Behind the scenes with the former professional racer.
Following an impressive racing career Ryan Marmont made the transition into life beyond competition by taking over the MXR&D retail store and workshop that he relocated to North Wollongong in New South Wales. Building race bikes for multiple aspiring racers, Marmont noticed the need and demand for his racing expertise growing and gradually moved into a mentor role for a list of young and talented contenders. Now a regular at the Motul MX Nationals events every weekend supporting riders such as Egan Mastin and Jy Roberts to name a few, we decided to check in with the 32-year-old to see how this all came about and take a closer look at his entire program.
After retiring from professional racing and purchasing the MXR&D business, how did it evolve from there and turn into your current situation supporting a list of young riders every week?
When I bought the shop it was already established and it was the right place and the right time for me to take that on. I had a vision of setting it up for the serious racer that needs to make it in the industry. They’re at a critical part of their career when they’re at that 14 to 19 years of age mark, and I think that’s right at the point when you’ve got your talent, you’ve put everything out there, and you just need some final touches on trying to crack the industry and trying to become what you want to become as a racer. I started seeing that a lot with my shop and I was getting a lot of calls and queries about the work we were doing, but also that level of the people needing more than just some work on their bike. These people really needed some mentoring, as you said, so I thought, you know what? I’m going to try and pass on some knowledge here and I started working with some guys that are really taking it serious and need to be recognised. I think the little bits of input that we put into them are starting to create a lot of momentum and we’re getting some good results. I’m really enjoying passing on that knowledge and from being a racer who’s been there and done that, you can relate to when they’re going through good times and hard times. I try to help out and balance that and it’s kind of showing now on the track now with some of these riders.
As you said, you enjoy passing on your knowledge to these riders, but how exactly do you transfer this knowledge over to your riders to ensure success on race day and what are some of the things you help them with?
I started seeing some kids who were showing some brilliant things on the motorcycle, but there were some massive holes missing in their programs. Some of them I just stumbled across because they wanted the best bike out there, and I’m kind of my own worst enemy in the shop. I don’t sugar coat to people, I don’t tell them the things they want to hear. They want to hear that they’re going to have the quickest bike out there, but sometimes that’s not the case. So in the shop I’ll build a bike that’s good enough to win, I believe we can do that, and we work really hard behind the scenes. I set programs for the riders and we work on a weekly basis, I’m out of the shop during the week spending a couple of days at the track with the guys. I set them really good programs and I get the kids to set their goals basically on what they want to be and what they want to achieve. That’s where we’re really working at the moment and it’s opening doors up. I obviously have some connections throughout the industry and I’m leaning on people that leant on me for my career, so it’s done a big circle in keeping me in the industry. And now we’re there and we’re kind of starting to be at the point end in each one of the classes with the kids that I look after.
Did you ever expect to be back at the races touring the national circuit after doing it for much of your life already as a racer?
It’s one of those things, when you’ve tasted success in racing and you get that feeling inside you, it’s almost like it’s your fix, that’s your adrenaline that you’re always trying to chase. I guess now that I’m not riding anymore and I’ve gotten a bit older, my time is done on the bike; this is almost the next best feeling in a way. And it’s not just chasing the glory of winning on a weekend, it’s the hard work that goes on behind the scenes that makes it taste that much better. When you’re working week-in, week-out, and then a victory does finally come, you definitely do feel a part of it. So that’s the biggest thing that I probably couldn’t take a step away from, I love that part of the sport and that has been a big thing. As a mentor, even throughout my career I was teammates with a lot of younger riders also and I almost feel like they definitely looked up to me. When I would say a couple of words of advice or encouragement, you could see them actually listening. So on the mentoring side, I feel that I can relate to what the riders are going through and we get along on a personal level where they trust what I’m saying and I’m trying to tell them the right things – I really like that side of it. My big goal would probably be to have a team of my own one day, or a group of guys that are really out there getting the results, that’s my goal for what I’m doing at the moment. So far we’re ticking the boxes and it doesn’t happen over night, but it’s all getting there.
After putting in the hard work behind the scenes with your riders such as Egan Mastin for example, it must feel good to see them achieving success and moving forward throughout the season?
For sure, Egan’s someone that I only just started working with a week before the first round. I didn’t know his past too well, I obviously knew him being a New South Wales kid and followed the younger kids coming through, but he’d been over in the United States trying to crack it and just didn’t quite get the break he needed. I sat back and thought, could I help someone like him achieve his goals? We found each other, he’s been listening and the kid has really been starting to put it together and work it out. I feel for him it’s going to be the second part of the season where he’s going to be quite strong, he’s learning week-in, week-out and it’s great to be able to help him and kind of mold him into something that you want. And then I’ve got Jy Roberts that I work with and he’s worked with myself and been a customer of mine since the start of last year. He’s a very cool, calm and collected kid that is starting to turn a lot of heads and I believe he has the talent to make it happen. We’ve got some other kids that we work with too behind the scenes on the junior side such as John Bova, I love his work ethic, it’s something that’s second to none. So for some of these kids, when it actually clicks for them, you can just take it all in and the hard work starts paying off. It’s good to see and I guess the one thing with what I’m doing is that no two kids are exactly the same, they’ve all got their strengths and weaknesses. It’s just a matter of trying to make their weaknesses their strengths so to speak and when it all comes together it’s actually good to watch on a weekend.
It must be a good feeling to be back at the track in a mentor role along with your older brother Jay who’s also now back at the races each weekend as team manager at the KTM Motocross Racing Team?
Yeah it is definitely, it’s great to see what Jay has had going on this year with KTM coming to the party with him. It’s been a big thing and I think it’s a key that was maybe missing at the team a little bit during the last couple of years. You see the riders listen and Jay’s the same, he’s learning in ways to speak to the guys so they can relate as well. It’s one thing doing it under the helmet yourself and what made you become what you became, but it’s another thing to actually put yourself in the other person’s shoes and relay it across the right way. Not everyone likes to be spoken to the same way sometimes, so you need to actually get it across so they know you’re only trying to tell them for the good of their riding. You’re not saying it in a nasty way, but sometimes you need to be told the stuff you don’t want to hear and then there are times when you have to bring the great out in people. I think Jay is probably doing quite a good job there at KTM where he is and they’ve had one rider coming off a serious injury and it’s been a bit of work for them to keep him going but his results are improving. Then they’ve got [Kirk] Gibbs who’s a pass champion who knows what he needs to do, so he’s got a good thing going on and I think they respect him quite highly and together they’re going to make it happen, that’s for sure.
Finally, for those aspiring racers out there who want to take that next step, how can they get you involved in their racing program?
Yeah that’s definitely something I’ve made myself available for and we’re at every round of the MX Nationals and at big select junior events. So for people that really want to try and take that next step in their career, the people who really want to see if they can make it. It’s that critical transition from the junior to senior ranks and we offer packages for those people. We either offer a short-term thing for people who may want to get themselves ready for a specific race, or we work with the guy week-in, week-out over a period of time. People can contact me at the shop at MXR&D and I take my work and racing very seriously and try to offer quite a unique service and the results are showing that.