Rick: Chad, you won the 125 East Championship, dominating it in 2002. You said you couldn’t wait to race the 250 class full-time. Now you are there on the YZ 250 two-stroke with Team Yamaha. You have fulfilled a lot of the goals you set for yourself in racing already. What are your thoughts about 2003?
Chad: I feel good. Our bikes are even better than all of us thought they would be.
In testing I’ve tried a lot of new stuff, but I’ve always come back to my original settings. The bikes are that good, and I’m confident.
I have a bunch of people I surround myself with, and they are good people. We have a great team, things will be exciting, and I’m looking forward to it.
|125 East winner|
Rick: Is being on the factory team with Yamaha what you expected it to be?
Chad: It’s really good. I rode the 450 in the beginning, but after the World Cup I switched to the 250. I started with old settings straight from David Vuillemin’s race bikes. By riding the 450 first, I was able to experience some different things, and then getting on the two-stroke, which I really wanted to do, was even better.
Rick: Have you personally made any changes for 2003 that are different from what you did in 2002?
Chad: Well, the biggest changes obviously are moving up to the 250 class, and changing teams. I’ve made some small changes in my training program. Everything is going very well right now, and I’m looking forward to 2003. I love riding the bike, and I really want to win. When I’m on the bike, I’m having fun. And that’s what I like most about racing, enjoying myself, riding a bike I feel really comfortable on, and having fun.
|125 East Champ!|
Rick: You work with a great trainer – Jeff Spencer. He’s worked with so many great riders, and great athletes, from Tiger Woods to Lance Armstrong. What’s your training program like?
Chad: Besides the physical training, Jeff helps with emotional support as well. We have a good relationship.
I met Jeff as a result of an injury. I believe things are meant to happen for a reason. My injury wasn’t a good thing, but meeting Jeff was. He’s a great guy. I’m sure you know that, having worked with him as well. I believe he’s a step above everyone else.
Jeff has so much knowledge and experience, and he wants to win as much as anyone. He hates losing as much as I do (laughs).
Rick: How much stronger mentally and physically do you feel for 2003 compared to 2002?
|Chad’s 2003 YZ 250|
Chad: I feel a lot stronger in all facets. I took a two week break, since after Steel City I went straight to testing at the Yamaha track. I comfortable and rested. I’m enjoy riding the bikes, and it’s great that we have all of our testing out of the way. We have our race bikes built and ready to go.
Rick: Is Ricky Carmichael like Superman right now?
Chad: I don’t think anybody is Superman. Even if anyone was Superman, we would all still be out there racing and battling. We all have our good moments, and we all have our bad moments.
I’m looking forward to racing with Ricky, and with everyone else.
Rick: Everyone gets really pumped up at the start of a new season. Going into that first round at Anaheim, what are you comfortable with as a result, and making it safely into round 2?
Chad: It’s only one round of 16, but definitely my number one priority is to win. I’m not putting in all this hard work with Yamaha for nothing. We will show up and be ready to fight.
The goal is to be like Ricky – in the hunt every weekend. Be strong mentally and physically. Compete. Be on the podium. If I can’t win that first race, I’ll be mad and go home and work harder for the next week.
Rick: Do you keep score in your mind on who has made the really tough and aggressive passes? Ricky made an aggressive move on you at the US Open. Do you owe him one now?
Chad: I’d probably say he’s one up on me. He made the final pass, and he finished one position ahead of me. But the US Open doesn’t really mean too much. It’s only one race, so much is happening, and it’s a really tight track. That’s just what you have to do on the track. Doesn’t matter all that much that it was Ricky. It could be LaRocco or Ferry or anyone. I want to win, and if I’m going to do that, then I’ll have to pass them at some point.
2003 should be more of the same. No one bothers me or scares me. I want to race, and win. I’m sure lots of other guys feel the same way too.