At the tender age of 20 the Costa Rican born Ernesto Fonseca has already accomplished what most pro riders only dream of. In his rookie pro year Ernesto demolished the AMA 125 Eastern Supercross series by claiming victory to five out of the six races held that season. As quickly as Ernesto rose to the top of his class, he fell. With a disappointing 2000 EA SX season Ernesto struggled to maintain his title and captured only one victory for the season. As the 2001 season rolled in Ernesto found himself on top of the podium again wining the AMA Western 125 Supercross title. His second title in three years! Now, joined with his former teammate Nathan Ramsey, his mechanic Kenny G. and long time team manager Eric Kehoe, Ernesto is part of the most talked about team in the history of the sport. Read on and find out where this young champion finds himself in the sea of red.
TransWorld Motocross: How did you wind up riding for Honda?
Ernesto Fonseca: Well, I talked to Jeremy McGrath a few times and he wanted me to ride for his team, and so did Yamaha. Then Johnny O’Mara called me one day and said, “How would you like to ride for factory Honda?” I said I would love to but I think those guys are full. I thought Yogi was going to ride for them. I had talked to Chuck Miller a little bit and he thought that everybody was signed. As far as I knew I was going to ride for Jeremy. Then Honda made me an offer, and I took it to Jeremy and Larry Brooks and asked them if they could come back with something, (laughs) and they said take the Honda deal. Its kind of funny the way it happened because I have always wanted to ride for Honda, but I thought I was going to ride for Yamaha in 02.
TWMX: I had heard you were talking to Suzuki is that true?
EF: It was just talk. It never got past that.
TWMX: Honda is the most established team in MX history. Are you nervous?
EF: I think its a lot better than what people think. The environment is great. Honda works real hard and I think we definitely have the best bikes. I am confident we have a good team. Everybody gets along real good so we should not have any problems.
TWMX: Is there any pressure coming from YOT to Honda?
EF: The whole team is strong. Ricky is the champ of course. He will probably have the most pressure because he was the guy hired to win. We all are going to try to win. I want to do well, but I know it is going hard because it’s a tough class.
TWMX: How will having Nate Ramsey, Kenny G. and Eric Kehoe from YOT help you to feel at home?
EF: Having those guys around makes it that much better. I have raced for Eric ever since I came here. He is the only team manager I have ever had.
TWMX: Did they influence you to ride red or did you influence them? EF: I did not know that Eric was going to be the team manager until the day they announced it! Nate was the first to sign. Everybody thought that I was going to ride for Factory Connection, but I wanted to ride Factory Honda.
TWMX: Tell us about your relationship with your mechanic Kenny G.
EF: We have a really good relationship. He of course helps me with the bike, but he also helps me around the house with stuff I need to fix. He is not only my mechanic but he is my friend. He knows exactly how the bike needs to be set up. When we are testing if I can’t explain what I need, he knows. He makes my job a lot easier.
TWMX: Do you have a good relationship with RC?
EF: Ricky is hard at times but that is the way he is. He is a good teammate to have. He is real competitive. He does not want to lose at anything. We used to race each other at Loretta Lynn’s. I stayed with him a few times and we have some good stories about when we used to ride with his mom. She would make us ride in the rain and use 10 gallons of gas! But that is why he is so good.
TWMX: Will you ride the CRF450R in competition in 02?
EF: We haven’t talked about it, but I want to stick with the CR250R.
TWMX: It’s no secret that Hondda is working on a 250 version of the CRF. Will you help in the development?
EF: I don’t know anything about that bike. I would be glad to help them with it though!
TWMX: Why did Honda put you on the 250cc two-stroke with all your 4 stroke experience?
EF: It was my decision. The CRF450R is a handful!
TWMX: Is it hard for you mentally to see yourself dicing with Jeremy and Ricky?
EF: I know its going to be hard. It’s a tough class. Even Ricky had a tough time his first year. I don’t think he broke the top five and he took a couple of good crashes. Ricky and Jeremy are going to up there and there are a lot of other guys that could get in there, too. You need to do 20 laps with a good pace without crashing. I’m going to take it slow and try to improve as the year goes on. It’s going to take me some time to get to the pace that those guys are riding.
TWMX: Why is outdoor motocross harder for you?
EF: I don’t know. Maybe because I grew up racing real tight stuff. I never had the experience riding big tracks. I think I am getting better at it though. Soon I will be as fast as Langston, Brown, Ricky and Ferry.
TWMX: How do you feel about your new teammate Woody Woodpecker?
EF: We have a good time every time he is around. It’s fun to watch him do all the funny stuff.
TWMX: Any last shout outs?
EF: Yeah. I want to thank Factory Honda for giving me the chance!