Christian Craig is Making His Dreams Come True
Christian Craig’s story is unique in the sense that few professionals can retire from a sport, only to return to it and be more successful than ever before. In the three years since he’s returned from retirement, Craig has managed to win in the 250SX class and secure a fill-in ride with Team Honda HRC. Many racers strive for the chance to ride for a factory team, but for Craig, the opportunity to be on a factory Honda is dream come true. We had the chance to talk with him to discuss his new ride and how he’s planning to make the most of it when the 2017 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross championship kicks off this weekend at Hangtown MX.
You rode the 450 at Vegas, how has the switch been for you, not only going from 250 to 450, but also riding the new bike the Honda came out with?
Jumping on the 450 took me a while at first, I had been riding the 250 for awhile so when I got the call to move up it took me a bit to get used to it. For a while I had to switch back and forth, I still had to ride 250 East and ended up doing a couple rounds on the 450. That was pretty tough actually, especially with my timing on the 250, but I got through it and it’s been fun. I have about six rides total on the bike. I’ve just been testing and trying to get comfortable with the bike. I finally got there last week and now I’m putting in the time to try and get my motos in. It’s crunch time now; we only have a little over a week. I’m feeling good, my body is good, the bike is good, and I’m ready to take it to the race.
In the short amount of time you’ve been doing outdoor testing with the bike, was there anything right away that stands out to you as different from past Hondas?
The new 2017 bike is a lot different, it doesn’t even feel like a Honda compared to my 250. It’s a whole different bike and it took some learning to get used to, but right away I felt good on it. Honda made a good choice with this bike and it’s awesome. Plus being on a factory team is a really cool opportunity. I’m having fun with this and making the most of it.
What are some personal goals you’ve set for yourself heading into the outdoor Nationals?
My goals are to be in the top ten and to be there every round. As long as I’m there every moto and giving it my best I should be in a good spot. I feel like my speeds good and if I can start up front I can run with the top guys. I need to see where I fit in and where I can improve too. You can always be better, but I feel like I’m in a good spot right now. I’ll be really happy with a top five. That’s my goal by the end of the season and I’m going to chase it and hopefully get there.
You mentioned that you’ve enjoyed working with a factory team and being at Team Honda HRC, tell me more about that experience and that aspect of your fill-in roll.
Right away it was a dream come true. It’s pretty prestigious, there are a lot of champions that have been through their doors. It’s a cool opportunity and I’m going to make the most of it. I’m not going to let this pass by without giving it my best and showing them that I can be a good fill-in rider. I want them to feel like they’ve made the right choice and hopefully in the long run when I move up to 450’s full time, people will know that I can ride a 450 well.
You went from not riding just a few years ago, to jumping on a 250 and having good results, to now being in this fill-in role, what has that transition been like?
It’s been pretty crazy. Three years ago I wasn’t even racing. Fast-forward to now and I have a Supercross win under my belt and a whole bunch of podiums. Now I’ve got a cool opportunity with Honda. It’s all kind of fallen into my lap, but then again without hard work, none of this would have been possible. It’s cool to see that when you do the right things and you train hard enough and put in the time that these opportunities can open up for you. It may be just a fill-in ride and not a full-time deal, but I get to ride the whole outdoor series on a factory Honda. What could be better than that?