of check that off the list and now just keep progressing.

Now it’s time to head into A2 like he belongs there! Good luck, Brock. | Bigwave photo

So, it was almost like a ‘welcome to the club’ type thing.

Ya, exactly. It was cool, Travis and even Josh was pumped and then Josh Hansen and Robbie Feder. It’s cool because I know those people and I have those people to go talk to to see and ask questions rather than not know anyone at all.

So, what’s the game plan this week? You just got in from a recovery bicycle ride. How does the rest of the week look?

The rest of the week, I’ve got riding tomorrow (Tuesday), and then a day off Wednesday, and then riding Thursday, and then another day off on Friday to get ready for the weekend. I’ll be working on some sections, putting the motos in, working my weak points, and just doing some circuits and more cycling and some running, and that’s about it for the week.

A lot of it is just maintaining at the gym right now. Not too much pushing like the way we were before the season started, so it’s definitely a little bit different. I’m used to getting my butt kicked in the gym, but it’s not nearly as intense as it was when I first got down here, up until Anaheim 1.

It’s good and I’ve got a good group of people and they know what it takes to succeed and have progress, so it’s just awesome to have those people at the track with me.

Well, congratulations on making your first one! That’s a big deal. Good luck this weekend and we’ll check in with you again early next week after A2.

Sounds good. Thank you very much, I appreciate it.

Brock’s sponsors:

Redline Powercraft, Kawasaki Canada, ROQ Power Tongs, Strikt Gear, 100% Goggles, Virus Action Sport Performance, DT1 Filters, Pro Taper, SKVI, Temecula Motorsports, FMF, SAXX Underwear, HJC Helmets, Fusion Graphics, Evans Coolant, Rekluse Clutch, C4MX, BMC, Motostuff, Vicki Golden, GTC, Marin Bikes, Lory’s Oilfield, Fuel Clothing, Hellbent, Keybar, Metal Mulisha, Holeshot Trucking, M.A.D Support, my girlfriend, Kailey, and my mom and dad.