In anticipation of the start of the 2011 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season that kicks off this weekend, Angel Stadium hosted a press conference where members of the media were allowed brief Q&A sessions with a few of the series top riders. The mood was similar to the weigh-in prior to a big boxing match with riders appearing defensive not wanting to giveaway any clues into who’s going to be the winner Saturday night.
The first rider to field questions was Andrew Short. Short joined the Red Bull KTM squad last fall and will be competing on the 2011 KTM 350 SX-F (find out more about this motorcycle in the 2011 KTM 350 SX-F First Ride).
“The biggest thing for me when I first hopped on it was the power was built for an outdoor track; it was up top and didn’t have a lot down low,” commented Short in reference to his first experience with the 350 SX-F. “But with Roger [DeCoster] and all of his experience, they moved the power down low for the Supercross tracks.
“Everybody knows that a 450 is a big bike to handle in Supercross and on tight tracks,” he continued. “The 350 has plenty of power to do all the obstacles and without having all that engine torque you don’t have to wrestle it as much. I think that’s going to be the biggest benefit. You don’t have to fight it as much when you get out of shape in the whoops and can carry more momentum. I think for certain people the bike is going to be a benefit for them and others it’s going to hurt them. I fit the bike really well and I think it’s going to be a benefit for me. It’s cool that KTM has all those options with the 350 and 450, but I chose the 350 because it is best for me.”
Next up was veteran dirt bike racer Kevin Windham. The long-time Honda rider is again on the Geico Powersports Factory Connection team and will be competing at the controls of a ’11 CRF450R, which you can learn more about in the 2011 Honda CRF450R First Ride.
“It’s hard to come back to racing, especially Anaheim, when you’ve been vacationing all summer,” said Windham in reference to him doing a few international Supercross races last fall. “This year was a lot different for me I stayed a lot more focused and everyone knows that historically I’m a slow starter so if I can get off to a better start I might find myself in a better position come Vegas.”
Two-time Supercross champion Chad Reed has broken the industry mold this season by creating his own Supercross team (TwoTwo Motorsports).
“As a rider I’ve always felt like I’ve needed a certain challenge,” said Reed in reference to forming his own team. “Honestly, it’s been a lot of fun. I’ve always found it fun and enjoyable to play a role in something’s that normally others don’t. I’m sure it’s going to have its ups and downs as this whole racing does, but so far it’s been a lot of fun. I’ve always been a huge believer in trying to surround yourself with people who can take a load off your shoulders in certain areas and I tried to do that right away and immediately after that I went to work and started training.
“The fact that everything you use or do is your choice and at the end of the day you make those calls, using certain products or whatever, that’s what’s been fun,” he continued. “I’ve been working with different people you’ve respected over the years and it’s just a different experience. That’s why I’m here. I love the sport and I love racing. I’m not done yet.”
After a lengthy hiatus from racing, Reed’s nemesis and ’09 Supercross champion, James Stewart, will be back in action this weekend with the San Manuel Yamaha racing team.
“I’m just happy to be back racing,” said Stewart. “It’s been a great off-season for me. Coming back for Unadilla and how that went, everything changed for me there. I just want to come back and have fun and enjoy racing. I’m so happy with my program, I’ve got a lot of new things on my team, San Manuel Yamaha, with Red Bull coming on as a sponsor it’s been good. We’ve changed a lot of things on the team and it’s been a good off-season.”
When one of the reporters asked James about his win-it or bin-it riding style, he was candid in his response:
“I’m not going to change my riding style for anybody,” said Stewart. “I’m going to be the champion the way that I feel like being a champion. I can’t help that I give it 100% every time. If I crash because I’m actually trying, then I can sleep better at night. I’m not doing it for the money or the fame or for ‘I want to win a championship,’ I’m doing this because I love racing.”
After being recognized for his accomplishments last year including a Supercross and Motocross Championships, Ryan Dungey was the last rider to speak.
“I appreciate the kind words,” said Dungey after being awarded a ring for his Supercross Championship last season. “Last year was one of the toughest but most rewarding years. Coming into the season it was kind of a blur and I didn’t really know where I stood, but things kicked off well and I have to be really thankful. As the season went on I was able to learn more and more and just did the best I could at any given moment. To be able to pull off the 2010 season and the Supercross championship was definitely rewarding and I’m really thankful.”
Although he’s continuing his relationship with the Rockstar Makita Suzuki team, former team manager Roger DeCoster parted ways with Suzuki and has joined the KTM team for ’11. DeCoster was instrumental in bringing Dungey up from the amateur ranks and can be credited with helping the Minnesota rider blossom into the dirt bike racing ace he is. Mike Webb has been named as DeCoster’s replacement.
Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey will have a difficult season ahead of him as multiple riders will attempt to steel his crown in 2011.
“It’s been great,” said Dungey in reference to the change. “In the scheme of things, it’s not as bad as it’s been made out by people. Roger was great and he did a great job and I learned so much and his advice was very valuable. The guy is a champion and he’s so full of wisdom and knowledge and to have someone like that was great, but I really respect his decision and the way he’s going. But Mike Webb is our new team manager and he’s doing a great job. He’s filling it in well and I have to say that it’s been a pleasure working with him. It’s been fun and he’s doing a good job and I really look forward to the 2011 season with him. He really takes care of business and we need a guy like that on our team.”
Stay tuned for more Supercross coverage and Motorcycle USA counts down to the season opener at Anaheim on January 8th. And make sure to sign up for Motorcycle USA’s Fantasy SX racing game. It’s free, fun and features exciting prizes, with each round featuring a chance to win a pair of tickets to the Las Vegas Finale. Sign up for Fantasy SX today.