The Monster Energy Supercross Series is comprised of riders from all walks of life, and the same can be said for Hayden Melross. Hailing from Australia, Melross is now preparing to enter his sophomore year as a pro here in the United States after just wrapping up the Australian Supercross where he narrowly missed out on the championship. Recently though, the likable Aussie has been working and riding alongside Chad Reed at his home in Florida, and with the added help of his riding coach Tim Ferry, we can all expect big things from Melross and his 5150 Energy Yamaha come 2017.
Hayden, what’s been going on lately? It’s been a while since we’ve checked in with you.
Yeah, I’m back out here in California after wrapping up the Australian Supercross series. I had the opportunity to see some of my family, which was great because I haven’t spent that much time at home lately. I got to catch up with my friends, I did a bit of racing and I got in some valuable family time, so it was a good trip. I’ve really been enjoying riding lately, and I’m happy to be able to do this every day.
As you mentioned, you just wrapped up the 2016 Australian Supercross series. Talk about the series and everything else that went along with it, this year.
Yeah, I was fortunate enough to be selected to ride for GPH Yamaha. They’re a great team and a great organization. I went back to race for them for the six round series, and I really had a good time down there. I got three second overalls, three third overalls and one overall win. Everything was going good, but unfortunately at the last round during the final lap I ran into some bike problems. It wasn’t a huge ordeal, but it was enough to knock me out of championship contention. It was just one of those things that’s out of everyone’s control. I was forced to DNF the race, which cost the championship. That was pretty hard for me, but I feel like I’m past that now because I have bigger and better things going because I have another great opportunity to race the West Coast Supercross championship here in the US for 5150 Energy. Like I said, I’ve been having a blast on the bike and I can’t wait for Anaheim to roll around.
As you mentioned, the Australian Supercross championship was within reach for you. Is it bittersweet knowing that you have what it takes to obtain a Supercross championship even though it slipped through your fingers?
Yeah, exactly. It was a huge confidence booster for me, if anything. I qualified first through three of the six rounds and Gavin Faith qualified first in the remaining rounds, so that was good for me. Gavin is a good benchmark to gauge myself against, and he didn’t win the Arenacross championship for nothing, either. I felt like I was riding great back home, and I think that’s what made it so hard to except the loss of the championship. It’s one thing to lose a championship because of a rider error, but it’s completely different when you lose the championship because of bike problems. I only had to finish inside the top five to win the championship, and I was running in the second when my bike shut off. I was doing everything right, but things like that will always happen. I’ve had some great support from everyone since the loss of the championship; people I don’t even know have contacted me to tell me that was my championship. That kind of thing really means a lot to me, and I can’t thank those people enough!
You have another opportunity to race here in the US, but this time with the 5150 Energy crew. How does the Supercross series in Australia compare to the series here in the US?
It’s a lot different here in the US. Down in Australia, the tracks are a lot different with shorter lap times and smaller jumps. The hype and expectations here in the US are much higher, as well. If you’re not accustomed to that, that kind of thing can be hard to get used to. I really believe that going back and racing thosee six rounds in Australia for eight weeks groomed me for 2017; my confidence is high and I was able to build great fitness and speed. I’m feeling pretty confident and I’m ready to go.
Recently, you’ve been riding with Chad Reed at his home in Florida. What is it like to work alongside someone that has accomplished so much after moving here from Australia?
Chad is a living legend from an Australian point of view. The journey that Chad and his wife took to get here is something that I’ve always admired. Being able to train and ride with Chad is an absolute privilege. Every chance I could I was watching him ride to try to learn as much as I could. I also have my riding coach Tim Ferry in my corner, and I also get to train alongside Trey Canard and Martin Davalos. I’ve got a great foundation and an even better support system coming into 2017. Everything has helped me tremendously because I’ve been able to grow as a rider and as a person. Hopefully I’ll be exactly where I expect myself to be in the next couple of weeks.
Back in April, you had an unfortunate accident that left you with a broken back. How is everything feeling, now?
Yeah, as most people know I had a pretty crazy crash during the Santa Clara Supercross. I got a little out of shape at the end of a rhythm section, rode the front wheel for a good 15-20 feet and then I was catapulted over a berm and onto a fence. I felt like Evel Knievel as I launched off the berm (laughs)! Luckily everything checked out fine at the doctors office, but it wasn’t until the following week that I really did myself in. I made a small mistake, which resulted in a very minor crash. I landed awkwardly on the ground, and I ended up breaking my L3 and L4 vertebrae in my lower back. That injury sidelined me for about three or four months, and I can honestly say that was the hardest injury that I’ve ever had to come back from. It was another addition to the highs and lows that I’ve experienced this year. Being able to overcome something like that is a very rewarding feeling.