GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac Exclusive Interview (450 Class)

Eli Tomac became the first rider to win his professional debut after earning the checkered flag at Hangtown Motocross in 2010 aboard at GEICO Honda CRF250R. The following year, Tomac signed with GEICO Honda, losing the 250SX West title by a mere six points. He came back with vengeance in 2012, earning the 250SX title. In 2013, he lost the SX title to Ken Roczen (then Red Bull KTM), but won the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship.

For 2014, he moved up to the 450 class with GEICO Honda, and though injuries prevented him from racing at many  SX events, he did earn his first-career 450MX win at Spring Creek.  Tomac returns with GEICO Honda in 2015 to take on the 450 class aboard the CRF450R.

Ultimate MotorCycling’s Andrew Oldar: What are some of the main things that you learned in your rookie season of Supercross last year?

GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac: First off, it’s a long season, so it seems like it’s easy to get impatient early on. You don’t realize it, but there are 17 rounds, so it’s a lot of time to make it through the whole season. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do that. But you learn to be more patient as time goes on.

UMC: You have traveled overseas for some Supercross races during the off-season. How have those results affected your confidence leading up to Anaheim 1?

ET: I got to race in France and Italy and ended up winning both of those events. For me, any time you race against a few of the best U.S. guys and some top Europeans – and you beat them – it’s always a confidence-booster. Those were good for me, and it’s good to see our motorcycle is working well. I’ve enjoyed racing. It burns up some of the off-season time, instead of spending lap after lap on the practice track for a full month. I enjoy those races.

UMC: What have you changed in your training regimen to prepare for this season in comparison to last year?

ET: Honestly, I haven’t changed that much. For me, I feel stronger on the bike this year. I think that comes with age, getting stronger, getting older and maybe a little bit wiser. But I haven’t changed that much on my actual training program. It’s just building that base.

UMC: You made the switch to KYB suspension. In what areas are they better than the Showa units?

ET: I can’t say specific areas where it’s better. It’s just been really comfortable for me and I’ve been liking how it feels on the track. It’s definitely good.

UMC: How much better is your 2015 race bike in comparison to your 2014 race bike?

ET: I can’t say how good it’s been or how awesome it is yet because we haven’t gone to race it. But for how it was in Europe, I’m pretty satisfied with our base setup right now. I think we’re at a good starting point.

UMC: You have been on the GEICO Honda team since you turned pro in 2010. How does it feel to have been on a team for that long and now be able to continue in your 450 career with them?

ET: It’s nice to stay with a brand and a company and build that relationship with them and make it better and better throughout the years, if it is a healthy relationship. For me, it has been a good ride so far. I’ve got no complaints.

UMC: You earned your first career 450 win at Spring Creek over the summer. What is it going to take to achieve the same result in Supercross?

ET: There are a lot of good riders, and a lot of guys who are healthy this year, so it looks like we’re going to Anaheim with a full-packed gate of awesome riders. It’s going to take good starts because you can’t start in the back of the pack now and expect to get to the front because everyone is so fast. Good starts, good bike setup, being strong, and making through those 20 laps.

UMC: Being that you only raced part of the 2014 Supercross season due to injuries, where have you set your goals for the 2015 season?

ET: My goals are to win and be in the championship fight by the end of the series. I also want to stay healthy and stay consistent and hopefully be battling for a points title by the end of the series.

Photos by Simon Cudby