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Ed Allingham Interview – Reset!

Professional motocross isn’t easy, the sacrifices you have to make at young age can take their toll and eventually in some form or other you need a release -but sometime that release can come at the expense of your motocross career. When work your whole childhood chasing your dream then, get sidetracked right at the final hurdle, it can have disastrous consequences.

Twenty two year old Edward Allingham has experienced both sides. In 2009 he came second to Michael Leib at Lorretta Lynns, in 2010 he scored points at the Mantova MX2 GP riding for Steve Dixon’s GP team, everything was going well and he had good people behind him. Then, just when he was ready to make his mark, Ed lost interest in motocross. For the next year and a half, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to really put his heart into it any more, he got sidetracked by life and he virtually fell off the radar at a professional level.

Thankfully the stylish and talented Allingham is back, and back in a big way having signed for Roger Magee’s HM Plant KTM team to race the British and European Championships for 2013.

Allingham has is first love back, he wants it more than ever, and he knows this is probably his last chance to make it in professional motocross – he has to make it work.

Ed has an interesting story to tell, and for the first time he reveals what really happened in the last two years.  It takes strength to be so honest and admit your mistakes in public, Ed has done that and with his renewed determination and focus, he could well be the surprise package of 2013.

You have signed for KTM UK and you are back in top team you must be pleased to get back to that level again?

Yea I am really pleased that Roger has given me another chance at it. There is a boy Keith Reid that was looking out for a ride for me in the European series and he spoke to Roger and he was really interested, he gave me a call and we got it sorted.

Have you ridden the bike yet?

I rode Elliott’s bike at Elsworth in England, it was the 2012 bike and it gave me a feel of what they can do to the bike from standard. It felt good the only thing we need to do is some suspension testing it as it was a bit hard for me.

The European championship has really grown, that will be a good step for you to get back into GPs

I really wanted to go back to Europe and I thought the Grand Prix was a bit of a big step, and the Europeans might be a bit more of a my level at the minute, before I go back to Grand Prix

In the British I was sort of hoping to be in the top five now that I have got my head straight, I should be in that pace somewhere.

You haven’t been on a bike in a while, didn’t you get injured earlier in the year?

Yea I was leading the Irish Championship but got injured in the Ulster at Desertmartin when a boy crashed over the step up and I landed on his bike, I done my ACL again so that was me out again.

Talk about signing with Steve Dixon, working with Mike Brown in 2010, and what happened after that…

I have always worked with Brownie, I have always known him but it was in 2007 I started working with and he has always helped me, when I was over there (in the USA) he helped.

I got points at the Mantova GP that year and then it all went pear shaped then over a woman.

That was the key turning point, I thought I was in love and nothing else mattered then.  That is basically then why I stopped riding for Dixon.

I thought I was missing out having a girlfriend and partying, I thought I was missing out on what everyone else was doing.

You had been running a high intense pace from when you were young, then going to America and doing Lorretta Lynns, was that almost a consequence of having that much focus, when you came home all that temptation was there, and you had never experienced it?

When I started taking it serious at around 15/16, I had never done any of that at all, no partying or running about with my friends – it was just all bikes.

I think then when I got a bit older I thought I was missing something, but once I had that for half a year or so I realised there was nothing there and I had just had thrown everything away that I had worked for. It started eating into me big time the more I thought about it.

It was hard on everybody, it nearly broke the whole family up, because everyone had put so much work in.  It wasn’t just me, the whole family had put so much in and that is part of the reason my brother David quit motocross and went to short circuits.

Is that all behind you now?

When I stopped I realised that all that partying and stuff just wasn’t for me. It was just eating me up big time, I started doing real work and I realised I had just thrown everything away.

Before the start of this year I was realising I needed to do something, Graeme Vigors was the only man that would give me a chance. I knew there was no way I was getting back into the British after it all and even the British Championship people wouldn’t give me a chance because I had quit twice.

Graeme and Niki Adair gave me the chance and they looked after for this year, but then that knee injury unfortunately stopped that.

You spent a lot of time in the USA and rode at Loretta Lynns, you almost won the B stock class against Michael Leib and it came down to the last couple of laps.

How I ended up there was, I had won that MXY2 in 08 for PAR Honda and I was supposed ride for them in the adults but they gave that ride to Scott Elderfield. So Steve Dixon offered me a ride and I was going to ride for Steve at the British and maybe even the Grand Prix. I stayed at Zach Osborne’s house and was riding the 09 Yamaha but it just wasn’t happening for me on that bike – I was absolutely terrible on it!

Me and dad sat down and said this isn’t going to work, so we talked to Brownie and he sorted me a deal with Kawasaki out of his local shop, Jims. He thought a year in the amateurs in America would do me no harm, we done all them events at Vegas, and I was running in and around the top ten. We had a lot of problems with the Kawasaki so we switched to Honda with the same shop.

I had qualified for Lorretta Lynss and all that, but my dad came out because he knew I just wasn’t riding right, he had just left me to myself over there and Brownie was helping me but he was off racing himself a lot too.  So dad came out for about  two or three months and we went out riding everyday and I went to Lorrettas then and finished second, I lost by one point to Leib.

Seeing what Leib has got too, with getting a podium in GPs, he has progressed on, is that frustrating to see that he is able to do that you haven’t got there yet?

It is frustrating, but in my head I know exactly why I never got there because it was all the way I went about it. If I had of kept in the line I was going in, I had got points in the GPs and I wasn’t riding close to my potential at all but then it all went to pieces over that other situation I got into. That all started in 2010 then at the start of 2011 Steve tried to talk me in to coming back, because he knew I was wasting my talent, but I just went half heartedly at it in 2011, I had hurt my knee before that at the Belfast Supercross. I had just had that sorted  and came back, but my mind was just wanting to be at home I wasn’t really wanting to be at the racing.

I had all that in my head and it wasn’t working for me, so I just took a year racing home. I wasn’t taking it seriously then, I was just riding at the weekend and having a bit of fun.

Was that good for you in a way, to have a bit of a rest from bikes and do it as a hobby like everyone else?

I am not going to say it was good for me. At that time that is what I wanted to be doing in my mind but, deep down as it went on I realised it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing. At the end 2011 I realised that at that wasn’t me at all and I had thrown it all away.

How was your family when you were with Watt Kawasaki just riding at home in 2011?

They just stepped back then, gave me a bit of space and just let me do my own thing. David had started road racing then and he was coming on at that big time so they focused on him. They just let me be, he knew the desire had to come from me, and he let me tear away myself. At the end of the year I told him I realised I had made a big mistake and that I wasn’t happy, and he knew it had come from the heart.

Going into this winter are you making changes to get back to the level you were at and are you are going to doing the arenacross series as warm up?

I was wanting to do the Supercross but Roger wasn’t really too keen on me doing them.  He thought that because I am just back I need to put a lot of work in and try and stay injury free and try and be concentrated on what I am there to do.

I was out with Harry Everts on Wednesday and he was assessing my riding and stuff so I think I am going to go that road with him.

I remember he came to do a coaching day at the time of the Irish GP in 05/06, you were there and you were listening to every word he was saying and he was impressed with you at that point. Are you back to that point now where you are just totally focussed on racing and trying to get better?

Yea that is all I want now, it is just bikes and nothing else really matters at all. Harry actually had come back over again that year, about three weeks later, to the house and he was going to set up a European team, he watched me ride a 250f and he was wanting to put me in his European team on a three year development deal, but then it fell through when he went to run a KTM GP team.

Jumping back to when you were in America, what was the racing like and how did you adapt back to the racing over here?

It took me probably half a year to get used to racing the way the Americans race, at home we would have a lot more time to get settled in and then pick the pace up, whereas there you get out of the gate and, if you’re not there on the first lap you may forget about it, because the race is finished four laps later. They only have five lap races except for Lorreta Lynns. Fitness wasn’t a big thing over there it was more just outright speed. Them wee boys over there are downright fast and a lot more aggressive. If you make a mistake it was two or three that pass you in the one corner, it wasn’t just the one person. It came as a bit of shock but then I got used to it and I think it helped me when I came home.  I came home and I think the first race I did was a race for Philip McCullough on a Suzuki it definitely helped come on from the year before a lot.

The pressure the kids are under seems to be massive in the US, did you notice the difference in intensity over there from the teams and the riders than it was in the British Schoolboy series?

Aw the Americans are just fully committed, as soon as you wake up in the morning it is bikes until you go to sleep at night. The families are putting everything into it, every penny they have. It is crazy when you think about it – they are putting in some serious work. That wee fella Adam Cianciarulo, his dad doesn’t work at all, every day they are at the track from 8 in the morning.  It is just bred into them, even the boy back in nearly last says he is going to the line to win – even if they have no hope! That is just the way they are brought up.

Does that make it harder to maintain your career as an adult, the GP guys seem to last longer in their career than the AMA guys?

I think that has a bit to do with it alright. They are under so much pressure, they have been at it so long. They have been at it full time from very young for maybe ten years longer than the guys over here have, which is probably half the reason they don’t last as long.

It is similar to your situation as well, that you just need a break at some point?

Yea that seems to happen a lot of those guys, you look at Stroupe and guys like that, they have all went off the rails at one stage. Those boys have been at it from they were on 50cc every day. It starts then, they are at the track every day with their dads telling them what to do.

How would you compare the tracks? It seems a lot more loamy and suits that aggressive riding?

The tracks just suit how the Americans ride. Everyone you go to there are no stones, they are just ripped up as deep as they can get them, There wasn’t on hard packish track, nearly everyone of them is ripped up and set up because they rode aggressive, I think that helps their speed too.

Do you think that is why some of them struggle  when they come to GPs, because they aren’t used to the variety of tracks then?

I think that is half the problem, it is a lot different out there compared to if you go to Italy or somewhere, Americans are just set in their own ways really.

How did the Americans take to you over there, were you taken in well?

No, I don’t think they took me in well. They didn’t like me being at the front at all, boys were spitting at my gate, pushing me on line and even my dad at most of them races, If you weren’t American they didn’t like you.

I actually got offered a deal from Geico Honda to ride the A class the next year (2010)which would have been a similar deal to what Justin Bogle has been on there, but I thought maybe going to Steve’s for the GPs would have been better. In hindsight now I sort of regret not staying, because I had done all the work to get there and I just needed to give it one more year and I would have been there. (Pro in the USA)

Had you planned to race supercross there, or had you always planned to come back home?

That was the plan to stay there, but then the offer from Steve came up and I thought it would be better.  With hindsight maybe the American one would have been better because it would have kept my head straight but sure it is easy to look back and say now.

Lorretta Lynns is a massive race, what is it like to ride in? Do you feel the industry and everyone watching you there?

If you finish in the top three there you are basically onto a pro team. That is just a massive race, I have never been to anything like that in my life. There are so many people driving golf karts that there are police directing the golf karts!

At night there was a full on concert,  everything was massive and just interview after interview with Vurbmoto. The media that was there was crazy, and every gear company was there, it was just a massive deal.

Every round they go to they class that as a championship, if you race two or three classes, you could have two or three championships. By the time Dean Wilson was pro he had 30 championships behind him. They have maybe ten amateur events but each round is a different championship run by different people  you start on the Monday morning and finish on the Sunday night.

Does that make it a long week?

It actually goes in fairly quick, you get a good bit of practice and the races are the easy bit -you maybe wouldn’t be out one day at all because there are so many classes and races going on. There is always plenty to do at the races too. I thought they were good fun.

You have experienced a lot of things will all that experience help you in your comeback because you have already been thrown in at the deep end before so to speak.

I think I gained a lot of experience from there, I felt like I did pretty good there, if you look when Roczen went to America he didn’t break the top 8 in the B class. I got second the next year so it was a good achievement.

If you are racing with them boys you are kind of racing the fastest in the world, if you look at Zach Bell, he was just out of the B class he was top five in the pros. I don’t understand why that is, but it doesn’t really happen over here, it seems to be different way of going about it. I think it is maybe the intensity those boys over there are doing it.

The European stuff at the Grand Prix should help to bring the young guys on a lot, they can see what it is like, I think that will take away the shock factor.

I would be happy enough if I was running around the top ten (in the Europeans).

Was it good to get the points in the Grand Prix at Mantova in 2010, were you surprised to get them that early?

I wasn’t really because when we were practicing I could keep up with Mike Brown , we knew it was going to take time to settle in but we also knew there was a lot more to come.

Is Mike Brown still involved with your program?

Yea I speak to Mike almost every day, he sort of classes himself as my second dad really. He is still busy with his own racing, but any chance he gets he comes over or I go over to him. I was there last year when I was injured pit boarding him and helping him out.

He is a pretty down to earth and humble guy…

Yea Mike, you couldn’t really get any nicer than Mike really. He is so down to earth and he is not really big headed about his success. I don’t know what made him different from the other riders really. It is maybe where you come from, his mum and dad are real down to earth people too, I think if he had got out of line they would have pulled him back in.

Mike has been a massive part of my racing career, he put a lot of work into me as well as dad, they both put a lot of work in.

 We haven’t seen the best of Ed Allingham yet then?

No, not really at home anyway. In America it was starting to happen but here I didn’t really get going at it. I think now that my head is straight, that was 90% of the problem, so it is just getting my base fitness and getting back to where I was on the bike.

I would like to say a big thanks to Graeme Vigors and Nicki Adair for their help last year for giving me a chance again, to my family and Mike Brown for still sticking by me and of course Roger Magee for giving me this massive chance, without him it wouldn’t be possible, it is a massive opportunity. Also thanks to Phil Coulter as well he has been behind me in a big way as well.

With those people behind you it must give you the belief in yourself again?

It does give me confidence, because everybody I still speak to thinks I can do it. I have a lot of people to prove wrong and I want to prove to my dad that I can do it, he is in two minds as to whether I can do it or not but he gave me a chance and I would like to show him that I can still do it.
Article by Jonathan McCready

Pics by Paul McCrea and Nigel McKinstry

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