Photography By: Shan Moore
The reigning Grand National Cross Country Champion started out last year's season with a win streak, and though the start of this Can-Am GNCC season hasn't been quite as strong for Josh Strang, the Suzuki rider is quickly gaining momentum. It took three rounds to land his first win, and to move into the points lead, but the FMF/Makita Suzuki rider is hoping to stay in the points lead and successfully defend his number-one plate.
It's not common to see a GNCC racer at a track in Southern California, but that's where Strang can usually be found. We caught up with the Aussie at Glen Helen Raceway for a quick chat about his season so far.
Three rounds into the GNCC season, how are things going for you so far?
Pretty good. I just moved into the points lead so that's a good thing. The last race went well. I felt good the whole race and I was actually pretty lucky to get a win there in the end, but I'll take it. The first two rounds went alright - just working the bugs out. Looking back, I think last year I was pretty lucky to get the first four wins in a row. I was a little disappointed when I didn't win the first two this year, but it's a long season. I'm happy with our progress and I was happy with the win at Steele Creek and I feel good now.
Why does it work to be out on the west coast training moto when you're an east-coast off-road racer?
I don't know; it just works for me. I enjoy doing it. This is where the industry's at and it's good for me to be here as well. As far as the riding being good, I think being here is the best thing for my career at the moment.
Are you still training 100% moto?
Yeah, especially now the rain's probably stopped for the year. I went out to the hills a couple times with the rain and it was fun! Now that the rain's stopped, it'll probably be end of the hill riding - too dry.
How does riding track help you prepare for ruts and roots and stuff?
There's ruts on motocross tracks. I've always been a fan of ruts. They don't bother me too much. And then the roots are something that you can see and you can either dodge or just learn how to ride them. I've been doing GNCC for five years so I'm getting used to it. I know what the tracks are like and what the different obstacles do and how to handle them.
Your team is the same as last year, but is there anything new with your program?
No, same stuff. I just keep working hard at it and try to keep winning. The goal is to win the championship at the end of the year. It's all pretty similar to last year.
Are there any rounds in particular that you're looking forward to?
Well the last one [Steele Creek] I was looking forward to. And then this next one (the Big Buck) and then Loretta's. And then there are a couple new ones which will be interesting too because they're new tracks. It'll be fun to go there. It's just fun getting back into racing again. I enjoy the racing side of things and going to the track and being in that atmosphere. It's fun so, I just like going to all of them.
Are there any other events you'll be doing this year?
I'm not sure yet. We've talked about a few things but just haven't made any commitments this year yet. The GNCC series is the only priority right now but we'll see. Maybe in the summer break I'll do some motocross or something, but I'm not sure yet.
Do you have an AMA Pro license?
Yeah. I got one last year. I did RedBud. I'll have to renew it this year.
So it's possible we'll see you at some of the outdoor nationals?
Yeah, maybe. We haven't decided. We haven't made any plans yet. It's just something I enjoy doing. If I have time in the schedule and I'm allowed to do it, I might show up to one or two. We'll see how it goes. I was also thinking of maybe going back to Australia and doing the nationals back there. Like I said, I haven't made any plans yet, so we'll see what happens.
Have you been keeping up with the Supercross championship?
Yeah, it's been exciting! [laughs] Both East and West coast Lites has been exciting and then the big class has been really good. I'm torn. I gotta root for Reedy and also Dungey at the same time.
Ah, you're torn between your countryman and your fellow Suzuki rider, aren't you?
Yeah. It would be cool to see either of them win.
So you were happy after Toronto when Reed took the points lead and Dungey took the win?
[laughs] Yeah! I was even happier the next day when I took the win and the points lead as well!