Industry Insight: CDR Yamaha’s Craig Dack //
POSTED: 07 Jun 2012 | SECTION: Industry Insight | POSTED BY:Alex Gobert
CDR Yamaha team owner speaks out about his current program and the state of Aussie motocross.
When Craig Dack speaks in Australian motocross circles, you’d be mad not to listen. As an icon of the sport who remains one of the most popular riders of all time, and owner of the all-conquering CDR Yamaha team, Dack has probably forgotten more about motocross than most of us will ever know.
Needless to say, he has experience in the sport that not many can match, and the resume to back it up. MotoOnline.com.au spoke in depth with Dack today to get his take on the current CDR Yamaha roster of Josh Coppins and Lawson Bopping, plus a few more vital things regarding the sport’s future.
We’re five rounds into the MX Nationals season now, Josh is leading the championship and Lawson is fourth with a couple of podiums under his belt. So far it’s been a really strong season for the CDR Yamaha team…
Yeah, to be honest, although I obviously have 100 percent confidence in our riders, after coming off four good years with Jay Marmont and with Josh having such a massive shoulder injury at the end of last year, plus Lawson being a young guy coming through, there was a part of me that thought in any sport, you just can’t stay at the top every single year – although we’d love to think we can.
I hedged my bets a little bit each way this year, to be honest. It’s more of a testament to Josh how he’s picked himself up to come out and do what he’s done. He’s probably the fittest guy on track, without a doubt, and he’s probably the most professional guy, along with all of our staff. It’s just those ingredients put together that is the reason why we are in the position that we’re in right now.
That 1-2 finish at Wanneroo in what is the toughest event of the series must have been hugely satisfying for the entire CDR Yamaha team?
I sort of figured in my mind that it would be a real strong round for Josh, so that’s why we put a lot of effort in particular into that round. We wanted to make sure all our Ts were crossed and Is were dotted, so we could make some real gains there and we did.
To have such a young guy like Lawson do what he did was more of a shock to me than anything. In those conditions it’s where the cream riders really surface, so that round in particular gave me a lot of confidence in Lawson for the future.
Both Josh and Lawson are overseas at the moment in very different parts of the world, being Europe and America, so is that a positive in your eyes?
To be honest, I wasn’t keen for Lawson to go to America. He really had to push me hard to do it, because he had his points for it and I had mine against it. In the end Lawson was adamant he felt it was a good thing because he felt he was getting a little stale riding the same tracks in Australia.
We felt that in the end, after speaking about it, all of the tracks in California would be full of the top guys in the world for him to chase around since the outdoors have just started over there. I agreed it was probably a good idea then, especially because a young kid at 22 years of age wants to go and spend $6000 or so to try and add to his career. How can you argue with that?
As far as Josh goes, he has an English wife and two children, so they do use an opportunity whenever they can to get back to the UK since they’ve got a lot of family and friends there. He tied that in with doing a couple of races whilst he was there, so it sort of killed two birds with the one stone for Josh.
CDR Yamaha has proven one of the best teams in the world so far with the current YZ450F and there has been that stuff going on in America with James Stewart leaving Yamaha, etc. But is there any sort of key that makes CDR so good with that particular model? It must feel good to be the benchmark in some ways with that bike in regards to results.
First of all, I’m not sure that what’s happening around the rest of the world has anything to do with the bike. What we’ve found is that, since we’re in the third year of this model now, but we were quite confused in the first six months when we got the bike, what direction to take.
It was a completely new ballgame, since Yamaha stepped outside the square with a revolutionary style of bike. Once we understood the bike, we haven’t had any problems with it – it’s a great bike.
I can’t speak about what’s going on around the rest of the world because I don’t know the ins and outs. From my experience, I certainly wouldn’t think much of what’s happening around the world with Yamaha’s results on the 450 – Yamaha is always at the top whether its motocross or road racing.
Rinaldi’s GP team has had a lot of injuries over the last few years and they’re great technical people in a great team. In America, I haven’t heard Stewart or anybody say anything negative publicly about the bike, it’s just something that’s gained momentum.
You know, as I said, I can only speak about my position, although it was a different beast to get our head around in the beginning, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed this bike. It’s a fantastic bike. We’ve won two motocross championships and one supercross championship on this bike – bad bikes don’t win championships.
Your team is obviously missing Rockstar as title sponsor this year, which we spoke about last week, so what’s it going to take to get a title sponsor back? Is it results that you can count on, or is there much more to it?
There’s a lot more to it, as I touched on last week, and you probably wouldn’t have enough gigabytes in your computer for it to store everything I think of it at the moment. If I had an outside sponsor right now, I’d be in a different, but similar position as of right now when I don’t have one. The fact is, we have a fantastic sport in Australia, a very healthy market and a great motocross series.
A lot of the guys within Motorcycling Australia, on the board, in administration, commissioners and stuff like that, they’re all people who I like and respect. However, unfortunately we have a system that’s broken in Australia and that’s the issue. I’m not throwing darts at anybody individually or anything, but we’ve got a system that is failing.
Even last year when we had the Super X series, we all knew that it was going to run because [Global Action Sports] had another year on their contract, but we still didn’t have dates until May or June and didn’t know where we were going. Every kilometer that gets changed, as far as distances we travel, my costs escalate.
I had a contract with Rockstar last year and, without going into detail, I had to specify how many races we’d be travelling to in a year. If I didn’t achieve those races then we had penalties that would incur if the series didn’t go the length that I put in the contract.
This year, on the opposite, here we are in June and we don’t have a supercross schedule. I’m in the desperate need of a sponsor, but I can’t go and find one because I don’t know what I’m going to tell them. So you know, putting all personalities aside, the system is broken and I hope that common sense prevails.
We need to get together soon and remedy this problem, because we should not be talking about a 2012 calendar now. We should be talking about a 2013 calendar and that’s the bizarre situation of it all.
So it’s a factor of fast-forwarding the planning and giving you guys something more concrete and firmer to work with when chasing sponsorship?
Yeah, like I said Goey, you wouldn’t have enough GB to capture all of my thoughts. But as another example, again this isn’t a personality thing because Kevin Williams is a friend of mine, but I factored in Barrabool this year when we got a schedule for motocross.
You could tell me all the reasons why these things happen, but this year I was fortunate enough that a round was going to be at Barrabool, which is 10 kilometers from my workshop and about 20 from my house. So, for that round I had no budgeted travel costs – it wasn’t going to cost me anything.
But then we have a schedule change, just so people understand, my costs have gone from nothing to around $4000 now. Every time something changes like that, it’s a big deal for the teams and ends up back at the teams and we keep doing it. We get called whingers sometimes, but it’s more than being a whinger – it’s a big deal. I don’t think people really understand that.
To finish, what you teams have to offer sponsors as far as the size of your trucks, the professionalism you feature, and the general popularity of the sport, there are a lot of positives. If all that other stuff you mentioned could get ironed out and fixed up, it could be a really great platform for you guys…
100 percent. That’s exactly what I’m saying and that’s the frustrating thing. The public doesn’t see all of this stuff that we’re speaking about. The public and punters out there are very smart people, really observant and know exactly what’s going on in the sport when it comes to results and history. They’re a great bunch of people and are all enthusiasts.
We’ve got a lot of strengths over other sports, one being that we have our trucks and awnings out. We’re one of the very few sports that the public can come right up and speak to us, as well as our riders. In fact, kids come up from time to time and I take them through the truck, sit them on the bike and talk to their dads – they’re getting a memory that will last forever.
There are a lot of positive attributes to our sport and we are in a very dynamic country when it comes to motorcycle sport. For FOX, Yamaha and big companies like that, outside of the US, Australia is one of their biggest markets. We have a great industry and demographic for sponsors to get a hold of.
However, unless we all – meaning teams, promoters, Motorcycling Australia, etc – sink our teeth into it and all get on the same page, it will be a long and difficult process. This shouldn’t happen next month, next quarter or in the next year – it needs to happen now. I tell you right now, I tip my hat to all team owners in Australia because I don’t know how we do it.
At the end of the day, with all these things that are going on, it always ends up back at the teams, not to mention the poor privateers. It’s the teams, competitors and their respective sponsors that are the ones that are able to keep the show going. There’s no doubt about that.