Features 3 Dec 2013

Catching Up: Dean Ferris

Australian ace speaks out about his Red Bull KTM contract.

Australian Dean Ferris showed at the 2013 Monster Energy Motocross of Nations that he is a very special talent. We had seen glimpse of it throughout the GP season, but not too many – probably not even Ferris himself – could have hoped for such a surprising result.

Not only did he run with German sensation Ken Roczen, but his laps times were consistently quicker than everyone including multiple world champion Antonio Cairoli and former American Motocross and Supercross Champion Ryan Dungey.

Once the dust had settled at the MXoN and Team Australia matched their second-best result of all time, the world media wanted to get a piece of the Aussie sensation. It was at this moment that Ferris gave his dream to one day race in the American Supercross and Motocross Championships.

That dream was realised this week when the Red Bull KTM Factory team in America signed Ferris to race the 2014 AMA Supercross and Motocross Championships. We caught up with him and asked him about reaching the next level in his ultimate dream to be American champion.

Dean Ferris will ride for Red Bull KTM in the US next season.

Source: KTM.

Dean, first congratulation on the new deal. You had that amazing result at the MXoN, did you have talks pretty quickly with teams after that race. How did the interest come about to race in America?

I expressed my interest about going to America to the media that I eventually wanted to race in America, because there was a lot of media there, also from America, and I mentioned that I would like to go to the States to race.

Nobody contacted me at that point, and as far as I knew I was just going with the original plan to do the GPs in 2014.

Of course that performance in Germany, really opened the doors for you…

I mean the des Nations was good for me, in every aspect, I proved I could do it and I could step up and make it happen, but at no point did I think I would be going to the states in 2014. I had a deal with Dixon and I was just pumped I did well.

Then obviously there was contact between yourself and KTM. Steve [Dixon] is a good guy and I am sure that must have been a difficult decision. I mean, which rider wouldn’t want to race for the Red Bull KTM Factory team? Probably the strongest MX team in the world.

It was hard, I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. I mean the Red Bull KTM team, probably the best team in the world and going to America where I eventually wanted to be. It was a sticky situation for a while, but I spoke to Steve for a few weeks and eventually we came up with a deal for me to leave.

We talked about it all year long, that the Yamaha was possibly the quickest bike in the GP paddock. Now you are on KTM. How does it compare to that Yamaha?

It’s a nice bike [the KTM], the motors are different, different types of power, but I have just been riding Supercross, and its hard to tell too much about the chassis, but I felt comfortable on it straight away and that is a plus for sure.

Obviously going to America for an Aussie isn’t that difficult. You must be enjoying the nice weather after trudging through Belgium in the snow and rain?

America feels a lot like Australia, the weather has been good the whole time I have been here and everyone is super friendly, but in saying that I really enjoyed my time in Belgium. It was such a change and I took that in my stride and I learn about the Belgians and Dutch and it was a great experience. America feels a little like being back home.

Supercross you have ridden in Australia, and in my opinion with your riding style and the support from the Red Bull KTM team I feel you have a good shot at winning in Supercross with Roczen and Tomac now moving to the 450 class. What is your goal for 2014 in Supercross?

I don’t want to go in there with all guns blazing and get hurt, I want to feel my way in. I have the speed and a good bike, but I just want to stay safe through Supercross, that is my main goal and then for outdoors I want to go for the title and be fully healthy.

A solid MXoN performance put Ferris on the radar internationally.

Source: Monster Energy.

The team said this is a learning year in Supercross and that is awesome that the pressure isn’t there in Supercross, but the most pressure will come from myself and I want to keep a level head and get through the championship.

Yes, but saying that you must feel like you could have the pace to run up front?

I think I can, but I don’t want to go in with all the hopes in the World and crash or whatever. I want to come in calm and collected and see where that gets me and just back myself to do well in the motocross championship.

The American tracks should suit you a little compared to the tracks back in Australia, or not? Are they a little more similar than the GP circuits?

Some Aussies tracks are a bit small, but I have some practice tracks that look like AMA tracks, but as for as racing in Oz, it isn’t on par. I hope the soil is good and it gets rough and technical, because as you know, that is where I shine.

I mean it is all new tracks, different weather, but I adapt pretty quick so I don’t think that will be a problem.

We will miss you in Europe, but it was a great experience for you wasn’t it? A great learning experience.

I learnt a lot in Europe. Being on my own, alone, away from home and taking care of myself. There were so many races in a grand prix championship that you get so many chances to learn about your body, the bike, everything like that.

I had an awesome two years in the grand prix and I wouldn’t change it for anything, and I made some life-long friends there.

What about working with the Steve Dixon team. It seemed like you all had a good working relationship.

I had a good year with Steve, and I really enjoyed working with Victor, my mechanic. I established myself as a top international rider there and that ultimately led to the offer from KTM. I am glad Steve and I could work out an agreement so I could follow my dream.

What was your favourite GP or country?

I loved Finland, I have some friends there and I got to go riding with my old team-manager Kari Tiainen. I just really enjoyed that country and of course Belgium was also a good GP for me – my first ever GP win.

I wouldn’t change anything, I think I travelled to like 18 countries in 2013 and I am only 23 years old. Most people don’t get to travel to that many countries in their life. I am a pretty lucky guy.

What type of deal is the KTM deal, just for 2014?

It is just a one-year deal. To do the West Coast Supercross and outdoors.

Multiple MXGP podiums and a round win highlighted Ferris' 2013 campaign.

Source: Yamaha Motor Europe.

Going to America, is it financially better, or more about the opportunity?

It is about the opportunity, when it came up it was the direction I wanted to take – a good bike a good team racing in America.

You are also working with Roger De Coster and many other respected names in the Red Bull KTM team. What is it like working with that team?

Roger is great, when we chat he always has good advice, but the whole team is awesome, they have such a good program and we are getting stuff done pretty quick, I will get to know everyone better as the season rolls on. I have only been here two weeks, but it has been really good.

You don’t seem to get nervous, I remember at the MXoN this year with that huge crowd and a lot of pressure from your Saturday performance you remained pretty solid. But moving into the biggest team in the world and riding in front of 70,000 spectators at an AMA Supercross race, will that test those nerves?

I can’t say what will happen, I mean I might get nervous at the AMA Supercross, but all I can do is prepare myself and I don’t think anything is too daunting for me, and I will just get on with it and see what happens.

With Chad now on the later stages of his career and your career just taking off, it is important to be the top Aussie in world motocross.

I haven’t really thought about that. It is not important for me to be the top Aussie. I always wanted to do the best I could and I think Chad will have a good year, he is getting himself set up to do well. I am not out there trying to be the best Aussie, I just want to do the best for myself.

Do you think you might hook up with Chad a little? He is always doing his best to help out younger Aussies.

I haven’t had much to do with him. I spoke on the phone once before and he gave me some advice, which was good. We might catch up this year and have a chat, probably just about Australia or something. I would love to meet up with him, that would be cool.