Nearly 30 years ago, French legend Jean Michel Bayle dominated American motocross winning a 500cc and 250cc motocross championship in 1991. A long list of French riders have tried to win AMA MX National titles in US, and while some have had success in the smaller and less prestigious 250SX West or East Regional championships, Bayle remains the only Frenchman to win a Championship on the tough AMA national MX circuits against the almighty American racers.
Star Racing Yamaha rider and another Frenchman Dylan Ferrandis, is without question the guy to beat in the AMA 250 Nationals in 2020. Already experienced from his Grand Prix days and a couple of years racing in USA, the Frenchman oozes confidence, and no doubt he will take that confidence into the second round this coming weekend.
Going into the opening round last weekend, Ferrandis knew that he was mentally ready after a tough AMA supercross championship. The back-to-back 250SX West Champion launched his campaign for the 250MX crown with a dominant 1-1 performance the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season opener at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. We caught up with him and this is what he had to say.
“I don’t feel different from usual. The supercross season was more difficult to manage the expectations because I had the number one plate and that added more pressure and I managed that well. I came to Loretta to do the best I could and do my thing. Now we have the red plate, so that gives more pressure. Supercross taught me a lot and I feel okay with the pressure now.”
And the 2020 version of Ferrandis was also more relaxed and ready for battle, mainly due to his experiences from 2019, but also because he is just a smarter racer now and had a little extra time to prepare for the Outdoors.
“For sure last year because I won the supercross championship I couldn’t regroup enough to get ready for outdoors. This year I had a lot of experience from last year and I know what to do to win a championship. We also had more time to get ready and I used that time to help me win this championship.”
As for his speed early on the Saturday, in the timed practice, Ferrandis was ready to put down some fast laps and again, probably his experience in Europe helped him prepare for a circuit he didn’t know and many had raced on hundreds of times.
“No, I wasn’t surprised to be the fastest qualifier. The track was different from what everyone rode as an amateur and you have enough time in practice to work out the track. You make the best lap in practice and I had a good bike set-up, this was more important than knowing the track. I rode new tracks in the past, and I know how to deal with that.”
All in all, a victory made the French rider smile and know that he is preparing in the correct way and not turning up with the wrong preparation. Feeling at one with his bike and working on many things in the break worked out well for the Yamaha rider.
“For me, it was a really good day. I feel great on the track and I think it is because the last week we concentrated on the track late in the afternoon, because then the track we have around 11 am, is similar to the tracks we train on, that helped a lot. I worked hard since the Supercross season was done and also worked on the bike and the setup of the bike and my technique. It was the perfect day for me.”
Of course, starts helped a lot and Ferrandis is keen to become the Jorge Prado of the AMA Nationals and get a bunch of holeshot.
“We always want to improve the starts and the last couple of supercross races were good in the start and we improved a lot in that and also we have confidence. I will try and get a holeshot ever moto now.”
So, with the red plate, the championship points lead, plus a lot of confidence, don’t be surprised if Ferrandis comes out this coming weekend and again blows the doors off the opposition. The French sure love racing in USA and until now, only JMB has really taken Outdoors by the scruff of the neck and dominated. Maybe Ferrandis can do what names like David Vuillemin, Marvin Musquin, Christophe Pourcel, and Mickael Pichon couldn’t do.
Hey, and the French shouldn’t feel too bad, the only non-American riders to win the small bike (125cc/250cc 4-stroke) championship in the history of the sport, are South African Grant Langston in 2003 and Scotsman Dean Wilson in 2011.
Photos by: Octopi