At the end of 2022 Hunter Yoder considered not racing professionally anymore because he wasn’t enjoying it. He decided to take a ride with Team PRMX for ’23 and give it another shot and he found the passion again. For 2024, Hunter is back with the team with and has a new confident outlook. We recently checked-in with him to discuss all that has been going on recently.
For the full interview, check out the Vital MX podcast network anywhere you get your podcasts. If you’re interested in the condensed written version, scroll down just a bit further.
Jamie Guida – Vital MX: What’s been going on, Hunter?
Hunter Yoder: Nothing much. I’m going to do some riding here in a bit, and I just returned from Australia two days ago. I’m back at South of the Border and ready to do some hammer time to prepare for A1.
Vital MX: You told me off-air that you’re headed to the track a little later today. What was the reasoning for that?
Hunter: Today is my first day back riding, so I’m not doing a whole lot today. I am going to try a new setting, but the suspension guy is coming from Florida to South Carolina. He left last night and didn’t make it all the way. He pulled in about an hour ago, so we waited for him.
Vital MX: You were on PRMX Kawasaki for the 2023 season. You finished 14th overall in your first full season of Supercross. What did you learn this year, and how do you feel about your performance?
Hunter: I feel good about it. I know 14th isn’t anything crazy, but I didn’t have a clue where I’d be. In my first year, I only made two main events, which was kind of a wash. Then, coming into ’23, it’s not that I was unprepared, but I had no guidance or a trainer. I was doing all of my own riding stuff and had no idea how I would do. I really surprised myself with several things. I qualified in the top ten two or three times and led some laps in a heat race. That was a big thing to check off my list. To lead a pro-Supercross is something not many people get to experience. That was awesome and a big confidence booster. There were a lot of things I slowly learned and got better at, which I didn’t even know coming into the year. For me, to do a couple of those things made for a big year.
Vital MX: Can you give us an example of something you learned that you weren’t expecting?
Hunter: There were a lot. I talked to people who told me it takes at least three years to settle yourself into Supercross. The first is how everyone is ready to go when the flag drops in free practice. I had to work on that because I want to be a top guy. I needed to get out there, ride with the top guys, and learn the track quickly. I can do that well most of the time, but I worked on it a lot coming in and during the season. When I’d get to a new practice track or a race track, I tried to dial it in by lap two or three. When you do a track walk, it’s one thing to guess what rhythms or combos you are going to do. It’s very different during race time because the lines form differently, and you get acceleration and braking bumps. That was something I had to take into account. Trying to picture the track in race shape instead of when it’s smooth during track walk is important.
Vital MX: You mentioned not having any guidance and doing your own training last year. Has that changed for ’24?
Hunter: Around this time last year, a local trainer in Florida came up for a few days to do a trial run with us for a couple of days of riding. I ended up going home for Christmas. That was the last two days of my pre-season last year. Then, he came to round two or three and became the full-time trainer for the Partzilla PRMX team. He’s back for a second year, so he and I have grown close over the last nine months. I’m super pumped about it. He was my trainer through the summer as well. That is the program I’m on for now. He does all my riding and gym stuff, which is nice to have the same person around.
Vital MX: As I recall, before the 2023 season, you considered not racing. Do I remember that correctly?
Hunter: Yeah. I made it known on PulpMX because it was a big thing in my career. I have always been super pumped to go ride or race, and that was the first time I didn’t want to be around dirt bikes. 2022 was very hard on me mentally, and there were multiple things before that. They didn’t bother me then, but after the ’22 season ended, it all piled on top. I came in with a lot of big expectations that I didn’t come close to. It took a big toll on me.
Vital MX: That’s the stuff many fans don’t get to hear about. It’s crazy what a difference a year makes because it sounds like you’re back and ready to go.
Hunter: I don’t know if it’s been announced publicly, but about 13 months ago, I first came to SOB, and that’s when Julien (Perrier) offered me a ride. It was kind of my last resort. I didn’t know anything about Julien or the team, so I was going out on a limb to do anything to make it work. I had a good year, and now I have a new two-year deal with him for ’24 and ’25. I’m over the moon about it. As you said, “What a difference a year makes.” From not racing to a two-year deal in about a year is wild.
Vital MX: That two-year deal is to race AMA Supercross, SMX, and the Canadian Triple Crown series, I believe.
Hunter: Yeah. The Canadian outdoor series, and if things line up, you may see us at a couple of AMA outdoors to get some extra points for the playoffs.
Vial MX: Julien is passionate about this and does all he can to support the team and riders. I love that he re-signed you. He’s very passionate.
Hunter: Very, very passionate. He puts his heart and soul into it. He’s out at the track right now. He’s been out there since around 10 a.m., and it’s almost two now. He’s been out there all day and doesn’t have to be. People are taking care of everything, but he’s watching over everyone like a hawk. I’m sure he’ll be out there until four or five o’clock when I get done riding. He’ll be at the shop at 7 a.m. He’s the first one there, and the last to leave. I saw his work ethic and it was nice to see. I’ll stay out there as long as needed to get better. Multiple days last year, it was just Julien and me out there until the sun went down. We were making suspension changes or whatever it took to get where we needed to be.
Vital MX: You did race the SMX rounds this year. You got 3rd in the LCQ in Charlotte, 6th in the LCQ in Chicago, and you won the LCQ in Los Angeles. Winning an LCQ had to feel good. Leading some laps and getting a win of any kind at the pro level must build confidence.
Hunter: I was super unprepared coming into the playoffs. I planned to race WSX. Then we had a two-month break, which was kind of my off-season. I wasn’t riding much. I did a training school in Alaska and a few things I normally wouldn’t get to do. I hadn’t ridden in about a month leading up to Charlotte. I got the call and went and raced, but I hadn’t been riding a 250. I hadn’t even been on a Kawasaki because I was riding the Suzuki 450 then. That was a big change. I did one day of riding and went and raced. I made it work by trying my best. With that little prep, that was the best I could do. The one in LA felt really good. Being in front of the hometown crowd at the Coliseum was awesome. As you said, getting a checkered flag in any pro racing, especially in the Coliseum, is super cool. That whole race was an awesome experience and something I’ll never forget.
Vital MX: Did you like the three tracks and different format?
Hunter: I think I’d like it more if I was better prepared. Charlotte was so hot my tongue was in the spokes. Maybe it was the 20 plus two. I was smoked. I can’t say anything bad about the tracks. It’s hard to make a hybrid track that would ever really work. There’s always something a little wonky about it. That’s our job to figure out how to go around the track they provide as fast as possible. You can’t pick and choose.
Vital MX: As a fan and media, I loved that you guys struggled with choosing a set-up and figuring it out.
Hunter: I ran a full Supercross setting at the first round, which was way too stiff. The second round was outdoor settings, and then I was back on Supercross in the third. I talked to multiple people who went the opposite way. It was crazy for everyone, and nobody knew what we were getting into. That’s the beauty of it. It was pretty even for the most part.
Vital MX: You mentioned riding the Suzuki because you rode WSX with the HEP Suzuki team. You went 16th, 20th, and 8th in the series and 14th overall through three rounds.
Hunter: I had two rough rounds at the beginning. The first was the first time I’d been out of the country. I didn’t know how to deal with the jetlag, which was difficult. In Abu Dhabi, I got a migraine right before the heat race, and that put a damper on my whole night. My starts were terrible in the last one in Australia, but I rode well. Some of the guys from the AMA were there, and it was cool to run up front with them. It’s a sneak peek at your pace before Anaheim 1. So, it was nice to run up front and show a decent result in WSX, which I hadn’t done the rounds before.
Vital MX: How did you like working with Dustin Pipes and the guys at HEP. Dustin is another great team manager.
Hunter: Yeah, Dustin is awesome. Larry Brooks, as well. I’ve known him since I was about ten and always wanted to work with him. It’s never aligned. They have a great group over there. Travis (Soules), Ken’s mechanic, was awesome. Working with Ken (Roczen) and (Kyle) Chisholm was good. Chisholm has a lot of knowledge of tracks, bike set-up, and how tracks will break down. It was cool to listen to that. Dustin runs a great team.
Vital MX: What will make a successful 2024 Supercross season for you?
Hunter: I want to be in the top ten in points, and I’m looking to finish inside the top seven a few times. I want to be upfront in the heat races as well. I want to bump up everything I did last year a couple of positions. That would make for a successful ’24.