Over the course of the summer of 2017, there were all sorts of ups and downs in the 250 class. Flashes of brilliance mixed with tough breaks made for what was ultimately a thrilling season to watch unfold. Yet, the results on paper tell a much different story. Alex Martin held onto the second place position in the points by simply showing up and logging consistent finishes that would land him on the podium. Up until an unfortunate practice crash, Martin was a championship contender, and arguably the only rider who had a shot late in the season at challenging Zach Osborne. It wasn’t always this way though. Once a hard-working privateer, Alex has made leaps and bounds in his career to land the factory ride he has today. Despite his tough break this summer, we caught up with Martin during our Premix 2 shoot, and he seems confident and ready to face the 2018 season head-on.
Before you got hurt this summer, things were looking pretty good. It obviously had to be a bummer, but do you feel like you can take a lot of positives away from your 2017 season?
Yeah, looking back on it now, I was really disappointed afterward and I still am. It's the first outdoor season that I've never really finished in my career. I've always finished and finished strong. At the end of the season, I tend to build momentum and find my stride to get good results. Looking back there were a lot of seconds and thirds. I was pretty consistent and I had a 20-point gap on Jerma [Jeremy Martin]. It was such a weird deal. It was the end of the day at the Baker's Factory, we had done two 35 minute motos that day and it was at the end of the second one that I hit a kink in a rut that popped me out. That slammed me to the ground and just like that it separated my AC joint, my scapula was broken, and my collarbone was broken. At that point, I tried everything I could to be back by Unadilla, but it just wasn't happening. I actually rode the Thursday before Budds Creek and it wasn't that bad. I was fairly close to Shane [McElrath], but I had taken three weeks off the bike at that point and I didn't want to put myself in a dangerous situation at the race. That's when I decided to call it a season. I can't really be mad with switching teams and bikes. I feel like I learned a ton this year with bike setup and the team. I got to build my relationships with everyone as well. All in all, I'm happy with how things went minus the injury.
You touched on the team a little bit. It seems like you've settled in with them pretty well. What does that do for you mentally looking at the future? Oh, for sure. I'll be out here until the end of October and I'm doing straight rhythm. I'm doing Supercross testing and more or less getting my feet under me again with jumps. It's fun. I'm in a totally different spot than last year. I didn't really know anyone and I have a really good relationship with my mechanic Jordy now and everyone on the team. It's fun to come in having those relationships built already and it just makes things easier because they know how I operate. If I'm in a certain mood or something they can be like, "Now Al, just calm down."
Looking at this last outdoor season, Zach Osborne and yourself ran first and second in points, and you've both had to work your way up to being at that level. What has that experience been like?
Well, first off, it's been a long road [laughs]. It's been a lot longer than I'd like for sure. I'd hate to say I'm a slow learner, but the facts are against me. I think that everything happens for a reason and I learned a lot along the way. By the time that I earned a factory ride, I was ready for it. I had the necessary tools to win and I showed that with Star Racing, and this year I wasn't able to get a win, but we were really close to doing it in outdoors. For me, especially switching over to a different bike, I was really happy that we were in the running and consistently on the podium. That experience is fun. It's nice to have it and it's been a long road, and I'm glad that it's paid off somehow. More so you see it in outdoors than in Supercross. We have Sean Cantrell on the team and he's young and there's a big gap there. As you saw, Zach Osborne and I are both 27 running first and second in points, and Sean is coming in at 17. There's a big gap there with wisdom and fitness and all of that.
Your training program at the Baker's Factory has also been a bit of a new deal for you, correct?
Yeah, that came to fruition right around June of this year. It was in the works and they were talking about it during Supercross, but I wasn't really sure if it was going to happen. Right around Daytona SX in March is when we found out that it would happen. That's when we started looking into living situations so we could be down there for the summer. Luckily, Jeremy had already rented a place down there from Ken [Roczen], it's his old place. We were able to stay there for the summer and it was seamless. We moved right in and were able to get our training in. It's a good group of guys with Zach, Jason [Anderson], and Marvin [Musquin]. They rode at different times than us, but it's fun to be around that good group of people who are all focused on getting the job done and win races.
Shifting gears a bit, you just spun some laps on the KTM 150 SX for Premix 2, what was that like?
That was a blast! I'm really impressed with the 150, and I'm not just saying that because I'm sponsored by the company [laughs]. It rips! It's been a long time since I've ridden a two-stroke in general. I think the last time I rode one was a YZ125 in 2005. I was really surprised. The thing has some serious power and it goes strong. I can come into some of these corners in fourth gear slipping the clutch and it still carries it. It's fun. Here in October, we don't have much for serious races going on and it's fun to ride a different bike and get out of the normal structure of training.
Safe to say you're probably glad you're racing a 250F?
Yeah, I don't know that I could make top 40 out there on this thing. The throttle is a little stiff, but I felt like a fish out of water. Granted, it is the first day in at least ten years that I've ridden a two-stroke, but either way, I'm happy with the setup we have on our team.