YOU RECENTLY RE-SIGNED WITH RED BULL KTM,
BUT DID YOU EVER THINK OF LEAVING? I love KTM, and
it is like a family for me. They gave me a big opportunity when
Yamaha left me all those years ago. We had a contract with
Yamaha for 2010. Normally, I would continue riding for them,
because I brought them the World title after some years, but
they just ended things. It is quite a strange story, but KTM
immediately stepped in and gave us 110-percent support.
We took five titles in a row with the 350, so now I think it is
time for me to plan the future a little bit. I would like to stay
with KTM and continue with the team when I stop my career.
Giving my experience to other riders is also what I really
would like to do.
WHY DID YOU MOVE FROM THE KTM 350SXF UP TO
THE 450SXF? They are actually very different bikes, and it
is really important for me to understand which one is right
for me. At the moment the 450 is a better bike, because
the 350 is a little bit of an old project. We really did not test
much the last two years with it. The 450 has grown a lot,
and in a better way than it was before. The 450 is much
smoother and easier to ride now, so for me the 450 is the
CAN YOU WIN ANOTHER TITLE? I still have something in
my pocket that I can take to the next level. I was never riding
over my limits in my entire career, so I think I have something
extra. I can improve in some places. Over the next year or
two I will train as I have never trained before and try to put
myself in better shape. I can race with these newer kids. It is
clear that I have the speed to stay there. I have just missed
some critical training with the injuries and maybe lost some
motivation with my results a little too much. I think next year
will be a good year.
By Jim Kimball
WHAT RACE STANDS OUT TO YOU? It’s funny, because
most people would think that winning Southwick would be up
there for me. That was a big race for me, but I felt like I had
a big monkey on my back every time I raced there. Everyone
expected me to win, and then I would have weird problems
at Southwick. I got a flat tire once, blew a radiator hose
another time and then blew a shock while leading one year
on a Yamaha. It was really special once I won at Southwick.
Maybe the top race was winning the 125 West Supercross
Championship in 1997. It was me and [David] Vuillemin going
into the final race, and we were only three points apart. It
was a do-or-die situation, and I won the race and title. Talk
about all the pressure you could have! I came out on top, and
that was really cool. Every race win is pretty special, because
I was the old guy and nobody expected me to win.
WHAT RACE BIKE WAS MOST SPECIAL TO YOU? I ran
through them all. Overall, my years at Yamaha were most
special. I was in the prime of my career. It was a great team
and atmosphere. The bikes were really good, and everything
worked out. It was a fun time in my life. I had a long career
and a lot of good times with good people, but the best was
while at Yamaha. Even now, I feel like a kid. I still love riding.
It’s kind of really cool right now, because my son and I are
really close in speed. For that reason it keeps me in it. I want
to ride as hard as I can in order to push him, because I still
feel like I can help him get to that next level.
YOUR SON, RYAN, WANTS TO BE A SUCCESSFUL
PRO RACER. DO YOU OFFER HIM ADVICE? I try to. He’s
old enough now to realize that I might know what I’m talking
about when I help him with stuff. The bottom line is that it’s
still a father/son thing, so he doesn’t always want to listen to
me. He’s pretty good for the most part. Half the time he acts
like he’s not listening to me, but then I’ll look over and see
him do something that I told him to do. Ryan is old enough to
know that I was somewhat successful in racing motocross.
By John Basher