MAY 2016 / MOTOCROSS ACTION 99
incredible time when Ricky was with Suzuki and racing
head to head against James. I went to every single race
because it was so exciting. We all knew RC was strong,
but it still was a nail-biter. Ricky was just so dedicated,
and we were fully behind him. At that time we had
Ryan Dungey on the 250 four-stroke, so I was doing a
lot of work with the 250 engines. Ryan had some big
challenges with Ryan Villopoto and Ben Townley on
the Pro Circuit Kawasakis, so we really needed to work
hard. The Pro Circuit bikes were just so good, but
eventually we won some races and championships with
Broc Hepler and Ryan Dungey.
AFTER ALL YOU HAD ACHIEVED AT SUZUKI,
WHY DID YOU AND ROGER LEAVE FOR KTM?
All of the motorcycle manufacturers were struggling
financially. Suzuki’s bike sales had dropped drastically,
and its car sales were not very good. Racing was no
longer a necessity. It was unfortunate, because we had
a great bike then and riders that really wanted to come
ride for us. We had success with Chad Reed, Mike
Alessi and then Ryan Dungey. Our race bike was very
good. It was a great bike—fast, easy to ride, comfortable and overall a great-handling motorcycle.
THEN IT ALL WENT SOUR AT SUZUKI?
Unfortunately, those last months at Suzuki were difficult. Nothing was moving. We weren’t signing riders,
and there was very little communication from management. Everything was so quiet that I began making
some inquiries at different teams. A friend of mine was
at Honda, and he said there might be a position there.
I talked to Roger about going to Honda, and he told
me to wait a little bit because he had something in the
works. He later asked me to come to his house to talk,
as he didn’t want to talk about it while at the Suzuki
race shop. He didn’t feel it was fair to Suzuki. I went to
his house and he said, “Ian, I want you to come to KTM
with me.” I told him that he was crazy, because KTM
hadn’t even won a race in the big bike class! Roger was
adamant that KTM had the funding, the internal structure to succeed and was hungry to win in America. He
put an offer on the table, which was very good for me.
Ironically, Pit Beirer, who runs all of KTM Racing, used
to come to South Africa from Germany to ride with
Greg in the winters when we were much younger. Pit
called me and said that Roger didn’t want to come to
KTM unless I came with him. So, Roger and I left for