Austin Stroupe joined the Rockstar Makita Suzuki squad for ’10. He battled for wins in the East Coast Lites series until a shoulder injury sustained during a practice crash in Houston sidelined him.
Although Supercross class rookie, Ryan Dungey got all the glory this year after winning his first-ever title there is another rider in the Team Suzuki camp who impressed this season. Austin Stroupe was right there at the front in the East Coast Lites Championship before a practice crash in Houston ended his title hope.
Stroupe joined the Rockstar Makita Suzuki squad for ’10 after considerable time spent riding Kawasaki’s. He clicked right away with the new team and from the beginning ran out in front of the highly competitive East Coast Lites series. The problem was he could never find enough speed to consistently challenge reigning champ and Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider Christophe Pourcel.
In the first six races he competed, he finished runner-up five times. With two rounds left to go he was still in the title chase and only eight points behind leader Pourcel. Unfortunately a practice crash in Houston ended his title hopes when he separated his shoulder after tangling with Kyle Cunningham.
Since, Stroupe underwent surgery to correct the condition but still isn’t ready to swing a leg over a motorcycle meaning he’ll miss the start of the Lucas Oils Motocross Championship that kicks off tomorrow at Hangtown. We caught up with a down but certainly not out Stroupe while he talked to us about his season.
HIS ’10 SUPERCROSS SEASON:
Stroupe was impressive in the East Coast Lites series netting five second place finishes in six race starts.
I felt maybe Jacksonville was my best race. There I got the closet to [Christophe] Pourcel. I felt every weekend I was trying as hard as I could. I don’t know what would have happened if I didn’t break my shoulder. Maybe I could have kept pushing into outdoors and maybe could have got him. But it was definitely hard this Supercross season. He was fast. I’m trying my hardest right now. There’s only so much you can do but I try and push hard.
WHY HE RACED THE EAST COAST SERIES AS OPPOSED TO THE WEST:
Well the plan was to race West Coast. But Suzuki didn’t get the bike out in time so I had to switch to the east. People didn’t really know how fast Pourcel was until he won the outdoors. A lot say the west was easier than the east but either way the top guys are fast so it would have been a tough time regardless.
SWITCHING FROM THE PRO CIRCUIT KAWASAKI SQUAD TO TEAM SUZUKI:
I rode for Mitch [Payton, owner/team manager of Pro Circuit] for two years and Suzuki picked me up for my third year in Lites. And it’s been great. They let me race the 450 for the first few rounds and that was some good experience. The new fuel-injected bike was fun to race. It was cool to work with a factory team. That was the biggest switch, to be on a factory team and dealing with everything getting done in-house. And it was just me riding not five other guys. It’s been a big switch for me but it’s been cool.
During our chat you could tell Stroupe was frustrated that he lacked a bit of speed as compared to Pourcel.
WHAT’S IT LIKE BEING SUZUKI’S SOLE FACTORY LITES RIDER:
It’s just me and Dungey and he’s killing it and I was doing really well. Everybody was happy. It was a lot different than having four guys that you’re racing on the track then coming back to the pits with. Some people can do it and some people can’t but I just didn’t really like it. The one-man team thing is better for me.
GETTING TO RACE THE 450 IN THE FIRST FEW ROUNDS OF THE SEASON:
I wouldn’t say it was a shock to me but I just wasn’t as prepared as I wanted to be. Last minute the guy they had signed [Jake Moss] had gotten hurt so I was just filling in and I didn’t have to do anything, but I still wanted to ride good. It was tough. The bike’s a lot harder to ride and you’re racing for 20-laps. Shape wise you’ve got to be stronger. I rode a 450 in amateurs but we’re racing with the big dogs here so I’ve got to come in a little more prepared next time.
MOTORCYCLE PREFERENCE 450 OR 250:
I think the 450 is good. The power from the 450 everyone is kind of equal. You can’t really say my bike is fast or slow because they’re all about the same. But I just like the 450s because you can ride them smoothly. But I’m having fun on the 250F right now so I don’t know. But I have to move up next year so I’ve got to get ready for it. I pointed out in Supercross so I have to move up next year and start looking forward to riding that big dog.
HIS HOUSTON PRACTICE CRASH:
I was behind a rider [Kyle Cunningham] and I was following him. He made a little mistake and moved over a bit and I just landed right on him and I tore my shoulder to pieces. So that was it for me for a while. I’m healed up from it but I’ve got to do therapy and get all the tightness and soreness worked out and get it back to normal. Now it’s the process of using it again and getting it back into rotation. In about four or five week’s I can get on my bike and take it easy. I’m thinking around July 4 I can start racing. I’ll stay with Rockstar through outdoors because I signed a one-year deal. But hopefully we’ll work on something in between.
WHERE HE LIVES:
I have a house in California but I went North Carolina because that’s where I had my surgery. I spend most of my time out here [California]. But I’m going to stay home for the summer and just do some training. I live close to Joe Gibbs Racing and I’m really good friends with the people there so they let me ride at their tracks and it should be good to ride with Josh Grant. I like being there. I spend most of my time in California so I want to spend some time on the East Coast this summer.
HOW HE STARTED RACING MOTORCYCLES:
I can’t really remember. I don’t know how you pick-up something but my dad got me started and I just got attached to it. And never stopped—injuries and all I just kept going.
I just wanted to let everyone I’m going to be at the races this summer to support the team and let everyone know that I’m getting back in action. I really want to be back racing.