Jeremy Albrecht (JGRMX team manager) has been around the sport for a long time now, so he’s able to provide a lot of great insight. Why did Justin Hill take so long to get on the podium? What are his expectations from Weston Peick? How does he feel after letting go of Justin Barcia? How long will Malcolm Stewart be riding for them? We caught up with him after the race in Oakland to get his perspective on all of these things, plus more.
Moto Now: Justin Hill finally turned it around. How does it feel?
Jeremy Albrecht: It feels good. Wish he could have done this earlier, but I’ll take it. Last week he rode pretty good, and then a lot better today. He had the pace to win today, so that was pretty cool. He didn’t win, he got 3rd, but he rode really, really, well and had the speed to win, so that’s what I liked.
I talked to Justin after A1. He was disappointed after the race, but sometimes that happens, first-race jitters and all. Obviously he was fired up to rebound right away the following weekend, but that never happened. What took so long?
The first race he got the fastest time, feeling pretty confident. After Anaheim he was still feeling pretty good, just missed a few rhythms, wasn’t freaking out, rewatched the race and wanted to work on the suspension; quite a bit stiffer. Probably went too stiff. Went to Houston and it was way too stiff, way off, so he really struggled at Houston. Then he crashed in the whoops in Houston, so I think that threw him off a bit. Went and did more work the next week, changed the bike around a bunch, got him more comfortable. We haven’t changed it much since then, just little things here and there. Little minor tweaks each week, and now he’s finally feeling it, liking the bike, just needing starts. He hung it on the start this weekend, but he still went for it and made it happen. I was happy that he was passing guys, it was really cool. The track was tough. Didn’t go so [well] on the 450 side today, but the 250 side was good. Both sides doing well the same night would be nice. But [I’m] definitely happy overall.
On the 450 side, you must be happy with it in general. Maybe not tonight, but Weston has been doing great.
Weston’s season has been better than expected honestly. I’d like to say that “yeah he should be in the top 5”, but with the field that we have here, and the way everybody rides, it’s demanding. He had three really good rides in the opening rounds, but struggled here tonight. The track was super tough. He actually saved a lot of close calls. I kinda joked with him that when he fell, “it was about time that one of them got you” because he saved a lot of ‘almost crashes’ already. But after the crash, the he messed up more and the heart rate went up. He still salvaged a 12th, which is really good considering how many times he almost crashed, and then he did have one really bad one and flew off the track another time. He went out there struggling that’s for sure, so I’ll take it. Around the end, I was telling him on the board not to let Tomac around because usually you think Tomac is probably lapping you. But he was in our race too, so he stayed ahead all of those guys still.
Yeah probably thinking “that’s the number 3 behind me lapping me, gotta let him by”?
Yeah that’s what I didn’t want him to do. Weston crashed, but Tomac had already crashed too. Anyway, he didn’t let him by, so I’m proud of him fighting all the way until the very end.
You’ve had a huge expansion on 250 efforts this year. How has that effected the day to day?
It’s definitely a big thing we took on to do 250s. Yoshimura helps a lot. Last year they did pretty much the whole 250 program, and we just let them work out of our truck. One rider on each coast [last year] was pretty low key. Then we all talked about it, Yoshimura and Suzuki, and we wanted to [expand upon our 250 efforts]. Other people from the old Yoshimura team came over and we all went to North Carolina (where JGRMX is based). Everyone committed 100%, and that is working pretty well actually. Obviously wished it worked a little quicker, we built the whole program pretty fast, with a really big team. But honestly, it felt pretty good all day today, it was a pretty relaxing day. I just finally decided to let the stress go and just do the best we could today. It’s definitely a lot [to take on though]. We joke around [and have a good time throughout the struggles though].
Speaking of working towards success, it must feel bittersweet to let Justin Barcia go, and then now see him doing so well. What’s your relationship like with him?
I’m honestly happy for him. I wished he would have done it while he was on our team, but a lot of things are different for our team now. Things are different for him as well, for Yamaha’s bike and their team, so it’s working. I don’t have any hard feelings. We hung out quite a bit yesterday actually, so yeah, all good.
Can you speak a little bit about the pain points and the decisions to hire or not hire a rider, letting a rider go etc.?
That’s the hardest part honestly because you become friends with people. He was on the team for 3 years, and the results were up and down, and we were paying him a lot of money. He wasn’t as happy as everyone felt like he should be for what we were paying, so maybe all this made him realize this is what he wants to do. I’m sure he’s feeling good on the bike, but his attitude is really good, he’s being really friendly to everybody, and he’s having a good time. Maybe before there was a bit of anger for all kinds of reasons that weren’t in his control either, things that were happening with our team. We are all in different spots now though, our team is doing better as well. I’m happy with where we are at, and I’m fine with what he’s doing too.
With regards to hiring riders, what’ going on with Malcom Stewart? Is he still just riding for the team on a week-by-week basis? Clearly you have enough bikes and staff to house a three person 450 team, so what’s preventing you from having him on the team full-time?
It sounds easy, and we really want to, but we really have’t fully decided. It’s quite a bit of commitment on everybody’s side. It’s a lot more work then what we were planning to do: we have to build engines, more rods, more pistons, more everything because we really only planned on two 450 guys. We just didn’t plan to spend the money on parts. But the fans really like him, and Suzuki is really happy with him. I was hoping that he would have a better night tonight. He had flashes of speed, but they just haven’t happened in the main event. He’s riding really well, and I’d like to try to keep him if we can. We haven’t been able to make it happen yet though. Like Coy told me, we are already putting in the efforts. Suzuki and Autotrader are already putting in a lot of money, so we have to figure out how to make it make sense. Really what it comes down to is that we need help. I wish it wasn’t week by week, but it’s better than simply saying forget it to him and not having him at all. We’re trying really hard, everybody is.
As a fan, I definitely appreciate your commitment to the sport by supporting so many riders, and hopefully others do too. It’s cool seeing you guys with the largest squad in the pits.
Yeah it’s pretty cool. We have seven riders on our team. The two east coast guys are riding pretty well at home, so I’m excited about that coming up. We have three 450 guys; most people aren’t doing that these days. It’s pretty cool that we bought another semi and have another team going with the 250s. Having all these 450 guys, and trying at least to keep Malcolm going is cool as well. I think people should be looking at that, instead of getting on me that I can’t figure out how to make it happen. I think it’s cool Suzuki is supporting us and trying to make it happen, and all the sponsors that are backing us. That’s why we even have a shot of making it happen. It’s not easy these days to get sponsors. The sport is growing, but not everyone is just handing money out. That’s the only way we can make it happen. But we’re trying, trying to be really good partners to all our sponsors. Hopefully winning more races would help.
Cover from Supercross LIVE