Justin Brayton discusses racing around the world and back
Justin Brayton’s name is practically synonymous with offseason races at this point. Over the years, Brayton has been a regular competitor in all sorts of overseas races, and 2017 was no different. After competing in the Australian Supercross series, Brayton wasted no time packing up and traveling to Switzerland for the 2017 Geneva SX. Now, Brayton is back in America and putting in the final touches on his preparation for the upcoming 2018 season. We got to chatting with Brayton about traveling around the world and what he has in store for this next year.
You just got back from a number of offseason races. Take me through the last few weeks.
The last couple of weeks have been awesome. I've been out here in California with the team getting things going for Supercross here in the states. I mainly just came out here to do some engine testing and I thought I might do some suspension testing, but to be quite honest I feel great with the suspension I have. It's the same stuff I raced with in Australia and in Switzerland. I feel really good with it and I've got a good engine package. I've been putting in some good motos and have spent a lot of time at the track. I'm happy with my decision to come out here and I feel really comfortable heading into Anaheim 1. I'll go back home to North Carolina to spend some time with the family and enjoy the holidays with them.
You're no stranger to this by now, but what is the experience like to go from racing in Australia to racing in Switzerland and do that much traveling?
Typically, I've done a lot of offseason races even from the time I was on 250s. I've been doing Bercy and Geneva and races like that for years. The biggest difference now is when we go to Australia, we stay for the whole series and I get to take my family. I have two kids now and we all go over there as a family and really just experience the lifestyle. We also do a lot of riding and training. Where we're based at in Australia is amazing. We're right on the beach, just North of Brisbane on the Sunshine Coast. I had a track built not far from there. This year was pretty seamless, it was the same preparation that we went through over here. We spent three months in Australia and had a blast, we enjoyed every minute of it.
We covered your bike in Geneva and the interesting way that you got it there. How did things go with that?
It went great, my mechanic did an amazing job with packing everything up and taking it over. To the team's credit, they built me a bike and were going to ship it over, but it got hung up in customs and it wasn't going to make it. Last minute they shipped an engine over for me and Showa hooked us up with some suspension that we took over with us on the plane. I was stressed about that because you never really know if it's going to make it or not [laughs]. We put a lot of stuff in bags and took as much as we could. Once it was built it felt really comfortable. It was really similar to the bike that I had in Australia. Credit to Brent [Duffe] for making that happen, and like I said, it can be a little bit stressful hoping that the bags make it. If one of them doesn't make it, it can mess up the whole bike.
You've been with the MotoConcepts/Honda team for two years now, what have you learned during that time that you're looking to take into 2018?
I think there are two big things that come to mind. The first is just knowing the team more. You know how they operate, they know what works for me and what doesn't. I think the biggest thing though is we have the same bike for this year as we did last year. I didn't ride the new model of bike until the middle of December. That put me behind the game for testing different chassis parts and suspension and trying to get comfortable. That took a while to be quite honest. I wasn't quite comfortable to have the confidence to race up front. This year with the bike being the same, I have the same setting pretty much as I did last year in Supercross. I've also got six races in Australia on it and the race in Geneva on it. I've ridden several different tracks both on the East Coast and West Coast. It feels good everywhere and I'm really excited to show up at Anaheim feeling confident and not have anything thrown at me as far as not being familiar with the bike in certain conditions or not feeling comfortable on my bike. It makes me a lot more excited and it makes the holiday season a lot more fun when you're confident and fit. I feel like I have a lot left to give.
As someone who has ridden previous generations of this bike, how does this new generation of CRF450R stack up against older models?
It's amazing. The first thing that you notice is how nimble it is and how light it is on the track. Also, I think the power delivery is the best that they've ever had. That's always good to have that good of a platform. Obviously, we don't race a stock bike in Supercross, but if you have that good of a base, it makes our jobs that much easier to get it dialed in. This bike is so good out of the box.
Looking at Anaheim 1 being just a few short weeks away, what do you hope to take away from that round and into the rest of the season?
I think the biggest thing for me is just to ride to my full potential. I haven't ridden to what I believe is truly my potential in probably three years or so. I haven't felt this good going into a season for a few years. I hope that translates into results. You never know for sure, but I'm confident that it will. I'd like to really be in the top five a lot this year and I'd like to get a couple of podiums. I don't think it's a far stretch. I had a couple of times last year that I had that speed, but I wasn't comfortable with it. Now I'm comfortable with that speed and I can tap into that any time I want to. That's a good feeling and that's mainly just comfort in the bike and having confidence in any race scenario. Whether there's big whoops or small whoops, ruts or hard pack, it's all been thrown at me over the past year with this bike and I feel great with it. Yeah, I'd really like to be in the top five and grab some podiums.