For most promising up-and-coming riders the MX2 division is a natural stepping stone from the youth ranks of the Rookies to fully-fledged adult Pro competition but Tommy Alba ain’t most promising up-and-coming riders.
The 16-year-old from Somerset makes the big move into the Pros in 2013 but the graduate of the Red Bull Elite Youth Academy is plunging head-long into the deep end by rolling out at the opening round on a 450F in MX1.
Here’s Tommy’s take on his debut with the big boys…
RBPN: First up, it’s a big season for you as you move up to the Pros so what are your expectations for 2013 in the Red Bull Pro Nationals?
Tommy Alba: “It’s going to be a very different year for me as I have no pressures like I had in Rookies to win so in some ways it’ll be more enjoyable. It is going to be really hard for me in the Pros – especially the extra long races. I have trained my butt off over the winter to get back to fitness after a big crash at the end of last season which put me out for four months. I just want to finish races this year and hopefully score points.”
RBPN: How do you feel about lining up against the likes of Steve Ramon and Brad Anderson? It’s a huge step up compared to last season in the Rookies…
Tommy Alba: “To be honest I’m really not worried, they’re in a different league of riding to me and I’m not going to be intimidated either as I’m not that sort of rider. I’m out there for the same reason they are – to race to the best of my ability!”
RBPN: How’s your off-season training and testing been going?
Tommy Alba: “It’s been difficult with the new Honda 450. Because it is an all-new bike a lot of stuff needed to be changed to get it the way I like it. But testing has been good and with the help of my team-mate Luke Hill at HPR we have it pretty dialled in now. As for training, I’ve been on a strict plan with my coach Alan Millway of MX Fitness who has been awesome in taking me to the next level and getting me strong enough to ride the 450. I’m not 100 per cent over my injuries so I just have to work with what I have and make the best of it.”
RBPN: Has the move to a 450F been as smooth as you expected?
Tommy Alba: “At first I thought it would not be a problem but it soon became obvious what a massive step it was. I was just not strong enough to hold on and I couldn’t believe the difference from a 250F. I have worked hard on building my strength up and I am now starting to get there. I am still only 16 and I know this is going to be a learning season for me. It was a difficult choice for me and my family to make but the way things are going now – and with all the support from Dirtbikexpress and my personal sponsors – I’m glad we made that decision!”
RBPN: Out of the announced tracks so far which are you looking forward to the most and why?
Tommy Alba: “I am probably looking forward to Landrake the most as it will be the first round so it will be buzzing! It’s a local track to me and I know it well – I have ridden it a lot in schoolboys. I have a lot of friends that will come to watch me there also so it makes it a really good atmosphere for me to be in and I like it like that!”
Picture by Elliot Spencer