Rider Spotlight: Tommy Aquino
NEWS August 30, 2012
Photo by Brian J Nelson
AMAP: Where are you from?
TA: I’m from Santa Clarita, California. It’s a little north of Los Angeles. That’s where I spend most of my time now. I was pretty much born and raised in California.
AMAP: How did you get into riding motorcycles?
TA: My dad raced AMA Pro for two-three years. When I was three years old, he threw me on a motorcycle when all I wanted to do was play video games. I’m happy he did though, because I don’t see myself doing anything else. I started racing motocross first. I actually raced against a lot of the guys that currently compete in AMA Pro Lucas Oil Motocross. Guys like Cole Seely, Blake Baggett, Nick Paluzzi.. We did motocross, but then switched to road racing at 12 years old. I progressed from racing the small bikes up to 600s.
AMAP: Tell us about your time in AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike to where you’re at now.
TA: Well, last season was my best season. I got third in the championship. We were going to go for the championship this season, but we never really got a ride opportunity. So, we went over to Europe to ride Moto2, which was a lot of fun. I learned a lot and raced motorcycles with people I’ve never ridden with before. I’m really happy I did it. Now, I just want to come back and try to win some races against some of the guys that have been doing it all season long. I think it will even out… the guys that have been doing it all season and my experience overseas.
AMAP: What team did you ride for in the CEV Spanish Moto2 Championship?
TA: I raced for a team called Fogi Racing. Now, for the rest of the 2012 season, I’ll be racing back in AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike on a KneeDraggers.com Triple Crown Industries Yamaha R6.
AMAP: Do you think you learned any valuable skills riding overseas?
TA: Yes. I rode bikes with really nice equipment on them: Great brakes, great suspension and all that good stuff. They’re Moto2 bikes, but the only difference between them were tires. I learned a lot, including a different riding style. I’m trying to bring that back over here, but it’s a little challenging, mainly because the tires are different over there. I jumped back on the R6 and feel like I never left.
AMAP: You debuted at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on the KneeDraggers.com/Triple Crown Industries Yamaha R6. How did the ride come about?
TA: I got the call from them right before Laguna Seca that they needed a replacement rider. I only got one hour of track time, but within that hour, we got the bike setup well enough to probably win the race. Unfortunately, we had an electronics problem, so we went far back in the field. We’ve been testing and have sorted out the electronics problem. We’ll be ready for Jersey. Last season, I won one race and got third in the other, so there’s no reason I can’t do it again.
AMAP: You have to be pretty excited for New Jersey Motorsports Park then?
TA: I definitely like that track. It’s fast and hard to pass. The fans are the best. They’re so many fans that come out to watch us race, and I like that best.
AMAP: You’ve raced at both U.S. tracks and European tracks. Can you compare them?
TA: Everybody says the tracks in Europe are better, just by looking at them. I rode Catalunya and thought, ‘This place is small!’ Tracks here in the states are pretty up to par with tracks on the world stage. I’m not going to say Jerez isn’t my favorite track, because it definitely is; it’s really nice. But, we have Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Miller Motorsports Park and Barber Motorsports Park. Those tracks would be successful anywhere in the world.
AMAP: Are you excited to go to Homestead-Miami and Nola Motorsports Park for the Triumph Big Kahuna rounds?
TA: Yes, but they’re definitely going to be an adventure. All the other riders have tested there, and I haven’t. My best bet for results is at New Jersey, but you never know.. something could just click at those two tracks. I think we’ll be alright.
AMAP: What are your expectations for the rest of the season?
TA: I want to get a race win before the season ends and definitely some podiums too. It’s kind of cutting it close with three race weekends, but I feel confident enough that my team and I can do it. My team isn’t factory Yamaha, but they have a lot of heart, know what they’re doing and have some really good equipment. The rest is up to me. We have a big opportunity to do some cool things in these few races.
AMAP: What draws you to the sport? (The thrill, competition or the speed)
TA: The competition on the pro level is so nice. It’s really just convenient, because everyone knows what they’re doing, so you can race really close and have a lot of fun. That’s the main different between going to an amateur event and a pro event. You can race inches from another rider over 100mph and feel completely fine. It makes it a lot of fun. I like racing and racing close. I would race bikes, rc cars and anything else. It’s just way more fun on a motorcycle.
AMAP: Anything surfacing for 2013?
TA: There are talks and everything, but if I had a solid, full season ride in Daytona SportBike next year, I think I could pull off a really good chance of winning the title. But, if other opportunities arise elsewhere, I would consider them.
AMAP: Who’s your racing hero?
TA: I really looked up to Colin Edwards and Ben & Eric Bostrom. I’m really privileged to say I know them on a personal level now. I told my dad I thought it was pretty cool that we both got seventh place in our first Pro race. I also like Valentino Rossi.. who doesn’t like him.
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