Between the Motos: Roger DeCoster

Roger DeCoster has headed up the Motocross des Nations team nearly every year since the early 1980s, and this year is no different. One thing that is different this year, though, is that his actual race team here in the USA is sending all three of its healthy riders to the MXdN, and only one of them is going to be riding for Team USA. We talked to him today for Between the Motos.

  • Roger DeCoster at last year's Motocross des Nations.
  • Two of DeCoster's three riders in the US are racing for Australia in Italy. Chad Reed is one.
  • Michael Byrne is the other.
  • Team Australia will be a repeat in 2009.
Racer X: You’re obviously the guy who normally handles a lot of the activity in building the Motocross des Nations team every year. How was this year’s situation different from all the past years in setting it all up?
Roger DeCoster: The difference is that in years where Ricky [Carmichael] or [James] Stewart are doing the outdoors, and they’re dominant, it’s pretty obvious and easy. You don’t have to be a magician to select a team. This year was a bit different because the guys were obvious at the start of the outdoors, but they got hurt, starting with [Ryan] Villopoto, then [Mike] Alessi, and [Josh] Grant got hurt, and [Andrew] Short, he seems to be better now, but until last weekend he had some issues. I’m not sure what was going on. So we had to go down the line to the next guy and see who was healthy right now, and it was obvious that Ryan [Dungey] should be the 250 pick with Villopoto and Alessi, but then when the injuries happened, we thought it made more sense to put Ryan on a 450 along with [Ivan] Tedesco, and then have [Jake] Weimer ride the 250, because we know he’ll be well-supported with Mitch [Payton, of Pro Circuit], who has always been a big supporter of the des Nations. So we think, on the surface, that’s a good team.

It’s not unheard of, but it’s unusual to have a guy bump up a class at the MXdN. Jeff Emig did it quite a few years ago on a KX500, but it’s still kind of bizarre.
I don’t think it’s that bizarre. I think a good racer can race any bike. You can put him on a 125 or 500 or 250 and I think a good racer is a good racer. I don’t believe so much in being a specialist who is only going to do good in one particular class.

How much went into deciding on Jake Weimer for the MX2 spot?
We talked about it with the AMA, with Mitch, with Davey Coombs, with the team managers... Ultimately, he made a lot of sense for us.

  • Ryan Dungey will be the number-one rider on an RM-Z450 in Italy.
  • Jake Weimer will be the MX2 rider.
  • Ivan Tedesco will be the MX3 rider.
Weimer is one of those guys who had to work his way to the front in the pros, so it’s kind of cool to have a guy like that going to the MXdN, isn’t it?
If you look at it, he finished strong in supercross, and he won two outdoors, too! It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be a tough race for him, but if he rides like he can, he should be fine, but it’s not going to be easy. We have four or five of our fastest guys hurt or not racing, with no Stewart, no Villopoto, no Ricky [Carmichael] and no Alessi.

What are the logistics like for your team to send three different 450 riders to the Motocross des Nations?
We need to do testing ahead of time on the fuel they run there, because there are some differences in the fuel with oxygen content, and then their sound limit is a little bit different. We’re already testing for that. And we’ll have a team ride day before we go over, and then one over there when we get there. We have to ship everything, get transportation... And with customs with motorcycles now, they’re considering dangerous goods because it’s an engine that uses flammable fuels, so you need special forms for all that...

That’s where Italy got in trouble a couple years ago at Budds Creek by trying to ship a bunch of wine and cheese in their bike crates...
Yeah, that’s not a good idea, transporting food items and souvenirs in your motorcycle shipping boxes!

How much did the pictures and the layout of the track help you decide on the guys you picked, all of whom have won quite a bit in supercross?
Yeah, we took that into account, the track design. It’s going to be built for the event specifically, so it’s going to be a supercross track where there’s timing involved and things like that, so it works to our benefit.