Prior to the 2011 AMA Arenacross
Series season, the legendary TUF Honda
team’s newest member Cole Siebler was making his rounds as a privateer in Monster Energy AMA Supercross
, an FIM World Championship. Moderate success gave Siebler enough reason to continue pursuing his dream, but breakthrough opportunities were few and far between, particularly in tough economic times.
Just before the 2011 championship was set to begin, Siebler received a call from Dave Antolack, team manager with TUF Honda, asking him to be the third rider for the team’s effort alongside 2009 champion Jeff Gibson and series veteran Brock Sellards, who was only running select rounds.
As a full-fledged rookie in the arenacross discipline, Siebler adjusted to the more hotly-contested competition over the first few rounds before taking advantage of a good start and securing his first career win at Toledo.
Now, Siebler sits fourth in the Arenacross class standings and while he is currently on the outside looking in for the championship, he’s looking forward to the west coast swing that kicks off this weekend in Reno.
Cole, how exactly did you become a member of the TUF Honda team and a full-time competitor in the AMA Arenacross Series for 2011?
“Well, it was last minute. My plan was to ride the supercross season. Brock Sellards kind of set the deal up because TUF Honda wanted a guy and Heath Voss decided not to race. Plus Brock was only going to do a few races because he didn’t want to compete in the whole series. So he told Dave (Antolack) about me, Dave called and that’s how it came together.”
Did you have any previous experience with competing in arenacross?
“No, I’d never done an arenacross race until the first round this year. I’ve raced over in Europe and they have some pretty tight tracks that are similar to arenacross, but never anything here in the states.”
How was the transition getting used to racing on a smaller scale?
“It wasn’t too bad. The first couple weeks were pretty rough for me and I had some pretty bad luck. (I’ve learned) starts are really important so I’ve been working on those a lot and they’ve gotten better the last couple weeks. I kept thinking 25 laps was going to be a long race because in supercross you race 20 laps, but when (lap) times are only like 23 seconds it goes by pretty fast.”
What were your expectations coming into this season?
“I came in and I wanted to win. I don’t like to go to a race and not plan on winning. So that’s what I wanted to do, but it hasn’t worked out that great (so far). I’ve won one race, but I’m getting better every weekend. I’ve been on the podium a couple times and that’s pretty much been my plan. I just wanted to come in here and race, and race to win.”
Was that your first career professional victory?
“In the AMA, yes. I’ve won some professional races over in Europe, but this was my first AMA win other than anything at Loretta’s (Lynn’s) as an amateur.”
Being on both sides in supercross and arenacross, how tough would you say the competition is in the AMA Arenacross Series?
“Obviously you aren’t racing against James Stewart, Ryan Dungey or Ryan Villopoto every weekend, but arenacross is pretty much full of what you would call the top privateers. There are a lot of good guys, there’s a lot of guys that can win this year so it’s been a good series. We’ve had six rounds and I think there’s been four different winners, so I think that there’s a lot of guys that can win in arenacross and depending on the start, its pretty much anyone’s race.”
Have you learned that starts are one of the keys to being successful in arenacross?
“Yeah, I (also) think the heat races are very important. That way you can get a good gate pick for the main (event). But yeah, I’d say starts are pretty much the most important thing, then just putting in a solid 25 laps.”
What do you think has been the toughest part of coming into the AMA Arenacross Series?
“It’s a lot more aggressive (because) the tracks are tighter. You have to be aggressive sometimes to make passes and I’ve never been to aggressive racing. I definitely have to step up my aggression. Sometimes you have to do a block pass on someone because it’s the only way to get around them.”
How has it been being a part of TUF Honda, who is one of the most renowned teams in the series with a long legacy of championships?
“TUF is awesome. Dave Antolack is a great guy. My mechanic Trayson is awesome and a great mechanic. Andy Brennan, (Jeff) Gibson’s mechanic, is awesome too. Everyone there just has fun. They take racing serious and they want to win, but they definitely have a good time (as well).”
What are you looking for out of the rest of the season? You have a win under your belt and sit fourth in the championship.
“I just want to take it race-by-race now and try to win some races before the season is over. Try to get on the podium every race and get a couple more wins. Hopefully I can get some good results and get into the top three in points at the end of the season.”
Round seven of the 2011 AMA Arenacross Series kicks off in just a few days from the Livestock & Events Center in Reno, Nev., on Friday, February 18 and Saturday, February 19 starting at 7:00 p.m. PT!
New for 2011! Live timing and scoring from each round of the AMA Arenacross Series. To follow the intense racing action live, log onto www.Arenacross.com
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