KTM ’05 Team Intro

KTM introduced their ’05 SX/MX squad this week in Perris, CA. Red Bull/KTM’s Team Manager, Larry Brooks, had inherited last year’s squad (they had all been selected before he took over the reins), so he was particularly pleased to introduce “his” crew of riders. Of course, it’s been long known that Mike Alessi, Nathan Ramsey, Jeff Alessi, Ryan Mills, Jay Marmont, and Josh Hansen would make up the ’05 team, so the best parts of the day were seeing the U.S. debut of the ’05 KTM 250F, talking with the riders, mechanics, and KTM staff, and checking out the riders and editors teamed up for a Supermoto race on the Perris kart track afterward.

Here’s a little of what we saw and heard on Tuesday…

About KTM’s intro on the 250F to the U.S. scene, Larry Brooks had this to say, “We’re pretty excited about the bike. It’s a weapon that we’re going to use to hopefully win the 125 East and West Supercross, and the 125 outdoor series. We had a lot of luck with it in Bercy. Mike (Alessi) rode it really well over the three nights, and progressively got faster as the events went on. The guys on the GP circuit won the 125 Championship for 2004. Ben Townley won just about every moto that he competed in. We hope to do the same thing here in 2005.”

Oscar Wirdeman was hobbling around on crutches after undergoing surgery to fix a previously injured ACL that he dinged by the extreme activity of…jumping a small fence. Oscar will be turning wrenches for Josh Hansen this year. Other on-the-road mechanics include Jay Burgess (Ramsey), Jeremy Deegan (Marmont), Derek Sorenson (Mills), and Paul DeLaurier (Mike Alessi)

Five Minutes With Josh Hansen

You have plenty of time on a 250F last year, so compare the KTM to what you were riding last year.

I haven’t even really gotten to ride it yet, except for maybe three laps on Nathan’s bike the other day. They’re pretty unbelievable, though. They’re fast, and the suspension actually works good with the bike. I think they’re going to be better than my Yamahas.

We’ll see. I haven’t really started testing a whole lot with them yet just because I’ll wait until a lot of stuff’s done. I’m just riding a two-stroke 250 right now. They’re good bikes for sure, and I’m excited. It’ll be a good year for the whole team.

How hard was the switch? You’ve been a Yamaha guy forever.

It’s definitely hard. I’d ridden Yamahas ever since I started. This year, switching up, I never thought I’d ever be on KTM.   It worked out, and actually, I couldn’t be in a better place. The team works so good, and Larry Brooks, the guy’s awesome. I think he’s going to end up helping me be a champion. With Larry and my dad (former National and SX Champ, Donnie Hansen), I’ll definitely be a winning package for sure.

Are you riding 125 East? West?

I’m doing the East. I like it back there. The dirt’s awesome, and I really do like the tracks. They make them a little bit tougher. I wanted to ride East, and Larry gave me the option to do whatever I wanted to do, so it was cool. It worked out really good. It gives me a little more time to prepare. After the outdoor season that I had, it’s kind of good to sit back a little bit before Supercross.

So what is it with you and the outdoors?

Aw, I’ll pick it up. I’ve just got to want to do it. I didn’t really want to do it last year. I kind of had some issues with the team. I’ll pick it up more this year. I’ve just got to try at ’em.

What does T.J. (Trainer John Louch) have you doing during the off-season?

I’ve been doing a lot of cardio, and a lot more laps on the track. Larry’s been helping me do that, too. I’ve just been doing lap after lap after lap. I think that’s what’s really going to help me out. I had a hard time trying to get practice bikes and stuff lastear, so I was having a hard time putting in laps during the week before the races. So I think that’s what’s going to be different about this year. I’ll be able to be more prepared, and be in a lot better shape. I’ll be ready for sure.

You have your own gear deal with Troy Lee, separate from the team. How’d that work out?

I just talked to Larry, and part of the deal to sign me was that I wanted to do my own gear deal. It just worked out. Larry was cool about it, and he understood my whole side of it. Usually managers are kind of assholes about that stuff, but he was way cool. He gave me the option, and the guy backs me 100 percent. It worked out awesome.

Troy put together a deal for me, and it’s awesome. I thought I was going to be Thor forever, but I like the gear a lot…their stuff fits so good, and they’re going to have me a cool look for the Supercross season. I’m going to get my own special gear, so it’ll be pretty neat.

Five Minutes with Nate Ramsey

How’s the transition to the new bike?

Good! I started out on a 250 two-stroke because the 250F wasn’t here yet, and I have no complaints. Even switching to a two-stroke—I’ve been on a four-stroke for four years—was really easy. The bike is good. I like the chassis, I like the idea of the no linkage. It’s a nice dead feeling…in a good way. You can stay low on the jumps. So far to me, it’s better. You know how bikes tend to gallop into corners? It’s a lot more stable and a lot more planted feeling. I’m sure at some point there’s going to be something that I’m going to have to adjust to, but so far, it’s good.

Then the 250F popped up, and I rode that thing, and it’s really good. I’m really excited at the potential that it has for the races. Sometimes you need a little spark to liven everything back up, and I think this is it for me.

I think it’s going to be a good team. Everyone’s got a good attitude and works together good, so I feel good about it.

How old are you now?

I’m 30. I don’t really think of myself as a 30-year-old. I’m more like a 25-year-old 30-year-old. I wouldn’t even think about it, but everyone keeps reminding me about it. There’s definitely another whole generation coming up. My idea is that things change over time and I still feel good. My body feels good, so I want to learn what the new generation’s doing, because there’s some things that I can definitely contribute to those guys to help them learn, but I also think I can learn from them. There’s a certain type of energy that the younger people bring, and that’ll just be good for me.

Are you doing East? West?

125 West, and then hopefully ride the 250 two-stroke on the East.

You also get to hang onto your gear sponsors, right?

Yeah, I’m excited about that. Everything’s the same. I’ve got HJC helmets, Utopia goggles, Acerbis gear, and Oxtar boots. I had such a good thing going, I’m really glad to be able to keep them all.

Five Minutes With Jay Marmont

How long have you been out here?

I’ve been here for one week now.

How is it settling in, and are you here for good?

Yep, I’m here for good. I was going to go back home for Christmas, but Larry said he didn’t want me to go back home. It’s just a bit hard to adjust to the time, and then racing at the first West coast rounds. So I’m going to stay over here for Christmas now, and just try to settle in. I’m almost in my apartment now. I’ve just got a few things organized. Alex Gobert is in the same complex. so it’s been good.

How hard is it to pick up, move all the way across and plant yourself here?

It’s been hard to prepare for it, but I just had to pack some suitcases up and a gear bag, and just get over here. Larry said it’d sort itself out, and it slowly is. The bike’s been unreal, and I’ve got myself into a unit now, so I’m pretty excited and can’t wait until the racing actually starts up and get into it.

What are your goals for this year?

I want to try and get a top three in the championship. I’ve just got to put it all together. It’s always hard to come over to a different country and just try to step into a different championship than what you’re used to, and different surroundings. But I feel pretty comfortable with the team, and so far with my teammates, and all the people on the team have been really good. They’re pushing for me to try and get a championship, so   I’ve just got to try and put everything together.

Five Minutes with Mike Alessi

(This one was taped before news had spread that Mike had apparently been DQ’d for the contact with Frenchman Pascal Leuret.)

So for a guy who’s a non-Supercross competitor in ’05, you did pretty well in Bercy.

Yeah, it went really well. I learned a lot, and it was a good experience. It was a lot of fun being over there. The biggest thing was that the crowd was awesome. They really cheer loud. It’s not a very big stadium—sort of like the U.S. Open—but they scream loud, and have a lot of air horns.

One of things that were noted during the races there were how many changes you made to the bike over the three days. What kind of changes did you make?

Actually, it was just a few minutes before the main event on the second night, and it got me the holeshot. We changed the pipe and silencer, the gearing, the jetting, some clickers, and the whole chassis. Basically the whole bike was changed. It ended up being better, and it worked. It got me to two qualifying holeshots and a main event. If I hadn’t gotten shoved in the face by Andrew Short in the last main event, I think I would have gotten the holeshot.

Say what?

He started next to me in the main event, and right when we came off the gate, he put his elbow right in my face. If that hadn’t happened, I think I’d have gotten the holeshot. But all the changes were definitely a lot better, and I want to really thank my mechanic, Paul, and Harry from KTM Europe.

I didn’t really know anything about all the changes, they were just giving an idea of changing things and what it’d do on the track. I was like, ‘Whatever, just do it.’ I actually didn’t know how it was going to work because I didn’t test any of it, Everything was going to bad the first night, everything was going bad again on the second night, with bad times in the qualifier, crashing in the qualifier, and then getting a lucky holeshot in the semi. Then after that we changed everything. It definitely helped on the track.

I guess the big question that everyone’s wondering about now is, what happened on the last lap on the third night when you got together with Pascal Leuret?

You know, it was the last lap, and one turn to go after that turn. It was a whoop section, and a turn, then the finish line. There was nowhere that I was going to pass him, and it was for second overall. I knew that I wanted to pass him, and in the heat of battle you’re going to do anything to get past a guy that’s in front of you, and that’s what I did. I didn’t mean to take him out or anything, and take myself out, but I ran up the inside really fast and really hard. I think I came in too fast and I went the inside berm—they had this nice berm built up. I went over it, and went into him. We both fell on this big berm and hay bales that they had set up, But really, the only thing I was really doing was going in to slow him down so he didn’t do the double coming into the whoops, and that way I would have had the run to go double d a gear bag, and just get over here. Larry said it’d sort itself out, and it slowly is. The bike’s been unreal, and I’ve got myself into a unit now, so I’m pretty excited and can’t wait until the racing actually starts up and get into it.

What are your goals for this year?

I want to try and get a top three in the championship. I’ve just got to put it all together. It’s always hard to come over to a different country and just try to step into a different championship than what you’re used to, and different surroundings. But I feel pretty comfortable with the team, and so far with my teammates, and all the people on the team have been really good. They’re pushing for me to try and get a championship, so   I’ve just got to try and put everything together.

Five Minutes with Mike Alessi

(This one was taped before news had spread that Mike had apparently been DQ’d for the contact with Frenchman Pascal Leuret.)

So for a guy who’s a non-Supercross competitor in ’05, you did pretty well in Bercy.

Yeah, it went really well. I learned a lot, and it was a good experience. It was a lot of fun being over there. The biggest thing was that the crowd was awesome. They really cheer loud. It’s not a very big stadium—sort of like the U.S. Open—but they scream loud, and have a lot of air horns.

One of things that were noted during the races there were how many changes you made to the bike over the three days. What kind of changes did you make?

Actually, it was just a few minutes before the main event on the second night, and it got me the holeshot. We changed the pipe and silencer, the gearing, the jetting, some clickers, and the whole chassis. Basically the whole bike was changed. It ended up being better, and it worked. It got me to two qualifying holeshots and a main event. If I hadn’t gotten shoved in the face by Andrew Short in the last main event, I think I would have gotten the holeshot.

Say what?

He started next to me in the main event, and right when we came off the gate, he put his elbow right in my face. If that hadn’t happened, I think I’d have gotten the holeshot. But all the changes were definitely a lot better, and I want to really thank my mechanic, Paul, and Harry from KTM Europe.

I didn’t really know anything about all the changes, they were just giving an idea of changing things and what it’d do on the track. I was like, ‘Whatever, just do it.’ I actually didn’t know how it was going to work because I didn’t test any of it, Everything was going to bad the first night, everything was going bad again on the second night, with bad times in the qualifier, crashing in the qualifier, and then getting a lucky holeshot in the semi. Then after that we changed everything. It definitely helped on the track.

I guess the big question that everyone’s wondering about now is, what happened on the last lap on the third night when you got together with Pascal Leuret?

You know, it was the last lap, and one turn to go after that turn. It was a whoop section, and a turn, then the finish line. There was nowhere that I was going to pass him, and it was for second overall. I knew that I wanted to pass him, and in the heat of battle you’re going to do anything to get past a guy that’s in front of you, and that’s what I did. I didn’t mean to take him out or anything, and take myself out, but I ran up the inside really fast and really hard. I think I came in too fast and I went the inside berm—they had this nice berm built up. I went over it, and went into him. We both fell on this big berm and hay bales that they had set up, But really, the only thing I was really doing was going in to slow him down so he didn’t do the double coming into the whoops, and that way I would have had the run to go double for the whoops and I could have gotten him.

I went way too fast into the turn and we both ended up falling down. But I got up first, and got to the finish line before him, so I got second overall, but I didn’t mean to go in there and clean us both out, and make his country people mad.

I guess you can’t really sneak up on them now in the GPs…you kind of left a calling card.

I don’t know. I guess you could say that I gave them something to remember.

After the race we were all cool. He was a little pissed, and so was Pichon, but we ended up working things out, and shook hands and everything was fine. I gave him my jersey and pants that I wore that night, and he said he was going to hang them up in his house as a remembrance. It was all fine after that, and we all ended up going back to the hotel and eating dinner together. It was just something that happened during the race in the heat of battle. We’re racers, and we’re professionals, and that’s racing. Anybody’ll say that if you leave the inside open, you’re going to get cleaned out. It’s racing.

After the kind of result you got there, does it bug you that you won’t be doing the SX season here in the U.S?

No, because I know that I could do good in Supercross, but I want to stay healthy for the outdoors, and that’s where my main focus is right now, is the outdoors. Doing good, and being at the top every week, and hopefully being the champion at the end of the season. But it’s going to take a lot of hard work and I know my bike’s going to get me there. I’ll just keep training the way I am, and hard work, and I think I can do it.

Supercross, no. Stay fresh for the outdoors, and go to Europe and race the first three GPs and get my feet wet. I know if I can run with Mike Brown and Townley and be right there with those guys…I know Brownie has won a championship here in America, and he’s a top three guy every week in the outdoors. I know that if I run with him and be there with him every week at the GPs, then I know that when I come back to America I’m going to be right there with the guys, and I’m going to be competitive. It’s just going to be like a stick to see where I am and how good I can do in the outdoors in America, but it’ll be racing GPs against Brownie and Townley and those guys.

Given everything that’s happened over the last four or five months or so, if you could go back and do it all over again, would you change anything? Or would you just do it exactly the way you did it?

I wouldn’t change much. Just… (sighs) Millville was just a disaster. But it all happens for a reason. And the reason was that I learned everything from Millville, and came I brought it to Steel City, and podiumed. I showed everybody that I can run with the top guys in the world in the premier class. get top five both motos, and get a podium like I said I was going to do…but it took a race to learn about it. I came to Steel City, and did it. That would probably be the only thing that I’d change is Millville. But when I look at it now, it’s a reason why it went bad, so I could learn from it and be good at Steel City.

The only other thing that I’d say that I would change is taking that tree out that I hit before Glen Helen, so I could have done good for the KTM guy as Glen Helen. If that dang tree hadn’t been there, I think I could have shown the KTM guys what I could do, and hopefully have gotten another podium or top five.

ble for the whoops and I could have gotten him.

I went way too fast into the turn and we both ended up falling down. But I got up first, and got to the finish line before him, so I got second overall, but I didn’t mean to go in there and clean us both out, and make his country people mad.

I guess you can’t really sneak up on them now in the GPs…you kind of left a calling card.

I don’t know. I guess you could say that I gave them something to remember.

After the race we were all cool. He was a little pissed, and so was Pichon, but we ended up working things out, and shook hands and everything was fine. I gave him my jersey and pants that I wore that night, and he said he was going to hang them up in his house as a remembrance. It was all fine after that, and we all ended up going back to the hotel and eating dinner together. It was just something that happened during the race in the heat of battle. We’re racers, and we’re professionals, and that’s racing. Anybody’ll say that if you leave the inside open, you’re going to get cleaned out. It’s racing.

After the kind of result you got there, does it bug you that you won’t be doing the SX season here in the U.S?

No, because I know that I could do good in Supercross, but I want to stay healthy for the outdoors, and that’s where my main focus is right now, is the outdoors. Doing good, and being at the top every week, and hopefully being the champion at the end of the season. But it’s going to take a lot of hard work and I know my bike’s going to get me there. I’ll just keep training the way I am, and hard work, and I think I can do it.

Supercross, no. Stay fresh for the outdoors, and go to Europe and race the first three GPs and get my feet wet. I know if I can run with Mike Brown and Townley and be right there with those guys…I know Brownie has won a championship here in America, and he’s a top three guy every week in the outdoors. I know that if I run with him and be there with him every week at the GPs, then I know that when I come back to America I’m going to be right there with the guys, and I’m going to be competitive. It’s just going to be like a stick to see where I am and how good I can do in the outdoors in America, but it’ll be racing GPs against Brownie and Townley and those guys.

Given everything that’s happened over the last four or five months or so, if you could go back and do it all over again, would you change anything? Or would you just do it exactly the way you did it?

I wouldn’t change much. Just… (sighs) Millville was just a disaster. But it all happens for a reason. And the reason was that I learned everything from Millville, and came I brought it to Steel City, and podiumed. I showed everybody that I can run with the top guys in the world in the premier class. get top five both motos, and get a podium like I said I was going to do…but it took a race to learn about it. I came to Steel City, and did it. That would probably be the only thing that I’d change is Millville. But when I look at it now, it’s a reason why it went bad, so I could learn from it and be good at Steel City.

The only other thing that I’d say that I would change is taking that tree out that I hit before Glen Helen, so I could have done good for the KTM guy as Glen Helen. If that dang tree hadn’t been there, I think I could have shown the KTM guys what I could do, and hopefully have gotten another podium or top five.