We heard rumors floating around yesterday that were suggesting American Suzuki had cut all of their amateur MX support until further notice. Unfortunately, that is exactly the case; therefore we caught up with Motocross Support Manager Cole Gress this morning to find out exactly what is going on.
We've heard some rumors about the Suzuki amateur program being cut for '09. What's going on exactly?
Based on the current business climate we had to really tighten our belts here at Suzuki in regards to the high-end amateur race teams. We ended up cutting back on that entire program, so it had to do with the dealers and them ordering the RM product. What we have out there is supporting what's out there. With that said, we weren't in any position to spend this kind of budget on a high-end amateur program.
With that said, is the removal of the amateur program permanent or temporary?
I think we need to evaluate things at a yearly pace based on the amount of Suzuki's that are out on the track. We'll have to have a nice contingency program for the time being. Like I mentioned, for us to have a high-end amateur program for the upcoming season is not a smart move. However, we are trying to reel that back in and re-evaluate things. Hopefully, as this climate changes, we will be in a position to get back after it again.
Until this current business climate changes, where does this leave you in the grand scheme of things?
Suzuki's logistics RM business is our number one mainstay. We still have a sports promotion department, so we'll probably be sharing some duties and making sure we launch support to the motocross dealers. I'll be helping out with whatever I can, whether it is road racing, ATV racing, and anything race-oriented on the racing side. We'll be doing our best to support those entities.
You mentioned it earlier, but Suzuki will be offering contingency at local races, correct?
Yes. We are currently working on a regional contingency program that will support the people who have purchased the RM brand and RMZ brand and are out there racing.
On a lighter note, the '09 Supercross season is less than a month away and Suzuki has the likes of Chad Reed, Ryan Dungey, and Nico Izzi. How do you think they will fair in '09?
I think Reed speaks for himself. He'll go out there and do his job every week and be in the hunt no matter what. From what I've been told, he loves the bike. The RMZ450 is a heck of a bike, you know? We have a good product, and I believe Reed will race it to its full potential. As for Dungey, I believe he has really learned a lot this last year, and I think he'll accomplish his goals of winning a championship in '09. And, of course, Izzi… Nico has been my guy. I've brought him up since he was nine years old, and he learned everything he needed to learn this past year. He wasn't like a lot of rookies who kept pushing themselves until they ended up on the ground. He takes small steps and wants to put himself in a position to win a championship. When the East Coast Supercross season kicks off, I believe he'll be in a position to win races and a championship… I expect him to do a lot better then what others may be expecting.