Jerry Robin was a late addition to the 2017 Monster Energy Supercross season, making his series debut during the second round of the East division at the world famous Daytona International Speedway. The Blue Buffalo / Slater Skins / Yamaha rider had the support of the entire industry behind him when he lined up on the gate at Daytona, as he made the decision to adopt the #558 from the late Dylan Slusser -- a close friend and fellow professional racer that unexpectedly passed away from a brain aneurism at the end of February. Robin exceeded expectations as action got underway down in Florida by laying down the tenth fastest qualifying time, eventually finishing fifth in his heat race. His GNCC experience and ability to conquer a rough, rutted outdoor track undoubtedly did him some favors on the unique track at the Speedway, but he’s proven throughout the last couple weeks that his speed there was no fluke. Although Robin hasn’t been able to put together a full fifteen minutes in any of the main events to properly represent his pace, he’s qualified for every single main event that he’s contested, and has only had to make one trip to the LCQ. The Minnesota native has really turned some heads with consistent displays of top ten speed from weekend-to-weekend and he’ll be looking to finish there when the next round of the East series kicks off in New Jersey. We caught up with Jerry to talk about how the season has gone so far from his perspective, battling through the pack in the LCQ at St. Louis, and if practicing laps on MX Simulator helps on race day.
You had to go through the Road to SX to gain eligibility for the Monster Energy Supercross series. You finally earned your points in Mississippi at the Southaven AX, how did it feel to get that over and done with?
Well, I dunno. When I think about it AX wasn’t really that bad; I enjoyed it and I had fun. I think it is good -- like after I went through it -- for kids to go through it, just to get a little bit of experience on a tight track, like bar-banging and stuff. I was just relieved with the fact that I don’t have to do it again. I dunno, it’s not bad. Looking back it’s not as bad as I thought it was in the situation, but at the second round I just got a bad attitude about it, but things are definitely a lot better now.
Although you didn’t get to make your debut in your home city as planned, you got to race you first ever SX at Daytona International Speedway. What was it like making your debut at such a legendary event like that?
It was actually really sweet. I’ve been to Daytona once before, but I never really took it all in and just realized how much stuff had happened there with any type of racing -- like MX, SX, IndyCar, Nascar. But, it’s just cool being in the same area as so many bad dudes in other sports. All in all, it was really fun making my debut in Daytona. I mean, it’s Florida -- there’s always good vibes in Florida I feel like.
You managed to do really well there by putting in the tenth fastest qualifying time and getting a fifth in your heat race. Did you kind of exceed any expectations that you had for yourself or what was that like for you?
Well, I’m just taking it race by race ‘cause I didn’t get much SX prep. I really wasn’t surprised at qualifying so well just ‘cause it’s kind of like outdoor style, and I felt really good on the track within the first few laps. I wasn’t really surprised and honestly -- I really wanted to do better. I know where my riding ability is at and I know that I can run with those dudes. But, I thought getting fifth in the heat race was way cooler than qualifying tenth. I mean, I know it’s just a heat race, but for your first ever heat race -- I mean, Cianciarulo won his first so maybe it’s not as good as I think, but it’s not bad.
How did you like the track at Daytona compared to some of the other tracks that you’ve raced on now?
I’ve really liked all of them honestly; the only one I was kinda on the fence about was Indy. I dunno if it was just a mixture of being sick and not really being that prepared, but Indy itself was just gnarly, like it was a pretty tough track. I loved Detroit and usually I’m not like a hard-pack kinda guy, but it seems for SX I kinda lean towards that way. But, for outdoors I really like the soft, rutted stuff -- so I dunno, maybe next year I’ll try and race west coast to just get on a harder style dirt. I actually really liked the track in St. Louis too, but I’ve never really tested suspension in whoops and everything, and there’s a certain technique to ‘em, and I’ve always just kinda tried to learn the whoops on race day -- that doesn’t really work. That’s really the only downfall I have. I know at Detroit I was really fast in the rhythms and everywhere else -- like my segment times were really fast everywhere except the whoops, and I still qualified twelfth.
You had another good qualifying performance at Indy and put yourself in the main event again, but ended up having a bit of rough luck on the first lap with a pile up.
At Indy I was just so down on myself ‘cause I was like “Man, I’m sick. I’m just riding to make it through.” In the heat race, as soon as I got into like eighth, I was just like “Man, I gotta save my energy for the main.” And then I dunno what happened in the main, it was just kinda like a mental brain fart. There was a big pile up on the first lap and then by the time I got goin’ I was just like -- I dunno if I let my ego get in the way, but I was just like “Man, this sucks.” So, I shouldn’t have done that; I regret that. I should have just finished, so...
The next round in Detroit it seemed like you were flowing with the track from early on in practice, floating that wall jump nicely and everything, and ended up qualifying twelfth.
Yeah, I dunno what it was, but the second lap on that track I pretty much hit everything. I just felt really good that day.
You were running inside the top ten in the race and just made a little mistake in the whoops in the main event, is that right?
I got off to like a midpack start and then some people went down in the first corner like Craig and Osborne, and then I passed into I think like ninth on the first lap, and then I got into eighth. Then it was just me and Cunningham and we were doin’ our thing; he was pullin’ on me a little bit and he was catchin’ the guys in fifth and sixth. I was just riding my own race and I felt really comfortable and I think it was like seven minutes in when I ended up crashing. I dunno, it was a bummer -- like I felt really good and just made a mistake in the whoops and got off balance, so I just caught the bale. But, my footpeg like stabbed the bale, so it got caught in all the fabric and I couldn’t get it out, and I had to wait for a track worker to cut my bike out, so that kinda sucked. Everything was running through my head and I was kinda stressed out and by the time I got goin’ again I was winded ‘cause I was panicking kinda. But, I’m honestly not even bummed about that -- like I felt really good and it was just a little mistake on my part, but it’s just part of learning, I guess.
The dirt was really slick there, especially coming back onto the start straight after the finish line jump. Was it difficult fighting for traction all night or is that something you were kind of comfortable with?
Honestly, I liked it. I kinda steer with the rear tire a lot, especially on SX where it doesn’t get that rough, I generally like to slide the rear tire. So, if it’s hard pack and slick then I’m faster. I always sit further back to get more traction. I didn’t think it was that slick, but a lot of people thought it was one of the slickest tracks they rode; I didn’t think it was that bad.
In St. Louis, you were running in a transfer position in the heat race and ended up going down in the whoops, injuring your hand. What happened there?
I caught a little edge in the whoops ‘cause the main line sort of drifted out to the left to set up for the berm, so by my heat race there was already a groove setting in, and I just caught the edge of the groove -- it turned my bars a little bit and it just shot me to the right, and then my front wheel missed one and I endoed. It kind of hyperextended my wrist a little bit and that was the big issue. Then I just got some road rash on my back and bruised my hip a little bit, so it was kind of just aggravating pain. It wasn’t anything that I couldn’t deal with, it was just aggravating.
You had to go to your first LCQ and didn’t get a good start dealing with last gate pick, but ended up working your way back to transfer position. Talk me through that race. What was it like coming through the pack in the LCQ?
Being on the far outside gate, I was like “Man, how am I gonna pull this off?” I feel like I’m really good at coming through the pack and I’ve done it a lot in the past few years, and even going through the whoops I was still in last on the first lap. There was a pretty decent sized pile up before the triple, so that helped me out a lot. Once I realized that if I ride like myself and push through the pain that I could make it happen, I rode really well. I passed all the way up to fourth and made it through to the main. I wasn’t really surprised by it, but a lot of people were ‘cause that hardly ever happens to come from last to fourth in the LCQ.
There was a lot of carnage in that race from the pile up on the first lap to the incident with Featherstone, Tucker, and Short on the last lap.
I dunno if you saw this on the last lap, but I passed Featherstone in that rhythm -- going into that left, I passed him on the outside, and I clearly had the pass made ‘cause he messed up the rhythm. He jumped the corner, like pretty much jumped over the bales, and hit me almost head on. My wrist didn’t really hurt that bad in the LCQ, but he hit me so hard that it broke my clutch -- it just like bent the whole perch and lever down, so I couldn’t use it for the last couple sections. That was mainly why my wrist hurt so bad in the main ‘cause he smoked me on the left side again…
You haven’t got to ride a press day yet, have you?
No, but I’m doing press day at MetLife. I feel like that should help me out quite a bit.
So, you’ll be skipping out on the extra MX Simulator laps in the hotel the night before?
Haha! I haven’t done it since Indy -- like I didn’t do it at Daytona, I did it and Indy, and then Indy I sucked. So, I was thinkin’ like maybe I was trying to do rhythms that I was doing in Sim and it messed me up, so I haven’t played since Indy.
You’ve got a couple of weeks off now to get ready for the next East Coast round in New Jersey. What have you been up to since St. Louis and what’re your plans for the next couple weeks?
Ahh dude, I’ve just been mountain biking and riding like every single day -- the only day I haven’t was today. So like, I was pretty drained. I rode at a sandtrack twice, then I rode my corner track every other day. It’s good to be home, hang out with friends, and everything like that. It’s good to be home and get the homesickness out.
Are you going to stay there until New Jersey or are you planning on heading back to South of the Border before?
I’m not one hundred percent sure. I might go to Pennsylvania before New Jersey to test some stuff with the race bike, ‘cause that’s where Chad’s from. I’ll probably end up there, but if not then I’ll just fly from home to New Jersey. I kinda want to stay home for some part of the outdoors and then maybe go to SOB when things start coming east -- just to get used to the heat and humidity. So, that’s kinda the tentative plan.
Have you had a chance to ride or do any testing for outdoors yet?
Nope. I mean, I never really set the sag on my SX suspension; I just rode it.
Who would you like to thank for helping you out this year?
SOBMX, Blue Buffalo, Slater Skins, Waynesburg Yamaha, Enzo, FMF, Defiance, Mika Metals, Vortex, Rekluse, Renn Fuels, Dunlop, Twin Air, ICW, Dubya, Excel, Ride Engineering, Lightspeed Carbon, Evans Coolant, Guts Racing, Spectro Oils, Acerbis, Matrix Concepts, Bristol Core, 180 Graphics, Keith Biddle, FXR, 100%, 6D, Gaerne, Hammer Nutrition, Delb Lifestyle, Tagger Designs, DVS, EVS
/ Words /Images / Lake Kilpatrick
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