Photos by: Chase Yocom
These “Privateer Showcase” interviews presented by Race Tech Suspension at MotoXAddicts tell the stories of the guys in the trenches week in and week out trying to chase their dream of racing professional Supercross. While the riders at the front of the pack get the money, the T.V. time and the glory that goes with it, there’s a huge pack of guys just hoping to get a spot inside a factory semi. We tell their stories.
This week’s “Privateer Showcase” interview is with Kissimmee Motorsports / Kawasaki rider Gannon Audette. In a lot of these “Privateer Showcase” interviews, we talk about how much of a difference a factory bike could make for these riders, and Gannon proved that last year when he got a fill-in ride with the Monster Energy / Pro Circuit / Kawasaki team. Gannon went from hovering just inside the top ten to a podium in Indianapolis and three top five finishes in the last five rounds of 2016, but unfortunately that was still not enough to land him a full time gig on a factory machine.
For 2017, Gannon returned as a privateer Kawasaki rider, and he struggled outside the top ten for the first five rounds of the Eastern Regional 250SX Supercross Championship. Then, though, after not even making the main event at the 2017 Indianapolis SX, Gannon decided to switch things up and ride his practice bike that he felt more comfortable on in Detroit. Feeling more comfortable on his practice bike, Gannon scored his first top ten of the year with an eighth in Detroit, and he again matched his eighth last weekend in St. Louis. It is a little head scratching to think he can compete against the factory bikes better on a practice bike with 52 hours on the motor, but that’s exactly what he has been doing.
After his second straight eighth place performance in St. Louis, Chase Yocom caught up with the privateer to talk about his race in St. Louis and his switch to his practice machine.
Gannon, I believe tonight was your best finish of the season with your eighth. You got to be pretty happy with that. You looked good all day.
I actually tied my best finish of 2017 from last weekend in Detroit, and this weekend, we got another eighth. I’m really happy with my riding tonight. I got off to third off the start—putting down some solid laps—and ran third for a little bit. I’m really happy with that. Everyone just had a little more raw speed than me tonight, but I felt really good. I came home with an eighth place finish and I got to be happy with that. I’m looking forward to the break and then New Jersey.
What’s been the biggest change for you over the last couple of weeks, just better starts?
Yeah, better starts, and I actually switched over to my practice bike, surprisingly. I switched over to that, got myself better starts and put myself in better positions. I’ve also been feeling a lot more comfortable on that bike. I’m really just having a lot of fun out there.
What are the biggest differences between your normal race bike and your practice bike? Is the engine more mellow? Is the suspension different?
It’s the same suspension, but the motor is a lot more mellow. It just kind of feels better to me for some reason. Kind of a smoother power—I’m not sure. I’m just really happy with the results I’ve been getting with it. I think I have like 52 hours on it (laughs). So it’s kind of funny being up there in third place on it (laughs). It’s pretty exciting for me and, yeah, it’s awesome.
(laughs) Who’s idea was it to switch over to the practice bike?
It was actually my idea. I ride it really good during the week and feel really good and comfortable on the bike. I realized that showing up to the race every week, you’re new to the track and you have to get it down really quick. I felt really good in practice on my practice bike and I would show up to the race and I was struggling a lot this year. I figured it couldn’t really get any worse. I got to try something and search and that’s what we did. It ended up working out really good for us these last two weekends, so I’m really happy with it.
What did you think of the track tonight? It looked like you were having a lot of fun out there, especially in practice (laughs). I think you were throwing it around out there more than anybody.
Yeah, you got to have fun in practice. The track was awesome! The dirt is always good in St. Louis, and I was really happy with the dirt. The track was a good race track. It broke down really nice and it made for some good racing.
Where did that start in the main event come from? I think you came out in third?
Yeah, I came out of it in third. I don’t know; that’s actually pretty surprising for me because I always kind of shut off in the first turn. I got off to a good jump and I knew I had a good jump, so I leaned back, pinned it and got myself in there for once. It ended up working out and was really good. I think I maybe came out in fifth or something, but then I made some quick passes in the first two corners and came out in third. I was really happy with that.
We have a couple more rounds East region for you guys. What are your end of the year goals with just New Jersey and Las Vegas left on the SX schedule for you? Also, do you have any plans for outdoors?
I don’t have any plans for outdoors right now. I’m just going to enjoy this break. I’m going to still ride and train obviously, but I’ll enjoy it and get ready for New Jersey.
Alright, well, thanks for your time.