Between the Motos: Jean-Sebastien Roy

September 17, 2008 12:09pm
This Saturday marks the 31st running of the Montreal Supercross in Olympic Stadium. It also marks the final time we’ll see the “King of Canadian MX,” Jean-Sébastien Roy, racing inside the “Big O.” JSR went into semi-retirement this summer, racing only regional events and one Canadian National. The five-time Canadian National Champion has had a long and successful relationship with the event. He first started racing Montreal back in 1990, has won four main events, and only missed the race once in 2006 because of injury. Can the Blackfoot Yamaha rider savor the taste of victory one last time?

By Danny Brault

Racer X: What’s going on, JSR?
Jean-Sébastien Roy: I’ve been riding and training quite a bit. I’ve done some local races and have been riding and training some supercross. I’m doing quite a bit more than I did in the summer. Of course, if you’re riding more, you’re also spending more time in the garage, working on bikes.

  • Five-time Canadian champ, Jean-Sébastien Roy is racing his final Montreal SX this weekend.
  • No longer chasing national titles, JSR now spends most of his time riding and racing his YZ250 two-stroke.
Are you still spending time on your two-stroke, or have you switched over to the 450 for the Montreal Supercross?
I’m going back forth now. When I ride outdoors, I’m on my two-stroke, and I will probably continue to do so because I really, really enjoy that bike. I’m going faster on it now, too, because I’ve spent more time on it. On my supercross track, I stick with my four-stroke because of the Montreal Supercross coming up, and I’m borrowing one of the team’s race bikes.

What is it about the two-stroke that you enjoy so much?
Usually, I do local races in Quebec. Even in the past, in `03, `04, I was going to local races on weekends off. Back then, I sometimes got beat by [Marc-Antoine] Genereux or [Simon] Homans or [Tim] Tremblay, but in the last two weeks, I’ve been winning on my two-stroke. I feel younger on the two-stroke. It’s just more fun to ride. I think tracks we ride here in Quebec, or even Canada, suit the two-stroke better. Our tracks aren’t as long and are fairly rough. When you get 600 riders at a provincial, the track gets rough and it’s not that long and fast. It’s easy to clean, easy to maintain and you can see the end of the bike. You can hold it on longer than a four-stroke. It’s just fun to ride and I like the sound.

Tell us about your decision to race your one and only Canadian National this year at the final round in Walton—and you did it on a two-stroke as well.
I was disappointed with the summer that we got; we had so much rain and I couldn’t do much riding. I was not expecting to be as busy as I was either. Between booking flights, flying to races, and organizing gear and all that stuff, I ended up not riding that much. When I got to Walton, I wasn’t in the best shape ever. I ended up buying a two-stroke at the start of the year and it turned a lot of people’s heads. Talking to a couple of industry people, I’m a strong believer in the two-stroke and I don’t think they are going to disappear. I think they still have a place in racing, especially for up-and-comers. It’s a huge a step for a kid to go from an 80 to a 250F to a 450F in two years. I think the 250 [two-stroke] is a really good option, for a lot of people, and budget wise too.

Next Saturday marks your, what, 17th Montreal SX?
Yeah, I would say so. My first one was in 1990. We missed the year when the roof collapsed and I missed one in `06 when I cartwheeled on the Friday before.

What do you remember most about your first time racing in front of 50,000 fans in Olympic Stadium?
I don’t remember much because I was so nervous [laughs]. What is special about the Montreal SX is the big dome, big stadium, and you can feel the vibration and sound from the fans. There’s this sound or noise or ambience like you’re under pressure and people are above your shoulders. There are so many fans and I remember being so nervous the first couple of times. It took me a couple of years to be able to ride and focus and ride 100 percent without too much stress.

You have five wins in Montreal?
I have four wins and a few podiums.

  • “Big O” will be full of life this weekend in Montreal.
Which win stands out the most for you?
Of course, my first win in ‘96 was special because a lot of guys, like [John] Dowd and [Doug] Henry, were racing. Then the one in front of Kyle Lewis was a big race for me. The one year, after September 11, was a little easier because not that many Americans made it across the border.

Is this going to be your last time racing Montreal?
Yes. Like you said, after 17 years, it’s time to back it off. I feel confident this year but next year I won’t do any nationals and I will really step it back from riding and racing. I won’t be competitive again next year for Montreal, so I want to give it a good last try. I know I can win it again; my fitness is there and I’m really confident. I’m going there to win, or be on the podium, for sure.

Who do you see as the biggest contenders this year in Montreal?
I haven’t seen the full entry list, but Canadians like Tyler Medaglia and Colton Facciotti will be tough, and Jason Thomas and Ryan Clark are coming again, too. They’ll be tough to beat because they’re experienced supercross riders. [Eric] Sorby will be tough as well. There are always some last-minute guys who show up, too.

You obviously play a big role with the event, not only on the track, but off of it as well. How do you help the promoters?
Yeah, the last eight years I’ve been a spokesman for that race. I do most of the radio and TV interviews to help promote the event. I will stay deeply involved with that event in the future helping with promotion. I’d like to work on a program to help Canadians and French Canadian riders be prepared for that race in the future. Maybe build a replica a couple of weeks before for them to practice on.

I’m sure there are quite a few Americans reading this interview, so what makes the Montreal Supercross unique to other indoor events and why should people attend?
Well, because we have the best nightlife [laughs]! It’s a good entertainment city. People like to hang out there, there’s good food and the nightlife is cool. There is only one event, compared to U.S. supercross, which has 16 rounds. In Canada, we only have one, so there are a lot of people going. You mix motocross fans with autocross, ATV and freestyle fans and things get loud. It’s more than just a race—it’s a big show. It’s more than a supercross round where everyone is super serious, going for points or a championship. This is one-night, one show, and you give it your all. After that, all the teams, riders and everyone hang out and go out together. It’s just a good time.