Catching Up With Ricky Carmichael

Ricky Carmichael is the most successful motocross racer of all time. He has won indoors, and he hasn’t lost outdoors. Two perfect seasons, eight outdoor titles in eight tries, and he’s still going strong. But this year, RC has company. The kid that took his 125cc records away has jumped up to join him in the premier class. It’s difficult to predict exactly what will happen, but thing is for sure... The 2005 outdoor Nationals are going to be unforgettable!

You’ve said before in the past that your setup for outdoors is pretty basic for you, but is it any different now that you’re on a four-stroke?

A little bit, yeah. I don’t have to run the back end so low on a four-stroke, but I work on the front end a lot more. But it’s pretty easy to get the suspension set up on those bikes. I enjoy riding them, too, so it makes things go much better. But right now it’s hard for me to test too much for motocross when all I’ve got is Supercross on my mind.

With the new RM-Z450 being an aluminum frame bike with Showa suspension, just like your Honda last year, does that make it any easier on you?

I’ve got experience with the aluminum frame from Honda, so it was a pretty easy transition when I rode the four-stroke a couple weeks ago. Suzuki has some great stuff to try, too.

As you know, you’ve got a new challenger this year in James Stewart, who beat your 125cc outdoor records. What does his entrance into the class do for your motivation and such? With two perfect seasons, it almost seems like it could get boring without someone like this jumping in...

For me, I really have nothing left to prove. I’m just going to go out and have fun and try to get a championship. I know the perfect season is probably out of sight this year. But I think there is going to be a couple surprises out there. I think Tortelli is going to surprise some people, and then you’re going to have, of course, Chad, Bubba and Kevin. I think it’s going to be really, really exciting. I think everybody’s going to be good at the beginning, and then I think as the season shakes out, there will be the couple contenders like always.

It seems like that’s always the case--except during 2002 and 2004, when we just watched you ride around…

I don’t think that’s going to happen. Would I love it to happen? Yeah. But I think it’s going to be a challenge and really fun for me.

The automatic assumption is that, since Bubba will be on a KX250, he will be giving up starts while you start near the front, and then he’ll be playing catch-up on you much of the time. How do you see it shaking out?

I hope that’s how it works. I think his two-stroke will be good in areas, but I think it’s going to make his work a lot harder. But it’s his prerogative, and that’s something that he has to worry about. I’m worrying about getting my bike set up good, and putting myself in a great position to have those guys challenge me.

You are undefeated still going in to your ninth season of outdoor Nationals. Does that give you any extra pressure to perform and keep that streak alive?

Not really. I think it was more pressure the first time. There’s no added pressure this year coming in. I think there are so many things going on, like being on a new bike, so I think it should be fun. The competition will take away from the perfect season, but it’s a new season, and my goals are the same. We’re just starting over.

You’re an outdoor guy, notoriously, so do you carry more confidence heading into the Nationals than you even did into the Supercross season?

Oh yeah. I shine outdoors, for sure. It’s much easier for me on an outdoor track. It’s not so much bike setup, it’s just getting it done and who’s the strongest, basically. That’s nice for me.

If at the end of the summer you’ve got 13 National titles and 9 outdoor titles in 9 attempts, how do youu motivate yourself for 2006 and on?

I think 2006 is just going to be fun for me. As I keep winning and doing great things, the pressure goes away. I’ve accomplished the things that I wanted to accomplish. I want to win this Supercross title, and then I’ll be happy. If I don’t win this Supercross title, I’ll probably be pissed and next year will be a hell of a lot harder, and a lot more stressful for me. I want to get that title.