5 Minutes with...Brett Metcalfe

In 2003, Mannum, South Australia’s Brett Metcalfe jetted over to America to compete for Red Bull KTM, and he’s been here ever since. Having also raced for the Boost Mobile/Yamaha of Troy and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki teams during the past six years, Metcalfe has been a consistent podium-placing rider, but injuries and bad luck have kept him from a real shot at the AMA #1 plate. In 2008, Metcalfe was able to remain mostly injury-free and was rewarded with third place in the Lites MX National Championship. Recently, rumors have surfaced that Metcalfe would switch from the mighty Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki outfit to GEICO Powersports Honda. We were finally able to sit down with Metcalfe and get to the bottom of it all.

Racer X: Brett, you sound a lot better than when I spoke with you on Saturday.
Brett Metcalfe: [Laughs] Yeah, I’m getting a little bit better. I’m starting to liven up.

  • Brett Metcalfe on his new Honda.
  • Metcalfe is running #24 in 2009.
Did you catch some sort of flu or a cold?
Yeah, just some kind of flu or cold. It was kind of weird. My lungs are so full of phlegm and I have a congested head and my nose is all blocked up. It sucks, but I feel a little better. I just got back from riding today, actually. I felt a lot better this morning while riding, so it was good.

Were you riding at the Honda track?
No, actually, I’ve just been riding a little bit of outdoors first. I haven't started supercross yet. I’ll probably start that either this weekend or next week.

So have you just been riding a production Honda?
Yeah, I’ve basically just been riding one of the team’s practice bikes. The suspension and motor and everything is done up. The only thing that will be different on the race bike is that it’ll have a race motor and the suspension will be a little more tuned in. I’m just kind of riding a regular setup right now.

You haven't started any serious supercross testing yet?
No, I haven’t started at all. I wanted to start on outdoors a little bit while I’m still kind of fresh from outdoors and just work on my setup a little bit. It’s been more about ergonomics and where I like the handlebar position and what I want to do with the sub-frame and this and that. I’ve tried a couple of different measurements here and there and played around with some small stuff. We’ll play around with some small stuff and get a comfortable setup and then we’ll go and hit the supercross track and get into the more serious testing stuff.

I know it’s early and you’re not riding a full-on race bike, but do you like the Honda so far?
Yeah, so far it’s awesome, man. I’m really stoked with it. Man, the first day out on the bike, after the second or third ride out, I was already feeling comfortable on it. I was really stoked and happy with it. I know a lot of guys sign deals and they’ve already pre-ridden the bike and know it. I actually didn’t. It was something I had to have trust in. I finally got to ride it and it put my mind to rest. I was like, Hey, this bike is definitely competitive and is a bike that can win races.

Okay, the big question: I know you pretty well and had no idea you were making the switch from the Pro Circuit team to the Factory Connection team. It all really came out of the blue. Can you tell us how the transition actually played itself out?
Yeah, nothing at all bad went down from my side and I don’t think from their side, either. There were no problems between Mitch and myself. Obviously, they were highly disappointed. From my side, between Mitch and myself, we kind of had a small verbal agreement to stay. This was after Budds Creek. He called me after that race and said, “Hey, I’d like to keep you for next season.” I pretty much said okay. That was what we had spoke about at that time. There wasn’t any other discussion other than that.
       My agent, David Evans, had spoken to Mitch and Mike Fisher [Kawasaki's team manager]. My contract comes through Kawasaki Racing; it’s not through Pro Circuit. Kawasaki Racing said to David, “We’ll get an agreement over to you guys really soon here and you guys can look at it and we’ll start putting it together.” Time went by. That was good for me. I was like, “Cool. I’ll focus on racing.” At that time I was a little bit hurt and I was determined to get back to being healthy and riding podium races. The season was basically stringing on and we still didn’t have an agreement, and I didn’t feel like we were in a position to chase it down.
       At that point I was consistently getting on the podium. Actually, at the last five rounds I was either on the podium through a moto or an overall result. So, like I said, I thought they were going to come to me like they said and deliver. It never happened. It didn’t happen until the end of the season. We finally asked where it was and then we had it within a few days. That kind of upset me a little bit. The fact that Kawasaki couldn’t come through with the contract at that time bothered me. At the same time, I trusted Mitch, and Mitch said he wanted to keep me. So there was that going on and there was also some sort of theory I had with the team. Even though it’s an unbelievable team and the bikes are regarded as the best bikes on the racetrack — and they are — at the time there was something inside of me that just didn’t feel like things were flowing well for me there. It was all me.
       When I made the final decision whether I was going to stay or leave, that feeling was what I based my decision on. It just didn’t feel right. It just didn’t fit with me. It didn’t feel right to stay there again. That wasn’t the deciding factor. It wasn’t about the money. It wasn’t that at all. The deciding factor was just my initial gut feeling that I had and I just went with that.

So it just wasn’t flowing there for you.
There was just some sort of element of personality that I wasn’t comfortable. I wasn’t comfortable myself. That’s something that can happen with any team and anywhere. I’m not necessarily pointing any fingers anywhere. It just wasn’t really a comfortable place for me. Every personality in every single human being is completely different to another. And even though you share some similarities, we all look at things different. Pro Circuit was awesome. I definitely can’t say it was bad. It was a great team. Mitch was awesome. Everybody there was great. It was just the feeling I had. It was something inside myself that just didn’t flow there in that team and in that environment. I just couldn’t do another year there. I thought it was better for me to walk away and go onto something else.

How did you end up meeting the Factory Connection team? How did the dialog open up?
It opened up pretty close to the end of the season. It really was just a last-minute deal. I had a couple other teams approach me. For them, it was a smaller interest. When the Factory Connection Honda team came around, they were talking about a 450 ride. It would have been Supercross Lites and 450 outdoors. They were talking to me kind of along those terms. That really, really lit a fire underneath me. If that deal would have worked out, it would have been awesome, but they were kind of waiting on some sponsorship to come in. In the end, unfortunately, the way the timeline worked out, they didn’t have their sponsorship deals in time and so the 450 ride didn’t work out. That kind of fell through and it became a Lites-only deal.

Do you have a good feeling abut the new team that you’re now a part of?
This is just the initial part of our relationship, but man, everyone has been great. I’ve talked to J.C. [Waterhouse] the most so far. [Team owner] Jeff Majkrzak has been great. Ziggy [Rick Zielfelder] seems awesome. We did a whole team introduction. I went there one day and met all the mechanics and all the stuff. I met my mechanic Brian Kranz. I’ve known Brian since the Yamaha of Troy days back in 2005. So I know Brian, and I’m excited to work with them. I think that’s going be cool. All the mechanics and everyone seemed like a very tight-knit group and that is really cool.

Do you know what coast you’ll ride yet and what do you want to accomplish in supercross in 2009?
Number one, at this moment, I don’t know what coast I’ll be racing. It’s my feeling that it’s 50/50. It’s not leaning either way. I’m going to go wherever the team decides. I don’t really care what coast it is. I’ve already told the team that. I’m not leaning towards one coast or favoring one coast. Whatever it is. But this year I definitely expect to be in the battle or to win that championship. This year I finished fourth in the West Region and had a few podiums and some good races. I think my supercross is getting definitely better each year now. I just seem to be putting it together a little bit better each year. Hopefully, this year I can come in and not have any real bad races where they set you back in the points and you have to work your way back. This year I want to be up front the whole time and give myself the chance to win the championship.

How about the outdoors? If you’re healthy, I believe you can win the National Championship.
Yeah, I believe that if I stay healthy and do everything right that there is no reason why I can’t win that championship. That’s something to focus on quite heavily. I’m looking forward to competing in that series. But there’s going to be some good contenders. There are a lot of younger riders now that are on the gas. These kids seem to be coming out of the amateurs now and they’re jumping on good bikes and they’re just excelling. They have so much speed under their belts. You look at guys like my teammate this year [Austin] Stroupe. He’s going to be strong. Obviously, Ryan Dungey. Trey Canard is another example. They’re just coming straight out of amateurs and it’s “boom!”—they’re straight in. Dungey, Canard, Stroupe, Pourcel, that whole group will be the meat of it and I think they’ll be like five to ten other guys that can do it too. Man, this Lites class is really deep with talent, and it's kind of cool to be a part of it. Every weekend it a battle now. It’s awesome.

You’ve been in America for six years now. Are you pleased with what you’ve accomplished?
I’m very pleased. This year of racing was my sixth year. I’m really, really pleased with the way it’s working out for me right now. It’s taken some time. I guess it’s taken a lot longer than I initially thought it would, but sometimes that’s just how it rolls. This year I’m putting everything I’ve learned into my racing and my everyday life. I guess I’m just growing older and becoming more mature.