You Don't Want to Count McElrath Out For Title Contention This Summer
The 2017 Monster Energy Supercross series may be wrapped up and in the rearview mirror now, but the memorable season is still fresh on everyone’s mind. One of the best stories of the year belongs to Troy Lee Designs/GoPro/Red Bull/KTM’s Shane McElrath. He wasn’t considered a title favorite coming into the season but immediately found himself in the points lead after winning the first round in Anaheim, CA. McElrath collected three wins in total and landed on the podium six times in total. Even with a mechanical failure that resulted in a DNF, he still finished the year second in the points. With all of that said, we caught up with the KTM rider during testing at Pala Raceway to talk about his stellar year so far and his approach for the 2017 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series.
A lot of people didn’t consider you a title contender heading into the 2017 Supercross series, but you won races and led in the points for a while. Do you feel that you can take all of that success and apply it to the outdoor season?
That’s definitely my goal. These last two years I’ve dealt with some injuries and I always feel like I’m trying to play catch-up. After getting hurt at Southwick last year, I got back on the bike about a week and a half after outdoors ended, and started right away with Supercross testing. It gave me a lot of time to build and try to grow. That was my main focus. My goal for the Supercross season was to try to get my first win, collect more podiums, and try to be consistent to be in the title hunt. I exceeded those goals in the first two rounds and it was awesome to get my first win. Then I realized, that’s only one part of it and we have a long way to go. Throughout the rest of the season, I kept building my confidence and belief in myself. Sometimes, those other guys were faster than me, and I learned when that’s the case that I need to be the next best guy. If I have to back it down a bit, then I’ll back it down a hair, but keep pushing. That’s been one of the biggest building blocks. With all of the time we had during the off-season, we could really focus on our weaknesses and get ready to come out and race. It was a bummer that we had a bike problem, but I still ended up second in the championship and we’re really pumped on that. It’s been such a good growing year and going into outdoors I’ve got the same goals. I’ve got one podium in that series and I’d like to get some more, hopefully even a win. We’re in a great position this year with the whole team and we’re ready to put up a fight heading into the outdoor series.
Would you say that your results were somewhat due to spending solid time on the bike and not having to deal with injuries?
Absolutely, the mental side of things is one of the biggest parts of motocross and when you’re dealing with injuries you feel like you’re just trying to play catch-up. It’s so hard to believe in yourself and have the confidence to know that you can run with the other guys, if not beat them. That’s definitely a tough side of it. In outdoors last year I was building all year and I finally strung together three good races, then I got hurt again. That was definitely good for my confidence, but at the same time, once I knew I could do it, I realized it was time to step it up and really work on my fitness and fine-tuning everything while I had the time.
What’s the mentality that keeps you pushing forward despite those setbacks?
As racers, we always know that there’s room for growth and we acknowledge that there are some things that we don’t do good enough. It’s really hard to work on things when we’re on a tight schedule during the season. Everything’s so busy and one crash on the weekend, even if you don’t get hurt, you get sore and you fall behind just from that. When you get hurt, you already know a little bit what you’ve been struggling with, and you try to fix those things and apply it when you get back on the bike.