David Vuillemin spoke with Supercross.com about why he left as team manager of the MotoConcepts supercross / motocross race team. Here’s what DV had to say…
You recently left your position at MotoConcepts as the Team Manager, why did you make that decision?
I was ready to work with their “future rider” (Editor’s note: We believe the rider is Mike Alessi) in our program and help him improve his supercross skills and become a top 5 contender again. We would budge on the brand of the bike (Suzuki) and some other wishes the rider wanted. But I still wanted to have some control and some say on the program to continue our good work we’ve been doing for a year. Everything was agreed around Pala National to go ahead and do the deal, but it didn’t go thru after all. The rider and the family wanted way more control on everything. At that point, I told Mike Genova (Team Owner) if he wanted to give them all the control, I could not stay in the position just to wear a team shirt and watch someone else run the team. The deal was then off the table, and we started looking at other options by sending offers to a few other riders, but after the Monster Cup, Sunday night, Mike Genova decided to go back and give the rider and his family what they wanted.
Photo courtesy Cycle News
What are your thoughts on the direction the team is taking?
I don’t agree it’s the way to go, because this future rider’s program hasn’t delivered as it should have in the last few years. I believe our 2011 program (with some changes) could have helped this rider turn things around, but they weren’t willing to change and wanted to keep it their way.
Is the team planning on staying on Yamaha or switching manufactures?
As far as I know, the rider only wants to ride a Suzuki, but Jake Canada, who already signed a LOI (Letter Of Intent) and a contract, was told he was riding a Honda. So I don’t know how they are going to work that out.
How was the team owner Mike Genova involved in this decision?
Mike Genova was involved 100% in the decision. He feels that it’s going to be the best program for his team and his company. Mike is a passionate and emotional guy. He’s disapointed that he has been spending millions of dollars in the last few years and is still paying for bikes and parts. He feels he doesn’t get the respect he deserves. He’s getting only 10 – 15% in sponsorship money of the overall budget of the team and he feels this new program will bring him more support, more sponsorship money and the image/reputation of the rider will make him sell more MotoConcepts products.
Sponsorship is important in motor sports. How important is it in the Supercross and Motocross industry how does it effect the operations of Moto Concepts?
You have to understand that no teams are making money in this sport. A MX/SX race team is a money hole. You have the factories that are spending money every year and are some are lucky to have a big check from an energy drink sponsor. It’s the only way they still can pay the Bubba, RV, Dungey etc … And you have the wealthy, passionate owners that do it for a hobby and somehow a tax write off that are blowing money to go racing with a small amount of support. The financial situation of our sport is really precarious.
DV at Pala Raceway
What do you think is the financial heath of our industry coming into 2012?
It’s really bad. The top guys are still making decent money, but it’s really tough for the rest. If tomorrow the energy drinks leave our sport, the financial level of our sport will go back 25 years in terms of salary. A top rider in 2012, without energy drinks, would make as much as a factory rider in 1985. Our sport isn’t doing well!
You did a great job this year with the team, you looked like you had a lot of fun. If the opportunity arrises would you take another position as a team manager for another team? Ã‚Â
I had a lot of fun and I was involved 200% in my job. My job was my #1 priority. We had a tough year with injuries, but when everything clicked we did pretty good. You have to remember the crew at MotoConcepts was really limited. We had 3 mechanics for 3 riders, a truck driver and myself. It goes without saying that I had a lot on my plate, I did everything myself except work on bikes and drive the semi and got it done, even if I had to do up to 16 hours a day. No matter – I had fun with it!
As of now what are your plans for the future?
I don’t have any plans right now. There is a possibility to stay on board at MotoConcepts, but I am not sure that’s what I want to do nor if it’s the best for me. I am open to anything at this point. I was lucky enough to have raced in the best financial days of our sport and I am in a position where I can be patient and accept a position I will enjoy, not necessarily the highest paying job. What would be fun for me is to take a 5th to 10th place rider, and work with him like I did with Gautier Paulin, Kyle Chisholm and turn him to a podium guy.
I’d like to thank all the people for the support I received on Twitter (@DavidVuillemin), Facebook, by email and by text, it means a lot to me…