GNCCRacing.com: Let’s begin how we always do. Go way back to where it all started. When did you start riding and eventually racing?
Jesse Ansley: My beginning is very similar to the majority, first dirtbike on Christmas (age 5), instantly falling in love with the challenges of the sport. I started racing quickly after I learned how to ride at age 6. I’m 23 now, so I’m on year 17 of having that racing itch.
New year, new color. I know you’re grateful for the last several years on the KTM. You made a post thanking Antti and John Hinz for the last several years. But I want to give you a chance to kind of summarize your experience here as well.
Absolutely, being a part of KTM for the years I was a part of the team is something I will hold close to my heart forever. I wasn’t “Factory” but for a few years I was just about as factory as you could be, and they provided a lot for me which looking back on I was a very lucky 18/19 yr old. It’s no secret the KTM group is very strict when it comes to results, training requirements, etc. After winning 2 XC3 championships was the next kid in line to fill a factory spot and KTM was there to help me achieve that. Unfortunately, just never got that “race” when moving up to XC2. Whether it was physical, mechanical, or mental could never break through. KTM and I decided it was best they shifted their focus on other riders and that chapter in my life came to an end.
Now let’s talk Kawasaki. Getting the backing by Sarasota Powersports. How did this come about?
So down here in FL we have several great dealerships and I’ve had the opportunity to ride for a few growing up locally. Sarasota Powersport is a company under MyPowersport which is the mother to 4 dealership State wide. I’ve been with the MyPowersports group for several years, behind the scenes, through the KTM support ride years. Jason Ennis has established a great team of people throughout his dealerships and conveniently enough my old mechanic/friend who’s like a brother to me Mike Hall is the GM at Sarasota Powersports. Long story short Mike and Jason stepped up big time this year with support, and they want to make a push towards the offroad community, so we partnered together. I am fortunate to have Kawasaki team green support this year and to have Mypowersports/Sarasota Powersports backing as well is an amazing opportunity.
What’s it been liking switching brands over the off-season? Feeling comfortable on the bike yet?
The switch has been great so far! This is the first time I’ve ever ridden/raced an aluminum chassis. Recently I’ve been on a 450, which has confused a lot of people, but that has been a huge difference also. I start riding the 250 really soon, which I’m excited about. We have a good base set up with the Kawasaki so far, so hoping that translates well onto the 250 and we should be comfortable rolling into round 1 in a few short weeks.
You and Thad Duvall recently competed in the Ocean2Ocean Challenge which looked absolutely incredible! Tell us about that experience.
Man, what an incredible opportunity that is… This was my third go at the Ocean2Ocean event and I will say each time it gets better and better (not my navigation skills though). For those not familiar, Ocean2Ocean challenge is an event down in Panama where hundreds of riders, both enduro and adventure, and drivers, both SXS and Overlanders, start next to the Caribbean and within 3 days finish touching the Pacific Ocean. The event has several different routes, including hard enduro, ATV, and SXS. 3 grueling days, over 500km total of following waypoints, checkpoints, finding gas stations/food, and making it to the finish of each day in one piece. I was super excited to have Thad down there as we teamed up and rode every step of the way together, it made for a great time. We both also hosted a riding clinic a few days before the event which went awesome and excited to see that grow in the future also! I want to thank ElBody and his entire crew along with Jerry Curtis for all the hard work, they are the reason I get to go down there.
Any other sort of “one-off” events in the plans this year?
That is a good question, as of right now I really want to do an outdoor national race. I think now I say it publicly, people will now be expecting it. I really want to get out west and race Lake Havasu one day or maybe one day race down in Baja. It’s really about opportunity timing and how spontaneous you want to be. I like dirtbikes, I’m game to try anything. I think what Josh Toth is doing is so epic, I would love to shadow him for a few one-off racing.
Alright, GNCC, new bike, new outlook. Similar to what I spoke with Thad Duvall about, for the first time in a while you look like you’re having FUN again. And a man having fun on his dirtbike always seems to be a dangerous man. What are your expectations for the season this year?
This whole interview has been light hearted and then bam, you hit me with the hard questions huh. Just kidding. My whole outlook on racing and the sport has changed over the years, as of right now I want to show up and perform my best. With my consistent struggles within the past couple years I just ask myself to give 100%. I’m not one to throw a numbered result out there, of course we all show up to win or podium. In the past I’ve been lurking the podium from the outside, I say I’m long overdue for one.
What has training looked like for you this off-season?
This off-season has looked a little different for me, I’m somewhat of a recluse. It’s not that I don’t like anybody, I just tend to do things by myself or with people I have a solid relationship with. I see a lot of riders down here in FL training together and I have access to jump in with some groups, but I tend to just grind by myself. I’ve ridden with my buddy, and MXGP rider Jack Chambers a bit while he’s been home. But It’s been pretty low key for me this year. I work, ride, and train when time allows.
Who are the sponsors and people you’d like to thank?
Well first thank you Mikey, for giving me this platform to answer some questions and broaden my reach to some fans. I want to thank the loyal fans that have been by my side these last couple years, coming up for autographs and pictures still blows me away and I appreciate the love. I also want to thank the companies below that have either recently joined me this year or continuing to back me, running my own program is hard, but so worth the relationships I get to create with these rad companies. Kawasaki, MyPowersports, Sarasota Powersports, TF Racing Suspension, Athena USA + GET, Fly Racing, Engine Ice, Seat Concepts, Maxima Oils, Pro Filter, HBD Graphics, Dunlop Tires, Oakley, IMS, Renthal, TM Designworks, Rabaconda, American Import Autos, Mild2Wild Custom, Superior Control & Data, Sarasota Area Dirt Riders Association, Steve Thomson Homes, Camp Lingua Riding Academy, Generation T’s