Justin Brayton made the switch to MotoConcepts Racing this season, and he has shown some good results on the new Honda. In East Rutherford last weekend, he tied his season-best finish with a 6th.
We caught up with him after the race to talk about his race, the season so far, and his thoughts on MotoConcepts Racing.
Moto Now: Firstly, take us through your day.
Justin Brayton: I knew going into the main event that I had to get a good start. I knew that with this track, if you could sprint for the first 5 or 6 laps, the track would start to break down and it would start to separate guys. You wouldn’t be able to make up a lot of time on somebody because the triples would go away. So yeah, I did that in the first half to the race. I felt pretty good, I was around 7th or 8th, and then passed a couple of guys about the halfway point. Then I kinda changed my lines, started doubling through the rhythms. I wasn’t playing it cautious, just not taking big chances. I’m happy, ended up 6th. It was good.
All throughout the day, even throughout the year, you’ve always been one of the first guys to jump the rhythm combos. I noticed you were one of the only guys to jump up onto the table in the second rhythm section in practice. No one did it during the night program though. Why?
It just wasn’t there. I did it in the second practice quite a few times actually. No one was taking the very top of the berm, so I had the rut to myself and could do it pretty much no problem. Then in the night, a lot of people went there, not to triple, just to carry more speed into that section. So it was never available because the turn was never good enough; I could never get the speed to do it. That was a pretty big one though. The face was kinda flat, so I had to carry a lot of speed into it to be able do that. But I love stuff like that. It’s fun to be able to do different things that other guys aren’t, but unfortunately it wasn’t there in the night program.
What was the hardest part about track?
Man, just staying consistent and hitting your lines. Trying to triple through rhythm sections, and like I said, that went away pretty much about the halfway point. I just started doubling through rhythms, so I would say just trying to stay consistent and hitting your marks.
How do you know as rider when that fast line is no longer worth it, or too risky?
Pretty much you do it, and you may come up short or have a scary moment. Then you switch your line and go for it again, and if you have another scary moment, that’s when I call it. You kinda know with how deep the ruts are, you feel it out and know how the lines are shaping up. I’ll search around a little bit, but you never really have that much time because there’s people right behind you wanting to pass, and you’re right behind people trying to pass them. So you can’t really search around too much. I would say you give it one or two tries, and then change it up.
This year has seemed like the track is either really hard pack or really soft; extremely binary. Do you prefer one over the other?
I don’t, I like both honestly. Earlier in my career I really liked the ruts, but after living in California since the beginning of my pro career, I’ve really enjoyed hard pack. So I kinda like both, and it’s nice to mix it up, but we haven’t really had [perfect conditions this year]. St. Louis was a good one, but there hasn’t been any [conditions] in between. It’s either been really hard pack or soft because of rain. Man, this track was tough. Seattle was tough, Oakland was tough. But with a good start and the right situation, a soft track can really play in your favour.
In your mind, how has your year gone so far?
I’d say that it’s gone okay. This is my 6th or 7th top 10, and a couple 6ths. I’ve kinda been around 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th most of the year. I’ve had some good rides, and actually the past couple of weeks I’ve been really happy with how I’ve been riding, I’ve just crashed in both main events. I felt like that could have been some good results too, so overall, [I’m happy]. It’s difficult, especially with switching teams and bikes and stuff. I don’t think people realize how difficult it is to just have a month and a half or so on a new bike, and to try and get through testing and to be confident with it at this level. For sure you get on a bike and be comfortable within a couple weeks, but not at this level. You have to be able to push it to the very max and know exactly what it’s going to do. So throughout the year I’ve had to learn it and to get my confidence that way.
What is your impression of MotoConcepts Racing? I know you have a strange situation with them because of your affiliation with Honda as well. What’s the deal?
I think they’ve gotten a bad rep over the years. I think that certain things that people have done makes them look maybe worse than they should. I talked to them for a few months during the offseason, and I’ve always been taught to not really judge someone until you get to know them for yourself. And I’ve had nothing but a great experience with Mike [Genova] and Tony [Alessi] the team manager. It’s been great. I’ve been with Honda also for all of this year, and it’s been awesome too. I think the future is really bright for that team, and I think you will see some big things from them here in the near future. I’m happy to be a part of it, and I’m happy to be affiliated with that merging of Honda and MotoConcepts. So yeah, I’m excited to get better results for them, but it’s also nice to get [a good word] out there for them. They do get a bad rep, some stuff maybe they’ve been in the wrong [with], but not nearly as bad as what people think.
MotoConcepts actually didn’t show up to this round in New Jersey. Do you know why?
Yeah they didn’t bring their truck. It was a long drive, and I think Vince has been fighting a little injury. So, [it wasn’t worth it] to come out for one guy. It was brought up to Honda: “Hey, what if Justin just rode along with you guys?” And it wasn’t a big deal at all. Seely is one of my best buddies, and I know the crew there really well, so it was a no brainer. It’s a lot of money to go from Salt Lake all the way here and then all the way back just for one guy. Especially when Honda is going, there could be two guys under the Honda truck. So I think it was smart, and it was fun all day for me to pit with the Honda guys. So yeah, saved them some money, and it was also fun for me.
This is going back to Toronto, I saw some tension between you and Vince. Is there some hard feelings between the two of you?
I just wasn’t happy with the way he was racing me. I don’t care what he does to other guys, but I just felt like he was racing me a lot harder than he needed to. So yeah, we had words there. I don’t pit anywhere different, I pit in the same truck, but that’s about all I would say. I had some confrontation a few times with him on the track where I just felt that considering we’re teammates he should cut me a little bit of slack.
What is your current relationship like with him?
We’re teammates I guess. We pit under the same tent, but other than that, we’re not best buddies. I respect him, I think he’s a good rider. But yeah, he’s alright, not bad.
Last question, any goals for the last round in Vegas?
I want to get a top 5 in Vegas. I really like that track normally. It usually has some big whoops and some big rhythms which I enjoy. So we’ll see how the track shapes up. Top 5 would be nice.
Cover photo from Transworld Motocross