In his second year as a member of the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Team, R.J. Hampshire comes into the 2021 Pro Motocross Championship as a contender for the 250-class title. After an early-season injury forced him to withdraw from the 250 East Supercross Series after round 2, Hampshire turned his attention to healing his body and preparing mentally and physically for 12 rounds of brutal outdoor motocross. Before the series kicked off, we caught up with R.J. to ask him about his outdoor preparation and goals coming into the 250 MX Series this summer.
EVS: R.J., thanks for taking the time in your busy schedule to catch us up on your status coming into the 2021 Pro Motocross Championship. With a 4th overall in the series in 2019 and 7th in 2020, you’re certainly a 250 MX title favorite coming into the series. What are expectations coming into this year’s 250 MX series?
R.J. Hampshire: My expectations are the same at the start of every year, be competitive and have a shot at the title when it comes down to the end of the series.
EVS: With this being the second year in your two-year contract, there must be some extra motivation coming into this outdoor season. Do you feel like you have something to prove this summer?
RJH: In this sport, you always have to prove yourself and can never settle. I’ve had a rough go the past couple of years, but I feel like I’m in a really good spot and gelling with my Husky. I learned a lot from last year and where I like the setup to be on the chassis.
“My expectations are the same at the start of every year, be competitive and have a shot at the title when it comes down to the end of the series.” – R.J. Hampshire
EVS: With you recovering from your wrist injury from Supercross, how did you prepare differently this year compared to the season’s past? Are there areas you focused on when you were off the bike healing to better prepare you for the summer?
RJH: When the injury first happened, I had a couple surgeries right away, so I was really focused on flushing my body out and almost restarting. I did a lot of running for the first three months and worked on getting the best out of my body. I knew I would have plenty of time on the bike to get to where I was confident coming into the season, so I really wasn’t rushing to get back on the bike. It’s been about four to five weeks of some good riding, so I’m feeling good!
EVS: In addition to this being your second year with the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Team, it’s also your second year of training with Aldon Baker and the crew at Baker’s Factory. How has the Baker training regimen changed your definition of “being prepared” to tackle individual races and an entire racing season?
RJH: The big difference is the group I ride with every day. Trying to hang with the 450 guys as long as I can has really upped my speed and distance with the sprints! Each year I learn more and more about training and what works best for me, which is huge when it comes down to confidence and knowing you’re at your best when we go racing!
EVS: You’ve taken Pro Motocross 250-class overall wins at Budd’s Creek (2018) and Red Bud (2020). What are some of the tracks you look forward to racing on this summer — and why?
RJH: Of course, Budd’s Creek and Red bud are going to be at the top for obvious reasons! I don’t have many wins, so those are special. It’s just the way those two tracks develop. It’s easy for me to find a flow. I’d say Southwick is right up there with those. I just need to get a win there this year, and then it may jump to the lead because I love the sand.
EVS: You were married in 2018 and became a father in 2019. How has your perspective on racing (and life) changed as a result of becoming a family man?
RJH: It’s been a blessing. I’m so thankful to be where I’m at in life. For sure, the racing side should have been better, and I do still believe I have a lot more winning and speed left, but I’ve already won having my family. Our daughter Ivy has brought so much joy into our lives, and it’s a lot of fun seeing her grow every day!
“I’m so thankful to be where I’m at in life. For sure, the racing side should have been better, and I do still believe I have a lot more winning and speed left, but I’ve already won having my family.” – R.J. Hampshire
EVS: Looking ahead 2-3 years, where would you like to be in your racing career?
RJH: I’m honestly just taking it year to year. I hope to get my deal renewed over here with the Rockstar Husqvarna team. We still have a lot to prove in the 250 class before we think about the 450s.
EVS: R.J., the entire EVS Sports team wishes you all the best in the great outdoors. We sure do appreciate you squeezing in this interview before your busy summer starts. Thanks, R.J.!
RJH: Thank you so much for the continued support! I love being a part of the brand and hope to bring a lot of excitement this outdoor season.
Interview by Dale Spangler