MXA INTERVIEW: FREDDIE NOREN IS MAKING THE MOST OF HIS FACTORY FILL-IN RIDE
It’s no secret that Sweden’s Freddie Noren was having a bit of a tough go while he traveled as a privateer through the 2019 Outdoor Nationals. At least until his standout ride at the hot and humid WW Ranch National in Jacksonville, Florida. It was there that JGR approached him, and a few days later he was onboard the injured Justin Hill’s bike. Since then, the 27-year-old has been enjoying the factory lifestyle of flying to races and having long time JGR wrench Ben Schiermeyer taking care of his motorcycle. We recently got a few minutes to talk to Freddie, who is now ninth in the 450 Championship points standings after Washougal.
By Jim Kimball
FREDDIE, LET’S BEGIN WITH YOUR PRIVATEER DAYS THIS SUMMER LEADING UP TO GETTING THE JGR RIDE, WERE YOU THINKING OF PULLING THE PLUG ON YOUR RACING THE OUTDOOR NATIONALS? I love racing and it is in my blood, so not racing for me is hard. We started out the year being privateer, obviously. I rode really well, and had good results and some bad as well, but yeah, it was really getting to me there for a little bit before Florida. An axle blew out on the camper while we were driving a lot and trying to figure everything out. It was definitely difficult for my wife Amy and I. Then I was wrenching on the bike during the week and all of that, so it was hard. It was definitely a blessing from God that this opportunity came about. Jeremy Albrecht and Buddy Antunez came up at Florida and asked if I was interested in a fill-in ride. Now I have everything on a silver platter pretty much, the best of the best. All the guys are awesome, so it definitely brought back the fun. Like I said, I love Motocross, but it was definitely very difficult before JGR.
TRAVELING ACROSS THE COUNTRY AS A PRIVATEER IS NOT AS GLAMOROUS AS MANY MAKE IT OUT TO BE, IS IT? No, it is definitely not, I mean looking from the outside in, we had a really nice set up, a nice camper and what not, and a lot of great sponsors, but it is still tough being two people, trying to run everything. It was very difficult, but I would do it again. I don’t want to sound too negative. It was awesome and got me this ride as well. It was good, but looking from the outside in, it maybe looks easier than it is. I think that goes for everything though. Seeing these guys maybe looks easy, but there is still a lot of work and there are a lot more people.
YOU RODE PARTICULARILY WELL AT THE FLORIDA NATIONAL WHEN YOU FINISHED NINTH, WHEN DID JGR APPROACH YOU? It was after the second moto when I was getting dressed. I was pretty slow getting changed because it was so difficult racing in that heat and humidity. But I was getting changed by my camper when J-Bone (Jeremy Albrecht) and Bud Man (Buddy Antunez) came up. I had a good day in Florida, so it worked out well.
Before the JGR team picked him up, Freddie was traveling to the races with only his wife and their new baby daughter. At the first few rounds, he had help from friends throughout race day, but at the Florida National he didn’t have any help. So his wife Amy went to the starting line and did his pit board, while Amy’s Mom babysat their daughter at the race.
YOU MUST BE VERY FIT TO HAVE DONE SO WELL IN FLORIDA. Leading up to the season we were based in South Carolina. We lived in our fifth wheel trailer for three years, so we have been on the road a lot. But, coming into Florida, we had just drove from the West Coast rounds in a travel trailer. We borrowed my mother-in-law’s camper, so in a sense took a step back. I planned more as far as my riding and training went. I tried to get more quality rather than quantity out of my training. So I think that definitely helped me not get burned out in a sense. Where now with JGR, when I have a little more time, so I can start picking up some training, and riding without wearing myself out in the same time. My wife is a big planner, so we had a schedule all laid out.
SOME OF US EXPECTED HONDA TO CONTACT YOU AFTER COLE SEELY WAS INJURED, AFTER YOU HAD FILLED IN THERE BEFORE, AND WERE RIDING A PRIVATEER HONDA, BUT THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN DID IT? I have always had a good relationship with all the Honda guys, and I was talking to them, asking “Hey, what is going on?” and just at that point, they did not have any answers about what was going to happen. And they have not done anything yet either with the bike. I told them that I got an offer from JGR, so everyone knew about it and we were pretty open with them. I definitely had been trying to talk to them.
HAVING YOUR BASE IN SOUTH CAROLINA IS NOT TOO FAR AWAY FROM THE JGR GUYS.Yes, it works out really well. Where I was staying, I had just moved in with Isaac Teasdale. He is under the rig at JGR too. He has an apartment and we can stay with him now, we are only about 25-minutes from the shop and then about 45-50 minutes to their track, so it is close. But I was pretty close before that too, about one and a half hours. It was not bad at all.
YOU GOT ADJUSTED TO THE SUZUKI PRETTY QUICK DIDN’T YOU? Yes, I went, and test rode the bike on Monday after the Florida National, and it was a great bike. I got comfortable on that bike right away and I would say that I really worked well with it. Then, with these guys being able to fine tune it , that was really good as well. It was not really hard to get comfortable. It is a really good bike and I was pumped on that.
DID IT CONCERN YOU THAT THE SUZUKI GETS BAGGED ON A BIT FOR BEING DATED? I think people get this idea from other people (laughing) rather than trying it themselves, but I was really happy with the bike. It corners and handles really well and has good power also, so it has a lot of those good characteristics to it, and it is an easy handling bike. I only had two days on the bike before Southwick and I had my best results of this year at that race. I think it is a great bike, but people just listen to what others say. Someone says something and then they get their opinion from that person only, and I don’t think that is accurate. I think the bike is good.
All privateers dream of having the fill-in ride opportunity that Freddie currently has. Now it’s up to Freddie to show the JGR team that he is worthy of earning a full-time contract for the 2020 season.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST CHANGE SINCE JOINING JGR? We are flying in and out to the races right now, and Ben is wrenching on the bike on the weekend and practice days. I’m pretty much riding, training and recovering right now. It is awesome. I am not complaining. Someone else is doing all the other work with driving and all of that, so that’s a huge difference. I can get used to this (laughing).
YOU MENTIONED YOUR MECHANIC BEN. HE HAS BEEN WITH JGR FOR SOME TIME NOW AND WORKED WITH MANY GREAT RIDERS, HOW HAS HE HELPED YOU? I think Ben is awesome. He is definitely a personality that I enjoy being around. I am pretty quiet. I don’t talk a whole lot, I would say, and he is very calm in the same sense. So, it is nice to have a guy like that who is not super hyper and what not. He is definitely a calm, cool and collected guy who works well with my personality, so he has been awesome. We have only really worked for a couple of weeks, so I look forward to seeing our relationship grow.
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON? I want to be a top five guy. I want to get on that podium. I never had a podium here in America, so it is definitely a goal I want to achieve. I would think that I have all the opportunities and capabilities to do it, being with these guys. So that is really what I am aiming for. Be more consistently a top five guy and then get a podium, that would be awesome.