Ashley Wilde has been one of the most-improved riders in Britain in recent years and, through that time, he has always relied on Talon wheels. Although the 2016 season was more turbulent than initially expected, Wilde is looking forward to returning to the front next year with his third manufacturer in as many years.
Talon Engineering: Obviously it was a rough season for you, but that race win at Hawkstone Park must mean that you look back on it all with some positive thoughts?
Ashley Wilde: It’s definitely been a tough season! But, yeah, like you say the race win at Hawkstone was nice for me and all the people who helped me during my recovery. At first when I had surgery the plan was to try and make the last British. I was lucky enough to work closely with the guys at Harris and Ross, who pushed me really hard and I was able to get back for Preston, Hawkstone Park and Foxhills.
At both Preston and Foxhill I was tenth overall, but at Hawkstone I was able to win a race. Tenth at Preston, after being fourth overall there the year before, doesn’t sound great, but I was more than happy with that after only being on the bike for three weeks before. Moving onto 2017, I’m positive that after a strong winter with my new team I can be back up front where I want to be.
The injury was obviously a little more taxing than some may realise, but is everything clear with that now?
Yeah, for sure, the injury was quite complicated and there was a lot of damage. When the shoulder dislocated it did a lot of bone damage, along with other stuff. The specialist told me that I could try and get through the season after some rest, but there would be a ninety-percent chance that my shoulder would pop out again and he advised me to undergo surgery straight away. After speaking with all the people close to me we decided to have the surgery and come back to racing when I’m ready and strong again. Now it’s been put through its paces, but it’s all good and seems to be stronger than ever!
The sport’s moving forward so quickly, so it is easy for some to forget that you were challenging for podiums in the British in 2015. You obviously still believe you can do that, right?
It’s mad how quickly people write you off! 2015 was a breakthrough year for me. I believe if I didn’t get hurt this year I would have been challenging for top six in the British again. Missing so many races this year has made me more determined and focused to be even better next year.
Was the adjustment to a Yamaha this year much tougher than you had anticipated? If so, why?The change to Yamaha wasn’t too bad for me – I liked the bike straight away. We did get the bikes a little bit late, which put us on the back foot, but we just got on with it. I had a good strong winter training and was confident coming into the year. It’s a shame I didn’t get to show what I could do at the start of the year. At round one of the MX Nationals I was third overall with some good riders there and at Lyng I had an average weekend with bad luck, then I got hurt at Canada Heights; I didn’t really get a chance.A move to RFX KTM will be a positive change for you, I’m sure. Are you looking forward to getting on a bike that is proven to be extremely competitive out of the box?
Yeah, I’m really excited to be changing to the KTM 450 SX-F and also about working with the RFX team. I know everyone on the team really well and and I train with the other team members. They all want what’s best for me and are really keen to help me achieve my goals. I’m also looking forward to working with Jon Dennis, who will be my full-time mechanic.
Aside from a change of colour, are there any other modifications that you’ll be looking to make to your programme for 2017?
Apart from changing teams and colour, most things will stay the same. I will again be working with the RMJ Pro Academy and will still continue with my personal sponsors like Toughsheet and Dents8, who both were great to me while I was on the sidelines.
Talon wheels have been a constant part of your set-up for a while now, no matter what team you’ve been on. Why do you feel it is so important to put your faith in Talon each week?
Talon wheels are great, when your racing it’s really important that you have faith in what products your using especially with the size of the jumps nowadays. The RFX KTM team are working with some of the leading brands on the market and Talon is one of them, so I’m glad to be using them yet again.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Image: ConwayMX