TEAM: Muscle Milk Honda
REPLACED: Justin Barcia
Dreams do come true. Just ask
Sweden’s Fredrik Noren. A true-blood
privateer in every sense of the word,
Noren received the phone call of a
lifetime when Muscle Milk Honda
was in search of a rider to replace
the injured Justin Barcia. Naturally,
the amiable Swede jumped at the
opportunity, if only to escape the
confines of an aging van and the
hard-knock life. Noren’s results
improved once aboard the million-dollar Honda CRF450. It’s hard to
say whether Fredrik will ever have
another opportunity like he had this
summer, but at least he was able to
eat caviar for a while.
HOW DID THE 450 NATIONAL
SERIES START OUT AS A
PRIVATEER? Things were going
pretty well considering the limited
resources that I had and the bike
that I was on. I was riding an almost-
stock KTM 450SXF; it only had an
aftermarket exhaust and Ohlins sus-
pension. The Ohlins people helped
me out a lot, but aside from that, I
was racing against factory bikes on
something you could get from a
dealership. I was doing well as a
privateer, but it was very stressful.
Let me just say that I would have
much rather been on a factory bike.
TALK ABOUT LIFE AS A
PRIVATEER. I traveled to the AMA
Nationals in a van. A week before
the Glen Helen opener, I drove from
where I was riding, which was a
South of the Border training facility
in South Carolina, to California. There
were a few times that I would sleep
in my van, but most of the time I
would crash at a few friends’ houses.
Earlier this summer, a family bought
me a hotel room for one race, which
was very nice of them. The last race
I drove the van to was the Muddy
Creek round. After that, I signed
with the Muscle Milk Honda team.
Needless to say, I put a lot of miles
on my van over those few months.
WHO HELPED YOU DURING
YOUR TIME AS A PRIVATEER?
My girlfriend helped out quite a bit.
It was really just her and myself. She
did the pit boarding, helped prep the
bike and my goggles, and also filled
my bike up with fuel after the sighting laps. I did most of the work on
my bike, and then, of course, I had
to drive everywhere. It was a lot of
work compared to a factory team.
HOW DID THE MUSCLE MILK
HONDA DEAL FORMULATE?
After the Mt. Morris National, the
factory Honda team called me and
said that they were interested in
having me on board; however, they
wanted me to come to California
and ride the race bike and spend
some time with the team. I flew out
to California for a day and then met
with them again at the Muddy Creek
National. I signed a contract there to
race the rest of the rounds for them.
They gave me the choice to ride Red
Bud on the factory Honda or stick
with my privateer KTM, because
I didn’t have any time to ride the
CRF450 before Red Bud. Of course
I told them that I would gladly race
the factory bike. I wanted more
time on the bike, and I would have
much rather raced and flown back to
California than spent more time
driving my van.
WHAT WAS THE BEST THING
ABOUT BEING ON THE MUSCLE
MILK HONDA TEAM? There were
so many great things. The whole situation was amazing. Obviously there’s
the bike, but it was really eye-opening to see how hard a factory team
works. The effort they put in is unbelievable. It was also nice flying to the
races, because I could focus on riding
and training instead of driving and
fixing my bike. The whole
combination of the bike and team
was an incredible experience.
WAS IT A DREAM COME
TRUE? Absolutely! I was able to
see how a factory team operates and
what a factory racer has access to.
Everyone was so organized. Hopefully
in the future I can get a contract to
ride a full year with a factory team.
WAS THERE PRESSURE TO
SUCCEED? The team didn’t put any
pressure on me. I put all of the pressure on myself. I knew that I didn’t
have anything to complain about,
because I had unlimited resources
and an amazing bike. I didn’t want to
screw the opportunity up, so I tried
not to think too much about it. I felt
that I got better and better every
race weekend, because I gained
familiarity with the bike and my
HOW MUCH DIFFERENT WAS
THE FACTORY HONDA FROM
YOUR PRIVATEER KTM? It was
a pretty big change of bikes, but I
didn’t have a huge problem adapting.
I had raced on Hondas in the past,
and it’s a bike that I have liked a lot.
Yes, it took some time for me to get
used to the Honda, but that would
have been the same even if I were
riding a stock Honda. There are
differences in the handling, engine,
and suspension. Obviously the factory
bike was much faster, but I had to
figure out different settings in the
suspension. Thankfully, I usually
adapt pretty quickly to a new bike,
so that experience helped.
WHAT GOALS DID YOU SET
FOR YOURSELF AFTER INKING
A DEAL WITH MUSCLE MILK
HONDA? Honestly, I didn’t set up
a big goal for myself. I just wanted
to see how things would go and try
not to get hurt. The last two seasons
I broke my left wrist, so I wanted
to avoid injury. Overall, I’m happy
with how things went, but naturally I
wanted to do better. As a professional
racer, you always want more.