Australia’s latest grand prix podium finisher speaks to MotoOnline about Qatar’s opener.
As Australia’s lone contender in the FIM Motocross World Championship, Dean Ferris starred with an incredible second place podium finish in the MX2 category at Qatar’s 2013 season opener last weekend at the Losail Circuit under lights.
The 22-year-old from Kyogle became the first Aussie since Andrew McFarlane to finish on the GP podium, achieving the feat aboard the very same Dixon-run Monster Energy Yamaha team. For Ferris, it was a confidence boost, but no real surprise in what will be his second season of GP competition.
MotoOnline.com.au called Ferris as he arrived in Thailand this week to speak about his success and get an update on his progress since stepping back from MX1 this season, grabbing a real insight for his focused no-nonsense mindset that has helped him reach the pinnacle of the sport in GP racing.
Congratulations on a really good result in Qatar, second place overall in MX2. Are you surprised by the result straight up? You must be really happy to open the season with this type of form.
Yeah, I’m happy but not surprised at all. After I tested the bike to begin with I knew I would be at the front, a podium runner, so it was no surprise to me finishing second.
As far as your preparation went, you did test in Europe initially, but the majority of your pre-season was spent in Australia. Round one came around fairly quickly in the end, so just tell us about the lead-up to the series for you?
I mean, I knew when the first round was, so I’ve been training hard since the day I could, after I got clearance from my doctor. So yeah, we did one week of testing on the bike in December. It was a really good situation because I could train at home all summer and then flew straight to round one.
We were fiddling with the bike a little bit, just to set it up, because normally when you run in a bike you’ve got to change a few things. We did that throughout the weekend and it obviously got better, as you could see with my results getting better throughout the weekend as well. Hopefully we’re more prepared at the second round and we can start getting those sorts of results straight up.
You’ve been building up to this result for quite a few years now. Your year as a privateer Honda rider at home in 2010 was a breakthrough of sorts, and then you battled for the 450 title with Kawasaki in 2011 before going to Europe last year in MX1. But this year you’ve stepped back to MX2 in the world championship and it’s all really coming together now with the Monster Energy Yamaha team. It couldn’t have really fallen into place any better at the moment, could it?
No, it’s one of the best teams to be on and a really good bike. The last couple of years haven’t been great, I mean last year was a disaster. Originally I was going to stay with ICE1 but then it all went real pear-shaped, so now looking back, like you said, it’s all really worked out good for me.
The team you’re on, Dixon Yamaha, is the team that Andrew McFarlane had a lot of success with in GPs. Does that sort of make the result even more special for you?
Yeah, it does. I mean, it’s special no matter what because it’s my first podium in grand prix, but it’s nice to know Sharky was on the same team when he was on the podium as well – I knew that coming into the event. It was cool, but yeah, getting a podium in the world championship no matter what is pretty cool!
The event there in Qatar was under lights, it gathered a huge following, and it seemed to be a real success.
Yeah, there was a lot of hype around in being under lights and having the Superfinal and everything, but I didn’t really think about it at all. I was pumped to go racing and it didn’t actually feel like a normal GP. We were in a box around 500 metres to a kilometre from the track, so in between races we were just chilling out – when MX1 was on the track we couldn’t even see them or hear them.
We would walk down the road race track to the motocross track, there were no spectators really, no fans going crazy or anything on the sighting laps, but obviously everybody was just excited to go racing at the first round. It was cool under lights I guess, sort of like just doing a supercross, but a little bit harder to see with all the ruts and the bumps [laughs]. It was the same for everyone though and for me it was fine.
Over the past couple of years you could have really stayed in Australia on good money, riding a 450. But you’ve taken that chance to go to Europe, last year was a difficult one and this year you’re back again in another new environment. Do you feel like those risks you’ve taken are beginning to pay off? If you can continue this success, it will make it all worthwhile in the end obviously…
For sure, it already has been worthwhile in making that first step onto the podium. It’s been tough, knowing that there’s an easy life in Australia with lots of money, but I set goals years ago when I was 16 or 17 to be in Europe and every year I pretty much made steps in the direction I wanted to go, to achieve that goal. I never won a Lites title or an Open title, I just moved on, because it was just my plan, you know? There’s always plan B.
I’m just lucky enough to have my family and good friends with support around me, to direct me. That’s why I’m chasing my dream. Like it’s every kid’s dream to do it, but getting the guidance to do it is half the problem I think, because it is so easy to stay in Australia like you said, making good money and enjoying the sunshine.
I have spoken to a few people in the GP paddock, some of the press guys, and they seem really impressed with what they saw in you last year before you were injured. Was it a good reception within the paddock once you put it on the podium, sort of living up to your expectations in a way?
Yeah, I mean, to me I really don’t mind what anyone thinks. I haven’t really seen anybody from the paddock because it was a late night after the press conference and all that, but I think the response was pretty good. Like I said, it doesn’t really matter to me if people love me or hate me – I know who my friends are and who my support crew is, so I just get on with the job and try not to get distracted with all the hype of a podium and whatnot.
Perfect, well congratulations, awesome effort. It was really exciting for Australian fans, so well done once again.
Yeah, thank you.