There was some skepticism when it was confirmed that RJ Hampshire was set to make his debut in the 450SX category at round eight of 2023 Monster Energy Supercross, Daytona, but he wasted no time and silenced the naysayers. Hampshire was impressive in practice, won his heat and recorded an eighth in the premier class main event. What is there that is left for him to do? Well, renegotiate a recent offer from Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing! Whilst we await news on that, watch (or read) an exclusive Vital MX interview with '24' below. This post-race chat is presented by DeCal Works.
Vital MX: Let's kick it off where the night began, with that exciting heat race. Heat races are not that long. Did that feel long?
RJ Hampshire: Honestly, I was kind of surprised whenever the white flag came out. I was like, "Holy crap! I might win this thing." It started from the beginning of the day. I had a plan – no expectations and was just going to ride the bike. I had five days on it and the first two were a complete wash! I could not even ride this thing. It was so fast. I was overjumping everything and I had my 250F suspension, so I did not even have a set-up. That was last week. I got a better set-up on Friday and made a couple of changes, so it came around a little bit. There was a little bit of hope and I was like, "Daytona might happen." I rode our Daytona track on Tuesday and I was like, "Damn! Alright." I felt pretty good and the lap times were good. The team showed up on Wednesday and we did some testing, then we decided that we were going racing. There are not many teams that would let their 250F guy race a supercross when I have never raced a 450F professionally. It is cool to see that these guys believe in me. I love it over here. It is a lot of fun.
Eighth in the main was solid. I know that the big thing is that you move on once you have won a 250SX title, but does this make you think about pushing to 450SX? Do you still have that unfinished business mentality in 250SX?
I don't have an ego and that is the big thing for me. I am going to show up, whatever bike I am on, and do the best that I can. People say that they ride a 450F better, but I truly do think that I ride it good. Outdoors is where I really ride it well. I feel like I can do more outdoors than I can in supercross. I don't know, man. I just got an offer from these guys before this weekend, a two-year 250F deal with a 450F option. My stock just went up a little bit after tonight. My main event was solid, but I had a lot of respect for the guys. You could tell that I was moving over a bit. I moved over for one guy and two guys got me! Kenny [Roczen] trusted me a lot coming into a corner – I checked up and let him have it. That was our goal to come in here… I never put a position on it, but I wanted to learn and try to be better. It is a lot to handle and fast as hell, but I feel like I am learning how to test a bit and get the bike where I want it. Five days on the bike and we rode pretty damn well tonight. I cannot complain.
Could you go and race in Indianapolis in 450SX?
I think that they are building my race bike right now! There is a chance. I don't know – I have got to go and talk to them about my bonus program, because we did not expect to get a heat win there. I am going to go and find Nate [Ramsay] before we leave tonight.
It sounds like we need to talk to Nate and get the second year of that contract as a guaranteed 450SX spot.
I do feel like I need to win in 250s. I think that Austria wants that also, but hopefully I proved that I have worth on a 450F and that I can represent their brand well. That is another thing! I was coming here and, without Malcolm [Stewart], Rockstar and Husqvarna needed someone out there to get a lot of publicity. I was a storyline tonight! I did not crush the main event, but the rest of the day was pretty solid. I was stoked on the night.
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