Anthony Rodriguez isn’t exactly a household name in American motocross – yet. Probably the biggest reason for this is that the 19-year-old Yamalube Star Racing Yamaha Supercross rookie isn’t from Florida, or California, or even Texas. He’s from Los Teques, Venezuela, which obviously isn’t exactly a hotbed of motocross talent.
Still, his talent is hard to question. “A-Rod”, as he’s called, flew under the radar in the approach to the 2014 250 East Supercross series. Although his results at Dallas weren’t great on paper, he shouldn’t be under the radar anymore.
After qualifying 14th during the daytime session, Rodriguez got the butterflies out with a third-place finish in his heat race. Early in the main, he found himself running third, but went down on a difficult quadruple jump and ended up with a DNF.
We caught up with Rodriguez just as he finished putting in laps on the Supercross track at Millsaps Training Facility in preparation for this coming weekend’s Atlanta Supercross.
You had to be pretty nervous coming into not only your first-ever professional Supercross, but your first-ever professional race. Talk about that.
I was really nervous, for sure, being the first one. But I prepared myself the best that I could, so I felt prepared at the same time. I just didn’t know what it was going to be like.
You were putting in great laps in qualifying, so once you saw your times were competitive, did it change how you felt about the night at all?
Really, after the heat race, a lot of the butterflies went away, if that’s how you say it. I definitely didn’t know what I would do in a race situation, so after the heat, I was pretty happy with how I rode, and I felt less pressure in the main.
You definitely seemed to fly under the radar coming up to round one in terms of the media and fans were concerned, so how did you feel about that?
I was definitely under the radar coming to the race, but I liked it like that. I used that as motivation to train because I wanted to go out there and surprise everybody when I go out there and do my job, you know?
You actually have great style for Supercross. Were you always a natural at it?
You know, it wasn’t like that before. I was definitely uncoordinated before, but I used to do my motos during the day to put my hard work in, but after I was done riding, I would just have fun on the bike and do some transfers and stuff, and that got my momentum and timing down really good, so I think that’s why I’m better at Supercross now. I really like it.
You were running up front in the main in Dallas, but you went down. What happened?
Everything was going perfect! I was in third, I was breathing good, but I was super-tight in the first couple of laps. A lot of people might not believe this is true, but I was thinking about catching the front guys, because I did make a couple of mistakes in the first couple of laps when I was riding tight, so I was trying to make that time up. But then something happened on the face of that quad into the turn, and I just got compressed off the side of the bike, and I almost went off the track. I tried to save it, but I landed in an awkward position and went over the bars.
Having a big crash when you’re already breathing and working hard is sometimes hard to overcome.
I got back on the bike and I was going to start it, but I had a flat on it, and I really wasn’t feeling good at all from the crash, so I opted to stop the race. I felt that was the best decision because I had a headache and I didn’t want to make things worse.
What did you learn that you think you’ll be able to apply this coming weekend, and as the series moves on from here?
I looked at the lap times, and I realized I had the fourth-fastest lap time in the main. I was really happy about that. Now, I know I can ride with those guys. I can’t wait for the next races!
So, your goals now are podiums, and maybe wins? Is that right?
First, I want to make sure I get through the rest of these races healthy, but now that I know I can run up front, I want to make sure I’m up there as much as possible. That’s for sure.
[Interview courtesy of Yamaha]