Roger in the control tower.
WE’RE ALMOST AT THE END OF THE 2013 SEASON. WHAT IS YOUR FEELING ABOUT THE RESULTS THIS YEAR?
As a team I think we did quite well. We have three riders with the possibility of five championships; three in Supercross and two in Motocross. Out of those five everybody ended up on the podium. We got one championship, two second places and two third places. Overall I’m really happy but I’m a bit disappointed that we lost the Lites Championship outdoors because Ken [Roczen] was in a controlling position for three quarters of the series and then he had that crash in Millville and after that it went downhill. He still had the speed but he struggled in the second motos. In Salt Lake City he had a fifteen second lead with three laps to go but Eli [Tomac] caught and passed him. Anyway, it was a good season and we are already working hard for next year.
YOU MUST BE HAPPY WITH THE EVOLUTION OF KEN ROCZEN AND MARVIN MUSQUIN IN 250 SUPERCROSS
Roczen ended up beating Eli for the 250 West Coast Supercross title and Marvin came really close to winning the East Coast. He took four races and didn’t do so well in the first one; that’s where he lost the championship basically. In the final round he was just a bike length away at the flag and we missed it by one point.
In the 450 Supercross class Ryan Villopoto was really strong this year. ?Our’ Ryan tried but Villopoto and the Kawasaki guys were a bit better than us.
With five World Championships to his credit as a rider, Roger could have rested on his laurels 35 years ago.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE BIKES? YOU HAD EXPERIMENTS WITH THE AIR SHOCK AND OTHER NEW THINGS THIS PAST SEASON
I think I have to blame Villopoto for that! He was very strong and his team was really good. We needed to go to another level. We had an issue with the rear air shock. Ryan really liked the feel of it, but there was a worry over the reliability of the seals when we did the tests at that stage. So we went back to the conventional springs. It was a bit of a bummer. Actually Ryan won the Supercross the day that we had the air shock problem.
I think our bike was better than the competition in quite a few places, but there were also one or two areas where we were behind. Overall I think our bikes were capable of victory and Ryan won races both indoors and outdoors. Our 250 guys also won both indoors and out. The bikes were not perfect, but good enough to do the job.
WHAT AREA HAVE YOU PINPOINTED FOR IMPROVEMENT IN 2014?
We are focusing on suspension and we will be better there. I’m sure. The competition will always be working on their weak points also. In racing things tend to look ?greener on the other side of the fence’ but everybody has their own problems and struggles.
Always in demand.
ARE YOUR HAPPY WITH WHAT HAS HAPPENED SINCE YOU CAME TO KTM?
I’m really happy with the response from Austria. They work hard and they take input. I know that in Europe KTM has dominated for several years, but in the U.S. that was never the case. Now we are part of the main group and one of the three main teams. We want to get better and it would be nice to be as strong as we are in Europe, but in a way it is more difficult in the U.S. because you have two championships in the same year. It is tricky to do very much testing or make improvements when you are racing every week.
MANY FANS DON’T UNDERSTAND THE DEMANDS OF RACING 32 WEEKENDS OF THE YEAR.
I have pushed my people as much as humanly possible. A lot of the guys work seven days a week, 10 to 12 hours a day. At some point you need to give the crew a break and hopefully after the Monster Cup we can take a few days off and recharge to get ready for next year.
DO YOU STILL STILL HAVE THE FIRE TO KEEP GOING AT 69 YEARS OLD?
I get a lot of satisfaction when I see that I can make a difference or get the level a little bit higher or help a rider reach his potential sooner; it is a really good feeling for me and I really enjoy what I do. I’m going to keep going for a while.
Photos: Ray Archer/Copy: KTM blog