This has been a very interesting year for Red Bull KTM. The three-rider factory team has lost two riders to retirement in the middle of the season, as Ryan Dungey stepped away from the sport just days after clinching the Supercross championship and now with Trey Canard announcing the end of his career. So what does this do the team’s plans for the future? We spent a few minutes discussing this topic with Team Manager Roger DeCoster on Saturday afternoon and it became clear the iconic racer has no obvious worries that the team cannot keep their place as one of the top spots in the pro pit area. In addition to this, we spoke about the upcoming Motocross of Nations and what riders may get the call to represent Team USA at Matterley Basin.
The big for the team today is Trey’s decision to retire. How far in advance did you know this was coming?
A few days [Laughs].
With everything that has happened to him this year, the team has been supportive of the decision. It seemed like when he was talking, this last crash and hit to the head has rattled him.
I don’t think he had any intention. If you asked him two weeks ago, I think it did not come in his mind yet. He called me three or four days ago for the first time and said, “I don’t feel like I can deliver what I should be delivering. I’m thinking about retiring. What do you think?” That’s a difficult one, but I don’t want to push him or anyone to race. This sport, unfortunately, the worst thing you can do is to do it when you don’t really want to. It’s already dangerous enough as it is. I hope the guy stays in the industry because I think he has a lot of things to offer with his personality and all that. There are places he could do things that would help the sport.
This is the second news of its kind this year, after Ryan earlier. This puts the team in a weird position because Marvin is locked in for another few years but there are one or two other open spots. Where do you go from here?
We have a lot of options right now, a lot of riders begging to come our way. There are some good guys, but in this sport the guys that are going to win you can count on one hand. What we are going to have to do is take a guy that is good but not winning potential, and then work with them and try to make them as good as we can help make them.
This year was influential with Ryan and so much of a European presence with equipment on the track through the factory team, Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/WPS/KTM, and the Rockstar Energy Racing Husqvarna team. Red Bull KTM is the only real three-rider team at this point. Is that something you would like to continue or will you downsize again?
We are going to go back to two riders, at least for one year.
The other big topic for the summer is the Motocross des Nations coming up. Are you in the same position as always this year and how is the process going?
Yeah. It looked pretty easy if you asked us three races ago, but now with Jason’s injury and Baggett’s injury, the 450 is difficult. I sure hope that Eli will be wanting to go and Osborne is really eager to go. He has been eager to go for years, begging me to be on the team. This year it is pretty much obvious that it would be dumb not to put him on the team.
Would you keep him in the 250 role or bump him up? He has experience on a big bike and that could allow you to bring Alex Martin in.
I think we need to keep him in the 250, although I have not talked to him about that. He would probably not mind riding a 450, but the 250 is maybe the most difficult class with the way des Nations is currently. It’s very difficult to get a good start on a 250 against a 450, so even on a good day you’re going to eat dirt all day. He has the toughness and has come back from behind several times this year with poor starts, so I really think he can do more for us by doing a good race on a 250 than a good race on a 450.
Typically the announcement comes in three weeks.
Yeah, Unadilla is still the target.
You’ve been at this for so long, so should we expect a retirement announcement from you?
[Laughs] I’m pretty immune to it. It’s not going to be contagious with me.