Despite not yet having landed a podium finish at the first two Supercross races at Anaheim and Phoenix, TwoTwo Motorsports Honda's Chad Reed says everything, so far, has been a positive experience, and he feels that a top-three finish, if not a win, is right around the corner - at round three at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, perhaps? We caught up with Reed today at Dodger Stadium and got his thoughts on the last two Supercross rounds, where he went 5-4, and the season so far.You have two races under your belt now, how do you feel the way things have gone for you and the team?
Everything has been good, really, really positive. It's been a fun experience. Each time out, I've learned something, and each time out we've made progress, and everything has run smoothly. We're continuing to grow as a team, so overall it's been very positive for me and the team. Result-wise, not amazing, but I've come off the track knowing where we can be better and put plans into place to be better in those areas. Each week I feel like we've taken those steps forward. I'm excited to go racing this weekend. I feel like I'm going to be close this weekend. The starts are going to be important, but overall I feel more comfortable.Now that you're in racing mode, do you feel any more or less pressure being a team owner and racer?
Who can put more pressure on you than yourself? At the end of the day, the pressure comes from you, you understand what it takes to go racing and believing that you have all of the elements to win races and championships. I expect to win, I expect to be on the podium, I expect to win the championship. No team manager - nine times out of 10 - they've never been in your position before, so they are just a yes guy anyway, they get paid to be in that positions, they're really not qualified for it, so, there's no team manager or race team that has put pressure on me to win races.
There are no parts on your bike that anyone cannot go out and buy themselves. Is your Honda competitive against the factory-backed bikes?
My bike is 100 percent competitive. I think it's a great motorcycle. I think this week, I'm much, much more comfortable with it. We've had a little something missing, I struggled a little bit with a few things at the first two races that were hard to identify a little bit and get after it, but I feel we've made some big gains. Yesterday, I didn't leave the test track until six o'clock, it was dark. I've won a lot of racing on five-o'clock settings, and yesterday we came up with a good five-o'clock setting, so I'm looking forward this weekend.
When it comes to testing, what have you been focusing on mostly, suspension?
Yes, mainly suspension, I had a new engine and pipe combo for Phoenix and I'm super happy with how that is. I haven't done any motor testing or anything to do with the engine this week. I think my engine is probably the best 450 engine I've ever had. I think it's very close - the character - to my (2009) Suzuki engine; we all know that was my favorite bike, so I feel like we're really close engine-wise. Suspension, we're really close this week.
Are you satisfied with your riding right now?
The first two races I felt frustrated, because I wasn't able to do some things as clean or as consistent as I wanted, but that's kind of normal at the beginning of the season. You spend four months of Supercross testing and you end up at the first round and you try to re-invent the wheel. I've seen it a thousands times, I've done it myself, and I've also been in the position where I have been comfortable, and have been in the position where we leave the first race really comfortable. Not often does that happen. Then you [leave] the west coast and you're not that comfortable in the east, so I think overall, it's been a good experience. I think we've had to earn every position I've had to race for so far. I think when you earn things the right way, at the end of the day, it's a far bigger reward.
You had a good race with Ryan Dungey last week at Phoenix.
If you call a good race following the leader. The racetracks have been difficult to pass on. Very typical for baseball stadiums, they don't create the best of racing - there are a lot of 90-degree turns, not a lot of 180s, we're out west, where the dirt is a little hard and slick, but this has been typical over the years. But it felt great to pass him, I made a mistake and he passed me, and then I passed him right back. I felt my speed against him and fitness against him was on par if not better. I feel good about it
At the beginning of the season you said that James Stewart, Ryan Dungey, Ryan Villopoto and yourself would be the top guys battling and, so far, you have been correct. What do you think of the competition now that you've raced against them twice?
Right from the beginning I said there would be four guys, and Trey [Canard] would be the wild card. October or November, I was out at the [Honda] test track with Trey, and I knew Trey was fast, and he's being consistent this year, as well. I think he's a great kid, has a good head on his shoulders, he's got good people around him. Honda has a really good program this year. I've been critical toward their program over the years, and I just felt that their bike was a long way off from everybody else's, but they've really stepped up their program and that's good, it puts another manufacturer, another player, in the hunt. They really haven't been in the hunt or looked very strong since RC [Ricky Carmichael] left, so I'm excited for them and their company, obviously being on a Honda we reap the benefits from that a little bit. We get to ride the test track with Trey and see how comfortable he is, see how fast he is in other areas, and we get to directly work on being as good as him or even better.
You haven't been getting the best of starts, what are your thoughts on that?
Starts are everything and I knew that coming into the season. Technically I'm fine, it's just I've got to be consistent with the technique and doing it. Switching and jumping around bikes for the last four years doesn't help. You don't know what to expect sometimes. You have to learn the motorcycle - learning that it's going to do one particular thing, it's not going to wheelie on me, it's not going to spin, just understanding the bike is the key.
We also spoke with TwoTwo Motorsports Honda's Dave Osterman, the team's manager. Osterman was also the team manager for Yamaha of Troy and has worked with many other teams, including Pro Circuit. He has also wrenched for such riders as Mike Bell and Broc Glover. Osterman was chosen by Reed to manage the team and officially went to work in November, not much time to start a team from scratch.Dave OstermanWhat do you think of the team's progress so far?
It's going good, I know people expect you to say it's going good, but truthfully, everything is going really smooth. No iceburgs yet. We're testing; we're doing a lot of what I would call catch up. Everyone has danced with their partner before, we haven't. It's not that we're stepping on one another's toes, but we haven't had the chance to dance with one another before. Chad hadn't raced a Honda but that one time in Australia [before the Supercross opener], and now he's leaner and meaner and now we are too. There was no time [before Anaheim I], when I came on board, so it's been a roller-coaster. But it's been nice, I don't have to baby sit anybody, decisions are made, and decisions are carried out, it's probably one of the smoother deals that I've been involved in thus far.
How has it been working with Chad?
Chad is really easy to work with. He's really professional, it's amazing how laid back he is, I guess when he puts his helmet on, that's when the animal comes out. He's really mellow, his wife is mellow, everyone in the group is professional. He did a good job picking his crew. Everybody is rolling this thing forward.
Are you satisfied with the bike?
The engine package we have from PC is phenomenally good, and he feels comfortable, but we're doing a few tweaks. Let's face it, there are a few tweaks, but I think for where we are at, it's good.