The new H.E.P. Motorsports team came as a bit of a surprise this offseason. While Suzuki has pulled back much of their racing support and shifted it’s focus to the new Autotrader/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing team, the H.E.P. Motorsports team was able to strike up a deal with the manufacturer. Three of the team’s riders will compete in the 450 class for the upcoming 2018 season, but Tallon LaFountaine was brought on as the sole 250 competitors. Last year, LaFountaine showed that he was deserving of a ride, but an injury kept him from finishing out the season. With health on his side and a new ride on a fully supported team, we wanted to get acquainted with what LaFountaine is bringing into Anaheim 1.
Obviously, the big news here is the totally new ride for 2018. Give us a rundown of how that all came together for you.
At Dallas Supercross, we were talking with Billy Ezernack a little bit and he was helping a couple of people out at the time. He really liked me and we became friends. We just started talking and he got along with my dad and wanted to help me out. He had his rig at Dallas, so I stayed in the rig. After that race, we went on break and I didn't end up doing any more Supercross races that year because I got hurt. Billy wanted to stay in touch and said he was thinking of having something bigger for next year. He wanted a full team with support. We were like, 'Okay! Definitely, let us know, we'd be interested in that.' Fast forward to October and Billy called and told us he had Suzuki support and wanted me on the team as the only 250 rider. It was really cool and we went from there.
This is a whole new team for 2018, correct?
Yeah, it's Billy Ezernack, George Holland, and Aaron Pipes are the main three behind it. They've been working really hard and Suzuki is obviously one of the biggest sponsors backing it. A couple of the guys run an almond farm up in the Fresno area.
Suzuki has pulled some of their race support back this year, but you guys seem to have pretty good support from them. What is your relationship with Suzuki?
Now with RCH gone, Suzuki focused on JGRMX being the factory team, but they still wanted to have more supported riders out there. I think that the relationship that the guys running the team have with Suzuki is good, and Billy actually knows Jeremy [Albrecht] at JGR a little bit and they were able to work something out with Suzuki. It was actually a little bit of a win-win. Suzuki wanted more bikes on the track and Billy wants to start this new team. It was all just right timing and it worked really good.
As far as the RM-Z250 goes, it's the oldest platform in the class. What are your overall thoughts on your race bike?
Well, at first, I was skeptical, but after riding it and after Jamie at Twisted Development did the motor and Race Tech did the suspension and everything was put together I was super excited right away. There wasn't any doubt. I had confidence in the bike right away. I think for Supercross it'll work great. In Supercross things are tight and this bike has really good bottom end. Jamie did a great job with the motor, the bike turns well and cuts well, and it's super good in the whoops. I think it's a really good Supercross bike and I think the Suzuki is tailored really well to that type of racing.
Anaheim is just a short three weeks away now, what are you looking forward to in 2018?
I'm really excited to go racing. I think last year I was looking forward to it, but at the same time, I was like, 'Holy crap! I'm going to race Supercross and this is my first year.' This year, I'm actually looking forward to being on the track racing. It's exciting to be under a semi and feel like you belong. I'm looking forward to giving it my best shot and having a lot of fun and making the most out of this opportunity.