Kenny Noyes Moto2 Interview

February 25, 2010
Steve Atlas
Steve Atlas
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Professional-grade speed and an attitude to match, Steve Atlas is the new blood at MotoUSA. Atlas has AMA racing creds that are even more extensive than his driving record.

Kenny Noyes was born in Barcelona and raised in the mountain village of Miraflores de la Sierra north of Madrid. The son of American racer-journalist Dennis Noyes began riding motocross bikes at the age of four. Kenny then moved to back to the U.S. at 14, settling into Southern California with his family. But his real racing career didn’t start until he began dirt tracking in Northern California as soon as he had his driver’s license.

Kenny Noyes
American Noyes finally got his big break, landing a top ride in the all-new Moto2 Grand Prix championship.

After progressing through the legendary Lodi Cycle Bowl ranks, Noyes won the inaugural Formula USA Pro Singles National Dirt Track Championship in 2000 riding for Lineaweaver Husaberg, beating the likes of current AMA Grand National stars J.R. Schnabel and Bryan Smith, among others.

Though his plan was to stay in Dirt Track, an opportunity to return to Spain and road race professionally popped up for the BQR team of Barcelona. With absolutely no road racing experience, Noyes started from scratch in the ultra-competitive Spanish CEV and, in 2003, still riding with BQR Honda, won the Bancaja Superseries 1000cc (Superstock) title. He moved to Folch Yamaha for the next two seasons, winning the National Endurance Series.

Noyes won his first CEV 1000cc Extreme National at Jerez for Motorrad Suzuki in 2008, then scored several wins, poles and podiums with Palmeto Kawasaki this past season. If not for a couple of mechanical DNFs, he surely would have been in the battle for the title. For 2010 the likable American gets his first shot at Grand Prix racing with Team Jack & Jones by Antonio Banderas in the inaugural Moto2 championship. We caught up with Noyes recently, following one of his many pre-season tests to prepare for the new series.

Tell us about how the deal with the new Moto2 team came to be?

American Kenny Noyes
Noyes will ride for the Team Jack & Jones by Antonio Banderas, a team owned by the famous Movie Star, who is very passionate about motorcycle racing.

I have been road racing over in the Spanish Championship for the past few years and had some opportunities to go to the world championships, but never with a competitive team. You know how hard it is as a racer when you don’t have equal machinery and it never seemed worth it to go racing at a world level on an underfunded team with old bikes and no chance of running near the front. But when the new Moto2 class started to become a reality and I saw how level the playing field was we were real interested. Fortunately things had been going great in the Spanish series the past two years, winning races and finishing up front with both Suzuki and Kawasaki, so we got a lot of calls from Moto2 teams during the ’09 season. The Jack and Jones by Antonio Banderas option looked the best for a lot of reasons – the team, the Harris chassis, a Movie Star as your boss! It was a great deal and here we are…

Do you think having ridden 1000s the past few years will make the transition to a 600 difficult?

Well from the first tests I can see that I will have to work on changing a few things for sure. Our Harris frame is real precise and it works real good with the pressurized Ohlins forks and the TTX shock to allow for real high corner speeds so I need to let go of the brakes and take advantage of it. Sounds easier than it is, but I’m working on it. One thing that was cool to discover is that the bike is compact and light but it’s comfortable and I fit in it good so I don’t have to worry about that.

What have been your first impressions in testing thus far?

Noyes at speed on his new Moto2 machine.
“We have made a lot of progress and I think there is still a lot of room to improve.” – Noyes.

Real positive. We have made a lot of progress and I think there is still a lot of room to improve. My chief mechanic Gustav Persson has a lot of world-level experience and our Ohlins-Harris technician Richard Brendish knows pretty much everything there is to know about GP suspension and set-up. With these guys, along with my mechanics Fred Kello and David Cabau, in my corner it makes my job easy. I mean there are so many settings and geometry changes that you can make on these bikes that you could go wrong big time, but so far we have been improving step by step.

How has your pace been compared to the competition?

We will have a better idea after we get the (official spec-Honda) Moto2 engine at the Valencia IRTA tests in a few days. It’s not going to be easy because the field is real deep and there are a lot of awesome riders out there but we are going to give it all we got and see where we are among the GP guys and keep working all year to be at the front of the pack.

As the only American and rider in the class, how does it feel to be the one responsible for representing our nation on such a major stage?

I am the only American in Moto2 but it doesn’t really feel like a responsibility, instead it is a great opportunity to give the fans back home something to cheer about. There are great American riders in MotoGP that are going to put in some good rides this year for sure and we hope to do the same.

Competition wise, how much tougher will the field be than what you have been racing in Spanish Formula Xtreme?

Kenny Noyes
Kenny, shown here in one of his first tests on the Moto2 machine, is eagerly awaiting the arrival of the spec-engine from Honda at the official IRTA tests coming up in Valencia, Spain.

It’s hard to say. When I was racing Dirt Track at the Lodi Cycle Bowl the competition was very though, guys like Rob Damron and Toby Jorgensen were awesome riders and almost unbeatable at their local track. Then when I went to the Nationals it was almost easier in some ways and I won the championship in my rookie season. Hopefully this year it will play out kind of like that!

What are your expectations for the coming season?

We will see after the IRTA tests. I race to win, like most riders, but realistically we will have to see how we stack up before we place any bets.

Do you have a one or two-year deal with the team?

It’s a one-year deal. New team, new rider, it’s better to take it one step at a time and see how it goes this season before making any commitments on either side.

With all the new and different chassis but spec engines, it seems like the competition could either be really close or very spread apart. Any predictions on how tight of a field it will be?

Noyes has been hard at work testing for the new GP season.
Noyes will be the sole American in the Moto2 series this year, and is looking forward to representing our country in the new GP class.

I think it will be real tight. In almost all forms of racing you have factory teams and tire wars that take the competition out of the hands of the riders and teams and into the business offices. As a rider I have been on both sides. During my last two seasons, first with Suzuki and then with Kawasaki, I had good machinery and good tires, better than what a lot of guys had, so I knew I only had to worry about the other nine or 10 factory guys. But this year all the riders have the same engine and tires so I will have to worry about at least 20 guys! It will be very tough and close for sure.

Finally, anything you want to say to all the American fans out there that will be tuning in every weekend to watch?

You guys are the reason we are here and racers like me can make a living racing awesome bikes like the Promo Harris Moto2 all over the world. Thanks for all the support and I hope we can put it up front and get the U.S. excited about Moto2.