Suzuki’s race teams have had a very good year, wrapping up several championships on the pavement and dirt, including the 450 Outdoor title with Chad Reed and the 250 West Coast Supercross and 250 Outdoor title with Ryan Dungey. So what did Suzuki do? They rewarded their Southern California employees with a free lunch and a chance to meet the most public workers of the company. And someone at Suzuki ordered too many burritos, so they let some magazine guys slip in, too. I took the chance to talk to Reed, Dungey, and DeCoster about their years and what’s next for them.
Chad Reed Interview
Chad Reed was thought of as a supercross specialist until he decided to race the outdoors just prior to the first round. He jumped in with minimum time to prepare and wound up wrapping up the title at round 10 of 12.
Pete Peterson: You had a busy summer. How did this affect getting ready for your supercross series in Australia?
Chad Reed: I haven’t even started to get ready for it, so it’s impacting it a lot. I just have to stay true to the goal, I want to represent Australia in the Motocross of Nations the best that I can and the best I know how, and that’s just to continue riding outdoor and continue giving it my all and hopefully we can go there and put ourselves on the box and then worry about Australia [Supercross series] after that.
PP: For people who want to see your series in Australia, is there a website that’s going to be broadcasting it or any way people in America can view it?
CR: Right now we’re working on a television package that would allow the US to get the TV package as well. It’s actually a great TV package for home, we get live TV at all seven races. They’re working on a supercross package right now. Superx.com.au is the official website. So far so good. Numbers are doing really well, entries are doing really well, so far we’re doing a lot better than where we were last year.
PP: What has this summer done for you going into next year’s AMA Supercross series?
CR: It’s done well. It’s been a tough year, I kinda fought some illnesses all year long, and I didn’t really anticipate that so I had my hands full, so I haven’t really thought about next year too much, just concentrated on this year and tried to win the title and we got that wrapped up with two rounds to go.
PP: I know it’s a long ways off, but any plans for Outdoors for next year?
CR: Right now I would say yeah, I would like to do it. We’re just going to continue and work on my contract negotiating and see where we end up.
PP: Can you tell us where you’re going to be next year?
CR: I can’t.
Ryan Dungey Interview
Ryan Dungey was pulled from the amateurs right onto Team Suzuki a few years back and that confidence in his potential sure proved out this year as Ryan won both the West Coast 250 Supercross Title and the 250 Outdoor Title. In moto 1 at the final round of the 2009 Outdoor series, title rival Christophe Pourcel seemingly had the moto win wrapped up until he appeared to intentionally slow to let Dungey, running in second, to close in on him. The racing appeared clean on TV, but Ryan had the best seat in the house to tell us what was going on at that race.
Pete Peterson: Congratulations you had a really good year. Take us through those last two motos at the last round of the Outdoors. There were some interesting tactics going on out there, especially in the first moto. I’d like to hear your perspective if that was fair racing or if that was a little over the top.
Ryan Dungey: He was playing a little bit of his game and I couldn’t really figure it out because it was like he slowed down and I didn’t know if he was just trying to slow the pace or if he was trying to let me by so he could nudge me or something. I really didn’t know so I just kinda sat back. I think he was trying to let me pressure myself into a mistake but at the same time I thought maybe if I sat behind him right on his butt it would pressure him into a mistake. Really, I tried to make a couple moves to get by him, but it was just like, at that point I didn’t know what to think, and I still don’t, but I did what I had to do, and going into the second moto just tried to do the same. I got a bad start, I had my work cut out for me. By the time I got into second he was already out there [in front]. We knew what was important on the day.
PP: Did it ever get dirty in that first moto?
RD: No, never got dirty. But then again, when I’d try to make a pass, I’d pass him then have to slow down for a section to make the corner and he would come by me. It never really… I don’t know what it would have been like if I was in front, but I think at the end of the day we did what we had to do.
PP: You’re definitely going to 450s next year?
PP: Any desire to defend some titles in the 250 class?
RD: Not really. I think it was more important – I for sure wanted to get the supercross title, and then going into the Outdoors I was just trying to keep the momentum. It was tough, there were a lot of ups and downs I had to overcome. Going into Outdoors I really wanted the championship, especially the way things ended last year, but I knew from the very beginning I’d have to be there every moto, week in and week out. And to clinch it, it was all the better.
PP: Can you tell me what team you’re going to be on next year?
RD: The plan is to keep moving forward with Suzuki. From the very beginning they’ve been there, and making that transition [to 450s] is a big step and I think who better to be with than the people that you already have built that relationship with? And I’m really pumped to say it, with the whole team, Rog, my mechanic, everybody, we’ve got a great relationship and we’ve got great things going here and I love what we’re all about and how we go about it. We’re there to win and do it together as a team, and that I enjoy so I’m just gonna stick with Suzuki and keep doing it.
PP: Is it finalized?
RD: That’s the plan, Suzuki. It’s not finalized.
PP: Are you going to change your number for next year?
RD: Yeah, I’m going to go with one digit. I only have a couple options, so I’m still thinking of which one.
PP: You’re not going to tell us?
RD: I don’t know yet. You’ll see here shortly.
Roger DeCoster Interview
These kids aren’t the only champions at Team Suzuki. Roger DeCoster is a former five time World Champion, four time Trans-AMA Champion, and current Team Manager. Internet rumors are swirling about where he will be next year, but his answers here should end that message board chatter.
Pete Peterson: Congratulations, you had a pretty good year this year. You had it pretty stressful, things were not smooth, but you came out on top.
Roger DeCoster: Yeah, it was tough with so much negative stuff, the way the economy is, and a lot of rumors… But as race results everything went really good. With three championships this year with the motocross team and road racing did awesome, ATV guys did awesome, so it’s been a fantastic year race results-wise.
PP: Going back to rumors, there are rumors that you’re not signed yet. Can you tell us what your plans are next year?
RD: We don’t have everything worked out yet, but our sponsors Rockstar and Makita, our main guys, they are going to stay on board. And people have decided to continue to commit to racing and we definitely will have two 450 guys and we probably will have a Lites rider also. So I feel pretty fortunate that they allow us quite a bit of racing still.
PP: Are your signed, though? Are you finalized as the Team Manger?
RD: Yeah, actually I still have a year on my current agreement.
PP: And your 450 riders? You’ll probably have Ryan Dungey for one?
RD: We have a verbal commitment from Ryan, but the paperwork is not done yet, but I think we can say that Ryan is on board for next year. We’re still working on Reed. It’s not going to be easy, from what it looks like, but I think Reed would like to stay and it’s going to depend on the financial side. I don’t know if we will be able to come up with what his side is expecting.