Roger De Coster, Team Manager & more for the American Suzuki Rockstar / Makita Supercross team, talks about the 2009 Supercross Series, and his team’s hunt for two possible Supercross Championships this season.
Amanda: Roger, Suzuki is in line for two potential Supercross championships, with 250cc West Lites rider Ryan Dungey, and 450cc Supercross rider Chad Reed. What are your thoughts right now as team manager?
Roger De Coster: Just a little bit concerned about Chad … because last weekend was the first time he didn’t get on the podium the enyire season, and he had little bit of bad luck in the Main. He got hit by another rider that spun sideways and he ended up on the ground after only going a few feet out of the gate. He was not 100 percent and if that had happened on a normal day and when he’s is at his full potential, then I think he would have recovered back to a podium position. But he only managed to make it back to 7th. And so, I’m a little bit concerned about that. With Ryan, you know, it looks really good. But it is a motor sport, so things can happen. Either way.
Amanda: I was gonna ask you specifically about that crash with Chad. Our photographer got a good picture of him hitting his head pretty hard in the main event. Is Chad okay?
Roger: Yeah, I talked to him late in the night after that. We discussed what can be done, and what we have to do, and he seemed to be fine. He seemed to not have any problem with his head from that crash.
I don’t think he had a concussion or anything like that. And, he is a tough man. He has lost some weight and, hasn’t been 100%, but I believe he is pretty much getting past that.
Amanda: The problem with weight, do you think it’s from stress? Is it a health issue?
Roger: I don’t think it was from stress. Although, you know, obviously stress has to be there when you are contesting for a supercross title whether you’re aware of it or not. You know there is some stress on you, but Chad doesn’t seem to be affected by stress that much from what I can see. He did have some stomach flu or something. So he couldn’t keep food down for awhile there and that’s why he lost weight.
Amanda: I’m glad he’s feeling better. How will you and your team approach the next 2 weekends? What do you tell Chad and the rest of the team?
Roger: Same like every race – you look at what you can do to give the support that the rider is looking for. Then our job is to tailor the bike to be the best possible for the track and the rider’s liking. We offered to do a lot of testing this week for Chad (because of last week’s results) but he choose not to because he felt it was just him and it was not the bike.
Amanda: What about Ryan? How are you approaching this next weekend?
Roger: We’re trying the situation a little bit different now. Ryan isn’t in a ‘must-win’ situation. If he finishes 5th or better, then that’s enough to take the title. It’s mainly trying to stay focused and not make any big mistakes, and of course not do something stupid in practice or during the race and throw it away.
Amanda: Suzuki’s doing great this year. How do you feel as the team manager? I mean, you must be very proud, kind of like a dad and having his kids grow up.
Roger: I’m very happy with the way the team has done and so on. And with the bad news about the economy we all have to do some cutting back and try to save money, but it’s really good to see that Supercross has done really well. The fans, they must really care and attending must high on the important things to do for them, because the fans have been better than several of the past years. I think that is also due to that the racing – it has been so close. The Supercross championship has been very close from the beginning between Stewart and Reed. We also Dungey and Weimer in the West Supercross Lites also.
I’m happy for Suzuki that we’re doing so good and hopefully when I must look at what our budget is going to be, hopefully he (the big boss) sends some sympathy to us and not cut us too much, you know? (Smiles)
Amanda: Hopefully! Now speaking of budgets, there was word that Chad wanted to race the outdoors? … any word?
Roger: I always would have liked him to ride outdoors but with the supercross schedule in Australia it makes it difficult. Australian supercross starts this fall so he didn’t think that it was a good idea. In Italy however, he made some comments that he may be interested in doing it. So who knows. For now though, we want to stay focused on Supercross and as soon as that is done we will make a decision and see what we can do.
Amanda: Well, good luck to you Roger, and your riders and Suzuki. The next couple weeks should be interesting …
Roger: Okay, Amanda. Thank you.