Roger DeCoster talks Pro Circuit
As evidenced by their performance in Las Vegas, the Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki team is, and has been, quite a dominant force in the Lites class of Supercross and motocross. Not only is the Pro Circuit team consistently at the top of the podium, but they supply parts and service to many other teams and riders in the Lites class. With all that in mind, we had to ask, “Does Pro Circuit have a monopoly on the Lites class?”
Rockstar Makita Suzuki team manager Roger DeCoster (above right) has had his hands full trying to wrestle wins and titles away from Mitch Payton’s Pro Circuit team, but doesn’t call it a monopoly.
“I don’t think so,” DeCoster said. “We beat them last year – both in Supercross on one coast and then in the outdoors. They’re a tough team but they’re not unbeatable; we proved that last year. PC is definitely a great team but they also start the season with four, five or six Lites guys and we usually only start with one.”
“It’s an advantage to be on a team like Pro Circuit where they have many good riders and they’re focused on one class. But it can also be a disadvantage for a particular rider. If you start the season slow or you have a dip in your season and the other guys are doing well, maybe the focus isn’t going to be on you so much – it’s going to be on the other guys.
“[Last year] we committed only to Ryan [Dungey] and all our efforts were concentrated on him and to support him and help him. There’s some advantage and some disadvantage to being on a team like Pro Circuit. I don’t think we were at a disadvantage.”
This year, the team’s Lites effort was focused solely on Austin Stroupe – a former PC rider who DeCoster felt could thrive in a different environment.
“I think [Austin] needed reinforcement and needed to feel like he really counted. When you have a big team like PC it’s very difficult to give as much attention to everyone all the time. It’s almost impossible. The guy that does good gets the most attention. The guy that does good and that is open for input and is wanting to learn is going to get the most support.”
Stroupe’s season was riddled with bad luck, unfortunately, and DeCoster saw the crash off the start in Dallas as the biggest pitfall.Photo right: Christophe Pourcel (1) and Austin Stroupe (45) battled it out in the Lites East championship.
“Things were going good; he was riding really well [in Dallas],” DeCoster recalled. “His lap times were good and Pourcel’s were not. It ended up being Pourcel and Davalos that ended up bumping in on the inside and caused the big crash off the start. Of course it’s not intentional because they took themselves down also but I think that was really bad luck for Austin because that day easily could have turned out quite different but it didn’t.”
“This sport has a lot of injuries and our main focus this year was 450 and we were lucky enough to win that. I’m pretty happy with the season and bummed out that Austin got hurt and that [Jake] Moss wasn’t able to start the season like he was supposed to this season. On the other hand, Ryan [Dungey] ended up winning. It’s only happened once before with a rookie. So I’m pretty happy with our season.”
What’s next for Austin? Will he pursue another Lites championship in 2011? According to DeCoster, he doesn’t have a choice.
“I don’t think he has the option to stay in Lites... unless the rules change again. But I hope that he’s going to be back for at least half of the nationals. He’s texting me and promising me that he’s working hard and that he’s training and he’s going to come back strong and fit and I hope he will.”
Ivan Tedesco Injury Update
Factory Yamaha’s Keith McCarty doesn’t have a factory rig to hang out at, but you can usually find him floating around the pits between the San Manuel, Valli Motorsports and JGR Yamaha team rigs. We caught up with him in the Valli pits in Las Vegas, where he gave an update on Ivan Tedesco’s injuries suffered in St. Louis.
“His ribs are going to be healed as soon as whenever he can tolerate the pain,” McCarty explained. “He broke nine of them - five on one side, four on the other. He punctured a lung and I think that’s probably the part that may take a little bit longer to heal.
“He’s doing really good. He’s here and signing autographs and stuff. He’s really optimistic. But he said he really wants to be healed 100% before coming back because he doesn’t want to just ride around – you don’t get better when you’re riding around.
“With ribs, there’s not a lot of protection there for anybody. No matter how big or small they are, they’re really painful. He seemed to be in good spirits and doing real well.
And the prognosis? Will he be ready for outdoors?
“I don’t know. He said he was hoping to be ready eight weeks from the crash. He didn’t specifically say the first race or whatever but I think he’d like to race some. But only if he’s healthy enough to do well.”
Josh Demuth: AX Champion to SX
AMA Arenacross champion Josh Demuth finished up a great season and then called up his buddies at Hart & Huntington and arranged to race a few Supercross rounds just for fun. The Fun Mart KTM rider placed a season-best of 14th in Las Vegas, and talked about what else he has going on for 2010.
How did this year go for you in Arenacross?
It was great. We had one of the best years ever in Arenacross. I had a good ride with the Babbitt’s Kawasaki team. We ended up winning the championship and my team went 1-2-3 so it was great. We had an awesome team and good bikes and good people behind it. Hopefully it’s a lot of the same thing next year and I can defend my title and maybe win another one.
Are you going to do any of the outdoors?
Yeah, actually I signed a deal with Vision One Kawasaki – Billy Whitley’s team – to ride the Canadian outdoors. I’m going to be up there; I think the first race is June 6th. And then I’m also going to be doing the X Games for Hart & Huntington in Speed & Style and then the Moto X race. I’m looking forward to that because it’s always a good time – not just with the racing but to see everybody compete, the skateboarders and stuff like that. It’s the best of all the alternative sport so it’s fun to watch everybody else.
This year the X Games Moto events are going to be back at the Coliseum like the old days. That will be fun.
Yeah, that will be awesome. I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve got these really good friends [at Hart & Huntington] and they always really help me, so yeah, it’s going to be fun. I’m actually looking forward to doing the Speed & Style.
Well, we know you’ve got speed, but what’s your style?
[laughs] Not much! I’m going to go stay with Mike Mason in Reno and hopefully learn how to back flip. Right now I got a couple nac-nacs and a couple heel clickers. It’s not that good so that’s why I need to go and spend some time with someone who knows what they’re doing!
Forever a Fan Favorite: Kevin Windham
Finally, here are some interview extras with Las Vegas podium finisher, Kevin Windham (pictured right). Ryan Dungey and Chad Reed may have been out front, but the race to watch was Windham’s. The crowd was behind his every move during the main event, which K-Dub thought was the most amazing thing – the type of experience that stays with you longer than a win.
“I guess you can always think it could have been better or we could have won, but that’s what I’m going to take home. After the trophies are dusty, that stuff sticks with you for a lifetime. It really inspires me to stick around in this Supercross gig for as long as I can.”
As evidenced by the lines in the pits in Las Vegas, Windham is a clear favorite when it comes to autograph sessions. People don’t just want an autograph from K-Dub, they want an experience.
“There’s probably a time in someone’s career where you sign your name and there’s like a disconnect,” Windham said. “But now, we’re connected. I have people that come up and literally tell me stories from 16 years ago. There’s dialogue and there’s all these things that make it more than an autograph session. We’re doing photos, we’re talking about the past and it’s amazing because with such a long career, there’s so much more trials and tribulations and some of them connect with me. Some of them broke an arm, someone broke their femur, someone had a premature daughter just like me. There’s always a reason for a story. Or there’s a ride that someone watched, ‘Aw, man, I was there in ’96 and you came over the jump and you did this...’ Like I said before, that’s what it’s about.”
And it’s not just the “vet crowd” cheering for Windham. During this very post-race interview, young kids were still swarming Kevin outside the GEICO Powersports Honda rig asking for autographs.
“It’s funny because the autograph line is such a wide variety of people. A lot of time the kids will come in and they’ll have a Chad Reed or something on and they’ll say, ‘We love Chad Reed, but my dad loves you!’ or something. It’s cool. It’s a wide variety of ages. It’s a privilege of mine and something that I really look forward to at each race.”