Oakleaf’s started with a huge impact back at the MAXXIS @ Foxhills in 2011, with James Dodd scoring their first points. We caught up with Team owner Shaun Anthony to find out a little bit about them and whats in store for 2012.
How did Oakleaf come about?
I started Oakleaf Building six years ago and it’s now a award winning company in the Somerset district for new build construction of houses, flats and extensions. My brother Dave was looking for sponsorship so I stepped in for return of promoting my company in the south west as he is a expert rider at the south west premier championship. Not being able to compete myself because of other commitments in the world of football I have always stood the opposite side of the ropes with a massive passion for the sport inherited from a upbringing surrounded by MX as all my family have raced. Since supporting Dave it’s got bigger and better each year with what budget we had and also pulling in other company sponsorship supporting Scott Gains and Dave in 2010 then Tommy Alba and James Dodd in 2011 with Dave stepping back from riding to help me run the team ,which brings us to the position were in now.
So…its starting to come together. Looking forward to Oakleaf’s first full season in the MAXXIS?
Yeah things seem to be coming together nicely ,although it’s not easy, but I haven’t got this far without working hard. Last season I knew I had to get to the big meetings to get the recognition but never completed the full season. So this year were all looking forward to our first full season at the Maxxis competing in both MX1 and MX2 and the Red Bull Pro Nationals with Alex Snow , James Dodd and young Jake Millward.
Lots of changes through the winter with riders leaving and new riders being signed, for those who don’t know can you give us a quick update?
last season I really enjoyed working with Tommy Alba as the adventure was the same for both of us. We were both entering the bigger championships in a position of hope and we both knew deep down that we were good enough but just had to prove it. Although it was the Rookie class the competition is still as tense as the pros because they are all wanting to make that next step. Tommy has taken a offer from another team before I knew what I could offer as I had to approach product sponsors which I hadn’t before. 2012 I have signed Alex Snow and Jake Millward and we’re keeping James Dodd. I am confident that I have a team that will be right up there in all classes which is a great feeling , especially being a new team !
Getting Alex on board was obviously a great coup for a newly established team, it must feel good?
Getting Alex is great, his ambitious drive and commitment is second to none, I’m really looking forward to working with him . For a 22 year old lad he carries a lot of experience not only at British championship level but GP’s as well so his whole presence is good for us all. As I’m 30 myself the communication between us is great and I am positive I can get him pushing on to the next level in getting him on to podium which he was so close to in 2011
Are you busy testing at the moment?
We have been busy last couple of weeks with Alex testing and getting the bike running to how it was for him last season before we start making changes but were also waiting on products as well. Doddy is nearly recovered now from his injury so he will be out testing in the next few weeks. Jake has been getting a bit of bike time in as he sustained a injury at Sheffield SX but will be joining us testing shortly
With LPE, Lanes and now yourselves all looking to impress Kawasaki, is there a rivalry there? I guess it’s good for the brand?
I think both LPE and Lanes are doing a really good job and it’s great to be associated with them and with Kawasaki, but when we go racing we go there to win! We go there to put our sponsors in the limelight so when we roll out on the track everybody is a rival. I want to do the best I can for Kawasaki, so if we all end up on the podium it’s a good job done for Kawasaki .
What are your expectations for 2012?
My expectations for the team is to get a solid recognition and make sure I improve my riders. We want to get on the box which I’m more than confident in doing.
Have you found the current financial climate a hindrance to team plans for next year? Money seems to be harder to find these days..
The financial climate isn’t the best and it makes things a lot harder to achieve. I can only do what I can do, so the business side of it has to be concentrated on 100% because the budget isn’t a never ending pot. Especially being a new team its slightly harder as well. The riders know the situation and we’re a happy camp, we just want to get out there and race.
What round/race are you looking forward to the most if any?
As the team owner I’m looking forward to the first round. It’s a great feeling driving in to the pits and the work I have put in that no one can see pre season is revealed. That feeling will probably have to wait until the first Red Bull Pro National as my wife and I are expecting our third child and she’s due on the 11th March and I can’t see her wanting to give birth at FatCats as its too far away and too sandy!
What sponsors do you have on board for 2012?
So far Oakleaf Building, Kawasaki Motors UK, Albion Motorcycles , One Industries, Acerbis, Spiral Graffix, Carbon Performance Parts, Talon, Samco Hoses, Fro systems, EKS Goggles, Wizard Wash, DC Shoes, JMT Plastering, Taunton Windows, KaP Engineering, Darren Thomas P/Heating, Ade Threasher photography. I’m still finalising other products at the moment and hopefully going to attract others as well.
What’s the future for Oakleaf, I know you’re ambitious, how far are you looking to take the team? Is there a 3-5 year plan with this?
The plan at the moment is to compete the best we can this season , but like all teams we want to be the best and win championships. This is where the financial climate effects us. You can’t really predict which way it will take you but I think the future is bright.
Being a south west based team, you guys have got to be disappointed with no Foxhill or Farleigh this year? Alex done really well at Foxhills on 2011..
Yeah it’s a real shame we’re not competing at Farleigh and Foxhill as they’re probably the most natural and well known tracks out there. It was also a bit of a kick in the teeth that Little Silver is the last round as it would of been good to get our local people at a big meeting so early in the season. Yeah Alex done good at Foxhill but then we hope to get that form out of him everywhere as the base of the team is now local.
Anything else you would like to add…?
Yeah I just want to thank everyone who is helping out one way or another and hope for a healthy season. Just living the dream!!