Over the past few years, Dylan Ferrandis has made his intentions of coming to America very clear. The French rider was a force in the MX2 division of the Monster Energy FIM Motocross World Championship and fought often with Jeffrey Herlings, but the spectacle of Supercross racing in stadiums around North America was an important part of his career plan. Midway through the summer of 2016 Ferrandis announced that he’d inked a contract with the Yamalube/Star Racing/Yamaha squad, but his arrival on this side of the Atlantic was interrupted by a string of injuries. Now healthy and with a new home base in the heart of Southern California, Ferrandis is set to run on the 250 East Coast swing of the 2017 Monster Energy Supercross Series. This past Tuesday was the first true day of SX testing and between sessions on the technical Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park practice track, we spoke at length about the new life in the United States.
What was your desire to come to the United States? You’re French and incredibly fast, so you could have stayed and been a World Champion. Did you hit the MX2 age limit or was it just time for something new?
It’s really for Supercross. I’m here to do the Supercross championship because it’s what I love to do. Outdoors for me is the fuel of motocross, but Supercross is the fun part and I really wanted to do that. We really don’t have a big championship in Europe for it, so that’s why I came here.
There are some smaller ones, like the French SX Tour and the Arenacross series in Great Britain, but like you said there really is nothing of this kind. How difficult was it for you to learn Supercross? I watched you at Paris-Lille last year and you were on pace with everyone else.
We have a good championship in Europe, but the problem is the stadiums and everything are smaller than here. The designs of the stadiums, we cannot make big corners or high jumps like in the USA. The stadiums are too small to make a big track like here. When an American guy comes to race Supercross in Europe, the European riders are fast and we can fight with them, but here it’s really different. Everything is so high and steep compared to Europe. The bike is also a big difference because this is such a hard fork, and that’s the main difference.
You had a championship and races to focus on when you lived in Europe, but did you pay attention to the Star Racing team before you came here?
I knew that they won the last three years of championships. That was the most important thing, with the best bike and maybe the best riders. But they built the best bike because they won the three last outdoor championships and Supercross championships. For sure the bike is very good for both and that was the priority, to have a good bike and a good team. That was the only thing I knew about Star Racing.
You came to the United States last year and spent some time riding with guys like Todd Potter. Was it easy for you to come here, because you already saw the way things are in California?
Yeah, in January I came here for three weeks to learn. Since I’m young, the plan for me and my career was to come here and race. I came for three weeks and learned a lot about the training, the best places for training, and I met Gareth Swanepoel. I met many important people, went to Anaheim One and San Diego to learn. When I came to live here months ago, it was really easy because I knew bits of Murrietta and Temecula, the main parts living. My wife, my mechanic, and I stayed for three weeks at Gareth Swanepoel’s when we came here and finally we found a good place in Lake Elsinore. Now we have a good house and are really happy.
One thing I always hear from European people when they come to the United States is how different the food is. Has it been difficult to find quality food here?
The worst thing for me to live here is the food, for sure. I come from France and I am lucky because we have good food. It’s not just the quality of the food, but the way that we take care of dinner and lunch. But here it’s crazy because it’s all quick and people eat because they need it for their body, but they don’t really enjoy a meal. For me that is really difficult. At home on the weekends I like to hang out and go out to restaurants with friends or my girl, but here I don’t go because I don’t enjoy it. People are not nice and it’s really different with the way to eat. To find good food is really difficult.
You’ve been here for just a little while. How were the first days on the bike after injuries?
The team asked me to come really early so that I could learn the life in the USA and so that I could meet everyone on the team. I came really early but when I arrived, I could go cycling but my knee was really f-cked. We worked really hard with Gareth and I said that I couldn’t stay here anymore with riding. I told them that I wanted to ride and that I wouldn’t take risks, that I would be careful. The team and Gareth let me ride, so thanks that they trusted me for that. But honestly now it’s been four months since my surgery and my knee is good, but normally my doctor would say that it’s too early for me to ride. I took a lot of risk to ride, but I tried to take care and never let my right leg touch the ground. It’s still really early since my surgery but I’m trying to be careful. The guys know that I have time before the first race of East Coast.
Is it difficult to let your doctor in Europe know what is happening here?
Yeah, it was difficult but now my knee is good. It’s time for it to get stronger and I don’t need to see a doctor or stuff, but I need to be careful.
Today was the first day of Supercross riding and it looked like you figured it out quickly. Does it come easily for you or is there still lots of learning?
There is a lot of learning, for sure. I’m okay. I always watched videos and dreamed of being here and racing Supercross, so I knew a bit of it. For sure it is different with the bike but I learned and I feel good. Lap after lap, the flow is coming and the good feeling on the bike is coming. I’m happy about that. But the big difference is the fork, it is so different. It’s so hard and it’s difficult for me to ride now at the beginning. It’s okay on the jumps, but for cornering the turning with the fork so hard.