The move by the Monster Energy Yamaha team to sign Australian MXGP champion Dean Ferris for a three-race deal might not fill the hole left by Romain Febvre, but then again, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ferris stand on the podium at Matterley Basin in a little over a week’s time.
The Aussie has proven time and time again he is World class, with strong performances at the MXoN in 2013 (second overall in MX2) and 2016 (fourth overall in Open), and also that second place finish in a moto of the AMA Nationals in 2017, not to mention his MX2 GP victory in Belgium in 2013.
It won’t be the first time Ferris has ridden for a factory team, having ridden for both the Red Bull KTM Factory team and the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna factory team.
Having not actually raced in some time will obviously make it hard for Ferris, but a naturally talented rider with a desire to perform on the highest level means that Ferris will always be an outside chance for a strong performance.
Having knocked back a big money deal to race the Australian motocross championship Ferris set his sights on racing the AMA Nationals, and as a deal is yet to be found, this opportunity to race three rounds of the toughest motocross series in the World has turned up at the right time.
We caught up with Ferris yesterday as he landed in Europe, and he confirmed that he was part of the team, but to keep it quiet until the official Yamaha press release had come out. Now, a day later, and with the Australian champ down in Italy, we called him again.
Thanks for your time, Dean. You must be pretty jet-lagged, what did you come from America to Australia to Europe?
I was home for a week in Australia, so it wasn’t too bad, just normal jet-lag.
I know this is just a short term thing, but if seems like the perfect preparation for if you do get a ride in America for the Nationals?
Yes, it has worked out really well. Obviously, America is still the goal, so I can do the full season, and as it worked out with Yamaha here, they were looking for a fill-in rider and it happened really quickly, and it is perfect preparation for America, or whatever happens.
How did it come about?
It was probably a week after Argentina. I just sent a message and they called me and they said it could fit really well. I don’t know if they knew I was available and it was pretty mutual that we worked something out really.
The next round is at Matterley, and I would guess that is one of your favourite circuits, so a great place to start?
Yes, it is an awesome track, but I think it is a favourite for many. I went really well there in 2013, and the Nations a couple of years ago, I didn’t really go that well, but it was more a mistake with my set-up, so it would be good to go back there and redeem myself a little,
You have had good results at the des Nations in 2013 and again in 2016, and also that second place finish in a moto at the AMA Nationals, so it’s clear you are a World-class rider. In saying that, MXGP is just extremely difficult. How are you coming in, confident, apprehensive?
Look, it has been a while since I raced, so I need to be realistic, but in saying that, I am going in confident and I am going in and will give it my all, I honestly couldn’t tell you where I am going to be, but come Sunday afternoon if I have ridden to my ability and ridden okay, then I will be happy. I am just excited to see where I am at with such a strong field.
I guess on the upside, you are not going for a championship and you could really use it as a glorified practice. Obviously, you want good results, but there isn’t a lot of pressure.
Yes, I mean, that is one way to look at it, and it will be my approach, but as a racer I want to do well. I need to stay calm, and do what I can do, and not get too excited or nervous and just be present in the moment.
Yamaha seems to be the brand that you do best on. Have you ridden the bike yet?
No, I arrived this morning and we are scheduled to go riding on Sunday, but yes, Yamaha has always seemed to fit, I think because I cut my teeth on them when I was younger and I have had some good Yamahas in my program. It is just a three race deal, but an awesome opportunity and an awesome team to ride for. We will see what happens with Yamaha in the future and it would be great to keep the relationship going that is a priority of mine.
Speaking about America, is there anything on the horizon?
I have an agent over there, and he has been working his butt off, but obviously I am looking for an outdoor only deal, so a lot of the teams are just starting to think about outdoors now. Hopefully, I will know something soon.
I read somewhere you pulled out an old Yamaha to practice on this last week?
I did come back from America a week and a half ago, and I felt I needed to get some laps under my belt if something like this arrived. The quickest way to get on track was to pull out my old 2016 championship winning bike out of the shed. It was really well set-up and probably better than getting a new bike and having to set it all up.
We talked about it at the start and how racing here might help your chances in America or the good preparation for America. Would you say the level here is higher than in America at the moment and that might help you if you can get up to speed with the MXGP guys?
Yes, I would say there are positives and negatives whatever I did, but it would appear from the results from the Motocross of Nations, that the level is better here, and hopefully that will pull me along and up my game, so I like to see it as a benefit that is for sure.
Just a couple more questions. Do you get to bring your family here or are you alone?
No, it was literally a last minute thing, so the family had to stay home for this one. Thankfully the World is very close and I will miss my family, but it’s just for a short time, so that is okay.
So with it being a three-race deal, it will be Matterley, Valkenswaard and Trentino. Have you ridden Trentino and what do you think of Valkenswaard?
I mean they are all diverse and I am looking forward to it. Valkenswaard isn’t full sand, but it is tough and I will have to get over there and get ready for that, because all the GP riders live in Belgium and as for Trentino, again, I will just have to adjust as quickly as possible. Like all the GP riders have to.