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On Track Off Road No. 189

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Suzuka


WHEN<br />

THE<br />

LIGHTS<br />

COME<br />

ON<br />

The special site of<br />

Suzuka and the 8hr<br />

as dusk falls. KRT<br />

took that dramatic<br />

win from Yamaha in<br />

a sensational and<br />

controversial finale<br />

to the FIM EWC<br />

series as the 2019<br />

edition captured<br />

more attention than<br />

ever. Watch out on<br />

the OTOR website<br />

this week as Steve<br />

English defied the<br />

heat and humidity<br />

to generate a personal<br />

Blog from the<br />

event<br />

Photo by Steve English


MotoGP<br />

GOOD<br />

BYE<br />

DRY<br />

SPELL<br />

The Grand Prix of<br />

Czech Republic did<br />

not end in the dust<br />

for Romain Febvre.<br />

In fact the Yamaha<br />

star blew away<br />

some particles from<br />

his trophy shelf<br />

to install his first<br />

winner’s garland<br />

for two years after<br />

his 1-1 success at<br />

Loket.<br />

Photo by Ray Archer


AMA MX


TWISTING<br />

DOWN<br />

Defending 450MX Champion Eli<br />

Tomac showed his teeth at Washougal<br />

last Saturday for the ninth<br />

round of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro<br />

National series and left nobody<br />

in doubt as to his intentions for a<br />

resolute title defence<br />

Photo by Monster/Octopi Media


YOUR “EVERYTHING”<br />

KNEE BRACE<br />

SOLD AT FINER DEALERS WORLDWIDE | TROYLEEDESIGNS.COM | @TLDMOTO | @TROYLEEDESIGNS


MXGP<br />

TH


MXGP CZECH REPUBLIC<br />

GRAND PRIX OF CZECH REPUBLIC<br />

LOKET · JULY 28-29 · Rnd 13 of 18<br />

MXGP WINNER: ROMAIN FEBVRE, YAMAHA<br />

MX2 WINNER: JORGE PRADO, KTM<br />

AT LAST<br />

E THIRD<br />

Blogs by Adam Wheeler, Photos by Ray Archer


MXGP<br />

Thank goodness for Romain Febvre.<br />

The Frenchman – allegedly soon to<br />

end a five-year spell as a factory<br />

Yamaha rider for the climes of Kawasaki<br />

– may have his own personal<br />

chronicle wholly satisfied with victory<br />

in the Czech Republic and by quenching<br />

a dry spell that stretches back to<br />

his home Grand Prix in the summer of<br />

2016 but he also cast a much-needed<br />

refresh in the MXGP series. With Jorge<br />

Prado elongating his unbeaten record<br />

to twelve Grands Prix and Tim Gajser<br />

coming back from Indonesia with<br />

seven wins in a row the FIM World<br />

Championship was in drastic need of<br />

something different. Febvre was only<br />

the fifth victor in 2020 in all classes<br />

(the third in MXGP).<br />

Currently there are reminders of the<br />

injury-smashed 2015 campaign in<br />

which Febvre himself was able to triumph<br />

as a rookie in the premier class<br />

but the truth is that every season has<br />

it’s own distinct flavour. Take 2018 for<br />

example. There are some that were<br />

bored stiff with Jeffrey Herlings’ continual<br />

rout of the division while others<br />

only deepened their admiration and<br />

wonder for the Dutchman with every<br />

passing week and success. In 2017 it<br />

was the tale of Tony Cairoli – while<br />

Herlings fought back from injury, Gasjer<br />

had that ‘difficult second album’<br />

phenomenon and Febvre was lost in a<br />

set-up misstep with the Yamaha.<br />

2019 has not been vintage. It did have<br />

the signs of a promising duel between<br />

Cairoli and Gajser (best summed up<br />

with their dicing at the Grand Prix of<br />

Trentino for round four) but the Sicilian’s<br />

injured shoulder in Qualification<br />

four races later in Russia effectively<br />

raised the towel ready for tossing.<br />

Febvre’s broken ankle at round one<br />

was just as disappointing because<br />

the Frenchman had not looked more<br />

fit and focussed at any stage in his<br />

MXGP career.


MXGP CZECH REPUBLIC<br />

We’ve had the resurrection of Arnaud<br />

Tonus, the never-ending development<br />

of Jeremy Seewer (runnerup<br />

in the world championship would<br />

be very much deserved for the<br />

Swiss’ staying power and fitness),<br />

flashes from Jeremy Van Horebeek<br />

on a privateer machine and great<br />

promise from the likes of Pauls Jonass.<br />

2019 is already stamped Honda<br />

and KTM, and only a freak occurrence<br />

similar to Herlings’ seasonending<br />

injuries in 2014 and 2015 will<br />

change the landscape. Teams and<br />

riders can use the remaining five<br />

rounds to examine their possibilities<br />

for the first year of the new decade.


FEATURE MXGP


MXGP CZECH REPUBLIC


FEATURE MXGP


MXGP CZECH REPUBLIC


FEATURE MXGP


MXGP CZECH REPUBLIC


THE ULTIMATE<br />

RACE-WINNING<br />

PACKAGE<br />

KTM<br />

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“Winning is a complex puzzle where every element has<br />

to fit perfectly to get the job done. For me though, there is<br />

one factor that stands above the rest – my KTM 450 SX-F.<br />

The ultimate weapon to take into battle”.<br />

Cooper Webb – 2019 AMA Supercross 450SX Champion<br />

Photo: S. Cudby, KISKA GmbH<br />

www.kiska.com<br />

Please make no attempt to imitate the illustrated riding scenes, always wear protective clothing, and observe the applicable provisions of the road traffic regulations!<br />

The illustrated vehicles may vary in selected details from the production models and some illustrations feature optional equipment available at additional cost.


MXGP CZECH REPUBLIC


MXGP<br />

BLOG<br />

THE (PROVISIONAL) ROAD MAP...<br />

In the middle of each summer MXGP promoters<br />

Youthstream always issue their ‘provisional’ calendar for the<br />

following year. It is a projection of how the championship will<br />

be for the next edition and while far from cemented (usually<br />

the dates are) there are clues as to how associations with<br />

individual territories, promoters or clubs are progressing.<br />

Perhaps one of the biggest talking<br />

points from the recent listing was<br />

the disappearance of the British<br />

Grand Prix and one of the most<br />

popular circuits on the entire<br />

schedule: Matterley Basin. Steve<br />

Dixon has been a force-of-nature<br />

as a custodian for the venue that<br />

is only used and built-up once a<br />

year for the Grand Prix itself and<br />

the crowds have varied in their<br />

volume. His gamble to be the first<br />

European round of the 2019 slate<br />

in March paid off with a rain-free<br />

weekend: a contrast to the weather-hit<br />

2017 Motocross of Nations<br />

– the second ‘MXON’ to take<br />

place at the Winchester circuit in<br />

eleven years.<br />

Matterley’s absence from the<br />

2020 line-up is controversial but<br />

it seems the sheer costs of installing<br />

the infrastructure was a step<br />

too far for the British fixture: an<br />

event that always lacked stability<br />

(Donington Park, Mallory Park,<br />

Isle of Wight, Matchams Park all<br />

taking turns) until Dixon stubbornly<br />

installed Matterley as a<br />

routine stop from the beginning of<br />

the decade.<br />

“We have always been very happy<br />

about the relationship we have<br />

with [Steve] Dixon and the organization<br />

of the Grand Prix but<br />

the major problem in UK is the<br />

cost of organization of such event<br />

which is bringing the financial<br />

and economical side of the grand<br />

prix to be very difficult to find a<br />

positive balance,” commented<br />

Youthstream Vice President David<br />

Luongo exclusively. “The income<br />

from local partners and the ticketing<br />

in general is not enough to<br />

cover the extremely high costs of<br />

organization of the event which is<br />

one of the most expensive of the<br />

calendar firstly due to the English<br />

market price of all the services<br />

provided onsite and the fact the<br />

organizer has to build every year<br />

everything. The local and central<br />

government are also not so proactive<br />

to help the organization of<br />

such an international event.”<br />

The last line is key for insight in<br />

the criteria for modern high-level<br />

motorsport organisation. Ticket<br />

sales are rarely enough any more.<br />

The side effect of that diminishing<br />

income (do you go pricier to<br />

increase income but lose public?<br />

Or cheaper to expand numbers<br />

but still stand far from the ‘bottom<br />

line’ due to the demands on<br />

the site?) is that the appeal of the<br />

race also lowers for potential title<br />

sponsors, such as those brands


By Adam Wheeler<br />

you see on the bottom of music<br />

festival posters or other annual<br />

‘happenings’. MXGP cannot depend<br />

on MotoGP level TV revenue<br />

and in fact Youthstream spend an<br />

enormous amount just to livescreen<br />

each round of the championship.<br />

Their co-organisation role<br />

in a handful of Grands Prix also<br />

has a price ceiling.<br />

Youthstream generate profit from<br />

MXGP. Of course they do, and no<br />

other company would remotely<br />

consider the same job without<br />

some prospect of being in the<br />

black. I don’t think people appreciate<br />

the difficulty of trying to make<br />

numbers, keep a strain of stability<br />

in the championship and also try<br />

to shape the competition in their<br />

vision to potentially capture new<br />

eyeballs. Whether those fans are<br />

at tracks, watching through their<br />

online TV service, terrestrial TV or<br />

through YouTube clips. Many claim<br />

Youthstream are ‘killing’ MXGP<br />

with their elitism of the premier<br />

class, the resistance to change of<br />

the 23 age rule for MX2 and the<br />

propensity for new tracks and unheard<br />

of ventures (will Hong Kong<br />

actually happen?) but there is no<br />

guarantee – in fact it is very slim<br />

– that anybody else would come<br />

in and suddenly lay out a formula<br />

that ticks everybody’s preference<br />

for how Grand Prix motocross<br />

should be run.<br />

I have been critical of Youthstream<br />

in the past and I still think their<br />

diplomacy with the teams and<br />

brands in the paddock can be<br />

softer or more collaborative but<br />

they are pushing forward with their<br />

view of how MXGP can be run and<br />

where it might go to tackle the<br />

next ten years where the digital<br />

landscape is causing a mountain<br />

of speculation. Hardly anyone else<br />

is in a position to say if it wrong,<br />

right, dysfunctional or preposterous.<br />

Until someone can outline a<br />

more effective map then this is the<br />

one that exists. Accept it or not<br />

there is no other place to wonder<br />

at the skills of people like Herlings,<br />

Cairoli, Gajser et al.<br />

There is a clear priority now to<br />

consider the presentation element<br />

of MXGP. A new-build track<br />

in Indonesia or China might make<br />

fans or weekend-riders recoil,<br />

but if it looks the part for TV and<br />

video clips then this is one pretty<br />

big box ticked in terms of event<br />

promotion. Then there are the<br />

other considerations: is it safe?<br />

does it create good racing? It is a<br />

big package and sometimes hard<br />

to predict whether it will actually<br />

work.<br />

In 2020 Matterley is – for the moment<br />

– off the roster and this is<br />

a big loss, more so for the riders<br />

themselves that relish the visit to<br />

a (dry) southern England. Then for<br />

the British fans, even those that<br />

have been indifferent to the course<br />

over the ten years it has been active<br />

as a GP beacon.<br />

<strong>Track</strong>s like Neuquen, St Jean<br />

D’Angely, Teutschenthal, Kegums,<br />

Agueda, Lommel, Loket<br />

and Uddevalla mean that MXGP<br />

keeps a backbone of traditional or<br />

well-liked circuits while the more<br />

questionable ‘punts’ involve those<br />

trips to Indonesia, Imola, Finland<br />

with the new Kymiring and allegedly<br />

Spain veering towards a<br />

Grand Prix at Jarama or Motorland<br />

Aragon with Jorge Prado inflating<br />

interest on the Iberian Peninsula.


MXGP<br />

BLOG<br />

The mix of old and new is reasonable.<br />

Indonesia is clearly a case<br />

of satisfying a market and like<br />

Trentino, Russia, Imola, China<br />

and Turkey it depends on decent<br />

alternative financial support to<br />

make it happen. The type that<br />

David Luongo references is all but<br />

absent in Matterley’s case.<br />

While Matterley’s temporary<br />

withdrawal strips one of the bestloved<br />

layouts away from Grand<br />

Prix the hiatus could have a positive<br />

effect in rejuvenating some<br />

interest. It could also give Dixon<br />

more time to find other possible<br />

ways of backing for 2021. “I can<br />

assure you that we are in constant<br />

talks with the organizer to find<br />

some solutions for the future,”<br />

adds Luongo, underlining that<br />

the padlock has not been fully<br />

snapped shut on the farm gates.


PRODUCTS<br />

www.answerracing.com<br />

answer<br />

Summer time for the kids and perhaps some new<br />

riding gear is in order. Answer have a great flow<br />

across the range from adult to youth product; a<br />

fine example being their Syncron Airflow that offers<br />

premium ventilation thanks to the mesh panels<br />

and polyfabric construction in both the jersey<br />

and the pant. This is light but tough and airy stuff.<br />

There are seven different sizes and two (pretty<br />

cool) colourways. AR1 gloves and a Mini Terra X<br />

deflector will help complete the kit.<br />

Syncron Airflow will cost just over 100 dollars for<br />

the jersey/pant set.


FEATURE


the<br />

right<br />

watch<br />

“IT IS INSTINCT: SPLIT SECOND TIMING AND<br />

A FEELING THAT CAN BE THE DIFFERENCE<br />

BETWEEN WINNING AND LOSING...”<br />

MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA’S JEREMY SEEWER EXPLAINS AN MXGP RACE START<br />

By Adam Wheeler, Photos by Ray Archer


FEATURE


The first few seconds<br />

of a motocross Grand<br />

Prix are exciting, tense,<br />

nervy, crucial and perilous.<br />

The explosion of engine<br />

torque and noise draws a line<br />

of 30-odd 100kg motorcycle<br />

together, sometimes separated<br />

by mere centimetres and<br />

into what is often a tight first<br />

corner that filter out the bold<br />

from the bravado, the fortunate<br />

from the fallers and the<br />

podium contenders from the<br />

backmarkers. The rasping din<br />

of the bikes rapidly eases into<br />

a quiet ‘whoosh’ as the<br />

racers come off-throttle and<br />

then wind-on the power hard<br />

again in a crescendo of volume<br />

on corner-exit: the race<br />

is on.<br />

For fans, cameras and teams<br />

a race start is one of the most<br />

thrilling parts of an MXGP<br />

moto. The Pole Position holder<br />

from Qualification on Saturday<br />

may have the first choice of<br />

slots in the metal-floored gate<br />

and the process itself looks<br />

fairly rudimentary (engage<br />

gear, depress start suspension<br />

device, hit launch control<br />

and wait for the metal to drop)<br />

but riders dedicate a lot of<br />

time, technique and practice<br />

to the art. It also influences<br />

bike set-up. The investment is<br />

worth it. <strong>On</strong> some of the FIM<br />

World Championship’s older<br />

and tighter circuits (and some<br />

newer and more restrictive<br />

designs) the parity between<br />

the very top teams, machinery<br />

and athletes means the<br />

metres and clear track earned<br />

through a ‘holeshot’ is a very<br />

valuable (and safer) commodity.<br />

Most of the seasoned Pros<br />

in MXGP will know well the<br />

feeling of being ‘ramped’ by<br />

a treaded tyre, hit by a footpeg<br />

or another motorcycle<br />

rear wheels swallowing part<br />

of their anatomy. For several<br />

years the FIM have made<br />

chest and back protectors obligatory<br />

in Grand Prix to protect<br />

against certain scrapes<br />

and circumstances: simply<br />

put, a start is not where you<br />

want to crash or tangle with<br />

a rival (even though it is an<br />

extremely common occurrence<br />

and, luckily for the most<br />

part, without serious repercussions).<br />

In MXGP riders will<br />

make almost sixty race starts<br />

on average a season, taking<br />

into account the two motos<br />

per Grand Prix and Saturday’s<br />

shorter Qualification Heat<br />

sprint.<br />

To gain more insight into the<br />

thinking and methodology of<br />

this essential component of<br />

the sport we asked Monster<br />

JEREMY SEEWER & MXGP STARTS


FEATURE<br />

Energy Yamaha’s factory rider<br />

Jeremy Seewer, currently second<br />

in the series, to provide<br />

more details…<br />

The sighting lap is<br />

when the ritual kicksin…<br />

In MXGP, where the timing is<br />

so precise – to the minute or<br />

even the second – the process<br />

for the start begins from<br />

the sighting lap. All the same<br />

moves and same rituals go<br />

into place from that first slow<br />

look at the track and a check<br />

of the lines and how things<br />

look after the MX2 race.<br />

When we get back from the<br />

sighting lap most of the riders,<br />

normally myself included,<br />

go to the toilet again! There<br />

are always units behind the<br />

gate and sometimes there is<br />

a queue! By the time you are<br />

back to the bike there is usually<br />

just a minute to go, so a<br />

few last words with the mechanic.<br />

He has a headset and<br />

is connected to the rest of the<br />

team that might be at different<br />

points on the track so that<br />

could also be the moment for<br />

a final tip or piece of advice.<br />

You prepare your goggle,<br />

check it again, then hit the<br />

start button. You make sure<br />

everything is ready and you<br />

try to be clear in your mind<br />

and put the full focus on that<br />

moment.<br />

Everyone is different<br />

in that time before the<br />

sighting lap. Some talk,<br />

some don’t and the<br />

gate is a busy area…


I’m quite relaxed but I’m also<br />

focussed. I’m not going to be<br />

acting weird or making jokes but<br />

I can talk to others. It is strange<br />

because you also don’t want too<br />

much involvement with other<br />

people at that time. Before the<br />

sighting lap is probably the most<br />

relaxed moment, and doing things<br />

like TV interviews is part of it an<br />

absolutely fine. You might chat<br />

with a friend or another rider and<br />

in the past we used to take time<br />

to prepare the ground in the gate<br />

slot we had chosen, of course<br />

there is no need for that now with<br />

the metal floor mesh.<br />

In the gate itself you<br />

have to stay calm, you<br />

might need to wait…<br />

If you have qualified well and<br />

are one of the first riders in<br />

then you have to sit there as<br />

the rest of the gate takes their<br />

positions. In that moment you<br />

go through your marks and<br />

what is key for you; that might<br />

be 3-4 difficult points on the<br />

track. You go through the lap<br />

again in your mind and the<br />

line you want to use to be as<br />

prepared as possible. I started<br />

using a small block for my<br />

foot. At first we were told it<br />

wouldn’t be allowed on the<br />

metal mesh but I spoke up for<br />

the smaller guys!<br />

“IT IS ALL ABOUT<br />

REACTION & BODY<br />

MOVEMENT. YOU CAN<br />

PRACTICE FOR ANY<br />

SITUATION BUT THE REAL<br />

START CAN BE ABOUT THAT<br />

SPLIT-SECOND MOVEMENT<br />

AND FEELING.”<br />

When the gate was dirt we<br />

could build a small ramp or<br />

something to help. So we<br />

needed something different.<br />

You’ll see riders moving and<br />

shaking, checking gloves and<br />

other little habits. I always do<br />

the same kind of stretching.<br />

I don’t know why! It’s just a<br />

ritual. It kinda helps to remind<br />

the body ‘it’s that time<br />

again…’ If you do the same<br />

movements then it is like a<br />

‘snap’ for the body and your<br />

state to get set for the race. I<br />

always do the same things but<br />

it is nothing too crazy or exhibitive.<br />

I won’t be revving the bike<br />

too much or being too nervous.<br />

I’ll be zoning down everything<br />

I have and what I am towards<br />

getting out of that gate as<br />

quickly as possible.<br />

What’s going on with the<br />

bike? A few buttons…<br />

The start button on the front<br />

forks that compresses the<br />

suspension and locks the bike<br />

down until we are going is quite<br />

an important thing; especially<br />

these days with the metal mesh<br />

flooring. We are getting lower<br />

and lower on the bike because<br />

there is a lot of traction. There<br />

is also a button on the handlebar<br />

that we’ll activate to set<br />

the electronics especially for<br />

the start with a different engine<br />

mapping. I don’t know too<br />

much detail actually but I know<br />

it switches the power delivery<br />

to help with the perfect start.<br />

We have a rev light indicator on<br />

the front of the bike to let me<br />

know where I have the throttle<br />

set but I tend to go more by<br />

feeling: we do so many practice<br />

starts that by now plus-or-minus<br />

2-300 RPM is more or less<br />

the same.<br />

It can be all about<br />

reaction time…<br />

The difference between the gate<br />

dropping and something like a<br />

traffic light changing is that you<br />

know the gate will always fall<br />

between five-six seconds.<br />

JEREMY SEEWER & MXGP STARTS


FEATURE<br />

It won’t be eight or nine.<br />

When the 15 second board<br />

goes down I’m still relaxed.<br />

We get set; I count to three<br />

and move my body into position<br />

to go. The one or two<br />

seconds left are the important<br />

ones and you need to<br />

be ready with your reaction:<br />

if that gate moves you need<br />

to get out of it. I’m always in<br />

second gear and then what<br />

happens next depends on the<br />

soil you hit. In sand you always<br />

get a lot of wheelspin so<br />

you can move your body back<br />

because you need more pressure<br />

on the rear and then shift<br />

gears pretty quickly. Somewhere<br />

like Matterley Basin<br />

has a downhill start and the<br />

ground is quite tacky, so if you<br />

lent back there then you’d just<br />

be doing a wheelie or having<br />

to pull on the clutch and<br />

you lose drive. It’s an instinct<br />

thing, and it changes from GP<br />

to GP because of the different<br />

conditions. Even the gates<br />

can be different: there might<br />

be a slight gap between the<br />

mesh and the dirt or a lip that<br />

bounces you upwards. It is<br />

all about reaction and body<br />

movement. You can practice<br />

for any situation but the real<br />

start – and when it counts –<br />

can be about that split-second<br />

movement and feeling.<br />

Do we practice, practice,<br />

practice…?<br />

It can depend. If you are<br />

struggling with them then<br />

you’ll do a lot but if you know<br />

your starts are good and you<br />

are mentally strong then you<br />

don’t need so many. I remember<br />

in Sardinia during preseason<br />

testing I did something<br />

like 50 in one week – a lot –<br />

but I did very few between the<br />

first Grand Prix in Argentina<br />

and the British Grand Prix,<br />

where I took the holeshot in<br />

the Qualification Heat.


We don’t know right<br />

away if we’ve made the<br />

holeshot…<br />

I think you have to wait a bit to<br />

see if you have made a good<br />

one, there are too many factors<br />

involved to know if you’ve<br />

done it or not. The jump out of<br />

the gate is the most important<br />

and you quickly realise if it is<br />

good; sometimes you get an<br />

inkling that it will be a holeshot.<br />

The truth is that with the<br />

mesh these days we are all in<br />

one level row after few metres.<br />

You need to make the difference<br />

as you build speed; it’s<br />

difficult to say how! Your position,<br />

balance and movements<br />

are all instinct. I had to change<br />

my style a bit for the 450 coming<br />

out of MX2 because there<br />

is more power.<br />

It is dangerous?<br />

It can be, especially in the<br />

MXGP class where we all know<br />

that the first corner is where<br />

you can win or lose a race<br />

because it can be so hard to<br />

pass on some tracks. There is<br />

a lot of elbowing and it can be<br />

dangerous rushing into a fast<br />

first turn when there might be<br />

twenty riders coming together<br />

into one point. You know it is<br />

risky, but you also know it is<br />

an essential part of the sport:<br />

that’s why you have to do<br />

everything to try and be there<br />

first. If you are outside the top<br />

ten then you can see some<br />

scary stuff and incidents that<br />

are out of your control. You<br />

have to be smart to read everything<br />

around you because<br />

there might be ten things<br />

happening at the same time<br />

and at high speed.<br />

A start is exciting but…<br />

I think a big jump or somewhere<br />

you can throw a big<br />

whip is still one of the best<br />

feelings in motocross. The<br />

exhilaration of the start comes<br />

when you get it right and it<br />

feeds into a good result. There<br />

is a lot of pressure on this single<br />

moment and if you handle<br />

it well then you just feel ‘free’<br />

to make it to the first corner.<br />

If you ‘miss’ the start or you<br />

are deep in the pack then it is<br />

frustrating and you know you<br />

will have a lot of work ahead.<br />

JEREMY SEEWER & MXGP STARTS


M<br />

FEATURE<br />

ACROSS THE<br />

TABLE FROM<br />

BOBBY HEWITT<br />

THE ROCKSTAR ENERGY<br />

HUSQVARNA TEAM PRINCIPAL<br />

ON WINNING A SUPERCROSS<br />

CHAMPIONSHIP, MANAGING<br />

JASON ANDERSON, THE ENIGMA<br />

OF CHRISTOPHE POURCEL,<br />

MARSHALLING ZACH OSBORNE’S<br />

RENAISSANCE AND GOING<br />

THROUGH THAT LAS VEGAS<br />

DECIDER…<br />

By Adam Wheeler, Portraits by Rich Shepherd/Husqvarna pics by S.Cudby


FEATURE<br />

Bobby Hewitt sits at a<br />

desk and within a space<br />

inside the Husqvarna<br />

<strong>No</strong>rth America HQ in Murrieta,<br />

California (within spying distance<br />

of KTM next door) that<br />

gives the impression that he<br />

is a man with every finger on<br />

the pulse of his racing operation.<br />

The office is next to the<br />

immaculate workshop space<br />

where the FC450Fs of Jason<br />

Anderson and Zach Osborne<br />

(and the FC250s of Michael<br />

Mosiman and Jordan Bailey<br />

are prepped) and everything<br />

has a place. Papers are nicely<br />

arranged, nothing seems out<br />

of place or randomly left and<br />

there is a practical minimalism<br />

to environment.<br />

When I suggest that after two<br />

decades of running one of the<br />

most established race teams in<br />

AMA Supercross and motocross<br />

that Hewitt might be almost intimidating<br />

to younger riders he<br />

recoils. The 57 year old Texan,<br />

who has been the epitome<br />

of courtesy, accessibility and<br />

friendliness since my arrival at<br />

the facility, looks at me like I’ve<br />

just tossed an offensive comment<br />

his way. Collaboration -<br />

and relationships - is a clearly a<br />

big deal for Bobby.


Since he veered from construction<br />

to racing on a fulltime<br />

basis near the start of<br />

the century and into team<br />

management from 2008 (signing<br />

Jason Anderson in 2011)<br />

Hewitt has worked with an<br />

eclectic group of riders; some<br />

would even say ‘unmanageable’.<br />

But he’s thrived on withdrawing<br />

the best from misfits,<br />

controversial characters, inconsistent<br />

brilliance and a lot<br />

more: lifelines for the likes of<br />

Davi Millsaps and Christophe<br />

Pourcel to helping Anderson<br />

and Zach Osborne reach career<br />

highs. A (clearly) shrewd<br />

eye for opportunity and circumstance<br />

from his first days<br />

with Kawasaki and Suzuki in<br />

the amateur ranks can also<br />

see the bigger picture.<br />

He observed the movement<br />

with the KTM Group and the<br />

Husqvarna brand and as a result<br />

Hewitt was ideally placed<br />

to assume the mantle of race<br />

team leader in white.<br />

For almost half a decade<br />

Hewitt has delivered victories<br />

and podiums for the marque<br />

and of course the brilliant<br />

250SX title triple by Osborne<br />

in 2017/18, and Anderson’s<br />

first crown last year that<br />

meant his crew negotiated the<br />

recently-finished supercross<br />

campaign as reigning champions.<br />

When not risking his ire with<br />

a miscued question, Bobby is<br />

a great talker and easy with<br />

his anecdotes and stories. He<br />

loves a tangent but his demeanour<br />

carries a steely conviction:<br />

the man has a strong<br />

set of beliefs and values. He<br />

is also emotional; almost<br />

exasperated with how riders/<br />

athletes/people are quickly<br />

dismissed and then visibly<br />

choking-up when recalling<br />

Osborne’s unforgettable Las<br />

Vegas success two summers<br />

ago…<br />

Last year, 2018, saw the big<br />

prize come along with Jason<br />

but your relationship has<br />

been through some ups-anddowns.<br />

Someone like Zach is<br />

popular and easy to work with<br />

while a rider like Christophe<br />

can be an enigma. So is one<br />

of your skills being able to<br />

extract what each of these<br />

personalities need?<br />

My management style is definitely<br />

different than everybody<br />

else’s. I think it comes from a<br />

strong business background.<br />

I had my own business for<br />

almost thirty years with 160<br />

employees and seven different<br />

locations and we did<br />

about forty-two million a year<br />

in gross revenue; so you run<br />

into a lot of different characters<br />

and people, beliefs and<br />

thoughts. My philosophy is<br />

that there are no two mechanics<br />

or two trainers that are<br />

alike so there definitely aren’t<br />

two racers that will ride and<br />

think the same. In my position<br />

you have to be the manager<br />

but sometimes you have to<br />

look at it like an owner, sometimes<br />

a father, a mechanic, a<br />

therapist or a best friend as<br />

well as the boss. I always tell<br />

everybody that when I had<br />

Blake Baggett the harder I was<br />

on him the more he reacted.<br />

But if I yelled at Tommy Hahn<br />

he’d go into the corner and<br />

curl-up. They were two different<br />

people. I have two-three<br />

principles: one is that we are<br />

always truthful with each other.<br />

If we don’t lie to each other<br />

MEETING BOBBY HEWITT


FEATURE<br />

“WHAT A LOT OF PEOPLE DON’T<br />

KNOW ABOUT JASON IS THAT<br />

HE’LL RACE JUST AS HARD FOR<br />

100 BUCKS AS HE WILL FOR<br />

100,000 AND HE DOESN’T LIKE<br />

THE LIMELIGHT. HE COULDN’T<br />

CARE LESS IF HE HAS 10 FANS<br />

ON INSTAGRAM OR 700,000.”


and we’ll get along great. I<br />

have two sons, one in this<br />

industry who started on 60s<br />

and went all the way through<br />

and almost every Pro rider on<br />

the track has either lived or<br />

stayed at my house or rode at<br />

my house; so I’ve heard every<br />

excuse! Honesty is a big thing.<br />

The other is a request simply<br />

to gimme everything you’ve<br />

got: whether it’s on the practice<br />

track or the race track.<br />

When the gate drops until the<br />

chequered flag I don’t care if<br />

you fall twenty times but just<br />

don’t quit on me. I tell riders<br />

‘nobody is perfect and you<br />

don’t need to be perfect all the<br />

time…but you need to be perfect<br />

when it’s time’. It’s about<br />

learning the personalities. I<br />

tell riders that they should<br />

feel most comfortable when<br />

they are underneath this tent<br />

at the races. I’ll love you just<br />

as much on your bad days as<br />

your good ones or I wouldn’t<br />

have hired you. I believe you<br />

have the talent and the ability<br />

and you’ll probably give up<br />

on yourself before I will. With<br />

that also comes a responsibility<br />

and you have to be really<br />

direct with a rider. It’s about<br />

learning what they can and<br />

cannot do. There is a template<br />

across the parking lot<br />

[at KTM] that has been very<br />

successful and I respect that a<br />

lot but the way they do things<br />

is different from the way I do<br />

it. I truly believe that you can<br />

put 80% of every rider in a<br />

box. It is the 20% that makes<br />

them different and what you<br />

need to understand and work<br />

around. At the end of the day<br />

we want to win races and be<br />

successful-<br />

How do you work out that<br />

20%? Is it the personal touch<br />

or just being very astute at<br />

the track and training?<br />

A bit of all of it! It is no secret<br />

that I hate agents and I love<br />

parents. I want the rider to<br />

know that I don’t care if he’s<br />

thrown in gaol in the middle<br />

of the night; I’d hope I be<br />

one of his first phone calls<br />

because I know more about<br />

the riders and the staff here<br />

than their wives or girlfriends<br />

do and that’s because I don’t<br />

judge. <strong>No</strong>body is perfect but<br />

we spend a lot of time together<br />

– and I’m sure every<br />

team manager will say this –<br />

through that time you get to<br />

see that there is a moment in<br />

every rider, mechanic or truck<br />

driver’s life when things are<br />

not going so good. It might<br />

be a family issue or financial<br />

and having someone that is<br />

willing to help and willing to<br />

listen I believe is a help. I’m<br />

open with my past and I’ve<br />

made mistakes. You can ask<br />

me a question and I’ll answer<br />

it. I’m not proud of everything<br />

I’ve done but I’m also not<br />

ashamed so that I’ll hide it.<br />

So it’s about developing trust<br />

over time. Finding out what<br />

makes them tick and their<br />

interests outside of racing and<br />

sharing some of those with<br />

them.<br />

Part of the attraction of the<br />

job must be making that<br />

discovery, and you are making<br />

progress both in the way<br />

to work and results. <strong>On</strong> the<br />

flip side it must be hard when<br />

you can see things are not<br />

working or starting to slide. It<br />

must be hard to maintain that<br />

relationship or investment in<br />

the character…<br />

Usually you lose them when<br />

they’re young. I have Michael<br />

Mosiman and Jordan Bailey<br />

and they are two different<br />

types of personalities. And<br />

then Thomas [Covington] as<br />

well. I’ve had to have some<br />

hard conversations with Bailey<br />

because [any problem] was always<br />

someone else’s fault. He<br />

has the ability but when I first<br />

signed him and he went onto a<br />

supercross track he had some<br />

really big get-offs. He didn’t<br />

break anything but it probably<br />

set him back six-eight months.<br />

Even through Outdoors last<br />

year he struggled a lot. He<br />

had the capability but not the<br />

self-confidence and instead of<br />

looking in the mirror and saying<br />

‘hey, it’s me…’ he wanted<br />

to point the finger everywhere<br />

else. About three months<br />

ago he really started ‘drinking<br />

the coolade’ and changed<br />

his whole mindset and he’s<br />

made more progress in the<br />

last three months than the<br />

year-and-half I had him before<br />

then. My Crew Chief, and I had<br />

an argument while we were in<br />

Florida because we knew the<br />

direction where Thomas would<br />

MEETING BOBBY HEWITT


FEATURE<br />

probably end up for Supercross<br />

when it came to his<br />

settings but I could tell earlyon<br />

that Thomas was pushing<br />

back and everything we were<br />

gearing towards he wouldn’t<br />

like it. So I said ‘let’s get a set<br />

of everything he was on and<br />

give it to him’ and my Crew<br />

Chief was like ‘that’s not going<br />

to work’. I said we both knew<br />

that…but until we let him ride<br />

it and self-eliminate that question<br />

mark then it will always<br />

be hovering there in the back<br />

of his head. I think that management<br />

style with the riders<br />

– for Jason, Zach, Christophe<br />

– when it comes to bike set-up<br />

then I don’t care if you want<br />

to run stock ProTaper handlebars<br />

or something special I<br />

just want that bike to feel like<br />

it is an extension of them and<br />

they are confident and competitive.<br />

Does it really matter<br />

if one guy likes one thing<br />

and another likes something<br />

else? If all those settings for<br />

Thomas had worked then no<br />

problems but there were some<br />

areas where he said he felt OK<br />

and some [where] it was really<br />

scary to watch. After about<br />

thirty minutes he came off<br />

the track and said ‘this won’t<br />

work…’. Technical choices can<br />

cause conflict but I am not the<br />

guy who will have his finger<br />

in your chest and his foot up<br />

your ass – I can when I need<br />

to be and there have been<br />

times in twenty years when<br />

I’ve had to – but I prefer not<br />

to. It is about allowing them to<br />

communicate and not worry<br />

what they say. It is a blank<br />

canvas so it is about painting<br />

it the way you want.<br />

So what burns-you-up then? It<br />

is just a lack of effort?<br />

The last one I had was with<br />

Jason at A2 this year. In twenty<br />

years I have only thrown<br />

my headset twice but after<br />

that race I had to walk around<br />

the stadium once before I got<br />

back to the truck because<br />

I was so mad. But I didn’t<br />

cool-off enough and ended up<br />

throwing my headset against<br />

the wall of the truck lounge<br />

and made everybody get out<br />

of the Semi apart from Jason.<br />

I said to him ‘you know<br />

a) I love you and b) I’ll never<br />

doubt your ability but I am<br />

banging my head against the<br />

wall. I’m communicating that<br />

we’ll get through this because<br />

I gotta have something from<br />

you, and what you gave tonight<br />

is totally unacceptable<br />

on any level…’. I don’t think<br />

anybody really understands<br />

the pressure that comes after<br />

winning a championship and<br />

all the obligations. And the<br />

feedback [from others] is ‘well,<br />

Dungey and Villopoto had to<br />

do the same so Jason is going<br />

to have to understand’.<br />

The thing is that Jason is not<br />

a Ryan Dungey or Ryan Villopoto<br />

and what a lot of people<br />

don’t know about him is<br />

that he doesn’t care about the<br />

money – well, he does from<br />

a future financial viewpoint<br />

for him and his family – but<br />

he’ll race just as hard for 100<br />

bucks as he will for 100,000<br />

and he doesn’t like the limelight.<br />

He couldn’t care less if<br />

he has 10 fans on Instagram<br />

or 700,000. It is not what<br />

ticks him. He has anxieties<br />

about having to do interviews<br />

and whatever-else because as<br />

many as he’s done – and he’s<br />

much better now compared<br />

to a few years ago when I first<br />

got him – it’s an uncomfortable<br />

setting. Jason has a group<br />

of friends and those are the<br />

ones he hangs out with, eats<br />

with and does everything with<br />

when he’s not racing. <strong>No</strong>w<br />

Zach is a guy that you can put<br />

100% into the box. If you need<br />

any interview done then he’s<br />

the guy there with the hat and<br />

the shirt. He’s outgoing, politically<br />

correct. He’s great-<br />

Just to cut across you: it<br />

seems that riders don’t want<br />

to embrace that ‘role model’<br />

aspect of what they do. Zach<br />

is a good example of someone<br />

who has put many parts of<br />

being a public-face and a Pro<br />

racer together…<br />

Very much so. Zach only has<br />

one problem [laughs] - and<br />

they [the older riders] all<br />

seem to have it more than the<br />

rookies - and that’s for autograph<br />

signing sessions it is<br />

like herding cats. It will be at<br />

2.45 and at 2.44 they’ll still<br />

be sitting there in the truck<br />

in their underwear. Zach is a<br />

great mentor for the younger<br />

guys.


MEETING BOBBY HEWITT<br />

“IF YOU WANT TO GET ME<br />

RILED-UP THEN TRY TO MAKE<br />

AN ISLAND IN MY TEAM.<br />

I WON’T HAVE IT.”


FEATURE<br />

Whatever he does afterwards<br />

in the sport he’ll do a great<br />

job. He sees the big picture<br />

and knows how important that<br />

is. He understands that at the<br />

end of the day – and this is<br />

something I push onto all my<br />

staff – is that it is our responsibility<br />

to increase sales and<br />

market our product. If we are<br />

not helping the brand to sell<br />

more Husqvarnas then we<br />

are not doing our job. That’s<br />

the reason we have a second<br />

Semi and the reason we display<br />

the bikes and we do what<br />

we do. It’s the same responsibility<br />

to all our sponsors and I<br />

think my business background<br />

helps me to grasp that background<br />

and the importance of<br />

raising money every year to<br />

go racing and stick to a budget.<br />

The best thing I can have<br />

is a sponsor who at the end of<br />

the year says to me ‘I got ten<br />

times more than what I expected<br />

or what I paid for’. I’ve<br />

done very well on that side<br />

but I would say with 80% of<br />

riders it is about getting them<br />

to understand that is it just<br />

as important about what you<br />

do off the track in supporting<br />

the OEM and the sponsors<br />

as what you do on the track.<br />

Dean Wilson could finish 10th<br />

every week but his value in<br />

promoting the brand and what<br />

he does off the track is important.<br />

The constant process of analysing<br />

a rider and where he is<br />

in his career and where he’s<br />

going: can that sometimes<br />

be difficult because of the<br />

connection you have? You’ve<br />

had a mix of younger riders<br />

and much more experienced.<br />

Coming back to what I asked<br />

earlier, it must be tricky to<br />

evaluate that and make tough<br />

decisions…<br />

It is. When I made all the<br />

decisions, for the majority of<br />

my career, it was very easy<br />

for me to say ‘that’s the guy<br />

I want’. What, still-to-thisday,<br />

gives me satisfaction<br />

is being able to see the guy<br />

that nobody else can see.<br />

What is that particular guy<br />

missing? He has the ability,<br />

he has the talent: so what<br />

is lacking? Whether it was<br />

Davy [Millsaps], who’d everybody<br />

had given-up on, or<br />

Christophe or Zach or Marty<br />

[Davalos] or even Jason there<br />

is a story behind every one of<br />

them that at a certain point<br />

in their careers when I found<br />

them they’d been written-off<br />

or been told to move on and<br />

find something or someone<br />

else. With the young guys it<br />

is very difficult and tough for<br />

me to communicate to my<br />

peers here at Husqvarna that<br />

we have to stick with a guy<br />

for the long-term. I’m a ‘numbers’<br />

person. I have spreadsheets<br />

that are 10-15 years<br />

old and go right through a<br />

rider’s Pro career. Over 82.6%<br />

of them have their best Pro<br />

years after coming in as a<br />

rookie by their third-fourth<br />

season. What I have Iearnt


through the years and even<br />

watching my own son is that<br />

they come in and see the<br />

lights and the fans and it is<br />

like going to the High School<br />

Prom for the first time, their<br />

eyes are this big and round.<br />

They have some moments<br />

of greatness but most of the<br />

time more difficulty than success.<br />

So it is about keeping<br />

them positive and explaining<br />

the building process. Second<br />

year – and this is where Mosiman<br />

is right now – they have<br />

the speed and when they get<br />

a start they stay there and<br />

make fewer mistakes. They<br />

have more pace and confidence<br />

but they still lack the<br />

consistency; they’ll do three<br />

great laps and then have a<br />

terrible fourth. That thirdfourth<br />

year is when they – for<br />

whatever reason - finally put<br />

all the pieces together. That’s<br />

usually when they have the<br />

most success. It is difficult<br />

from a factory standpoint for<br />

everyone to be as patient as<br />

I am to go through the learning<br />

process. I was looking at<br />

all other teams and they were<br />

scooping up these young riders<br />

and having them just for<br />

two years and they didn’t produce.<br />

Mosiman: I have had to<br />

fight to keep him every year.<br />

I’ve been accused of leaning<br />

towards the riders [but that’s]<br />

because I see their progress.<br />

It can be easy to judge from<br />

a distance but when you see<br />

them day-in and day-out<br />

then you see the little steps,<br />

and some of them make big<br />

strides. There is no substitution<br />

for time. I don’t care how<br />

many laps you put in or how<br />

many starts you do. You have<br />

to remember we are dealing<br />

with kids 16, 17, 18, 19, 20. I<br />

still look at a rider who is 24<br />

now and think what I was like<br />

at 24! I thought I knew everything!<br />

In my case I didn’t<br />

really know what I wanted<br />

until I was in my late thirties!<br />

It’s about communicating<br />

what it going on with these<br />

guys. Thomas is a seasoned<br />

rider who lived in Europe for<br />

five years and is used to having<br />

two days to have a track<br />

‘down’ and then a large number<br />

of laps on the track before<br />

the race starts so for sure he<br />

feels confident when he does<br />

it. <strong>No</strong>w take him back to the<br />

U.S. fly every weekend and<br />

just two ten minute sessions.<br />

I remember the first race that<br />

we did and he said ‘we get a<br />

sighting lap right?’ and I said<br />

‘no! The gate drops and you<br />

go…no Sighting lap until the<br />

Main’. So it is going to take<br />

a while. He has the natural<br />

ability but he is following the<br />

same path as a rookie. I told<br />

him that Supercross is a ballet:<br />

every step is precise and<br />

where it is supposed to be.<br />

Whereas Outdoors is a boxing<br />

match: the toughest guy wins<br />

because the last ten minutes<br />

are about how much pain are<br />

you willing to suffer. He’ll be<br />

fine but it will take time, and<br />

it is frustrating from my part<br />

MEETING BOBBY HEWITT


FEATURE<br />

especially because of last year<br />

and our success with Jason<br />

and Zach. I knew 2019 would<br />

be different. I told Rockstar<br />

and my sponsors that we’ll be<br />

really bad on the 250 side –<br />

that’s just reality. If we are going<br />

to develop younger talent<br />

then everybody needs to understand<br />

that. Everybody was<br />

OK with that because I had<br />

Jason and Zach and we were<br />

all excited about the 450s.<br />

Paris and Geneva went well<br />

but the closer we got to A1 the<br />

more you could see the anxiety<br />

building up in Jason because<br />

those last 30-40 days<br />

meant a phone call, interview<br />

or something else every day.<br />

If Jason misses a day of<br />

training, bike ride, gym session<br />

or practice then it eats<br />

him. He believes 100% in the<br />

programme laid out in front<br />

of him and if that changes…<br />

[bad news]. He’d missed the<br />

Outdoors through injury and<br />

he’d got back on the bike and<br />

was riding well but you could<br />

see he didn’t know where he<br />

was-at. We’d all left and gone<br />

to the Monster Cup on Thursday<br />

and he called that day at<br />

2pm and said ‘I want to race’.<br />

We didn’t have any race bike<br />

ready, nothing prepared but<br />

he wanted to do the Monster<br />

Cup. His mechanic wasn’t<br />

here so we got the training<br />

mechanic to freshen-up the<br />

practice bike and put it in a<br />

truck and come to Vegas. He<br />

did great there. He didn’t win<br />

but he left Monster Cup think-


ing ‘I’m close’. We went from<br />

high anxiety to the world is<br />

good again. We then go to<br />

Europe and A1 gets closer and<br />

the [expectation] starts creeping<br />

in and it was more than<br />

any of us thought it would be.<br />

We’d never won one before!<br />

You never get as many calls<br />

from winning the 250 championship<br />

as you do the Supercross<br />

championship.<br />

Logistically how it is managing<br />

a team when the whole<br />

operation is split the breadth<br />

of the United States?<br />

It is very challenging from a<br />

managerial standpoint and<br />

a personal one. Up until we<br />

moved into the Husqvarna<br />

factory facility here and did<br />

the Aldon Baker deal with<br />

KTM then I spent time with<br />

my riders every day. You go<br />

from spending every week and<br />

every day travelling together<br />

to a weekly phone call or<br />

seeing them every month or<br />

two. I’d see them every Saturday<br />

but not during the week.<br />

It became difficult for me<br />

because beforehand I could<br />

gauge how the weekend would<br />

be because of the week leading<br />

up to it; whether there was<br />

personal, technical or bumpsand-bruises.<br />

I mean, if you<br />

ask a rider how the week went<br />

they’d always say ‘it went<br />

great’. Ask them how they feel<br />

that day ‘I feel amazing’. Then<br />

you come to find out that they<br />

had a big get-off or the laptimes<br />

were not great one of<br />

the days. It has been difficult<br />

for me with that. So much so<br />

that I put together a whole<br />

analysis for how much money<br />

we’d save if we moved the<br />

whole race-shop to Florida!<br />

And then having 80% support<br />

at the test facility and 20%<br />

here for - literally - as few<br />

as six and at the very most<br />

thirteen weeks in California.<br />

The rest of the time would be<br />

over there. Managing it all is<br />

difficult: when we were doing<br />

the tests with Thomas with<br />

suspension and chassis then<br />

the way we had it set-up that<br />

week would normally take<br />

a month and the frustration<br />

level of the rider increases.<br />

Generally I think we missed<br />

the boat a bit and all of my<br />

staff said they’d relocate. Most<br />

of them have been with me a<br />

long time and that’s the way<br />

we always operate. If someone<br />

has an issue then we address<br />

the issue. <strong>No</strong>w we are doing<br />

it through other ways of<br />

communication but it is not<br />

like doing it hands-on. So I<br />

made up my mind that I’ll just<br />

spend more time in Florida<br />

and I’m looking at Real Estate<br />

there. I don’t worry about<br />

Jason and Zach because<br />

they have been doing it long<br />

enough and they can communicate<br />

well enough. They know<br />

what they are looking for and<br />

what needs to be done. But<br />

with the young guys it is very<br />

difficult. I remember when<br />

Jason started riding with me<br />

he couldn’t tell you anything<br />

about the bike! He’d just<br />

adjust his style to what the<br />

bike was doing! <strong>No</strong>w he’s in<br />

a different league. He knows<br />

what he is looking for and that<br />

makes it much easier but we<br />

have to develop the young<br />

kids and the amateurs. We<br />

have three programmes and I<br />

feel we could shorten the time<br />

of development and therefore<br />

the results if we had the ability<br />

to be there more.<br />

Could riding for you be quite<br />

intimidating? Simply because<br />

of what you have achieved in<br />

the sport?<br />

I hope not.<br />

In the same way that young<br />

guys might be daunted by riding<br />

and working with Roger<br />

De Coster?<br />

I don’t see myself that way.<br />

My wife might tell you that I<br />

can look quite intimidating<br />

from a distance but I feel I am<br />

nice guy and if you can’t get<br />

along with me then you can’t<br />

with anyone.<br />

It’s more your standing…<br />

Roger is the guy at the top of<br />

the totem pole. Even though<br />

I’ve had success I would hope<br />

I’m still humble and grounded<br />

as when I started. I’ve been<br />

successful in anything I’ve<br />

done, whether it is business,<br />

sports or racing but I know<br />

it takes time. When I first got<br />

into this I remember walking<br />

into Mitch Payton’s office. I<br />

had never met him and I was<br />

very intimidated at the time!<br />

This was fifteen-twenty years<br />

MEETING BOBBY HEWITT


FEATURE<br />

ago and the very first thing<br />

he said to me was “you are<br />

not going to buy your way<br />

into this sport” and I said “I<br />

don’t want to buy my way in,<br />

I want to work my way in”. I<br />

definitely did not want to be a<br />

team that shows up at A1 and<br />

we’re gone by Vegas. I was in<br />

it for the long haul and I was<br />

willing to work for it. You’ve<br />

thrown me a bit with that<br />

question because I know we<br />

worked for success but I also<br />

know that it comes because<br />

of the people you surround<br />

yourself with. I don’t look at<br />

it as a big personal thing but<br />

more what our team and programme<br />

has done. I tell people<br />

in many interviews that<br />

the riders might be the face<br />

and the voice but the backbone<br />

of the organisation are<br />

the guys in the pits, the ones<br />

driving the trucks, the practice<br />

mechanics: those are the<br />

ones that really make the difference<br />

between a successful<br />

programme and unsuccessful.<br />

Like it or not though you are<br />

the leader…<br />

Until you brought it up then<br />

it’s not something I’ve given a<br />

lot of thought about. I mean,<br />

I know people value my opinion<br />

a lot more now compared<br />

to when I first came in. I feel<br />

like I have earned respect –<br />

not bought it – from my peers<br />

and others in the industry.<br />

I’ve tried to teach my children,<br />

my riders and anyone<br />

who’s worked for me that I<br />

don’t care if you’re the President<br />

of the United States or<br />

the guy sweeping the streets<br />

we all put our pants on the<br />

same way and we all deserve<br />

the same<br />

“I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE TOOK<br />

HIM THE WRONG WAY. I ALWAYS<br />

THOUGHT HE WAS TRYING TO<br />

BE CLEAR ABOUT WHAT HE WAS<br />

FEELING AND COMMUNICATE WHAT<br />

HE IS EXPERIENCING. ONCE I WAS<br />

ABLE TO FIGURE THAT OUT THEN WE<br />

GOT-ALONG GREAT.”<br />

amount of<br />

respect.<br />

I think if<br />

anybody<br />

does feel<br />

intimidated<br />

by<br />

me I’m<br />

more than<br />

happy<br />

to put it<br />

aside!<br />

A different subject then. Give<br />

me your take on Christophe<br />

Pourcel. Many people might<br />

have regarded that as a<br />

leftfield or risky signing but<br />

he was a brilliantly technical<br />

rider-<br />

He is beautiful to watch on<br />

the bike.<br />

But Mitch Payton himself<br />

said you had to give him a<br />

leash and couldn’t work in<br />

the same way with him as<br />

other riders. What’s your<br />

evaluation of that episode<br />

now?<br />

I loved having Christophe. I<br />

found out at the very first day<br />

of testing how I needed to<br />

communicate with him. We’d<br />

test something and when he<br />

first came off the track everyone<br />

would surround him and<br />

ask him what he thought of<br />

this or that and Christophe is<br />

a very proud person, and respectively<br />

so because he has<br />

accomplished great things in<br />

this sport. That being said,<br />

when he came off the track<br />

what you needed to do with<br />

him was let him be and give<br />

him some space. It took him<br />

a while to admit it to me but<br />

there is a language barrier to<br />

some degree. He needed that<br />

time to gather his thoughts.<br />

If he was doing it in French<br />

it might have been a quicker<br />

process but he wanted to be<br />

clear with his English. That’s<br />

one of the things I always<br />

respected about him because<br />

he did have self-awareness<br />

and whether he will admit<br />

this or not he did care about<br />

how people looked at him<br />

and the way they communicated.<br />

I think a lot of people<br />

took it the wrong way: he’s<br />

difficult, he’s standoff-ish. I<br />

always thought he was trying<br />

to be clear about what he<br />

was feeling and communicate<br />

what he is experiencing. <strong>On</strong>ce<br />

I was able to figure that out<br />

then we got-along great. We


talked about politics and a lot<br />

of different things other than<br />

racing. Again it is about getting<br />

to know the rider and how they<br />

click. When it came to bike setup<br />

I had Jason all the way to<br />

the left and Christophe all the<br />

way to the right! I joked with<br />

Christophe once by saying the<br />

only way I could make his bike<br />

slower was to buy one from a<br />

dealer and put our graphics on<br />

the side! But he could lay down<br />

a fast lap and he could hang it<br />

up there as well.<br />

MEETING BOBBY HEWITT<br />

Did you appreciate or get infuriated<br />

by the fact that he was<br />

going to push to a certain limit<br />

and not go over it?<br />

I think all the riders get to that<br />

stage at a certain point in their<br />

career. Dungey and Christophe<br />

both broke the same bone<br />

in their neck, same side and<br />

everything. The only difference<br />

is that Dungey broke his<br />

at the third round in Colorado.<br />

Christophe did his in August.<br />

Dungey had three-four months<br />

off the bike and be able to get<br />

back and build up confidence.<br />

Christophe was on fast-track.<br />

When we came to A1 there had<br />

been good days and bad days<br />

but the severity of that injury –<br />

and I don’t think a lot of people<br />

know but your main artery runs<br />

through there and if that artery<br />

would have been cut then<br />

you can bleed out in under two<br />

minutes and die very easily<br />

because of it. With Christophe<br />

understanding what he had<br />

gone through previously with


FEATURE<br />

being paralysed…I was never<br />

frustrated with him. Others<br />

were. I felt strongly that if we<br />

had by-passed supercross<br />

and just gone into Outdoors<br />

we’d have been in a much<br />

better position. At the practice<br />

track I would understand<br />

why he’d only do 1-2 laps<br />

going through the whoops<br />

but to others it was frustrating.<br />

It was a difficult time. I’ve<br />

had to let riders go before<br />

but that was one where I was<br />

more upset and to the point<br />

of tears. Fortunately I pushed<br />

and pushed and we were able<br />

to put together the Canada<br />

deal. It was nobody’s fault but<br />

everybody has an opinion and<br />

we all have someone we have<br />

to answer to. I thoroughly enjoyed<br />

working with Christophe<br />

and have the utmost respect<br />

for him on and off the track.<br />

Robert [Jonas, VP of <strong>Off</strong>road<br />

KTM Group] told me that I<br />

have a reputation for taking<br />

difficult riders and getting<br />

the best of them and I think<br />

a lot of it is just being human<br />

and not treating them like a<br />

paycheck. Yes, we are paid to<br />

perform but it is a dangerous<br />

sport and as a Pro your career<br />

is very short. If you think<br />

about other sports – if you do<br />

research – then most athletes<br />

are in their prime mentally<br />

and emotionally between<br />

27-32; that’s the cream of the<br />

crop, and that’s when our<br />

guys’ careers are over. We’re<br />

bringing guys in at eighteen<br />

when they have the least<br />

amount of ability to control<br />

their emotions, and their testosterone<br />

is at its highest and<br />

we want them to be mature<br />

and responsible. It seems that<br />

we do a lot of things backwards<br />

in this industry. What<br />

I’d like to hang my hat on is<br />

being able to see things that<br />

others didn’t and that brings<br />

success like Zach Osborne.<br />

He could have won those<br />

championships five years before<br />

he did but he didn’t believe<br />

in himself. Until you can<br />

get that light bulb to go off [it<br />

won’t happen]. He was very<br />

comfortable finishing second.<br />

I’ve only got mad at Zach<br />

once. I think it was at Seattle<br />

or St Louis. He led thirteen<br />

of the fifteen laps and then<br />

he started seeing Cooper<br />

[Webb] come. He went from


a seven second lead to nothing<br />

and Cooper passed him<br />

on the last lap and he finished<br />

second. I said to him that the<br />

only reason he did not win<br />

that race was because he did<br />

not believe he could. The light<br />

bulb for Zach was when he<br />

went to our training facility<br />

and was training with Jason<br />

and Dungey but on a 250 and<br />

was running with those guys.<br />

He knew he couldn’t do it for<br />

thirty minutes but he could<br />

do it for fifteen whether it was<br />

supercross or outdoors and it<br />

translated over to the track.<br />

Lastly, Las Vegas 2017 and<br />

Osborne’s last lap, penultimate<br />

corner championship<br />

win. If that wasn’t the highlight<br />

of your career then at<br />

least describe the emotions of<br />

that moment and evening…<br />

Oh. I’m a firm believer in<br />

emotions trickle down. If I’m<br />

in a good mood then others<br />

will be, if I’m mad then that<br />

has an effect. The team looks<br />

towards the Head Coach or<br />

the President of a company<br />

for leadership in good times<br />

and bad. In the week leading<br />

up to Vegas – internally I was<br />

dying! I was so nervous and<br />

stressed and the only person<br />

I could talk to was my wife –<br />

to the guys I was showing a<br />

face of no big deal, no stress,<br />

another race and we’ll do it.<br />

The funny thing was that when<br />

Zach went down in the first<br />

corner I was in the Managers<br />

Tower and literally dropped to<br />

the floor. My head was down<br />

there and the tower was next<br />

to the finish line and Zach said<br />

he could see me every lap<br />

get a little higher as he came<br />

through. To come from where<br />

he was and then make that<br />

pass [struggles for words]. It<br />

felt like I had done a marathon<br />

at the end of the race and all<br />

in fifteen minutes. There was<br />

so much emotion. He gave it<br />

everything he had and I was<br />

trying to hold my composure.<br />

I was trying to hold it together<br />

like I’d ‘been to the dance<br />

before’ and was ready to<br />

congratulate him but the guys<br />

will tell you that I probably<br />

cried more [gets emotional]. It<br />

started out as one of the worst<br />

nights of my life and my biggest<br />

fear had just come true,<br />

to being one of the most exhilarating.<br />

The thing was that I<br />

had another guy on the starting<br />

line right afterwards and I<br />

didn’t get to enjoy it and I feel<br />

a bit bad about that. We did<br />

the photo and then I had to go<br />

back to the Managers Tower.<br />

I felt he got a big cheated by<br />

that but we made up for it<br />

afterwards.<br />

How many times have you<br />

watched the video?<br />

Oh! I’ve watched that race<br />

more than twenty times. I<br />

think it will be ranked as<br />

one of the greatest moments<br />

in our sport. I haven’t been<br />

around as long as other guys<br />

but 2019 is my twentieth year<br />

and I still think it was one of<br />

the greatest. And for us to<br />

win both classes! I thought<br />

we might have been the first<br />

from the same team and same<br />

programme…but then it was<br />

Roger! And I should have<br />

known! When you always look<br />

at all the paperwork and deal<br />

with all the travelling then it<br />

is moments like that which<br />

make it all worth it. That night<br />

was one of the very best and<br />

I still have the same goals. I<br />

want to win an Outdoor 450<br />

championship badly so it is<br />

not a one-and-done fluke. I tell<br />

everybody that I am not going<br />

into the motorcycle Hall<br />

of Fame and I know that, but<br />

I would like to be remembered<br />

as a guy who came in<br />

from outside the industry and<br />

did things a little different<br />

and made people’s lives better<br />

and perhaps changed the<br />

thought process a little bit. To<br />

have said ‘just because you<br />

did it that way for thirty years<br />

doesn’t mean it needs to be<br />

that way for the next thirty’.<br />

The world is changing all the<br />

time. I’ll be proud of the success<br />

these guys have achieved<br />

and hopefully [knocks on the<br />

desk] my contract will be renewed<br />

and I can start and finish<br />

with Jason because in our<br />

industry today people jump<br />

for a nickel more. Both Zach<br />

and Jason have had opportunities<br />

to go other places for<br />

more money and have turned<br />

them done so I feel good<br />

about that.<br />

MEETING BOBBY HEWITT


FEATURE<br />

BEING BY


REVOLUTIONARY START DEVICES?<br />

WHY BUY A HANDLEBAR? AND<br />

WHAT GOES INTO A GRIP ANYWAY?<br />

HOW PROTAPER ARE MAKING<br />

AFTERMARKET WAVES<br />

By Adam Wheeler, Photos by Husqvarna/Cudby<br />

THE BAR<br />

Paul Perebijnos sits<br />

in his office in Irvine,<br />

California flanked<br />

floor to ceiling by ProTaper<br />

parts and merchandise.<br />

It’s from this ordered but<br />

cluttered space that the<br />

former Pro Circuit mechanic<br />

and his small<br />

team have helped<br />

the forward-thinking<br />

handlebar company<br />

(now much broader<br />

in terms of parts and<br />

product catalogue)<br />

prosper over the half<br />

decade that he has<br />

steered the brand.<br />

We’re here to ask why<br />

and how a dirtbike rider<br />

would want to buy a<br />

‘bar, and diverge from the<br />

usually reliable offering from<br />

their production motorcycle,<br />

to enquire about their secret<br />

SELA start device that made<br />

an appearance for the first<br />

time in the initial rounds of<br />

2019 Supercross (and is due<br />

for launch very soon) and for<br />

an explanation of how ProTaper<br />

are moving places.<br />

Paul, ProTaper has had four<br />

years of continual growth. In<br />

your opinion what’s the reason<br />

for that?<br />

I think it’s a bunch of different<br />

things happening in unison. I<br />

would say the racing side is<br />

important. We have tried to<br />

make ProTaper a global brand<br />

and that means having premium,<br />

championship winning<br />

athletes all over the globe<br />

and in all different disciplines<br />

like off-road, hard enduro and<br />

not just motocross and supercross.<br />

A big part has been<br />

the aggression and dedication<br />

to product development. We<br />

have continued to innovate<br />

and bring new products to<br />

the market and that has really<br />

made the brand exciting and<br />

to capture the customer’s attention.<br />

That helps the rest of<br />

the product line because you<br />

have to evolve and have new<br />

stuff. We are always rationalising<br />

our skew-offering and<br />

getting rid of things that have<br />

become stale. Even if something<br />

is not innovative it might<br />

just be fresh like a new bar<br />

pad colour – and those colours<br />

have actually been crazily<br />

popular for us.


FEATURE<br />

So it means constantly looking<br />

at the product line. We try<br />

to have something new to talk<br />

about every year and that’s<br />

been huge. I’ve learned that it<br />

takes time for these things to<br />

happen and a lot of the things<br />

we did two-three years ago we<br />

are only seeing the rewards<br />

now. It is a long game running<br />

a brand and a business<br />

but our momentum has been<br />

fantastic and we have been<br />

gaining new fans and I hope<br />

we continue to do so.<br />

Has the rate of product development<br />

increased? What’s the<br />

turnaround?<br />

It depends on the product<br />

itself and how much testing<br />

it takes but typically it is<br />

twelve months. Even if it is<br />

something fairly simple like<br />

a bar pad it still take time to<br />

get it designed and then pricing,<br />

margin structure, launch<br />

strategy, get POs placed and<br />

product in stock and then<br />

marketing. So twelve months<br />

at a minimum but I think that<br />

is still quite fast. If it is a very<br />

technical piece like our start<br />

device then that’s been in the<br />

works for a long, long time<br />

and is the type of product that<br />

needs to be hard-race tested<br />

I feel. It is not something that<br />

can continually be done at the<br />

test track or the lab. It needs<br />

to be put through the paces<br />

in a race and be roosted, and<br />

face all the conditions of mud,<br />

sand, dust, everything. We<br />

learned a lot from the four Supercross<br />

races we used it with<br />

Dean Wilson. <strong>On</strong>e of those<br />

was a mud race at San Diego.<br />

Have priorities shifted at all?<br />

<strong>No</strong>t really. ProTaper’s organisation<br />

involves a small team<br />

here and I report to the president<br />

of a group of brands and<br />

we go through bigger overarching<br />

strategies. A big thing<br />

for us in 2019 is international<br />

growth and it was last year<br />

also. Then things like working<br />

out how to get our international<br />

customers with their product<br />

quicker and at a competitive<br />

price. ProTaper is a fairly<br />

young business when it comes<br />

to the international side and<br />

has only been focussing on it<br />

for the last eight years or so.<br />

Then putting people in place<br />

to really focus further in the<br />

last five-six. It’s a bit of an initiative<br />

of ours going forwards<br />

but then we want to preserve<br />

our margins and make moves<br />

based on what the market is<br />

Photo by Ray Archer


telling us. Some things are<br />

selling better than others compared<br />

to five years ago –<br />

Such as?<br />

A big one is the clamp-on<br />

style grips. Five years ago I<br />

would say they were not the<br />

priority but nowadays a lot of<br />

people are buying them. They<br />

are willing to pay more money<br />

not to have to worry about<br />

glue and safety wiring. A lot of<br />

that leads to cannibalisation of<br />

our other grips. So we’ve had<br />

to look at skews and our other<br />

offerings as a lot of customers<br />

are moving that way now.<br />

KTM and Husky putting them<br />

on their stock motorcycles has<br />

really carried it. A lot of people<br />

are used to it and it’s what<br />

they want. I personally don’t<br />

think it is a racing product at<br />

all; it is more for everyday use.<br />

If you are collecting championship<br />

points then the best<br />

way is still with an aluminium<br />

throttle tube and a glue-on<br />

grip. Every customer has a different<br />

taste but the clamp-on<br />

grip has gained a lot of momentum<br />

in the last years.<br />

Let’s talk about grips for a<br />

moment: is there a great deal<br />

of science or R&D there? Or<br />

is it just an extension of the<br />

product catalogue for a handlebar<br />

manufacturer?<br />

I guess I can only speak for<br />

our brand and we take the<br />

technical approach to everything.<br />

It starts with an idea<br />

and then we look at the science<br />

behind it. I’m a scientific<br />

and mechanical kind of person.<br />

I need facts! We kinda<br />

nerd-out on that. We get into<br />

durometers and different levels<br />

of softness: ‘low’ being a<br />

soft grip and ‘high’ being very<br />

hard. We’ll also look closely at<br />

outer diameters and what the<br />

installed diameter is on a ‘bar<br />

because we’ve learned a lot<br />

from our kids handlebar – the<br />

Micro – about how size makes<br />

a big difference and how a<br />

rider’s hands feel after a moto.<br />

A bigger diameter is harder to<br />

hold onto and can give armpump.<br />

It’s like holding a baseball<br />

bat and the difference<br />

between where you should be<br />

holding it and sliding it further<br />

up the bat where you’ll<br />

have less control. That’s why<br />

so many riders are particular<br />

about a full diamond grip<br />

because they have a smaller<br />

hand. To answer your question<br />

then a lot more goes into it<br />

than you think.<br />

It must be hard to make<br />

something that’s generic and<br />

universal…<br />

Yeah, you can go overboard<br />

with it. Grips are still a wonderful<br />

product because they<br />

can skew and also sit in a<br />

warehouse or a DC [distribution<br />

centre] and still be brand<br />

new after some time. They are<br />

good for business. I’m sure<br />

there are some brands that<br />

don’t find any science in it and<br />

just make a grip of any colour<br />

but we are trying to make<br />

it as good as it can be. I try<br />

to sprinkle them around: the<br />

guys here in the office all vary<br />

in skill level on the bike and<br />

what they ride and then we’ll<br />

have our factory guys, some<br />

media guys to create a nice<br />

mix of age, riding ability and<br />

experience. We’ll try to create<br />

the best and biggest ‘box’ that<br />

we’d want people to fit into.<br />

Does the type of material really<br />

matter? This is an area<br />

where the apparel industry<br />

is really advancing for example…<br />

It is not as crazy as apparel.<br />

But there are different mixtures<br />

to get different things<br />

out of it. You can go very soft<br />

but then the grip will disintegrate<br />

over time. You can go<br />

harder and it will last longer<br />

but it will be harsh in your<br />

hand. There is a fine balance<br />

with the material to increase<br />

your wear and longevity. <strong>No</strong>t<br />

only can you change the grip<br />

pattern but also the wall of<br />

the grip to give more cushion<br />

or rebound. So there are a lot<br />

of little things you can do I<br />

guess.<br />

The SELA start device is new.<br />

What’s the story there?<br />

It’s been an idea for a while<br />

and in development for a little<br />

bit less but like I said earlier<br />

we really had to race-test<br />

this one. The unique feature<br />

means there have been a lot<br />

of legal dealings and it was<br />

important for us to get our<br />

PROTAPER & WHY BUY A HANDLEBAR?


FEATURE<br />

prior art and patent submissions<br />

in line before we could<br />

show or test anything with<br />

anyone. We wanted to protect<br />

our idea obviously and that<br />

was a process that took some<br />

time. We were testing in the<br />

background meanwhile so<br />

there have been a lot of cycles<br />

on our idea and it has evolved<br />

since the race testing. The goal<br />

is to have product in stock<br />

globally by the end of October,<br />

so we have opened up tooling<br />

and we have our final design<br />

done and working and the<br />

first samples. Then it is about<br />

showing our major clients and<br />

gauging interest to confirm<br />

a timeline for release, order<br />

quantities and forecasts. We’ll<br />

do a proper media launch and<br />

get some guys to ride around<br />

and use the device by themselves.<br />

There’s quite a bit of<br />

momentum then…<br />

I believe so. My customer<br />

service guys sits twenty metres<br />

away from me and says he gets<br />

numerous calls a week asking<br />

about it. That’s exciting.<br />

Why so?<br />

We’re entering a product area<br />

that will mean zero cannibalisation<br />

for other ProTaper<br />

products. It is an idea that<br />

we had to fill a void and fix a<br />

problem on the market right<br />

now. Start devices obviously<br />

work fine but you can speak<br />

to anyone who has been to a<br />

few motocross races and they<br />

always see someone struggling<br />

to lock one down or put it in.<br />

With the advent of start grid<br />

the buttons are lower than they<br />

have been before. It can sometimes<br />

take two mechanics to<br />

engage the device. I think it is<br />

cool that nobody has thought<br />

of it yet and that our team was<br />

able to figure it out and a way<br />

to do it [riders turn a self-releasing<br />

cog] I think it will help<br />

to elevate the ProTaper brand<br />

because you will be able to<br />

practice starts by yourself and<br />

won’t need a mate with you. It<br />

was an idea from the whole ProTaper<br />

team talking and I bring<br />

a lot of race-consumer knowledge.<br />

Our product engineer<br />

is full of great ideas and we<br />

talk among ourselves and our<br />

Product Source expert knows<br />

a lot about the materials and<br />

techniques so we can create<br />

something that is still affordable.<br />

The toughest thing with<br />

this one was how technical<br />

and expensive it was for us to<br />

build. So if we weren’t creative<br />

with the manufacturing then<br />

it wouldn’t have been a reality.<br />

We couldn’t have offered a<br />

start device for three hundred<br />

dollars. <strong>No</strong>body will buy it. To<br />

be competitively priced with<br />

whatever else is out there took<br />

some doing.<br />

Again was it tough to make it<br />

universal for every bike?<br />

That was one [area] that took<br />

the most time to get right, I’d<br />

say. I really pushed to make<br />

that happen because right<br />

now there are maybe 30+ part<br />

numbers to satisfy all the bikes<br />

from the big OEMs when you<br />

consider a start device and<br />

that is hard for a dealership<br />

to constantly stock. So then<br />

you are dealing with a special<br />

order part and people have<br />

to wait for a couple of days.<br />

With ours you can stock one<br />

skew and satisfy every single<br />

customer that walks in the<br />

door wanting one. That was a<br />

big benefit and a feature that I<br />

think dealers will appreciate.<br />

Has a start device increased<br />

in relevance and importance?<br />

Anyone that is half-serious<br />

about racing needs one? It<br />

wasn’t essential ten years<br />

ago…<br />

I became quite well-versed in<br />

the patents surrounding start<br />

devices and they have been<br />

around for twenty years now.<br />

So they have been about for a<br />

bit but, yes, I do believe they<br />

have become essential for a<br />

racer because it has become<br />

that common.<br />

It seems the Ducati’s have<br />

quite a ‘trick’ device in<br />

MotoGP…<br />

I had someone comment about<br />

that recently and how ours<br />

might help because they obviously<br />

don’t have anybody on<br />

the grid helping them engage<br />

it. I’ll definitely have to check<br />

it out.


Photo by James Lissimore Photo<br />

PROTAPER & WHY BUY A HANDLEBAR?


FEATURE<br />

THE 3 STAGES/<br />

REASONS TO BUY A<br />

NEW HANDLEBAR:<br />

EXPLAINED!<br />

I am a first time off-road bike buyer.<br />

Why should I consider spending more<br />

money for a new handlebar?<br />

Good question. If you are not too technical<br />

then you won’t be thinking about a<br />

handlebar and will just be riding your<br />

motorcycle and getting used to it. The<br />

first time you might be looking for a bar<br />

would be after a crash when it’s become<br />

bent or damaged. You’ll go into a dealer<br />

and typically it will be ProTaper or Renthal<br />

that is available. From that point it is<br />

really dependent on our reps, salesmen<br />

and distributors out there to be educating<br />

the Parts guys or manager at these<br />

dealerships on what our product does<br />

and the benefits it can bring you. That’s<br />

very hard. A new customer might not be<br />

someone who is into the technical details<br />

or racing or seeing it on an athlete’s<br />

bike so it is about that impression at the<br />

dealer and then driven by price for their<br />

particular bike. They might need a new<br />

bar for their KTM that costs 150 dollars<br />

but walking over to the aftermarket section<br />

means a product at 80 bucks that is<br />

better. So I think it is a crash and then a<br />

conversation like that which brings the<br />

first time customer to us.<br />

OK, so I’ve had my bike for six months<br />

and I love it. I want to bling-it-out. I have<br />

a different pipe and now I’m looking for<br />

something else. What differences will a<br />

new ‘bar make?<br />

I think that rider might see the ProTaper<br />

name popping up with a few athletes or<br />

teams they could be following and they<br />

might be something to it. They might<br />

dive into our website to see what the<br />

product is about and will see a ProTaper<br />

bar compared to a stock one is made of<br />

completely different materials. We are<br />

not holding anything back when it comes<br />

to cost because it is about bread-andbutter<br />

and we produce them in such<br />

quantities that we can offer the best possible<br />

product you can make for a competitive<br />

price. Flex characteristics are a<br />

huge thing, so if a rider is experiencing<br />

a very rigid handlebar – maybe it has a<br />

crossbar, maybe it doesn’t – no brand is<br />

the same. When it comes to a bar without<br />

a crossbar ProTaper was the inventor<br />

and patent holder of that design back in<br />

1991. We’ve been in it longer than anybody<br />

else. That patent expired in 2011 so<br />

now you see everybody in the game has<br />

a fat bar. We have a twenty year headstart<br />

on everyone and have done all sorts<br />

of testing in our lab and with our riders<br />

for flex and fatigue strength. A customer<br />

like the one you mentioned would be<br />

looking for some performance benefits<br />

as well as looking at some of the options<br />

we can provide, so to bling the bike we<br />

have all the colours of bars and pads for<br />

customisation.


Photo by Bavo<br />

I’ve been riding for a year. I want to go<br />

faster and I’m considering a race. Maybe<br />

a ProTaper ‘bar is what I need for a better<br />

feel. Is that the case?<br />

Yeah, that’s when I think the person is<br />

going into a dealer and is holding a bar<br />

and envisions what he has at home and<br />

what kind of changes he wants to make<br />

to be more comfortable. He or she might<br />

feel that the bars are too rigid or too tall,<br />

too wide, or too swept-back. That’s when<br />

you can examine our website for some<br />

specs or walk into a dealership and see<br />

how our bars feel in your hands. That’s<br />

also when our racers come into play. For<br />

riders that have been on the bike a while,<br />

looking at a race and want to better<br />

themselves then they will also be looking<br />

around at the community and online.<br />

They’ll see the guys at the weekends<br />

and a rider like Thomas Kjer Olsen and<br />

be thinking ‘he’s tall like me, what handlebar<br />

is he using?’ That’s when I think<br />

customers look to riders they like and are<br />

steered a little bit to brands that way.<br />

PROTAPER & WHY BUY A HANDLEBAR?


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AMA MX


AMA MX WASHOUGAL<br />

TOMAC’S<br />

TORMENT<br />

WASHOUGAL<br />

NATIONAL<br />

WASHOUGAL, WA<br />

JULY 27th<br />

Rnd 9 of 12<br />

450MX winner:<br />

Eli Tomac, Kawasaki<br />

250MX winner:<br />

Dylan Ferrandis, Yamaha<br />

Blog by Steve Matthes, Photos by Octopi/Monster, Cudby


FEATURE


AMA MX WASHOUGAL


Photo: R. Schedl<br />

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AMA MX WASHOUGAL


AMA<br />

BLOG<br />

WASHING THEM OUT...<br />

<strong>On</strong>ly three rounds left in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships<br />

and this past weekend we saw one points leader put<br />

his stamp on a third straight title while another one lost to his<br />

rival and ensured we’re going to have a fight to the finish.<br />

Washougal, Washington has been<br />

on the circuit every year-but-one<br />

since 1980 and the picturesque<br />

track is a favorite for many in<br />

the series. For one, it’s awesome<br />

scenery and for two, most times<br />

it’s a reprieve from the heat and<br />

rough conditions of the east<br />

coast tracks that the series has<br />

been on prior to this round.<br />

Let’s bounce around some topics<br />

from the weekend:<br />

-Weekends like Washougal is<br />

when you watch Monster Kawasaki’s<br />

Eli Tomac and wonder how<br />

he ever loses. He was a machine,<br />

going 1-1 and extending his points<br />

advantage to over two motos with<br />

just six motos remaining. He was<br />

the man on the tricky track turning<br />

one horrific start and one soso<br />

start into leads and easy moto<br />

wins. His speed into and out of<br />

the many corners was so much<br />

superior to anyone else’s, it was<br />

easy to see him clicking off the<br />

seconds of the riders in front of<br />

him. There was even a fall in the<br />

first moto and he still won with a<br />

semi-aggressive pass on Honda’s<br />

Ken Roczen.<br />

When Tomac gets criticized by<br />

myself and others, it’s because<br />

of days like these when he’s just<br />

SO much better than everyone<br />

else. He’s like Ricky Carmichael,<br />

James Stewart and the Ryan’s<br />

(Dungey and Villopoto), and<br />

those riders never had the perplexing<br />

‘other’ days that ET3<br />

does. Hence, all of us aren’t<br />

sure what we’re seeing out there<br />

sometimes. He’s the most elite<br />

rider in the sports history to ever<br />

have some really bad days (more<br />

so in 450SX than MX) and none<br />

of us can quite wrap our heads<br />

around that.<br />

- Star Yamaha’s Dylan Ferrandis<br />

had a great day as well in Washougal<br />

with double moto wins and<br />

cut Monster Pro Circuit<br />

Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo’s<br />

points gap down to 28. In the<br />

second moto Ferrandis, who got<br />

great starts all day along with his<br />

entire team, had Cianciarulo on<br />

him practically the whole moto<br />

in a great race with both riders<br />

pushing hard. It was cool to<br />

watch them push each other so<br />

hard and then congratulate each<br />

other afterwards.<br />

“I think it’s a track that looks a<br />

little bit like the tracks we had<br />

in GP. My experience from the<br />

GP helps me a lot on a track like<br />

that. It was a crazy day. Here it’s<br />

always tough. Washougal is a really<br />

difficult track for us as riders<br />

because you never have good<br />

vision with the shadows. The<br />

traction is really difficult to find.<br />

So it’s not easy, but I managed<br />

to make it perfect so I’m really<br />

happy,” Ferrandis told the media<br />

post-race.


By Steve Matthes<br />

“That’s crazy how my season<br />

goes so far. I can do one weekend<br />

1-1 and the next one fourth<br />

overall. That sucks, but it’s the<br />

way it is. I need to work on that.<br />

For me today it was a really good<br />

day. I think in the second moto<br />

we did a crazy show with Adam.<br />

It was good I think for the fans<br />

and everybody who was watching.”<br />

Earlier this year I sat down with<br />

Ferrandis who told me his slow<br />

start to the 250MX nationals was<br />

a direct correlation to his clinching<br />

the 250SX title and how that<br />

was his dream and to have only<br />

one week to ramp everything<br />

back up to get ready for outdoors<br />

was a bit much. When you<br />

ask Dylan a question, you better<br />

be ready for a real honest answer.<br />

Well, he’s been getting better<br />

since that chat and he’s now<br />

making another championship<br />

push against that same rider.<br />

-The outdoors is starting to<br />

become a bit of a series of attrition<br />

at this point. We’ve had<br />

good luck with health for the<br />

most part but this past week saw<br />

KTM’s Blake Baggett be out for<br />

the year (probably) with a virus<br />

which would explain most of his<br />

results this season and GEICO<br />

Honda’s Hunter Lawrence had a<br />

part fail on his bike while testing<br />

and broke his collarbone. Two<br />

moto winners out for the year<br />

and as always, this is a reminder<br />

that motocross is dangerous.<br />

- Speaking of GEICO Honda its<br />

manager Dan Betley recently<br />

announced that he’s calling it a<br />

career and retiring. Betley’s had<br />

a great career in the sport starting<br />

in 1989 when he got the job<br />

at Factory Honda working for Jeff<br />

Stanton. That combo proceeded<br />

to rack up six SX and MX championships<br />

and then Dan took a<br />

year or two off before coming<br />

back as a motor guy for Honda of<br />

Troy and then shortly after that<br />

to Honda. <strong>On</strong>ce reunited back<br />

with big red, he was in charge of<br />

the 125cc program then a four<br />

stroke motor program and eventually<br />

became team manager.<br />

He moved to GEICO a couple of<br />

years ago and has decided to call<br />

it a day. Great guy, honest as the<br />

day is long and a hard worker,<br />

the sport will be worse off with<br />

Dan not in the pits.<br />

-I fully expect Team USA to be<br />

Zach Osborne, Jason Anderson<br />

and Justin Cooper for the upcoming<br />

MXDN in Assen, Netherlands<br />

this fall. Word on the street<br />

is that the original plan was to<br />

have Cooper Webb join up and<br />

Osborne drop down to the MX2<br />

class but Webb bowed out so<br />

Osborne was going to stay on his<br />

450. It’s a good team and will<br />

have a shot at the podium but<br />

going to need some luck to break<br />

the seven-year winless streak.<br />

You’ll notice that the two points<br />

leaders in the series aren’t in the<br />

trio and that’s not a typo. Both<br />

Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli<br />

Tomac and Monster Pro Circuit<br />

Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo<br />

won’t be on the team and although<br />

we’ll never really know<br />

who’s ultimate decision it was,<br />

my thinking is it was more Kawasaki’s<br />

than the riders. Yes, both<br />

riders publicly stated they would<br />

go to the race but what else were<br />

they supposed to say? It’s smart<br />

PR for them to be positive about<br />

the race and let the OEM take<br />

the flack for not sending them.<br />

My feelings on the race are well<br />

known, I love it but don’t feel


AMA<br />

BLOG<br />

like Team USA should just continue<br />

to go without some sort of<br />

concession made for their time,<br />

their schedule issues, their travel<br />

or their expenses. The Monster<br />

Energy Cup race is very important<br />

for the teams and the green<br />

team would rather focus on that.<br />

Around the paddock, the decision<br />

is met with a shrug really<br />

than any outrage. It’s a volunteer<br />

position on Team USA and I think<br />

people understand those that<br />

don’t want to go for all the reasons<br />

I stated. It’s too bad the best<br />

of the best of the USA can’t/won’t<br />

go but it’ll still be a good team to<br />

battle the rest of the world.


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Advanced stuff from one of the best motorcycle<br />

gear and safety brands on the market as Alpinestars<br />

show off their catchy 2020 wares. Particularly<br />

eye-grabbing are the Supertech racewear<br />

products (including the latest generation designs<br />

of the Supertech M10 helmet). Alpinestars claim<br />

the jersey is the lightest they have manufactured<br />

with the presence of stretch materials forming the<br />

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The athletic fit remains while the jersey apparently<br />

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FEATURE<br />

IN THE HOWL<br />

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO CUT THE MUSTARD IN Moto2?<br />

By Adam Wheeler, Photos by CormacGP/Polarity Photo


FEATURE<br />

Thomas Luthi and<br />

Remy Gardner are<br />

at the<br />

opposite ends of their<br />

career spans in the<br />

fever of the Moto2<br />

class but both are<br />

sniping for victory in<br />

arguably the most<br />

ruthless contest in<br />

MotoGP. We asked<br />

them about the<br />

sacrifices and<br />

challenges to excel at<br />

the beginning of the<br />

Triumph-engine era:<br />

Luthi now re-established<br />

after his lacklustre<br />

MotoGP adventure<br />

in 2018 and Gardner<br />

finally relishing the<br />

advantage of<br />

competitive equipment<br />

for the first time at FIM<br />

World Championship<br />

level.<br />

Thomas Luthi, 2005 125cc<br />

world champ, an eighteenseason<br />

veteran of Grand Prix<br />

twelve of those in the intermediate<br />

category and with twelve<br />

wins and fifty-one podiums on<br />

both Honda and Triumph motors,<br />

is being apologetic. He’s<br />

running more than ten minutes<br />

late for our interview at the<br />

Gran Premi Monster Energy<br />

de Catalunya all because of<br />

a delayed flight but could not<br />

be more courteous and helpful<br />

when he arrives in the airy<br />

interior of the Dynavolt Intact<br />

GP hospitality.<br />

The 32 year old’s manners<br />

are typical of an enduring and<br />

popular racer who has represented<br />

rich value for anyone<br />

needing explanation or articulation<br />

of what it takes to survive<br />

in MotoGP. Luthi has been<br />

around a while and always on<br />

the periphery of becoming<br />

Switzerland’s first world champion<br />

outside of the small cylinder<br />

divisions (Stefan Dorflinger<br />

and Luigi Taveri owning 125,<br />

80 and 50cc honours) usually<br />

injury for the often-fragile #12<br />

has been a handicap and he<br />

finished as runner-up both in<br />

2016 and 2017.<br />

The transition from Moto2<br />

podium contender to MotoGP<br />

backmarker was a shock to<br />

the system as much as trying<br />

to flog an unwilling RCV and<br />

sit the embers of the Marc<br />

VDS MotoGP team implosion.<br />

Thankfully he has found spoils<br />

once more back in Moto2 but<br />

it meant a second successive<br />

year of orientation. And that’s<br />

what we wanted to quiz Thomas<br />

about over a coffee and<br />

tucked away from the harsh<br />

Catalan sun.<br />

Even though the MotoGP year<br />

seemed tough you must have<br />

returned to Moto2 with a veil<br />

of confidence – although the<br />

engines were new…<br />

Yes, but that is also the danger.<br />

I have experience, and I<br />

was a long time in the Moto2<br />

class but it can mean you have<br />

the wrong thinking and go<br />

back and assume that it will<br />

be easy. So I was really careful<br />

in the winter to not have<br />

that complacency. I really<br />

worked hard, and differently.<br />

I was riding more on the bike<br />

and focussing more on make<br />

a strong start [to the season].<br />

We got lucky with the weather<br />

on the test days and we could<br />

do many laps. Those test were<br />

so important in terms of starting<br />

the year at a high level.<br />

Which was the target.<br />

<strong>No</strong>t many riders have moved<br />

to MotoGP and then gone<br />

back to Moto2 and had success.<br />

Was that consideration<br />

towards your mentality an<br />

important ingredient?<br />

Yes, 70% was in the<br />

head I think. Getting<br />

the chance<br />

from this<br />

team<br />

helped<br />

a lot. It is very<br />

professional and really hardworking<br />

and that matches to<br />

my working style as well.<br />

This was key to getting<br />

the bike under control<br />

and working well as<br />

soon as possible.<br />

The Kalex guys<br />

did a good job<br />

over the winter<br />

and the<br />

tests as<br />

well and<br />

we saw<br />

that they<br />

were<br />

perhaps


a step ahead of the KTM<br />

guys in the first half of<br />

the season. It can always<br />

change but Kalex have<br />

done a good job. So everyone<br />

together helped.<br />

Was it easy here to build<br />

the team you needed<br />

around you? People must<br />

assume that all the Moto2<br />

experience must be<br />

worth something…<br />

IN THE HOWL: Moto2<br />

XXXXXXXX XXXXXXXX XXXXXX XXXXX<br />

‘THERE WERE CONCERNS THAT THE 450S<br />

WERE TOO FAST, TOO HEAVY AND TOO MUCH<br />

FOR THE ATHLETES AND WERE LEADING<br />

TO A SPATE OF INJURIES... NEAR-CRISIS<br />

MEETINGS WERE BEING HELD.’


FEATURE<br />

I trusted this team when we<br />

found an agreement to work<br />

together. I knew they would be<br />

professional and would want<br />

to win races and I came into a<br />

solid structure. What I changed<br />

compared to the years before<br />

was the ‘team inside the team’.<br />

A small one, around me. I have<br />

a riding coach and have never<br />

worked as closely with somebody<br />

like that as I do now. I<br />

have a physical trainer and<br />

physio at home - that element<br />

of my racing was always there<br />

- but now it feels like they are<br />

more part of my small team. I<br />

feel well supported, with professional<br />

people around me<br />

and this helps a lot to have<br />

focus on the job.<br />

Many would think ‘why would<br />

a guy with so many wins, podiums<br />

and years racing need<br />

a rider coach?’ but then it<br />

seems most elite level athletes<br />

have somebody like that in<br />

their corner…<br />

Exactly. You cannot stay on the<br />

same spot. If you don’t move<br />

on – and that’s through your<br />

whole career – and you don’t<br />

work then you won’t develop<br />

your style and skills and won’t<br />

have the chance to be successful<br />

for more than a short<br />

period of a year or two. The


“EVERYBODY IN THE PADDOCK SAYS THE NEW Moto2<br />

CLASS IS CLOSER TO THE MotoGP BIKES WITH THE<br />

ELECTRONICS AND SO ON BUT IT IS THERE [HOLDS<br />

HAND AT CHEST HEIGHT] AND MotoGP IS STILL<br />

THERE [RAISES HAND WELL ABOVE HEAD].<br />

IT IS SO FAR AWAY FROM ANYTHING.”<br />

IN THE HOWL: Moto2<br />

other guys will overtake you.<br />

You always need to adapt to<br />

something new as well. Right<br />

“IT CAN BE SO DIFFICULT TO<br />

DEAL WITH AN INJURY OR<br />

ZERO POINTS AND IN THE<br />

PAST MAYBE I ‘GOT OUT OF<br />

THE WAY’ TOO EASILY BUT<br />

I THINK WE ARE STRONGER<br />

NOW...”<br />

now [for me] it is a new bike<br />

and new engine and you have<br />

to change some small details<br />

in your riding style. That’s<br />

where the coach is helpful.<br />

Also tactics: thinking about a<br />

particular race or to analyse<br />

the guys around you. The rider<br />

coach can have a wide role.<br />

The cliché is that a rider just<br />

focuses on himself so it is<br />

interesting to hear you talking<br />

about a study of the opposition…<br />

I think it is good for a rider<br />

to have a little bit of an idea.<br />

There are some riders that<br />

don’t care and just do their<br />

thing. In the end you do need<br />

to focus on yourself and your<br />

own possibilities but to have<br />

an overview or some expectations<br />

of what might happen is<br />

good knowledge.<br />

Talk about motivation and<br />

dipping out of MotoGP and<br />

coming back to familiar<br />

ground…<br />

It’s a good point and very<br />

important. It helped me that<br />

the Moto2 was ‘new’ this year;<br />

we can say it was like coming<br />

‘back to a new thing’. As<br />

I said, in the winter I made a<br />

lot of bike time. I have a BMW<br />

S1000RR and I was riding<br />

with my coach and doing a lot<br />

of kilometres. I kept the bike<br />

at Almeria in Spain and doing<br />

all that track time was very<br />

interesting. I had to change a<br />

style that I had adapted last<br />

year from the MotoGP bike.


FEATURE<br />

I was using the rear brake<br />

so much on that Honda last<br />

year: you cannot imagine.<br />

At the first Moto2 test I was<br />

still using way too much and<br />

after half a day the pads were<br />

gone! The team had eyes like<br />

this [mimics surprise]. It was<br />

something small but also difficult<br />

to adapt. I could train for<br />

that and the laps on the BMW<br />

helped a lot.<br />

Was there much you could<br />

transfer from the BMW to the<br />

Moto2 race bike?<br />

It’s not the same type of bike<br />

but you can simulate if you<br />

are clever. For example where<br />

to put your weight in the right<br />

moment. For sure you have<br />

a different feeling; the bike<br />

is heavier and the turning is<br />

different. I could use the electronics<br />

with the BMW to turn<br />

down the engine power. It was<br />

interesting to work on that<br />

simulation and to train yourself<br />

to do something automatically<br />

without thinking so that<br />

transferred across when I got<br />

on my race bike and I didn’t<br />

have to think too much. At<br />

the races we don’t have much<br />

time. We have those two 40<br />

minute sessions on Friday and<br />

if they go well then just 15<br />

minutes qualifying, warm-up<br />

and then the race. You cannot<br />

really work on things.<br />

You have to really use the<br />

tests but there are not that<br />

many during the season itself.<br />

You’ve probably talked about<br />

MotoGP enough and although<br />

it wasn’t the happiest experience<br />

it must have been a useful<br />

one…<br />

Yes, but not really from riding.<br />

Everybody in the paddock<br />

says the new Moto2 class is<br />

closer to the MotoGP bikes<br />

with the electronics and so<br />

on but it is there [holds hand<br />

at chest height] and MotoGP<br />

is still there [raises hand well<br />

above head]. It is so far away<br />

from anything. [Last year] I<br />

could feel the traction control<br />

and the wheelie control or the<br />

electronic engine braking and<br />

could take that as experience<br />

but it is not something that<br />

gives me an advantage compared<br />

to the guys without any<br />

MotoGP experience. In the end<br />

it was very hard, very tough<br />

with the team falling apart, so<br />

it was the organisation and<br />

the mentality in dealing with<br />

that and building something<br />

around me which was useful<br />

because everything else was<br />

not there any more. I was by<br />

myself. Out of that I learned<br />

quite a lot and the experience<br />

helped make me stronger.<br />

Lastly, in the past you’ve had<br />

good momentum or results<br />

but then a crash or injury<br />

would put a large bump in the<br />

road. You must have an appreciation<br />

that everything is<br />

about timing…<br />

Exactly. You have to put everything<br />

to the point when those<br />

lights go out on a Sunday.<br />

It can be so difficult to deal<br />

with an injury or zero points<br />

and in the past maybe I ‘got<br />

out of the way’ too easily but<br />

I think we are stronger now.<br />

We struggled for set-up in<br />

Argentina and I made a mistake<br />

and we didn’t score…but<br />

at the next race we could win<br />

and that shows we are on a<br />

good line and something small<br />

won’t throw us off the path-<br />

There is more belief?<br />

Yes, more belief in the team,<br />

the bike and myself. Everything<br />

is on a higher level, and<br />

making consistency now is<br />

key.


IN THE HOWL: Moto2


FEATURE


Remy Gardner carries<br />

the weight of a name: one that<br />

is associated with a gutsy,<br />

unflinching and charismatic<br />

chase of success. In 2019<br />

he is making his own annex.<br />

We interviewed the 21 year<br />

old Australian – a resident in<br />

Spain for most of his adult life<br />

so far – two years ago when<br />

he was mixing thankfulness<br />

but also veiled frustration with<br />

his lot at Tech3 and running<br />

a Mistral frame that lacked a<br />

technical edge compared to<br />

the Kalex and KTM chassis.<br />

This year with <strong>On</strong>exox TKKR<br />

Sag team and Kalex and more<br />

wisdom (on the track and off<br />

with scars on both legs to<br />

remind him that mid-season<br />

motocrossing can sometimes<br />

be a risky choice) Gardner<br />

is arguably one of the most<br />

exciting athletes in Moto2; a<br />

first ever GP podium coming<br />

in Argentina for round two<br />

after he missed out in a photo<br />

finish in Qatar.<br />

Perched on a pit wall on and<br />

fielding questions with ease<br />

and delivering answers with a<br />

smile or small laugh, Gardner<br />

is an endearing interviewee<br />

and doesn’t shirk some of the<br />

harder questions or issues<br />

around his emergence.<br />

Racers say confidence is everything<br />

so Qatar really must<br />

have been like a watershed<br />

for you…<br />

Yes, it was the first time when<br />

I’d really run at the front and<br />

fighting for real podium positions.<br />

It was a definite confidence<br />

booster but when I got<br />

pipped to the line I was like<br />

‘this cannot be happening:<br />

he’s just taken away my podium!<br />

I’m gonna kill him!’ So<br />

that kept the apple dangling<br />

and then we went to Argentina<br />

and I managed it.<br />

How it is fighting at the front<br />

and with different riders<br />

compared to say a scrap for<br />

fifteenth?<br />

It is a different kind of strategy.<br />

Really. Instead of being<br />

about reaching as far as you<br />

can and trying to out-brake<br />

everyone it is a big more<br />

about using your head and<br />

saving the tyres and keeping<br />

a consistent rhythm going<br />

– that’s probably the most<br />

important thing. It is definitely<br />

a different race. It is a lot<br />

more under control and tactical<br />

racing rather than balls to<br />

the wall. It is kinda cool to be<br />

with people like Luthi, Balda<br />

and Marquez because they<br />

have a lot more experience.<br />

Hopefully I can out-ride them<br />

at some tracks. What I need to<br />

get better-at is my qualifying<br />

and that’s just because of the<br />

new bike, new frame because<br />

it is about making a clean<br />

lap rather than full-gas. I’m<br />

still learning about racecraft<br />

and every race at the front is<br />

something new.<br />

Has this all come about<br />

because of the blend with the<br />

team?<br />

Yeah, we have found quite a<br />

good set-up and I felt fast with<br />

the bike. The engine also: we<br />

have understood it quite well<br />

and the electronics package.<br />

Everything kinda gelled and<br />

allowed us to improve. I wasn’t<br />

expecting anything from the<br />

championship and was just<br />

looking to be consistent and a<br />

top six-seven runner at each<br />

race. I’m still new to all of this<br />

and being so far at the front.<br />

I need to build on that experience.<br />

What has enabled you to<br />

show this form: the Kalex?<br />

The Triumph engine? Or just<br />

your own improvement?<br />

I’d say 60% the Kalex and<br />

20% the engine, which is a bit<br />

more [suited] to my style and<br />

20% the team I have around<br />

me that brings it all together.<br />

Everything is going well. I<br />

finished 2018 quite strongly so<br />

I came into the season confident<br />

and ready to do something.<br />

I was fighting for decent<br />

positions with the bike I had<br />

and that was a boost and<br />

then when I got on the Kalex<br />

I thought ‘OK, now we can do<br />

something’. The team is also<br />

great. My Crew Chief is awesome<br />

and I don’t think I could<br />

be doing as well without him.<br />

It’s all gelling and we need to<br />

understand what we can do<br />

better.<br />

IN THE HOWL: Moto2


FEATURE<br />

How do you assess the two<br />

years at Tech3 now? Were<br />

they ‘lost seasons’ or did you<br />

improve as a rider?<br />

There could definitely have<br />

been results before these<br />

races. Running the Tech3<br />

bike was a lot harder. We<br />

just didn’t have the package.<br />

The other companies<br />

are manufacturers whereas<br />

Tech3 was a ‘team’ with Guy<br />

and the other mechanics<br />

running around putting the<br />

bike together. We were only<br />

two motorcycles and we just<br />

lacked the knowledge. It was<br />

tough and last year development<br />

was stopped because it<br />

was the final season with the<br />

CBR engine. Going into 2018<br />

it was like ‘here is what you<br />

have, make the best of it’ so<br />

it was a case of going balls to<br />

the wall and seeing what happened.<br />

I managed to squeeze<br />

something out of it but it was<br />

definitely hard finishing races.<br />

So is there a sense of relief<br />

in finally having the equipment<br />

and also being healthy?<br />

Those were the two things<br />

that held you back so far…<br />

Yeah. A sense of relief but<br />

also a sense of ‘right, now<br />

keep it going’. It’s not a case<br />

of sitting back and relaxing<br />

now. It is about working<br />

harder to try and get that<br />

win. That’s the next job and<br />

we need to be there fighting<br />

every weekend. We have to<br />

keep on our toes.


In the difficult times did you<br />

ever doubt yourself or were<br />

you always sure you could<br />

make it as a rider in this paddock<br />

and in this class?<br />

For sure there were a few moments<br />

when I doubted myself.<br />

At the end of the first year<br />

with Tech3 that was extremely<br />

hard for me. There was a<br />

point where I was very close<br />

to leaving it all behind. Some<br />

tough times. Even in Moto3<br />

it was also tough. Moments<br />

when I thought I was not good<br />

enough. Luckily there were a<br />

few things that happened to<br />

Have you had a taste of how<br />

precarious a career can be?<br />

It’s about being in the right<br />

place at the right time? You<br />

must ask yourself ‘what do I<br />

have to do?’<br />

Yeah. It is. There is a lot of<br />

luck and timing involved. Different<br />

manufacturers being<br />

better than others. It was like<br />

‘will the KTM be good? Will<br />

the Kalex be good?’ people<br />

doubted the Kalex but in the<br />

end I couldn’t be happier with<br />

our decision and the team.<br />

Finally we got a competitive<br />

package. Unfortunately there<br />

IN THE HOWL: Moto2<br />

“FOR SURE THERE WERE A FEW MOMENTS<br />

WHEN I DOUBTED MYSELF. THERE WAS<br />

A POINT WHERE I WAS VERY CLOSE TO<br />

LEAVING IT ALL BEHIND, MOMENTS WHEN<br />

I THOUGHT I WAS NOT GOOD ENOUGH.<br />

LUCKILY THERE WERE A FEW THINGS THAT<br />

HAPPENED TO HELP MY CONFIDENCE.”<br />

help my confidence. When I<br />

was told about the bike for<br />

2018 and was told ‘good luck’<br />

I thought ‘alrighty then…’ I<br />

could either sit there and cry<br />

about it or go out there and<br />

try my best. So I trained harder<br />

and tried to get mentally<br />

strong so that when those results<br />

did come they helped my<br />

confidence even more. Breaking<br />

my legs was hard! But it<br />

meant building back up and<br />

towards the end of the season<br />

I was getting a lot stronger.<br />

are riders that just don’t get<br />

through because of luck and<br />

timing. If I was to say anything<br />

then you just have to keep at<br />

it and wait for the opportunity<br />

to arrive. It’s a tough sport!<br />

In the difficult times does it<br />

get harder when you are the<br />

son of Wayne Gardner and<br />

everyone is expecting you to<br />

fight for wins and championships<br />

and not give up and all<br />

that?<br />

<strong>No</strong>t giving up was me.


FEATURE<br />

My Dad asked if I wanted to finish<br />

it after I broke my legs and I<br />

said ‘no, no, let’s try’.<br />

There were many times when<br />

people were yelling at me that I<br />

was only here because of Dad,<br />

I had no talent and he’d paid<br />

everything, so it has been good<br />

this year to shut up those haters.<br />

Hopefully now I am making<br />

my own name.<br />

Did you get a bit wiser over the<br />

past two years? The motocross<br />

accident must have been a bit<br />

of a wake-up call for preparation…<br />

That was only last year and I<br />

don’t actually ride motocross<br />

any more. Actually that’s a bit<br />

of a lie. I did one day after<br />

Christmas and that was just<br />

to get it out of my head…but<br />

I won’t be training motocross<br />

any more in the middle of<br />

the season. I’ve toned things<br />

down a little bit but I still<br />

like to get out and have fun;<br />

I wakeboard, surf and spearfish.<br />

You’ve got to enjoy life<br />

haven’t you? You can’t just<br />

sit at home on the sofa or on<br />

the bicycle all day.<br />

Things could get more serious<br />

for you soon with career<br />

options and handling more<br />

pressure. Do you have anyone<br />

in your corner to help<br />

with that?<br />

Well, just Dad really. He’ll<br />

easily tell me to stop being<br />

a f**king idiot. He keeps me<br />

a bit under control. I have a<br />

safer hobby which is working<br />

on a car, a Volvo Amazon<br />

from 1969. I bought it after<br />

the Super Prestigio two years<br />

ago and have loved that car<br />

since I was fourteen-fifteen.<br />

I got it in Madrid and it was<br />

a bit of a shit-box without<br />

any brakes so I restored it<br />

and got it working. I drove it<br />

for a year but then got a bit<br />

bored. It wasn’t fast enough,<br />

so I looked at some options<br />

for what I could do and I’m<br />

in the process of swapping<br />

a 463 from a Mitsubishi


Eclipse into it. I’m making it<br />

into a bit of a Hot Rod. It’s on<br />

air ride suspension now so<br />

I had to build that and I put<br />

a new rear axle from a Ford<br />

8.8 with limited slip diff. I got<br />

gearbox from a Toyota Supra<br />

mounted last week with all<br />

these special adapters. I like<br />

a bit of engineering and I’m a<br />

welder. I do a bit of fabricating<br />

and 3D printing as I work on<br />

the CADs as well. So I’ve got<br />

slightly safer hobbies!<br />

Does any of that help as a<br />

rider?<br />

For sure. All my motocross<br />

bikes and training bikes for<br />

supermoto I build myself. It<br />

really helps you understand<br />

what it happening with the<br />

bike, even for this [Moto2].<br />

You think ‘this is happening in<br />

a corner, why could that be?’<br />

it gives you a few more principles<br />

to work off, which is nice.<br />

Do you still live in Sitges and<br />

is it important for the dayjob?<br />

Yes, I’m still there and I have<br />

a workshop in Vilanova, which<br />

is just ten minutes south. The<br />

key is training and you have<br />

tracks all around. I have two<br />

karting tracks within fifteen<br />

minutes of my house and<br />

loads of dirt tracks or motocross<br />

tracks. Anything you<br />

want, even bigger circuits for<br />

a CBR or something. If you<br />

want to keep riding and keep<br />

on top then Spain is the place<br />

to be, especially around Barcelona.<br />

How is the relationship with<br />

your Dad in terms of a coach/<br />

mentor? You said he can<br />

sometimes have strong opinions…<br />

Yeah, now it is kinda a case<br />

of ‘leave me alone!’ But he<br />

taught me a lot. Before he was<br />

a lot more involved in what<br />

I was doing but has stepped<br />

back in the last couple of<br />

years and just let me get on<br />

with it and learn myself. He is<br />

just ‘Dad’ now and that’s the<br />

way I like it.<br />

The story so far must be<br />

about trying to obtain the<br />

best chance or making the<br />

best of any opportunity. Can<br />

you see a clearer route for<br />

your career now? Some riders<br />

seem very impatient to get to<br />

MotoGP. What’s your orientation?<br />

Every time I get on a bigger<br />

bike it just seems to get better<br />

for me. I don’t mind if I’m<br />

not winning a championship<br />

in Moto2 and – honestly – if<br />

I could move to MotoGP I’d<br />

probably go straightaway. I<br />

think my style and feel for a<br />

big bike is much better than<br />

for a small bike. Every time I<br />

get more power it is like ‘Hallelujah’<br />

to me. Getting to MotoGP<br />

is not really on my mind<br />

at the moment because I need<br />

to focus on consistent results.<br />

Whatever comes will come.<br />

IN THE HOWL: Moto2


FEATURE<br />

First published on:<br />

www.blog.ktm.com<br />

Photos by Polarity Photo


MotoGP<br />

LAYERS:<br />

FORMER WORLD<br />

CHAMPION AND<br />

CURRENT RED<br />

BULL KTM AJO<br />

STAR, BRAD<br />

BINDER, EXPLAINS<br />

THE KIT NEEDED<br />

FOR HIS ‘DAY JOB’<br />

IN Moto2<br />

IN THE HOWL: Moto2<br />

In a dark and undisturbed corner<br />

of the Circuit of the America’s<br />

vast Media Centre, Brad Binder<br />

is happy to be wearing his full<br />

race kit. Outside, the Texan air<br />

is stifling. Inside, the air conditioning<br />

is chiming along with<br />

good effect so the likeable South<br />

African does not mind squeezing<br />

into his shiny, dark and occasionally<br />

squeaky leathers. The<br />

23 year old is fairly uncomplicated<br />

and undemanding when<br />

it comes to his requirements<br />

for what he needs on the motorcycle<br />

in order to race for the<br />

tenths of a second that divide<br />

vast numbers of riders in Moto2.<br />

That’s unlikely to change for<br />

the premier class in 2020. He<br />

counts on excellent support from<br />

the likes of Ixon (“since 2013, so<br />

quite a while now”) and Bell Helmets<br />

and TCX boots and poses<br />

for Polarity Photo Rob Gray’s<br />

impromptu camera set-up to<br />

reveal what (and where) he uses<br />

and why.


FEATURE<br />

1. THE<br />

UNDERLAYER<br />

Binder pulls-on a special top<br />

and bottom fabric layer that<br />

sits nicely under his suit. It<br />

helps both regulate body temperature<br />

and increase the comfort<br />

aspect of the whole get-up.<br />

‘Layers’ are one of the fastest<br />

evolving areas of sportswear in<br />

the last five years thanks to the<br />

complicated properties of the<br />

materials that deal with sweat<br />

absorption and even compression.<br />

“<strong>On</strong>e cool thing that Ixon came<br />

up with this year is this special<br />

type of material where as soon<br />

as it gets wet and the wind<br />

blows on it then it feels very<br />

cool,” Binder says. “It has a<br />

cooling effect. It’s not ideal for<br />

winter obviously but helps a lot<br />

with temperature control. The<br />

pants are also made from a<br />

material that means it is supereasy<br />

to slip on the leathers.”<br />

“Sometimes it doesn’t even<br />

need to be that hot at a grand<br />

prix and you are wringing the<br />

gear out because it is so wet!<br />

It is quite normal to come<br />

in to the truck soaking. The<br />

leathers keep you quite warm<br />

and you are working hard<br />

on the bike so you can lose<br />

weight over a race weekend.”<br />

“Before a race I take off the<br />

team-wear and put on the<br />

under-suit, or layer, and then<br />

do some stretching and my<br />

normal warm-up routine. After<br />

that it will be the suit, the<br />

boots, back and chest protector,<br />

zip-up and then everything<br />

else is waiting for me in<br />

the box.”<br />

“I used to wear long, motocross-style<br />

socks but now when<br />

the boots are tailor made and<br />

the suits are made to measure<br />

that it was all a bit tight.<br />

<strong>No</strong>wadays I wear socks that are<br />

much shorter and come about<br />

ten centimetres above my ankle.<br />

It is actually difficult to find<br />

a good pair! When I get some<br />

that I like I stick with them all<br />

year.”


IN THE HOWL: Moto2


FEATURE


2. THE<br />

LEATHERS<br />

<strong>No</strong>wadays race suits are<br />

complicated mixes of (usually)<br />

kangaroo or cow leathers and<br />

other stretch fabrics to ensure<br />

flexibility, lightweight, ventilation<br />

and protection. They are<br />

carefully constructed, resilient<br />

and very modern with airbag<br />

technology now obligatory in<br />

MotoGP for the last two years.<br />

“Whatever new thing Ixon<br />

have brought tends to be an<br />

improvement on what I had.<br />

The amount of steps forward<br />

in six years is incredible. If<br />

I compared the suits now to<br />

what I had a few seasons ago<br />

then it is like ‘another world’<br />

for general fit and comfort<br />

when I’m on the bike. We also<br />

have airbags as compulsory<br />

now – it’s packed into the<br />

hump and the panels are in<br />

the suit - and I think Ixon is<br />

one of the lightest in the paddock<br />

when all is fitted.”<br />

accordingly. The support at<br />

the track is incredible and<br />

anything that we want in<br />

terms of an adjustment can<br />

be done at the circuit. We get<br />

well looked after.”<br />

“Sometimes at the beginning<br />

of the year - or if you haven’t<br />

ridden for a while - it can all<br />

feel a bit ‘hectic’ with everything<br />

on but once you’ve worn<br />

it for a while you get used to<br />

it and once it’s ‘broken-in’<br />

then it gets more and more<br />

comfortable. I finished 2018<br />

having used around 18-20<br />

suits. By the third round of<br />

this year I’d already used six.”<br />

Just before the final zip is<br />

done up Binder will place a<br />

small chest protector inside:<br />

another part of the MotoGP<br />

rulebook. “The chest pad is<br />

just to absorb any possible<br />

impact. It is flexible and super-comfortable.<br />

How much it<br />

can help you is unknown…but<br />

it is probably better to have it<br />

than not.”<br />

“The suit is made for me, so<br />

Ixon come and re-measure my<br />

body all the time. With all the<br />

training we are doing it is normal<br />

that your arms or chest<br />

can get a bit bigger. You might<br />

even get a bit skinnier. Every<br />

half year - and at the end of<br />

the season - they come and<br />

make the measurements and<br />

redo the suits


FEATURE<br />

3. THE REST<br />

The last items for Brad will be<br />

his race boots, gloves and the<br />

helmet: all items tailored specifically<br />

to his fit and needs.<br />

“The boots are basically the<br />

same as the ones from the<br />

shelf but they are customised<br />

a little bit. I have extremely<br />

small calves! So I need them<br />

adjusted enough so I can<br />

tighten them properly. I really<br />

like my boots tight! I also<br />

like the profile of the boot to<br />

be narrower around the toes<br />

so they are less bulky. I am<br />

looked after very well by TCX.<br />

I think I had 12 pairs of boots<br />

last year and I used two, to be<br />

honest. If I have something<br />

that fits and works well then<br />

I like to carry on with them;<br />

I think it is a bit of a superstition<br />

as well. The ones I’m<br />

wearing now I think I’ve had<br />

since the mid-point of last<br />

season.”<br />

“I hear a lot of people talking<br />

about gloves and how they often<br />

need a new pair. Personally<br />

this doesn’t bother me at<br />

all and Ixon again customise<br />

the gloves for me. If any of<br />

the fingers are a bit tight then<br />

they stretch them out, or if<br />

they are long then they shorten<br />

them. I’ve had 3-4 crashes<br />

in the gloves I’m using now<br />

and they look brand new. I<br />

know there are different materials<br />

so that when you crash<br />

it slides on the surface, like a<br />

small carbon piece near the<br />

palm of your hand. It can be<br />

quite scientific but I’m lucky<br />

that I have not had many injuries<br />

at all with my hands.”<br />

“When I first started with Bell<br />

Helmets I flew out to their HQ<br />

in Santa Cruz and they took a<br />

3D scan of my head and completely<br />

customised the inside<br />

of the helmet. It is almost like<br />

an internal liner that fits every<br />

little bump! It’s perfectly<br />

formed and I’m using the new<br />

model to fit the new homologation<br />

and it must be a kilo<br />

lighter!<br />

They are an insane company.<br />

<strong>On</strong> a normal day I’ll wear a<br />

tinted visor. If it has been<br />

raining and there are some<br />

patches on track or it’s cloudy<br />

then I will wear a half-tint.<br />

Bell brought out a visor with<br />

some new technology last<br />

year where water never sits<br />

on top and it never mists up.<br />

Since then I’ve never worried<br />

about it. Before we had<br />

that dual visor system that<br />

you get in normal helmets<br />

for the road but water could<br />

sometimes drop in between<br />

the two layers. Since the new<br />

visor it’s been really cool.”<br />

Finishing our shoot we ask<br />

Brad if there is anything that<br />

he’d like to see changed or<br />

introduced to his race outfit.<br />

Riders obviously need to<br />

move and react to the full<br />

behaviour of the bike so flex<br />

is key, but aerodynamics<br />

are also vital in the chase of<br />

winning lap-times so keeping<br />

their shape slim and narrow<br />

is paramount. “I don’t know<br />

what else we can wear or do,”<br />

he thinks. “I think every aspect<br />

is covered!”


IN THE HOWL: Moto2


MOTOGP<br />

BLOG<br />

ANYONE FOR 2021?<br />

More than Europe’s<br />

largest MC store<br />

It is nearly August, and we are halfway through the 2019<br />

season. With official confirmation that Danilo Petrucci has<br />

been given another year in the factory Ducati team and that<br />

Brad Binder is to step up to MotoGP in the Red Bull KTM<br />

Tech3 team for next year, just about all of the seats are settled<br />

for the 2020 season.<br />

Jack Miller is close to nailing<br />

down the details to stay on at<br />

Pramac for 2020, and after that,<br />

only the Avintia seats are up in<br />

the air for next year. The other 20<br />

riders will all have firm and settled<br />

contracts.<br />

With next year sorted for almost<br />

everyone, you might expect that<br />

the MotoGP paddock can go<br />

about its business calmly for the<br />

best part of a term, and not have<br />

to think about contracts for 2021<br />

until May or June next year. After<br />

all, it hardly makes sense to start<br />

considering 2021 when the 2019<br />

title hasn’t yet been decided,<br />

does it?<br />

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that<br />

way. The paradox of having everyone<br />

locked into the same contract<br />

cycle means that the next<br />

cycle starts almost immediately<br />

after the current one ends. With<br />

all the factories and big teams<br />

committed to two-year deals for<br />

their riders it means that MotoGP<br />

negotiations are starting to resemble<br />

US presidential elections:<br />

a continuous process rolling on<br />

from phase to phase, rather than<br />

at fixed intervals.<br />

Why would a system that is<br />

meant to bring stability achieve<br />

the opposite effect? The issue is<br />

not so much contract length as<br />

contract timing. The idea of signing<br />

a rider for two years makes a<br />

lot of sense for teams and factories.<br />

If a rider is switching bikes<br />

or moving up from Moto2, they<br />

have a year to get their heads<br />

around the new bike or new class,<br />

work on their riding style, adapt<br />

to the bike’s idiosyncrasies. They<br />

may, like Fabio Quartararo this<br />

year or Johann Zarco in 2017,<br />

take to it like a duck to water, and<br />

start racking up results from the<br />

start. In that case, the team has<br />

an extra year to exploit the success<br />

of their rider, while the rider<br />

has a second season to make a<br />

full-throated attempt at the title.<br />

Two-year contracts are good when<br />

riders struggle too. Throughout<br />

2017, media and fan chatter<br />

centred on whether Jorge Lorenzo<br />

would get to serve the second<br />

year of his contract with Ducati.<br />

The Spaniard was being paid an<br />

awful lot of money by the Italian<br />

factory and had been hired to win<br />

the title. It took him until Mugello<br />

2018 before all the pieces fell into<br />

place, and he started to look like<br />

the Lorenzo of old.<br />

Lorenzo may need that second<br />

year of his contract with Honda<br />

as well.


By David Emmett<br />

So far, he has struggled to get<br />

to grips with the Honda RC213V,<br />

HRC having traded manageability<br />

for extra speed. Like Lorenzo, Johann<br />

Zarco will be clinging to his<br />

second season with the factory<br />

KTM team as well. The Frenchman<br />

has gone from Yamaha hero<br />

to KTM zero in just a matter of<br />

months.<br />

The real problem with the twoyear<br />

contract cycle is that it is<br />

synchronised. As things stand,<br />

all 22 MotoGP seats are open in<br />

2021. That puts pressure on the<br />

factories to sign a top athlete<br />

as early as possible, before rival<br />

factories can get to them. It also<br />

pushes up wages, as each rider<br />

has multiple competitive bikes to<br />

choose from. When there were<br />

only four bikes from two factories<br />

capable of winning races, factories<br />

could afford to wait for riders,<br />

and riders could not push their<br />

luck with salary demands. But<br />

now there are ten or twelve competitive<br />

bikes. Riders can play one<br />

factory off against another. The<br />

balance of power has shifted.<br />

All this means that it is in the<br />

interest of the top factories to lock<br />

up their main riders as early as<br />

possible. The sooner they have<br />

their riders signed, the less they<br />

have to worry about other brands<br />

trying to poach them. That, in<br />

turn, means that any factory trying<br />

to poach a top rider needs to<br />

start talking to them as early as<br />

possible, to find out what it would<br />

take to lure them away.<br />

So don’t be surprised if you see<br />

rumours of rider transfers once<br />

MotoGP reconvenes at Brno this<br />

weekend despite the fact that the<br />

2021 season is still 18 months<br />

away. The factories need to capture<br />

the best riders, and rider<br />

managers are out to exploit that.<br />

<strong>No</strong>thing drives up a rider’s price<br />

like rumours of interest from other<br />

teams, and hard budget limits can<br />

magically soften. The summer<br />

break may be over, but Silly Season<br />

for MotoGP in 2021 is about<br />

to explode. That may seem ridiculous,<br />

but there is a cold, logical<br />

method to the madness. Strap in.


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brothers and more.


BLOG<br />

HOLDING ON FOR AN ANTI-HERO<br />

Scott Redding’s march to the British Superbike title gathered<br />

pace last weekend at Snetterton where the PBM Ducati man<br />

took pole position and won both races at a circuit he had<br />

never previously visited.<br />

Many expected Scott and the Ducati<br />

to go well at Snett, which is considered<br />

a more European-style layout<br />

with its fast, sweeping bends and a<br />

couple of nice long straights for the<br />

V4 to stretch its legs, but it is the<br />

rider’s adaptability to the variety of<br />

tracks the domestic series has to offer<br />

that is really catching the eye.<br />

There was certainly no doubting the<br />

suitability of the bike to the <strong>No</strong>rfolk<br />

course, with Josh Brookes and<br />

Tommy Bridewell running up front<br />

with Redding in the two races and<br />

only a crash for the latter in race 1<br />

preventing the Italian factory from<br />

locking out the podium in both.<br />

Bridewell and Brookes were on the<br />

limit all weekend, pushed to it by<br />

Redding but unable to muster sufficient<br />

response beyond their not<br />

inconsiderable talent. Brookes, as a<br />

former BSB champion himself and a<br />

consistently close rival to Byrne over<br />

the years, has to be considered the<br />

benchmark in 2019 and Redding is<br />

currently proving to be the next level<br />

up.<br />

At Snetterton Redding clocked a<br />

1’48.817 to top his first ever official<br />

practice at the track and paint the<br />

writing on the wall for the rest of<br />

the weekend. This is the kind of<br />

performance we should expect from<br />

a rider with such pedigree. There<br />

are levels in every sport, as much<br />

as I think some people overlook the<br />

fact in motorcycle racing. The right<br />

opportunities and a bit of luck – not<br />

to mention financial backing – at the<br />

right time are crucial, of course, but<br />

they don’t tell the whole story.<br />

You can’t become the youngest ever<br />

winner of a Grand Prix without a<br />

huge amount of talent. You can’t<br />

challenge for a Moto2 title without<br />

ability. You can’t become the youngest<br />

rider ever to reach 100 Grands<br />

Prix starts and not have learnt<br />

anything.<br />

The move straight from MotoGP to<br />

BSB has been done before, perhaps<br />

most famously by Redding’s predecessor<br />

as the dominant force in the<br />

series Shane Byrne, who actually<br />

endured the worst season of his<br />

career when he jumped off the Team<br />

KR/KTM V4 catastrophe in 2005<br />

onto a Crescent Suzuki that proved<br />

to be barely more competitive at<br />

domestic level in 2006.<br />

The GSX-R at the time has been described<br />

by Niall Mackenzie, who was<br />

employed by the team to try and<br />

steady a rocking ship, as “not up to<br />

winning” but it wasn’t just the bike<br />

that Byrne struggled to deal with. In<br />

MotoGP, the rider is usually considered<br />

the focal point of every project,<br />

their every need is pandered to. In<br />

BSB they are told to sit on the bike<br />

and ride it.<br />

“Even the tyre man gets to make<br />

a decision before the rider,” Byrne<br />

told me.<br />

If you don’t like it that way, somebody<br />

else will happily take your ride.<br />

Byrne considered retiring at the end<br />

of that punishing season, but came<br />

back to eventually win a second title


More than Europe’s<br />

largest MC store<br />

By Matthew Roberts<br />

in 2008 and prove that his talent had<br />

never waned – it was just the mental<br />

adjustment that took a little time.<br />

Unlike Byrne, however, Redding<br />

never really bought into the rock<br />

star MotoGP culture. While Shakey<br />

blew his first factory MotoGP pay<br />

packet on an all-singing, all-dancing<br />

American motorhome and a Lamborghini<br />

Gallardo, Redding continued<br />

to live ‘his’ way – out of the back of<br />

a van with a motocross bike and his<br />

giant dog, Bernard, for company.<br />

He even claims now that he doesn’t<br />

even know how much money he has<br />

accrued, so trivial is his interest in<br />

material things.<br />

It is a grounding he alluded to in an<br />

interview with my Eurosport colleague<br />

James Whitham last week,<br />

when James put it to him that some<br />

onlookers have been surprised how<br />

easily he has adapted to BSB life<br />

– not to mention the unforgiving<br />

nature of the circuits. “That’s because<br />

they don’t know me,” Redding<br />

replied. “They don’t know where I’ve<br />

come from.”<br />

He’s talking about a tough childhood,<br />

when sacrifices were made on his<br />

behalf in order for him to make it as<br />

a racer. Personal relationships and<br />

his education suffered but the experiences<br />

forged resilient characteristics<br />

that would pull him through difficult<br />

times, especially in the Grand<br />

Prix paddock. His physical stature<br />

and arguably his passport were not<br />

compatible with being a successful<br />

Moto2 rider, but he starved himself,<br />

persevered and flogged his skinny<br />

body until he came within a broken<br />

wrist of winning the title.<br />

This pure determination to succeed,<br />

which has been reinvigorated this<br />

season, is allowing him to exploit his<br />

superior racing skillset in BSB - even<br />

at the tracks he doesn’t know and<br />

where people wrongly believed he<br />

would be intimidated. Buoyed by the<br />

confidence of a treble win on familiar<br />

ground at Donington Park, at Brands<br />

Hatch he adapted quickly, taking<br />

pole position and a podium in third.<br />

At Knockhill he stepped it up again<br />

with second place and a win. At<br />

Snetterton, he took the lot and now<br />

he commands the championship<br />

with a 38-point lead.<br />

It is an interesting side note that -<br />

amidst rumours of the Spaniard’s<br />

head being turned by a big-money<br />

offer from Honda - Redding’s run of<br />

form has coincided with a contrasting<br />

turn in fortune for Alvaro Bautista<br />

on the factory Ducati in World<br />

Superbikes. Every year is different,<br />

of course, but it’s worth remembering<br />

that between the Gresini Honda,<br />

the factory Aprilia and a privateer<br />

Ducati, the pair roughly rode the<br />

same level of machinery during the<br />

period they raced together in MotoGP<br />

(2014-2018). In that time, Bautista<br />

managed a single podium finish<br />

(at Le Mans on the Gresini Honda)<br />

and a best championship position<br />

of eleventh. Redding scored two<br />

podiums (one on the Gresini Honda,<br />

one on the Ducati) and had a best<br />

championship finish of twelfth.<br />

Obviously, winning the British Superbike<br />

title does not prove that a<br />

rider is a world class talent; I believe<br />

Scott has already demonstrated that<br />

in other championships. But if he<br />

can win the British Superbike title in<br />

the style that he is currently showing,<br />

it would prove something else:<br />

that he remains up for the fight, that<br />

he is still willing to learn, that he has<br />

the capacity to improve still further<br />

and - at the age of just 26 - fulfil his<br />

potential at the very peak.


WORLDSBK<br />

RELIEF


GEICO U.S. ROUND<br />

LAGUNA SECA · JULY 13-14 · Rnd 8 of 13<br />

Superpole Race winner: Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki<br />

Race one winner: Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki<br />

Race two winner: Chaz Davies, Ducati<br />

WORLDSBK SMR<br />

Blog by Graeme Brown, Photos by GeeBee Images


WORLDSBK


WORLDSBK POR SMR


WORLDSBK


WORLDSBK SMR


SBK<br />

BLOG<br />

JAW-DROPPING?<br />

I still can’t believe the turnaround in this season’s WorldS-<br />

BK. It’s over 120 points in four rounds and surpasses anything<br />

we have seen in the past. That seems to be the way of<br />

everything when we speak about Jonathan Rea.<br />

I know it’s too early to talk about it<br />

but the previously unachieved high<br />

‘five’ seems like an inevitability<br />

now, however it was something so<br />

unrealistic a few short months ago.<br />

JR also racked up his 80th WorldS-<br />

BK win at Laguna, a total that I<br />

predict will only keep going up and<br />

actually may never be bettered.<br />

I don’t know where it has all gone<br />

wrong for Alvaro Bautista other<br />

than the fact that having won 11<br />

in a row he has since conspired to<br />

crash at the beginning of a race<br />

when apparently not under pressure.<br />

He was really unlucky in the<br />

Superpole race at Laguna however,<br />

tangling with Toprak Razgatlioglu in<br />

the second corner, which effectively<br />

sidelined him for race two. These<br />

things happen in racing but crashing<br />

out of the lead, in the opening<br />

laps, shouldn’t really occur at this<br />

level. Ducati supremo Gigi Dall’Inga<br />

has, in various interviews however,<br />

expressed surprise at how well<br />

Baustista faired in the open races<br />

of the season. He has been quick<br />

to point out that they are still in a<br />

development phase with the bike<br />

and with the fine margins there are<br />

at the top, a small error in the set<br />

up direction on a weekend can be<br />

costly.<br />

I hope Alvaro recovers over the<br />

summer break and comes back<br />

strongly as we need a good fight<br />

in the championship for the season<br />

run-in through September and<br />

October. Although, we are heading<br />

to Portimao, Magny Cours and<br />

Argentina, venues that Bautista has<br />

no race experience and Ducati have<br />

little or no set up data for the Panigale<br />

V4R. We may have been lured<br />

into false expectations of Bautista<br />

and the Ducati as a result of that<br />

early season spurt but the wheels<br />

have well and truly come off the<br />

wagon now and he is going to have<br />

a real battle to recover the recent<br />

losses.<br />

In a slightly ironic twist Chaz<br />

Davies seemed to have found his<br />

mojo on the V4R, taking a couple<br />

of podiums and a win in the USA.<br />

It was actually great to see him<br />

win on Sunday and also lovely to<br />

see the joy and emotion that it<br />

released. The sense of relief was<br />

palpable in parc ferme after the<br />

race and this may now kick start<br />

what is left of Davies’ season.<br />

Toprak Razgatlioglu continued to<br />

polish his CV with solid podium<br />

performances at Laguna and he<br />

was also the centre of a huge<br />

amount of transfer speculation. He<br />

seems to be the man in demand<br />

at the moment having, by all accounts,<br />

received lucrative contract<br />

offers from both Yamaha and KRT.<br />

It was a surprise to me to hear<br />

about the Yamaha offer but it was<br />

explained that his mentor, former<br />

Supersport World Champion Kenan<br />

Sofuoglu, has been a key mover in<br />

bringing it together.


More than Europe’s<br />

largest MC store<br />

By Graeme Brown<br />

I always thought that Kenan was<br />

strongly associated with Kawasaki<br />

in his home country but apparently<br />

he has been working with the<br />

Yamaha distributor in Turkey for a<br />

number of years. That has made<br />

Toprak a viable option for Yamaha<br />

and it seems he has been offered<br />

a seat in the factory Pata team at<br />

the expense of either Alex Lowes or<br />

Michael van der Mark.<br />

It was rumoured that whichever<br />

between Lowes and VD Mark left<br />

Laguna Seca in third place in the<br />

championship would have secured<br />

their seat for 2020. Lowes is<br />

therefore in pole position after the<br />

results in the US so we will see if<br />

that speculation has some veracity<br />

in the next few weeks. All three are<br />

headed east after Laguna to race in<br />

the Suzuka 8Hr race so I am sure<br />

there will be a number of hushed<br />

meetings with Japanese management<br />

in both the blue and green<br />

corners.<br />

I managed to catch up with Toprak<br />

in Japan at the Suzuka 8 Hours race<br />

(more of that shortly) and he was<br />

remaining very tight-lipped about<br />

his future. He confirmed that he<br />

had good offers but that there were<br />

a few things still to be decided and<br />

that Sofuoglu was working things<br />

out on his behalf. His current team<br />

manager Manuel Puccetti accompanied<br />

him to Japan and was equally<br />

as tight lipped. Puccetti’s obvious<br />

desire was to keep a hold of his current<br />

charge but made a valid point<br />

that Dorna were keen for him to<br />

stay as well as the WorldSBK series<br />

benefits greatly from having strong<br />

privateer riders and teams. It’s<br />

clear that Razgatlioglu is the man<br />

in demand which gives credence to<br />

previous thoughts that he is potentially<br />

a future world champion.<br />

I also chuckled at the timing of the<br />

announcement that Marco Melandri<br />

will retire at the end of the year.<br />

I read that the team didn’t know<br />

about it and would not be in a position<br />

to respond being at 39,000ft<br />

somewhere over the Atlantic, but<br />

that wasn’t actually the case. However,<br />

the cynic in me did wonder<br />

if the timing of the press release<br />

was arranged to coincide with the<br />

extended journey to California and<br />

also the fact that there would be<br />

less travelling journalists at Laguna<br />

to press the issue when we all arrived<br />

at the track.<br />

In any event there is now another<br />

seat at Yamaha up for grabs.<br />

Speedweek reported a few weeks<br />

ago that Yamaha Motor Europe<br />

boss Eric de Seynes would like to<br />

see some form of rider progression<br />

amongst the Yamaha ranks, from<br />

Supersport300 up to Superbike.<br />

Those that succeed in the lower<br />

class will have a genuine prospect<br />

of moving up. It might therefore<br />

be that the GRT seat will go to this<br />

year’s Supersport champion, at the<br />

moment likely to be either Randy<br />

Krummenacher or Federico Caricasulo.<br />

The young Italian started his<br />

Yamaha career in the GRT squad<br />

before they stepped up to WorldS-<br />

BK so that would be the obvious fit.<br />

He just needs to win the championship<br />

now.<br />

There were also a few rumours<br />

floating about at the weekend about<br />

next year’s calendar. Apparently<br />

the Thai round in Buriram will be<br />

dropped. Attendence figures have<br />

slowly declined since the first visit<br />

in 2015 and now that Buriram has<br />

an established place in the MotoGP<br />

calendar the promoter seems<br />

content to have just the one series<br />

visit. The suggestion I heard was<br />

that Thailand would be replaced by


SBK<br />

BLOG<br />

a round at Sepang in Malaysia. I<br />

know that most manufacturers are<br />

keen to have a round in east Asia<br />

as sport bike sales are relatively<br />

strong there and they also have<br />

manufacturing plants in countries<br />

like Thailand and Malaysia so they<br />

feel it is important to visit those<br />

territories. However, I recall from<br />

the last visit to Sepang that the<br />

races were very poorly attended<br />

and the local promoter had little<br />

interest in hosting a WorldSBK<br />

race. <strong>No</strong>thing much has changed<br />

to suggest it will be different this<br />

time around but Sepang is a<br />

circuit I like so you won’t hear any<br />

grumbles from me if it appears on<br />

the 2020 calendar.<br />

We also saw the first of the 2020<br />

bikes at Laguna Seca when Yamaha<br />

unveiled their R1 and R1M. For<br />

me it was something of a disappointment<br />

to be honest as there<br />

was very little difference between<br />

the new and existing models. It<br />

really comprised of some minor<br />

updates to the production bike<br />

that would appear to have come<br />

directly from the development of<br />

the race bike and, as is customary<br />

with all things in life now, a smart<br />

phone app to control the electronics<br />

for the bike. It would suggest<br />

that despite Yamaha’s current on<br />

track progression, 2020 will be<br />

more of the same.<br />

For me this month has been particularly<br />

hectic. I am among those<br />

that have travelled from the UK to<br />

California – Donington to Laguna<br />

Seca - turning around, heading<br />

back home and then setting off<br />

again in the other direction for<br />

Japan and the Suzuka 8hr race.<br />

I had a quick check and within a<br />

week we will have crossed 16 time<br />

zones and travelled something<br />

like18,000kms. The night before<br />

we left the US was the best nights<br />

sleep I had had since arriving and<br />

I guess I will have just won the<br />

battle with jet lag at home before I<br />

head to Nagoya and on to Suzuka.<br />

I am only wandering around taking<br />

some ‘snaps’, I can’t imagine<br />

what it will be like for the Yamaha<br />

and Kawasaki boys who have just<br />

finished a hot dry race weekend<br />

in the US before tackling the heat<br />

and humidity of summer in Japan,<br />

and in particular an endurance<br />

race. The physical toll on there<br />

bodies must be quite significant.<br />

Then again they are not an aging<br />

bag of old bones like me. To put<br />

it into perspective the riders will<br />

have completed around four hours<br />

of riding in a typical WorldSBK<br />

weekend. In Suzuka they will most<br />

likely do that in one race, having<br />

already tested, taken Free Practice<br />

and qualifying sessions form<br />

Wednesday onwards. It’s exhausting<br />

just thinking about it.<br />

I am looking forward to Suzuka. It’s<br />

a really unique event to cover and<br />

different from my normal weekend<br />

of work. As a photographer it’s<br />

great to have a shoot that is different<br />

from the norm and challenges<br />

you to deliver the goods. So if I get<br />

tired and emotional with jet lag in<br />

the next week just remind me that<br />

I am travelling around the world<br />

photographing one of the coolest<br />

motorcycle fixtures on the calendar.


PRODUCTS


www.bikeshedfestival.com<br />

bike shed festival<br />

The growth of The Bike Shed brand and entity<br />

knows no limits. The London-based club/<br />

scene/community is using the expanding<br />

popularity of their Bike Shed custom show/<br />

gathering at Tobacco Dock each spring to<br />

now create a Festival at the Lydden circuit in<br />

southeast England (close to Dover as well,<br />

therefore easier for any visitors from mainland<br />

Europe) across three days on October<br />

4-5-6. “A long-awaited, and much-requested<br />

event celebrating modern & retro motorcycles<br />

on the move; on track and on the dirt,<br />

with the same level of quality, inclusiveness<br />

and high-level hospitality as we deliver every<br />

May at Tobacco Dock during our annual Bike<br />

Shed London event, where we looked after<br />

more than 17,000 people this year,” they say.<br />

The Festival is an amplification of their 2018<br />

Café Racer Cup (from where these images in<br />

their press release were taken).<br />

What’s the jist? ‘Bike Shed Fest 2019 will<br />

take place over a whole weekend, with multiple<br />

riding events on and off the tarmac,<br />

all designed to be accessible to riders who<br />

don’t normally ride on track, and have never<br />

considered racing. This is an opportunity to<br />

have fast, safe fun on your bike without the<br />

pressure of a full-on track-day.’ There will be<br />

ten classes, including the Café Racer to the<br />

Custom, Retro, Learners, Supermoto, Electric,<br />

Vintage and Commuter. For those not<br />

on two wheels then ‘around the track and<br />

venue we’re creating a festival vibe with high<br />

quality food, drink and accommodation, with<br />

brand and retail exhibitors of all kinds, plus<br />

entertainment aimed at a family-friendly<br />

crowd.’ Sounds like great fun.<br />

More info here: www.bikeshedfestival.com


FEATURE<br />

FEEL<br />

THE<br />

FLOW<br />

FOR MANY PEOPLE FOX RACING SET THE TONE<br />

WHEN IT COMES TO RACEWEAR DESIGN AND<br />

PERFORMANCE BUT THE AMERICANS ARE<br />

SCRAMBLING HARD NOT TO BE LEFT BEHIND IN<br />

THE PURSUIT OF HELMET SAFETY INNOVATION.<br />

GLOBAL CATEGORY DIRECTOR MARK FINLEY<br />

REVEALS MORE…


FEATURE<br />

Three years ago Fox gutted their<br />

helmet range and with MIPS and<br />

the MVRS visor concept installed<br />

the V3 as their premium model. What<br />

had previously been a functional lid that<br />

looked cool on the heads of Ricky Carmichael<br />

and Ken Roczen now had significant<br />

safety specs and a high degree of<br />

engineering: the substance equalled the<br />

style.<br />

“WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN LOOKED AT<br />

AS A RACEWEAR BRAND WITH COOL<br />

GRAPHICS BUT WE WANT PEOPLE TO<br />

TAKE US SERIOUSLY WHEN IT COMES<br />

TO OUR HELMETS. WE HAVE BEEN<br />

MANUFACTURING THEM SINCE 1997.”<br />

The Irvine-based firm did not leave their<br />

R&D priorities solely with the graphic designers<br />

thereafter. Recently they unveiled<br />

the new V3 with Fluid Inside technology<br />

(presented at the final round of AMA Supercross<br />

and notable for the plain white<br />

and black lids worn by MXGP leader<br />

Tim Gajser); which features a series of<br />

gel-like ‘pods’ in the liner that they say<br />

‘enhance your helmet’s ability to protect<br />

your brain by mimicking Cerebral Spinal<br />

Fluid (CSF) – your body’s natural protection.’<br />

It is the latest venture and speculation<br />

to tackle rotational acceleration and<br />

concussion thresholds and follows on the<br />

investigative work by 6D, Leatt, Bell, Fly<br />

and of course MIPS.<br />

Again Fox want to show they can lead<br />

when it comes to innovation and not just<br />

provide fashion statements. The ever-accommodating<br />

Mark Finley gave up some<br />

of his time towards the end of another<br />

long day at the futuristic Fox ‘hub’ in<br />

southern California to explain and bit<br />

more about the concept and the company’s<br />

general holding pattern.<br />

Fox helmets were quite rudimentary<br />

but then you embraced MIPS and gave<br />

another performance aspect to it. <strong>No</strong>w<br />

it’s moved on again. So where did Fluid<br />

Inside come from and was it a big job to<br />

make that discovery?


We’ve worked with premier riders so we<br />

know the speeds they are travelling and<br />

the risks associated with motocross and<br />

supercross and that drove us to create a<br />

better helmet for our racers, which then<br />

trickled down into our consumers. MIPS<br />

was the logical way to go. It is a great<br />

system and we still use it quite a bit in<br />

our mountain bike line but as we moved<br />

forward we thought ‘what is the Holy<br />

Grail? Is there something else that might<br />

give an advantage?’ So we partnered with<br />

this laboratory up in Ottawa in Canada<br />

that has been studying brain injuries in<br />

a lot of stick-and-ball sports as well as<br />

cycling and we came across this product<br />

that they are using called Fluid Inside.<br />

We’d seen it used in hockey helmets and<br />

thought it might be something good to<br />

bring to motocross.<br />

FOX V3 & FLUID INSIDE


FEATURE<br />

So we started retro-fitting V3s last year.<br />

We had to re-certify the helmets so the<br />

riders could race with them. We tested<br />

them and realised we were getting some<br />

nice results for rotational and linear<br />

[acceleration]. We got competitive-wear<br />

testing to make sure the guys were comfortable<br />

and there weren’t any heat or<br />

temperature issues. We were concerned<br />

with the pods themselves and a ‘sealing<br />

effect’ but what we found is that we<br />

almost had a ‘matrix’ between the pods;<br />

we’re trying to de-couple the rider’s head<br />

from the helmet itself and that is raising<br />

it away from the EPS. Obviously we have<br />

a comfort liner but the de-coupling allows<br />

the helmet to address the rotation.<br />

Initially the pods were raised out – it’s<br />

about 4mm – and we had to make some<br />

changes to the EPS shape to accept the<br />

pods, which are curved, and not being<br />

uncomfortable. We also put a moisture<br />

wicking material over the plastic.<br />

“ON THE OLD V3 WE HAD AN<br />

EXISTING SHELL SHAPE THAT<br />

WE HAD TO ADAPT THE MVRS TO.<br />

WITH THE NEW HELMET WE HAD<br />

BETTER INTEGRATION BETWEEN<br />

THE INTERFACE OF THE VISOR AND<br />

THE SHELL ITSELF, MEANING IT IS<br />

HARDER TO POP OFF. ...”<br />

Does the battle continue in terms of educating<br />

people that Fox can be a serious<br />

player when it comes to helmets and<br />

safety? Again you seem to have made<br />

real progress and in a market that is not<br />

slowing with helmet protection ideas…<br />

Yes, it’s one of our challenges. We have<br />

always been looked at as a racewear<br />

brand with cool graphics but we want<br />

people to take us seriously when it<br />

comes to our helmets. We have been<br />

manufacturing helmets since 1997 and<br />

I think the first models came from Italy<br />

and AGV, it was called the Pilot. We took<br />

it seriously even then and I remember<br />

the Pilot being very good for ventilation.<br />

Pete [Fox] designed these two channels<br />

in the shell shape. So the drive has<br />

always been there. Dual density EPS,<br />

carbon fibre shell construction, introducing<br />

MIPS, the MVRS system – and obviously<br />

we’ve had our challenges with that<br />

but when you try to innovate it is not<br />

always going to be perfect and you need<br />

to modify and be able to upgrade – show<br />

the ideas have been there to push for a<br />

better helmet. With the new V3 we feel<br />

that we have put a lot of effort into it and<br />

have taken those twenty years of helmet<br />

manufacturing to task with the new<br />

design.<br />

You mention the magnetic visor with the<br />

MVRS; it’s had its critics but the V3 also<br />

represents an improvement…<br />

MVRS has been a challenge, but the<br />

current system on the V3 has been a<br />

great one for us. Where we are seeing<br />

issues is in the close proximity of elite<br />

racing and the level of roost coming off<br />

450s these days, we are obviously working<br />

to solve any issues. The new V3 has<br />

a second generation which means it is<br />

integrated with the shell itself. <strong>On</strong> the old<br />

V3 we had an existing shell shape that<br />

we had to adapt the MVRS to. With the<br />

new helmet we had better integration between<br />

the interface of the visor and the<br />

shell itself, meaning it is harder to pop<br />

off. We’ll still have things to learn as we<br />

move forward but the second


generation is an improvement. Unfortunately<br />

for us we cannot duplicate everything<br />

that will happen on a track like the<br />

speed of a rock or roost at an angle.<br />

It looks like a good tussle among the<br />

helmet brands for the best safety specs<br />

and there is no excuse for riders or customers<br />

not to do a bit of homework now.<br />

You cannot really have a bog-standard<br />

helmet any more…<br />

Yes, there are advancements in materials<br />

and there is more demand to deal<br />

with rotational acceleration, which is so<br />

important. It feels like so many other<br />

brands are pushing to bring a better helmet<br />

to market and we’re the same.<br />

FOX V3 & FLUID INSIDE<br />

Is that harder for the bottom line? It<br />

cannot be cheap to develop a new helmet…<br />

It’s not and fortunately we have been<br />

able to tier-out our line, which means<br />

there are price points throughout the<br />

range. <strong>No</strong>t every consumer has 5-600<br />

dollars to spend on a helmet but obviously<br />

we want to make sure our V1 and<br />

V2 are passing the same kind of standards<br />

as the V3. You are right that it challenges<br />

the margins but to compete and<br />

have a pinnacle product to show that we<br />

are serious about helmets then we love<br />

that and we take it on.<br />

Is Fox becoming more of a protective<br />

company than one that is cool and about<br />

the best designs?<br />

I would say over the last five years that<br />

hard goods have become a really high<br />

priority for us. The introduction of the<br />

Proframe mountain bike helmet was<br />

revolutionary for us and it was the first<br />

certified downhill helmet on the market<br />

place and everybody has one now: Troy<br />

Lee, Leatt…that helmet, the Instinct boot


FEATURE<br />

and the Vue goggle that we launched<br />

in 2017 are examples that we don’t just<br />

want to be see as a racewear company:<br />

and that belief is around this whole<br />

building. We are all pushing. With the Instinct<br />

I think we surprised ourselves with<br />

that product and the goggle – from a<br />

financial perspective – far exceeded our<br />

expectations. Oakley with the Airbrake<br />

set the standard in the industry so for us<br />

to put something out with a quick-change<br />

system and a polycarbonate lens – we<br />

really worked closely with Ken Roczen to<br />

give him a goggle that he’d race with –<br />

was really impressive and the consumers<br />

responded.<br />

The size of the racewear business is<br />

important for pushing innovation, pushing<br />

materials and function. The same as<br />

safety and function in helmets. There is<br />

no lack of attention for racewear. Tomorrow<br />

we are actually doing a 2021 review<br />

for our racewear here and the graphics<br />

and colours are getting a lot of attention<br />

and are so important. Obviously the hard<br />

goods guys like taking inspiration from<br />

the racewear for their graphics and colours.<br />

A lot of the hard development with<br />

the helmet has been done now so for the<br />

next few years we’ll be making tweaks<br />

and colour changes.<br />

Has it become complicated, as a firm, to<br />

split those priorities and still put equal<br />

priority on both areas? It must have<br />

taken a lot of time and resources to<br />

make that split between cool racewear<br />

and viable safety goods?<br />

There are different groups but the way<br />

our building is laid-out means they are<br />

all in the same area. There is a feeling of<br />

team pride when a product enjoys some<br />

success. But you are right, when we do<br />

our major design review meetings the<br />

racewear is just as important as the hard<br />

goods.


FOX V3 & FLUID INSIDE


WOULD<br />

TEST<br />

YOU<br />

EVEN<br />

DARE?<br />

Words by Roland Brown<br />

Photos by Milagro


TEST<br />

It has to be one of the most thrilling<br />

experiences on two wheels. I’m hammering<br />

over the brow of the hill on Mugello’s<br />

long pit straight, head tucked behind<br />

the screen of an RSV4 1100 Factory that<br />

is flat-out in top gear and still accelerating<br />

enthusiastically with a delicious V4 growl<br />

audible above the wind roar.<br />

The circuit drops away and the Aprilia<br />

keeps on charging down the hill, staying<br />

rock solid as it leans slightly left across<br />

the track… Then suddenly I’ve passed the<br />

300-metre board, reached my trackside<br />

marker and squeezed the front brake lever,<br />

pushing myself back in the seat, bracing<br />

my neck muscles against the wind, and<br />

gripping the tank with my knees against<br />

the ferocious deceleration of Brembo’s latest<br />

Stylema front brake calipers as I tread<br />

down four gears for the long right-hand<br />

turn of San Donato.<br />

Back in the pit garage, the Aprilia’s instrument<br />

console reveals a maximum speed<br />

of 201mph. The true speed was probably<br />

10mph or so lower (and possibly recorded<br />

by my diminutive French co-rider in the<br />

previous session), but there’s no doubt that<br />

this revamped V4 is right up there with the<br />

world’s fastest streetbikes. Jumbo jets take<br />

off at lower speeds than this, but the RSV4<br />

also gains MotoGP-style winglets to help<br />

prevent it flying into the surrounding Tuscan<br />

scenery.<br />

The RSV4 1100 Factory name reveals this<br />

bike’s most important development: its<br />

capacity increase from 999 to 1078cc.<br />

Exceeding Superbike racing’s capacity limit<br />

hints at a subtle shift in the RSV4’s focus,<br />

away from the direct competition link that<br />

has dominated ever since 2009, when Max<br />

Biaggi won a World Superbike race in the<br />

model’s debut season before taking the<br />

first of its three titles the following year.


RSV4 1100 FACTORY


TEST<br />

Aprilia liken this new approach to that of a<br />

Ferrari or Lamborghini supercar, positioning<br />

the RSV4 not as a race-replica but as a highperformance<br />

machine with the ability to go<br />

very fast on a racetrack.<br />

Aprilia’s traditional RSV4 layout of 65-degree<br />

V4 engine in aluminium beam-framed chassis<br />

is unchanged. Larger-diameter pistons<br />

increase the dohc, 16-valve unit’s compression<br />

ratio as well as its capacity. New intake<br />

camshafts, reprofiled throttle bodies and a<br />

new exhaust system with titanium Akrapovic<br />

silencer increase maximum output by 16bhp<br />

to 214bhp. What’s arguably more important<br />

is that the bigger engine kicks out roughly<br />

ten per cent more torque between 8000 and<br />

13,000rpm.<br />

The RSV4 look is familiar, and classy in its<br />

matt-black colour scheme, complemented by<br />

carbon-fibre front mudguard and sidepanels,<br />

and forged aluminium wheels. Climbing<br />

aboard the bike in the Mugello pit lane,<br />

checking out the unchanged TFT console<br />

and heading out onto the track, it’s the<br />

RSV4’s traditional lack of size and weight<br />

that make the first impression. It’s compact<br />

(make that cramped if you’re tall) and 5kg<br />

lighter at just 177kg dry.<br />

This bike’s biggest boost to lapping fast is<br />

its sublimely flexible big-bore V4 engine. I<br />

take a few laps to figure it out. At first I’m<br />

revving it too high in places; using second<br />

gear for the second chicane, the long Biondetti<br />

right-hander, and the downhill Bucine<br />

left that leads back onto the main straight.<br />

But the Aprilia accelerates so hard that I’m<br />

struggling to get my foot under the gearlever<br />

before tagging the limiter at 13,600rpm.<br />

The solution is simple: use the midrange<br />

torque. The big V4 motor pulls so strongly<br />

and sweetly from 8000rpm or so that it’s<br />

quicker as well as less effort to take those<br />

turns in third gear, concentrate on hitting the<br />

apexes and getting the power on smoothly,<br />

and let the extra grunt send the bike rocket-


RSV4 1100 FACTORY<br />

ing out of the turns with its ultra-dependable<br />

traction control helping the sticky rear Pirelli<br />

tyre deliver maximum drive.<br />

Cornering poise is also outstanding, though<br />

given more time I’d have tried raising the<br />

rear end a fraction, to help the Aprilia flick<br />

through the chicanes even more quickly and<br />

effortlessly. The RSV4’s chassis-tuning potential<br />

is vast and its base level very high.<br />

There’s no doubting the quality of the Öhlins<br />

units at each end, or their potential to deliver<br />

cutting-edge handling. Aprilia considered<br />

fitting the Swedish specialist’s semi-active<br />

suspension but decided against it, essentially<br />

because their testers found no lap-time advantage<br />

over conventional units.<br />

Braking power is sensational and stability<br />

under hard stopping very good. <strong>On</strong> a hot day<br />

there’s no brake fade, despite repeated hard<br />

slowing from high speed.


TEST<br />

“THIS BIKE COMBINES THE MODEL’S<br />

TRADITIONAL TRACK FOCUS WITH A<br />

NEW-FOUND EASE OF USE.<br />

IT’S NO ROOMIER OR MORE LUXURIOUS BUT<br />

IT’S MORE POWERFUL, GRUNTIER, MORE<br />

STABLE, AND EVEN BETTER SUSPENDED AND<br />

BRAKED.”


RSV4 1100 FACTORY<br />

WORLDSBK POR


TEST<br />

Who knows whether the front calipers’ optional<br />

carbon-fibre cooling scoops make a significant<br />

difference, but they look trick and weigh only<br />

42g each – less than the new Stylema calipers<br />

save over the previous M50s. What’s for sure<br />

is that Aprilia’s subtle change of approach<br />

with the RSV4 makes plenty of sense.<br />

This bike combines the model’s traditional<br />

track focus with a new-found ease of use. It’s<br />

no roomier or more luxurious but it’s more<br />

powerful, gruntier, more stable, and even<br />

better suspended and braked. It’s also competitively<br />

priced for such an exotic machine<br />

(at £21,499 in the UK). As well as one of the<br />

world’s fastest and finest-handling superbikes,<br />

the RSV4 1100 Factory is among the purest<br />

and most rewarding to ride.


RSV4 1100 FACTORY


BACK PAGE<br />

The King: Jeremy McGrath gets all WorldSBK. Photo by Kawasaki


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