Features 26 Jan 2023

Fast Thoughts: RJ Hampshire

Quarter-liter contender on bike changes and 2023 season start.

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s RJ Hampshire has kicked off his 2023 Monster Energy Supercross season by fighting to consecutive second-place finishes in the opening two rounds at Anaheim 1 and in San Diego. The experienced 27-year-old currently sits second in the 250SX West standings and features in this week’s Fast Thoughts interview.

Image: Octopi Media.

Rewriting the reputation that you’re a podium-or-crash rider…

To be honest, it’s a lot to do with the confidence in what I’m racing on. You’re going to try and ride a bike harder that you’re more confident on. Last year we didn’t have the bike to go out and do that, maybe in years past I haven’t been confident in that. I made it pretty vocal coming into this year. These guys do a lot for me and I’m just stoked it’s actually showing on the weekends. I put my balls out there quite a bit, so just to back it up two weekends in a row is huge for myself and huge for this whole Austrian brand.

Changes to the bike for 2023…

Man, it’s so much, and it’s the same with Cooper [Webb], like you can tell with him, he’s a different rider also and Malcolm [Stewart] as well. I don’t think we’ve had this strong of a team in a long while, today was looking awesome for the both of us. But, engine we did a full reboot on that and we’ve also got more stuff coming for outdoors, which I’m pretty stoked on. We also brought [Josh] Hansen over, that was huge, we got a really good base. They kind of stopped telling me all that they have [laughs], because I just want to know about everything. I’ll know what Cooper is on, I’ll know what, whoever else is on my bike, is on. That’s just how I am, I want to know how it all works and what’s better. I ride the bike super different from my team-mate, or anyone that’s on that 250. There’s still some things that could be better, my starts for sure are one of them, that main event start, I can’t keep doing that. I talked with Tony already, our crew chief, we’re going to go to work this week and figure this thing out, and hopefully we can battle with Jett [Lawrence] and Cameron [McAdoo] a little bit more.

Image: Octopi Media.

Being back on the west coast…

I’ve always kind of been someone who hates coming out here and spending time out in California. But I’m enjoying it, I’ve changed up where I’m staying at, I’ve got my whole family with me. I’ve spent the whole month out here and we are really enjoying it, we’re enjoying where we’re at and I think that leads into the weekend. Even coming down to [San Diego], I got to stay in my Airbnb last night, which is huge, just to have that little more comfort instead of staying in a hotel.

Racing Lawrence and McAdoo…

We all have respect for each other and all the other guys out there, no doubt. Cameron and I have a lot of respect for each other, for multiple reasons, we’ve been through a lot. We’re later in our career now and we’ve seen a lot, we’ve been team-mates before. Like, we’re going to race each other hard, but you’re not going to expect anything crazy, and I don’t expect anything crazy from him. Both weekends we raced hard, but it was clean. Same with Jett, he’s new to it, and I don’t think he’s been through as much as us, but he’s just good [laughs], it’s all you can say, he talented and he’s been able to knock it off. But it’s definitely cool to be up here with Cam and be battling for podiums every weekend. I don’t think either of us have been this close to the lead two weekends in a row. Hopefully we can stay in it and keep having some good battles.

250s in opening ceremonies…

Yeah, I think Lucas [Mirtl] and Jett had a lot to do with that. I think it’s good for us, it’s something you look forward to moving up to the 450 class. You know, we’re at the top of our game right now in this 250 class and I think we bring a lot of excitement, so it’s cool to be a part of it it and I think the fans really enjoy it.