JAR Honda’s Wayne Garrett has had a horrible 18 months.
A broken leg in July 2011, when he was in the best form of his career, started a spiral of injures that he has only now recovered from. After three months with a cage on his leg Wayne re-broke his leg just walking on it – resulting in another three months with the cage back on! He only got back on the bike at the end of February before breaking his collarbone in June and, two months later, he broke his arm at Hawkstone Park at the Red Bull Pro Nationals!
Despite all the injuries Garrett still managed to pick up an Ulster title to give JAR Honda their first championship – but he had to ride with that broken collarbone to do it.
It’s now January and Wayne is finally healthy and back on a bike again. He is starting his pre-season preparation by going to Spain for the rest of the month to test with the team who, this year, are concentrating on the British and Red Bull Pro Nationals championships with Wayne as the MX1 rider and Lewis Toombs in MX2.
We spoke with the 2012 Ulster MX1 Champion as he was busy getting everything ready to head to Spain, but he was kind enough to give us a few minutes of his time to discuss what it was like to come back from all his injuries, riding for Jonathan Rea and his goals for 2013.
You just had your first day back on the bike after your broken arm, how did it go?
I was a bit anxious and a bit excited, the first couple of laps I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel. As soon as I got on the bike and got a few laps done and landing off jumps I was feeling pretty comfortable. As the day went on I felt like I was getting faster and feeling more comfortable, I couldn’t believe how nice the new Honda is to ride. It was like getting on something I had never been off. Normally when I get on a bike the weight is around the knee area where the radiator guards are, this bike it feels like it is in round your feet, the cornering of it is unbelievable, I just gelled with it away.
You have had 18 months of injury how hard was it to come back from all that mentally?
Thinking back to my first injury in July (2011) I was a wee bit unfortunate getting run over and it got me stuck in a rut and it went from there. Normally I’m the type of person if I get injured I normally think, ‘right, whatever the doctor says, he is covering his own back, I’ll just get on with it,’ Whenever I feel like I’m ready I get on with it!
But, with breaking the leg and finally getting the cage off, feeling like my leg was right, then breaking it again and having to get the cage on again made me look at it a whole lot different.
I started 2012 on the back foot with only starting to ride in February and I had basically missed a whole winter’s training.
I started off trying to catch up and I was making good progress after getting on the bike at the end of February. The confidence was coming back and things were getting better week by week. I got to June and the last race I did before I broke my collarbone was an Irish Championship at Dundalk and I felt I had rode the best I had all season.
Two or three days after that I went out and broke my collarbone and I honestly couldn’t believe it, I thought to myself, ‘this honestly can’t be happening again”’ It was just one of them things. When I broke my collarbone, I thought my luck was bound to change for the better from then.
Looking back, I think when you are riding with an injury, you are giving yourself ten times more chance of injuring something else. Riding through the broken collarbone was probably what partly caused me to break my arm. I was probably protecting my collarbone even thought it was pretty good. But my crash at Hawkstone Park, nine times out of ten you get up and walk away from the crash I had.
So I have started to feel that if something is meant for you, it is meant for you no matter how much you don’t want it or try to avoid it.
They say things come in threes so I have had the leg the collarbone and arm now so hopefully my luck with change! In 20 years racing I have never had a worse run that this, I feel every time I go back to hospitaI I have only left – it gets a bit sickening after a while.
Despite the injuries you still won JAR Honda’s first championship. How did that feel?
Yea, when we started the year the whole plan was to get them the Ulster and Irish Championship and looking back at the start of the season I was on the back foot but I was running at the front in the first round of the Ulster and was leading it.
I had few mishaps then and had was a lot of points behind, I nearly thought the Ulster was out of my grasp but I kept the pressure on and came out of round five in the lead and it was a matter of just staying consistent at the last round.
It was a bit unexpected to win the Ulster but I thought after the broken leg and collarbone it was a reward for the tough time I’d had. Everything was on the right road at that stage, unfortunately I was leading the Irish at the time Hawkstone (broken arm) happened and that just ended the season for me.
I still gave the team their first championship and gave the team something back and maybe re-paid a bit of the faith that Jonathan had in me. Back in 2011 he took me on when I was sitting with a cage on my leg not knowing what was ahead of me, and neither did he. For him it was a gamble so it was nice to pay him back.
JAR Honda seems to be stepping it up a notch and concentrating more on the British Championship in 2013?
Yea, Jonathan is really passionate about his team and he has taken things forward a step this year and it is looking really good. I think he wanted a really good MX2 rider and with most riders at home stepping up to MX1 early, Lewis Toombs came along and looking at his results, he is a really high calibre rider. It is great for the team and having somebody with his calibre of speed will be good for me as well.
The team is on the up and I think people are starting to recognise it as a team you would want to be part of. I have to feel privileged to feel part of that team and hopefully in 2013 we can give the team a bit of success in the UK as well.
Working with Jonathan you knew him growing up, but unlike a lot of of team managers he is a top rider himself and can still help you out on the track, does that help a lot?
The good thing for me is that with him being a racer he understands the injury side of things, he understands good days and bad days because he is in the exact same situation.
I think that it is really good that with his busy schedule that he still has the passion to continue with the motocross and put back into the sport that was his first love.
When we go to a track he understands the areas where you need support and where you need the help so it is good when he is there, he gives you that hunger and help from what he puts into you and you want to repay the faith he has in you with good results.
Before your injuries you were around the top ten in the British championship are you hoping that this year with a good preparation in Spain you are going to come back to that form?
2011 was the first year I had a really good winter’s preparation. You can say you are doing your preparation and the right stuff but, in 2011 I upped my game, I had a really good winter so when the start of the season came I was feeling confident with how my winter had gone. In the first race of the British Championship I was running top six for most of the race and it lifted my confidence so much.
So getting there and being in an around the top ten – I know I am capable of doing it. 2012 was always going to be tough but if I can stay injury free and have a good winter, I think can get top 10-12 and I don’t see why I can’t accomplish it. I have the infrastructure there to have a good season, I have a good group of guys behind me and I know it is just up to me to have fun and enjoy it and everything should fall into place.
With the line this year full of GP calibre riders, will that help bring you along?
It is good to have those guys there, because the British Championship now is one of the biggest and toughest domestic championships away from the World Championship, so for people like myself it is nearly like a mini GP and it makes you feel like you are riding in a bigger championship.
It can only be good for me to be in there mixing it up and doing what I can. At the end of the day it is going to be tough but achieving a top ten with competition that is going to be there, you will feel you have achieved something special.
Are you going to be doing many Irish races or just concentrating on England?
At present I am doing the British Championship and Red Bulls and the way the calendar has fallen I will be able to do all the Irish Championships as well.
To be going to race at a higher level in England you have to be going at 100% and racing in Ireland on a Saturday then getting up on a Sunday morning after travelling all night you are only maybe 60% ready.
I have never done it before where I am going to concentrate on the British Championship so for me it will be something different. It is nice to be at home racing but the British Championship is the big picture and I can have plenty of years at home after I stop doing the British.
You will have plenty of racing next season then!
I am the kind of person who once the season starts doesn’t like too many weekends off. I would rather be racing every single week. You want to go out on the bike anyway so why not race as opposed to going out practicing.
Phil Coulter from Alias has sorted us out with the gear and I just got it there and I am really impressed with it, the trousers are so light compared to the other gear. It is a change for JAR because from the team started he had support and backing from Alpinestar so It shows he is taking a bit of a different route, Jonathan has most of the other bits and pieces tied up and he has a new title sponsor coming on board, so if you keep an eye out on the JAR Honda twitter page it will maybe pop up!
Finally, just changing topics a bit, AMA supercross is starting again with Anaheim coming up this weekend – who are you picking for it?
I can’t wait, I always like the start of the new season everyone is always excited to see who is doing what at the first round and it usually falls a wee bit flat but I think this year everyone is coming in fit so it should be good.
I would like to see Chad Reed doing the business because he is getting on in his twilight years, you can’t forget Villopoto but I am sticking with my man Chad Reed. Justin Barcia is going to be fast too, he will want to prove something so I think it will be a really good year.
Interview by Jonathan McCready
Picture by Nigel McKinstry