Dylan Long chats with Todd Jarratt
Dylan Long is a 20 year old motocross kid with an impressive list of career results, a big dream and a repertoire of skills that may even be bigger than that! Riding for the Tattoo Racing Team in 2015, Long stunned the industry at the first round of the 2015 MX Nationals with lightning fast speed and a consistency expected only from veteran riders. We caught up with Dylan as he prepares for round two of the 2015 MX Nationals this weekend to be held at Appin, NSW.
Todd Jarratt: Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to have a chat with me Dylan. We have just recently completed the first round of the 2015 MX Nationals and are only three days out from round two, fill us in on how the opening weekend of the year at Horsham went for you.
Dylan Long: The weekend at Horsham went really well. I accomplished everything I had set out to do for the first round, which was show to myself that I had the speed to run up front. I finished eighth in the first moto with a ten second in race time penalty, and seventh in the second moto. I haven’t really looked at the results actually; I’ve just been focusing on moving forward and training hard for this weekend so that I can remain consistent, but also finish off my moto’s a bit stronger than I did at the first round.
TJ: You say that you’ve been training hard in lead up to round two, but for those out there that may not know – what does an average week of training for Dylan Long consist of?
Dylan Long: I have personal training twice a week, and try to ride every other day really. This week I’ve tapered off a bit, I’ve ridden Monday, yesterday (Tuesday) and will ride again tomorrow (Thursday) before driving up to Appin on Friday with mum and dad.
TJ: Rewinding a little bit, 2011 was your first year as a senior competitor, how did that go for you in stepping up to the national series?
Dylan Long: It wasn’t all that great to be honest. I tore all of the ligaments in my ankle at the first round of the MX Nationals and pretty much from then on I struggled as I tried to return to racing too early. Looking back at it now, it wasn’t the best move and we should have left it longer, but we weren’t thinking about that at the time. I came back healthy for the last two rounds and finished third at Moree, then was leading at the final round (Coolum) before going down and breaking my elbow. So all in all, my debut year wasn’t all that pleasant.
TJ: One year later though, in 2012 you battled with Kayne Lamont all season long for the MXD title and got back to your winning ways, before finishing on the podium a couple of times in the supercross series as well?
Dylan Long: Yeah 2012 was a much better year. I actually led the whole motocross series up until the closing stages, when at Hervey Bay I was caught up two races in a row in first turn crashes, so that really hurt my points. Then as you said, I finished on the podium during supercross a fair bit, so all in all 2012 was pretty solid.
TJ: You had some impressive results between then and now, a few motocross and supercross podiums but nothing really to write home about. What happened during that stage, that caused you to struggle and move from a factory supported team to a full privateer effort?
Dylan Long: Just a constant run of injuries really. The team I was with at the time wasn’t going too well and my issues along the way weren’t helping either. Moving to the privateer setup, the money was tough. I was trying to pay for things myself, but still needed help from mum and dad. It was my first year in MX2 and there was a lot too learn, but in saying that taking the privateer route brought the fun back into racing and allowed me to do more of what I wanted.
Last year I ended up breaking my wrist at the first round of MX Nationals at Broadford, so like 2011 I was behind the eight ball from the get go. Then to make things worse I tore a whole heap of ligaments in my neck mid season, which meant I missed even more time behind the gates.
TJ: Moving on to a lighter topic – you have an unbelievable natural ability on a dirtbike. Did this develop over time, or did you just one day start hucking out backwards whips?
Dylan Long: To be honest I don’t even know how it all came about. I always looked up to Travis Pastrana and how he threw huge whips and nac nacs while racing, but even that wasn’t a big deal. I remember one day racing on a 65 down in Tasmania, I started throwing little bum whips around the track and Glenn Macdonald started calling me “Dyl Style”, so pretty much from then on I guess it was in my head and things just kept getting bigger to the point I’m at now. I try to teach people here and there, but it’s more about personal feel, so I’m pretty lucky in that sense.
TJ: Obviously, coming into 2015 it was fairly well known that you were looking to move up into the MX1 class, but no one really expected to see you on a Tattoo Racing machine this year, or to come out as strong as you did at Horsham. What’s been the biggest change in helping your results?
Dylan Long: Nothing has really changed all that much actually, it’s just been coming into the season strong and healthy without any injuries. The step up to the 450 has been good because I’ve always been a better 450 rider. On the 250 I felt I over revved it, trying to get something out of it that wasn’t there. So when I moved up on to the big bike full time I was able to smoothen out my riding and use the higher gears which suits me a lot better than the 250. I mean I loved the KTM’s, I couldn’t fault them. I rode them for eight or so years and enjoyed them the whole time, but now that I’m a bit older and stepping up to the 450 I think the change has been good and it has helped me for this year.
TJ: So how did the deal with Tattoo Racing and Adam Jafer come about?
Dylan Long: I was actually planning on going racing in America this year, but the financial support just wasn’t there for what we were planning on doing. So we thought we would hold off another year. We had a deal lined up with another team prior to the US plans, but it never eventuated and that’s actually why the America situation came about. So when neither of our options came to materialize, the Tattoo guys were happy enough to help us out this year. James actually contacted me and asked what my plans were for 2015 as they had spoken to me previously and mentioned they would help me out if I ever needed assistance. I was really thankful for their support and appreciated the effort, so when the opportunity came up I knew I would take it and work with them to go racing this year!
TJ: So, with that being said what are your goals for the remainder of the 2015 season considering your outstanding performance at round one?
Dylan Long: With it being my first year in the MX1 class, I just want to finish each race strong and get as close to the top step as I can. To get a few race wins would be awesome, but if that doesn’t happen I won’t be all that bummed because these guys all know how to ride and I’m just here to learn at the moment. Those top guys are upwards of 25 years old, I’m only young, 20, so I still have a fair bit to learn. I think it will come with time, so this year is more about learning and trying to prove myself to the factory teams. I know that having access to all of the equipment and resources they do, as well as getting to test as much as they do would be ideal and really help in moving forward for the future.
TJ: Well thank you very much for your time Longy, to finish off is there anyone you would like to thank for their support this year?
Dylan Long: Yeah definitely! My mum and dad, Mark and Tania Long – without them I wouldn’t be racing right now, that’s for sure. My girlfriend Tori, she has been pushing me pretty hard this year training wise and she believes I’ve got what it takes to make it in this sport. So to have her by my side and believe in me is huge because it helps me to believe in myself as well. The whole Tattoo Racing team, Brett Trigg and finally all of my personal sponsors for sticking behind me!