WILL TO WIN:
Noah Willbrandt was on top of both the 125cc classes on multiple occasions throughout the 2019 season, starting the year off with some victories at Supercross Futures rounds in both Indianapolis and Nashville. The Michigan native finished just outside of the top ten in both of his classes at Loretta's and carried out an impressive resurgence shortly afterward at the Baja Brawl in his home state. Willbrandt rose to the occasion in the familiar sandy soil at Baja Acres and bested the competition in a stacked Schoolboy 1 class, performing well in both sunny and rainy conditions at the Brawl. Before heading to Mini Os, the ClubMX backed rider made the trip out to the Supercross Futures National Championship in Las Vegas where he scored 2nd place overall in the 125 B/C class. Willbrandt has since moved up to the B class for the 2020 season and he’s adapted well to the 250F, exemplified by multiple podium finishes at the Daytona RCSX in March as well as the Super Regionals he attended at both High Point and Ironman. We caught up with Noah to see how the transition to the four-stroke has been treating him, what his riding situation has been like the last few months, and what his mindset is heading to the Ranch this season.
What did you do during the few months that there was no racing happening with the coronavirus lockdown in effect?
Yeah, Michigan completely shut down in March due to coronavirus and there was no way I could just sit around doing nothing. So we made the decision to go back to ClubMX and I have been down here ever since.
Did you take some time off of riding when racing was initially canceled and postponed back in March?
I came home from Daytona SX for a couple of weeks and then we made the decision for me to go back to ClubMX to train. This gave me the opportunity to stay on the bike and keep up with my workouts.
What was your riding situation like the last couple of months during the quarantine?
I've been riding four to five days per week with a few open rides on the weekends at Club, including their inaugural Super Regional Simulation race that they held in May. I also raced at Moto-Vated MX for their first race of the season in May.
What sort of hobbies do you have outside of motocross?
I enjoy all watersports; surfing, wakeboarding, jet skiing, fishing, and just hanging out with family and friends on the boat.
Take us through your weekend of racing at the Baja Brawl last year and the intensity of the battles in the 125cc classes.
The weekend was intense for sure, with ups and downs, epic battles, and a mud moto to finish the weekend. Racing is a very competitive sport and you have to be all in to compete with the top racers, which puts more pressure on each of us to perform.
How did it feel to win the title in the Schoolboy 1 class in those gnarly conditions at one of your local tracks?
It felt amazing. I felt a great sense of accomplishment finishing on top of the box and representing Michigan riders at a national event. It all came down to the last race where three of us could have been the class winner, but I stayed focused and came out on top.
What do you do during the winter to stay sharp on the bike and get your training in being from Michigan?
I am now living down at ClubMX year-round, but when I'm home, I work out with our family friend Tom Zielinski. Tom is involved in the moto community and has been a positive influence in my life, keeping me on track physically. Riding isn't an option in Michigan during the winter months, so I have gone south to ride for the past six years with Matt Crown to train.
What was the transition to the B class like for you this season?
The transition was good. I enjoy riding the Yamaha YZ250F which Matt Crown at MCR Suspension has dialed in.
Was it difficult for you to adapt from the two-stroke to the four-stroke?
It was weird at first but by the end of the first day, I felt very comfortable. I was told all last year that the four-stroke would fit my riding style better, which has proved to be true.
How did the Daytona RCSX go for you back in March at the beginning of the year?
I started the weekend off sick and I wasn't sure I would be able to race. The first two days we were there I spent in the hotel. When Sunday rolled around I felt better and went out for practice. I had to just suck it up, putting in the best effort and energy that I could. I ended the week with a 2nd in 450 B and a 3rd in 250 B Limited” to “I ended the week with a 3rd in 450 B and a 2nd in 250 B Limited.
What was the feeling like to finally be back at the races after spending back-to-back months with no gate drops?
I was nervous at first but that changed quickly. My first race back was at Moto-Vated where I won all three of my classes.
How did the Loretta’s Super Regionals that you raced go from your perspective?
The Super Regionals were different, but it got us back to qualifying for Loretta's this year. Many racers had back to back motos, where we would finish a race and our next race was lining up, which isn't something we train for. It was challenging, but I got my tickets to the big show and can't wait to head down to the Ranch. I definitely want to thank MX Sports for pulling it off during these crazy times.
What is your mindset like heading to the Ranch this year?
I feel good mentally and physically. Training at ClubMX has me more prepared than I have ever been. I can't wait to line up against forty-one other elite racers.
Have you given any thought to which classes you’ll be racing at the end of the season heading into 2021?
I'll finish the year out in the B Classes and will decide what 2021 brings after Mini Os. I’d also like to give a shout out to my sponsors: Yamaha bLU cRU, MCR, Thor, EVS, 6D, ClubMX, Decal Works, AMSOIL, Dunlop, NoToil, Engine Ice, Illusive Gloves, Tamer Holeshot, and ProTaper.