Stoppin-In: Wil Hahn
Talking to one of the replacements
Stoppin-In: Wil Hahn
Story and photos by Shan Moore
With the number of injuries mounting at the highest level of our sport, a common practice these days is for teams to bring in replacement riders to fill in for injured team members, which helps keep sponsors happy because it puts a bike on the track. Factory Honda has been one of the biggest advocates of “replacement riders” and in fact, has brought in several different riders to sub for Trey Canard, who has suffered a string of injuries over the past two years.
The latest Honda “sub” is Wil Hahn, who the Muscle Milk Honda team borrowed from GEICO Powersports Honda to race the 450 class in a few of the eastern Supercross rounds. The Kansas native is, himself, coming off of back-to-back injuries, the latest of which a fractured hip, which kept him out of a few West Regional Lites rounds earlier in the year.
Motocross.com recently spoke with Hahn about his chance at the “Bigs”.
How excited are you to have this opportunity to race a factory bike?
This is a great opportunity. And it’s not only Muscle Milk Honda giving me this opportunity, it’s also my GEICO Honda team, which was kind enough to let me pursue this and allow me to get a few races under my belt before we go back to the west coast Lites series.
Have you learned anything on the 450 that you think you might be able to take back to the 250s with you?
I would say patience. These guys ride with a lot of patience, which is good. I just need to be able to capitalize on opportunities at the beginning of a race and then have some patience. The biggest thing I’m learning right now is I need to get off the gate a little better.
How much of an adjustment has it been adapting from the 250 to the 450?
Not as big as you would think; they set up the bike so it’s pretty close to my GEICO bike, so they feel pretty similar. The Muscle Milk bike feels so much like a 250 with a big motor in it, so the transition was easy for me.
What was the biggest thing that surprised you in the 450 class?
Everyone has asked me that, and I think it’s the calmness on the first couple of laps. In the Lites class, everyone just goes for it on the first lap. I think a lot of it has to do with the bike; you have to be pretty much on point to do all the obstacles on a 450 and have a lot of patience. There’s really no slamming out there, so the first lap was pretty calm and precise, and that’s the difference.
Have you raced a 450 before?
I raced one at the U.S. Open a few years back, and I actually didn’t even finish the entire weekend, I got in a first-turn pileup and didn’t finish.
You have two races under your belt, Toronto and Houston, how do you feel it’s gone so far?
It’s been a real eye-opener for me since I’ve been out all year except for Anaheim, but I think it’s gone pretty good. I’m not totally happy with how I rode in Toronto, but it ended up being a pretty good weekend. I crashed in practice at that race, and I think it affected the rest of the day. Overall, I’ve just been enjoying the experience and trying to learn as much as possible. This is a great bunch of guys and I’m having fun. When I was four years old this was my dream team, so to get to ride this bike is a dream come true. Mainly, I’m just glad to be back riding.
You injured your hip several weeks ago and missed a few of the western Lites rounds. How are you doing now?
I’m good; everything feels great and I think I’m back to where I want to be. This one was a lot easier than last year, mainly because I had been through the whole routine before and I was ready to get into therapy and get back on the track.
So after New Orleans you’ll be back on the Lites bike. What’s the plan going forward?
For me, I just want to go out and get a Supercross win and be ready for outdoors, that’s the main goal.
You’re a Midwest boy; talk about coming from that area.
Yeah, I grew up in Kansas but I call Texas home now. And Texas has produced a lot of good guys. There are a lot of guys who grew up riding in that area – me, Kyle Cunningham, the Whartons, Matt Lemoine, Hunter Hewitt – there are a lot of guys who grew up there who are all racing here now.
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