Ben Bostrom Set for MotoGP Debut

Henny Ray Abrams | July 21, 2011

MONTEREY, CA, JULY 21 – Ben Bostrom is living the dream this weekend aboard the LCR Honda RC212V in the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix, but it’s a sleepless dream that’s kept him up at night.The 37-year-old MotoGP rookie took most of the questions in the pre-race press conference for the 10th round of the MotoGP World Championship at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Last year’s AMA Superbike race winner thanked LCR, Michael Jordan Motorsports, and American Suzuki, then spoke of what he expected of his double duty weekend.”Yeah, it’s definitely going to be a big weekend,” he said on a stage he shared with World Champions Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo, and Nicky Hayden. “Just walking up those stairs is pretty special. It’s an honor to sit with these guys. And actually, even have a little name tag right here. I took a photo myself to try to believe that.”It’s really an honor. Very lucky with LCR Honda. I’ve got to thank them with MJ, I mean Michael Jordan Motorsports. The collaboration between the two and even American Suzuki for allowing the opportunity. I want to go out there and twist the thing. It’s so exciting to get a new toy to ride.”Bostrom added that it was “a dream come true. Honestly, I watch these guys because I TiVo every race and I’m becoming more and more a fan as I get older¸ which is strange. I didn’t love motorcycles as much several years ago. Every day, maybe because you see the end coming more, I’m an uberfan. What can I say? So I’m there like glued to it.”And what he saw made him re-think the weekend.”Obviously, just because I’m watching every lap from the Sachsenring and saw the boys ride and go, ‘I don’t know if I can match them.’ You can see the aggression in their riding,” he said. “We’ll just do our best and it’s a dream come true to ride the 800. I know that they’re going to the 1000s, so it’ll definitely be one of the last opportunities I ever have, and maybe the only one. so it’s cool.”Bostrom has a winning record at Laguna Seca, having won World Superbike, AMA Superbike, Formula Xtreme, and Supersport race. He said that “when you’re going fast it really comes easy.” But when you fight it it “feels like 100 laps. And the next time you get off the bike and you can do another 100 laps. It’s very strange here. All these guys know it’s a special track. I think there’s a lot of good energy from it. It’s in the hills. It’s a place not too far from where I actually grew up. I kinda feel the energy of the people and I try to do the best for them.”Bostrom joked that has ridden an 800 here, “it was an 883 Harley and I was nervous then, too. I think I’ve won on about every bike, but never an 800. I know that I’ve seen these guys ride. It’s pretty awesome. It’s definitely the pinnacle of the sport. It’s just an honor. You’re always nervous. If you’re not nervous there’s something wrong. You’ve got to be a little bit intimidated. It’s not every day you have this opportunity. You just go out there and you put your head down. You don’t try to do anything different than you normally do. The same way you race your bicycle against some of the strong guys that are pros and heroes as well; you just put your head down and hope you hang on for that draft or they crack and that’s the only shot you’ve got.”Bostrom was asked which bike would produce the faster lap time, the prototype RC212V or the Superstock-spec Suzuki GSX-R1000?”I tell you, it better be the MotoGP machine,” he said. “Big difference. The Superbike is 17-inch front tires and they’re pretty standard rules. You will that bike around this track. You’re literally out there just flogging the thing. Actually the GP bike, it looks like it’s going to roll around at that speed, then you got to will it around the track. You see these guys fighting it because it’s a whole new level. I think the hard part will be getting used to the slicks. I think it’s more like a slot car.”Having arrived typically late, Bostrom had yet to meet with the team, and therefore couldn’t discuss strategy with the team or teammate Toni Elias. He compared Elias’s situation to his own, saying, “I’ve been in his situation, I think all year, it seems like, and my teammate Roger’s [Hayden] been beating up on me pretty bad. Sometimes you just need that little carrot, you know, a little help on the set-up, that little carrot to chase. I might be chasing him, he might be chasing me. Regardless, if you have a guy on the same bike within 10 feet of you in the garage, that’s the first race. And then you overcome the next one after that. I think Toni [Elias] will the same way. I think it should elevate both of us.”As for jumping from the Superbike to the RC212V, Bostrom said he thought about it “maybe a 1000 times last night laying in bed, staring at the ceiling. In the past I’ve ridden a 600 and the 883 together. And then one year we did three classes, here; the Superbike, 750 and 600. Your just kind of hellbent to win everything you’re on. I imagine the difference won’t be too bad other than trying to get used to the fast forward motion that these things tend to put you through. The boys go fast and just trying to get your brain up to speed. That’s going to be the most difficult. I think the bike itself is probably quite good.”

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.