Dakota Tedder is Building Momentum Heading into the Outdoors.
Despite struggles early on in the season, Team Tedder Racing’s Dakota Tedder qualified for the final two main events of the 2017 Monster Energy Supercross series. With injuries and bike struggles behind him, he’s now looking to build on his late season results as he prepares for the 2017 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series. With the help of former professional, Nick Wey, Tedder is hard at work to ensure that himself and his bike are ready to go for the opener in Hangtown. We touched base with him to get the scoop on his season thus far and what his goals are moving forward.
First and foremost, you made it into two main events this year right at the end, talk about how that went, and how your Supercross season went overall.
It was a real long year until those last two races. We went through so many changes on the bike. I figured we could switch from 250 to 450 easily, I didn’t think it was a big change. The last two months I don’t think I rode the same engine twice in a row. I think I went through about 30 different engine settings along with gearing, tires, and suspension, and we still didn’t have it totally figured out. We definitely made good gains throughout the year. Then I hit my head, I got a real bad concussion and took off three weekends. I broke a few ribs during that time too. When I came back to racing I had to start over. The last two rounds we got the bike dialed in. There are probably three or four mains I should have made; San Diego, Daytona, Utah, and Detroit. I really liked those tracks and I feel like I could have been up there. The last two came down to good starts. New Jersey was pretty wild, the Semi was out of control and those guys were faster than me, but I just wanted it so badly and I was going to go down fighting that round. Then obviously in Vegas, I like the track a lot as far as the dirt goes. That’s pretty much what I practice on every day and what I grew up on, hard pack and slick. Those last two I felt comfortable and I got great starts.
Each and every year, it seems like we’re always saying that the field of riders is more and more stacked. From the perspective of a racer, what’s it like being in a field that continues to grow with talent?
I think this year was definitely the hardest, and each year is only going to get harder. Last year I was battling with Jeff Alessi to get into the main. There were four to six privateers making the main, and this year a couple times there’s only been one privateer that had a spot. Usually, it was Nick Schmidt or Alex Ray, who stepped his game up this year. Even when a guy got hurt they filled in with a great rider like Weimer. There are still guys out too, like Ken Roczen or James Stewart, who never even raced. There are still spots to be taken and there are only a few guys that aren’t getting paid by a team that are in the Main Events. That just goes to show how many 250SX champions are in the 450SX class. I think if they didn’t change the rule this year, I might’ve thought about dropping back down. If you add more fast 250SX champions into the class, you’d better get a factory ride or you’re not going to be in the main. It’s pretty gnarly.
For you, making those Main Events right at the end of the year, do you feel like that helps you going into the outdoor season?
Absolutely, the confidence is huge. I really wish I could’ve knocked one out earlier in the year just to build up my confidence and know that I can make it. I wanted to progress more throughout the year and there are so many mistakes we made, both as myself and as a team preparing the motorcycle. I thought we were good and we weren’t. This is also my first year doing East coast. I had done it twice before, but I had gotten hurt. Last year I did free practice, got hurt, and then did two more rounds and got hurt again. Just the tracks themselves have been a big challenge for me. New Jersey was a really rutted track so to make that one was cool. The confidence you gain when you make the main is huge. When you’re in the main you do 20 more minutes and it builds your confidence going into the next round.
What’s one thing you’re looking forward to most going into the outdoor Nationals?
Honestly, I haven’t done a full year in probably six years between Supercross and Nationals. I didn’t know how I was going to feel doing 17 rounds of Supercross. People were asking, “how do you think you’re going to do?”, and I just told them I hoped I could stay healthy [laughs]. We get hurt so often, so I figure if I can stay healthy and get some points each round, collect some 18th and 17th place finishes and work my way up to a 15th or a 10th that’d be incredible for me.
Are there any particular tracks that you’re most excited to get to ride?
It’s crazy, the tracks I like the most are the ones that I never do well at. I enjoy Hangtown and I’ve never done well there. I also enjoy Red Bud and I don’t do well there either. It’s pretty weird. I love Millville and anyone would tell you that’s probably one of the gnarlier ones. I like Southwick too. I really don’t do well at the tracks I end up liking, which is weird. I’m not a huge fan of Colorado and sometimes I do really well there. High Point I had my best finish at with a 13th about five years ago, and then last year I raced there and I didn’t even qualify, but I really liked the track.
I see Nick Wey’s out testing with you right now, how has he helped with figuring out the bike this year?
Honestly, I don’t think I would have made any mains this year without that guy. He changed up the bike beyond what I thought was possible. We tried something different every time we rode. He’s also turning me into a better test rider by showing me what to look for with different settings. Also in outdoors last year, I missed the first four rounds after taking off the Supercross season with a broken hand and I hated the bike right away. He said to me, “I told you that you weren’t going to like the bike, but I thought you’d do better!” We changed up the bike and at the end of the year we started getting close to 20th place, so I think if we start off with the bike I had at the end of last year and then go from there, we’ll do really well. He’s one of the biggest assets to the team for sure.