Securing a factory ride for the AMA Monster Energy Supercross series can be a great opportunity.
Top-of-the-line technology, the newest and fastest equipment every week and the latest advancements in the sport are all at a team's fingertips. Perhaps there are incentives in place to keep the manufacturer`s name in the public spotlight, too.
Mike Alessi is admittedly grateful to be through with all of that.
After a pair of years of competing on a KTM factory ride, the 23-year-old from Victorville is back on a Suzuki, competing on a bike that does not have a direct link to the factory.
"I like the freedom of doing what I want, trying different parts and different things on my motorcycle to make it better," Alessi said.
"For factory it was like I was limited or stuck to riding with one thing and that was it. If I didn't like it, well that's tough."
Alessi and his brother, 22-year-old Jeff, are racing together again, joining MotoConcepts and JTRacing.
"I feel like I had more freedom and to ride to my ability and what I wanted to do," Mike Alessi said of the change. "I'm a lot happier person to ride the motorcycle for a team I want and not be held to something I have to ride or use.
"It was very frustrating because as a rider you want your motorcycle to be better. You don't want to be hindered by what is not working right on the motorcycle. When they make you try to ride or use something you don't want to use and you feel is not better, it is tough and a difficult position to be in."
Alessi, one of the few Southern California natives in the series, returns home to race tonight at Dodger Stadium in the second of three L.A.-area stops. Qualifying is scheduled to start at 12:30 p.m. with the first heat race scheduled for a 7p.m. start.
Alessi is back training with his brother, and under the guidance of his father, Tony, at the family's homestead and track along the Victorville/Hesperia border.
"This is an opportunity to do it our way," Tony Alessi said. "How to build them, how we race, how we want to train, how we want. The results might not show yet, but Mike is riding better than he ever has, especially in supercross."
The current team came together just a week after the conclusion of the 2011 outdoor season. Two weeks later, Alessi finished a surprising 10th overall, with two sixth-place finishes, in the postseason Monster Cup in October in Las Vegas.
The senior Alessi oversees how his sons are doing and makes recommendations to the MotoConcepts team, which is based in Murrieta.
"There are a lot of good parts of being in a factory ride," Tony Alessi said. "But it only works as long as it fits you. If it fits you, it's a good program. For us, it was not that good of a fit.
"It can make for an uncomfortable environment. You are doing things you don't necessarily want to do. You'll ride with forks that you know are too stiff. There is nothing you can do to change that. If (Mike) tells that he wants to try a different fork, I'll go get him a different fork."
He opened the 2012 season by taking the holeshot in the first race of the season, a heat race that determined the starting order for the Anaheim main event.
"Right now, 90 percent of the race is getting a good start," Mike Alessi said. "You have to put yourself in a good position because everyone is so competitive and so fast now . One mistakes and you're going to be back in the pack or not qualifying."
He finished ninth in the Anaheim race and then followed it up with a 16th-place finish in Phoenix last week. He is 12th in points.
"Anybody can win on any given night," he said. "The racing is so crazy and out of control right now that if you make one mistake, you could be off the podium or not qualifying. Any of the 20 riders at the starting gate has a legitimate chance to win. It is the most competitive I've ever seen it and it makes for good racing. Everybody is so close."
It was not all bad at KTM, his second stint with the factory team, or even the Suzuki factory ride he had three seasons ago. Alessi is much more adept on the outdoor tracks.
He scored a moto win and a second-place overall finish at Hangtown, near Sacramento, en route to a second consecutive fifth-place finish last season. He was second in the 2007 season.
In supercross, he has not been quite as successful. He has been on the podium once in the supercross class and his best season finish has been ninth. Both happened in 2009 while riding for Suzuki. He finished third in Indianapolis that season.
Last year, riding for famed team manager Roger DeCoster, Alessi placed 12th for the season. His best finish was sixth in Seattle.
"He's 100 percent more at ease," Tony Alessi said. "You can see it in his riding. He's not tense, he's not tight. Everybody between fourth and 15th is the same level of rider. Every one of those guys has the same speed. We'll see how things pan out in the race.