Features 23 Apr 2024

Conversation: Aaron Plessinger

One-year contract extension has Plessinger excited for 2025.

Over the weekend, Aaron Plessinger announced that he had agreed to a one-year contract extension with Red Bull KTM. The 28-year-old won his first career 450SX main event this year and was in the title fight up until fracturing a bone in his elbow last week in Foxborough. We caught up with Plessinger this week to discuss his new deal and how the healing process is going in this Conversation feature.

Image: Octopi Media.

First of all, congratulations on the deal! It’s cool to see that you got it signed this early. Being a free agent coming into this offseason, how nice is it that your deal is done, we’re still in April, and you don’t even have to think about it?

Yeah dude, it’s unreal that I’ve gotten it signed this early. It just kind of gives you that stability and you don’t have to worry about anything. Coming into outdoors, I think that will help me. I had a really good start to the season, and I think they recognized that and wanted to secure the deal a little bit earlier than most. I can’t thank them enough on that. I’m excited, I’m ready to get another year under my belt. Unfortunately, the end of this Supercross season didn’t go how I wanted it to, but overall, it was a good push and a good effort. I’m ready to get on to outdoors and show them what I can do.

At this stage of your career and seeing how things went this year, what are you looking for in a team and why do you feel KTM is a place you call home?

I love everybody over there. The family aspect and how they took me in in 2022, and how they are just so supportive. Even in the rough times in 2022, they were really supportive. They were really working to get the bike better and get me better. I think it kind of showed in 2022. They just worked day in and day out on trying to make us as a team better and the bike and myself. Having those kind of people behind you, it kind of gives you that confidence. They just treat me so well and I don’t really want to leave that, you know? Even if there was another deal on the table, I think I would stick with who I’ve got because it’s like a family over there. I don’t really want to leave that. The bike is getting better, I’m getting better, and I think only good things are going to come.

Image: Octopi Media.

Can you talk about the relationship with Roger [De Coster] and Ian [Harrison] and how that relationship has developed with you guys over the years? We’ve never seen Roger wear a cowboy hat so congratulations on getting that done. But they are two guys that have the perception of being a little more rigid but you’re more of a loose guy and that works for you and it’s working for them. So, how has that relationship been?

It’s been awesome man. When I first met them, I was pretty weary they were just going to be all business. Straight, no messing around. Dude, the stories they’ve had and just hanging out with them, it’s so cool. They’re so much more laid back than I thought when I first met them and that kind of helps. Just being around them, I don’t know if I’m just a funny dude, but I get a lot of laughs around them and I mess around. I think they kind of like that. I think they kind of like a little bit looser of a group. As we have Chase [Sexton] who is a lot like Cooper [Webb] was, very focused and very concentrated on race day, to where I’m a little bit of the opposite. I like to mess around and have a good time on race day. So they have a good mix of both which I think helps. It’s grown very well between me, Ian, and Roger, and I look forward to keeping that relationship going.

So was it on the first line of your deal that when you guys made the announcement and did the handshakes that Roger had to wear a cowboy hat?

[Laughs] No I think they wanted to! We wanted to make a fun and different team signing announcement and Steph [Nutt, Red Bull KTM PR] came up with the idea that everybody wears cowboy hats, and we walk in and sit down with the boys, and they give me that hat. I think it was just an add on and it was a little bit different than most people posting a picture saying, “Look, we signed for another year.” I think we wanted to take a little different approach with the morale and mix it up with the cowboy hats and they’re getting pretty popular around the KTM tent.

Image: Supplied.

How much would you say this year with the way things have gone has done for your own confidence and your perspective on how you view in what you can accomplish in a title fight with these guys?

This year solidified that I’m one of the top runners. As long as I get a good start and am up front in the first couple of laps, I can do some damage with these guys. It gives me confidence going into outdoors. Obviously, with the bike getting better, I’m going to be there. I’m going to be one of the top guys and it makes me feel really good. I get kind of speechless thinking about it because you want to be there for so long and I’ve had some rough years. Now that it’s all coming together, it really makes me happy and really makes me confident looking forward. I think I can contend for this outdoor title and hopefully stop #18’s win streak.

I think every rider has a few reservations when it comes to a new bike, new frame, new chassis, and for you guys this year that happened but it seemed to work well quickly. How much of that was a catalyst for you when you went to sign this deal?

I didn’t really have any doubt that they were going to figure something out and give us a better setting. These guys are multi-time champions, and they know how to get it done. The fact that that came up this year and we were working really hard on the suspension. As soon as that clicked, it was like, “Alright, this is going to be a good season.” With that happening in the beginning of Supercross and then the bike just getting better, I have really high hopes that we’re just going to keep working at getting this thing better. Even though right now, I’ve already rode my outdoors setup and it’s really, really good. I think some good things are going to come outdoors and then offseason testing for next year, we’re going to find some really good stuff and hopefully start the next Supercross season out like we did this one.

Image: Octopi Media.

You’re dealing with the elbow injury right now, but you want to be back for outdoors. What does the next month for you look like in terms of recovery and when do you think you’ll be able to get back in the bike?

It should be another maybe three weeks, hopefully two. I’m going to try to do everything in my power to get this bone healed and get back on the bike so I can really start pushing for outdoors. It should be a really quick heal. It’s just a small chip off the bone. I’m going to do everything I can to get it healed and I actually go back to the doctor next week to see what he thinks timewise. Until then, we’re going to keep the cardio up and try to do everything in the gym that I can without messing up the healing of this. It should be a quick turnaround.