One of the casualties of the Suzuki City collapse last year was Zack Freeberg. The rookie was left without a ride, one that he wouldn’t obtain until after supercross when he signed with Langston-Witt KTM. When that team folded in the off-season, the former Team Green Kawasaki prodigy was left looking for a ride again. This time he found help sooner rather than later. With help from Scott Witt (former owner of Langston-Witt KTM) and clothing sponsor Maykers, Freeberg came into the 2013 Eastern Regional 250SX series looking to regain the form that garnered him four major amateur titles. Freeberg struggled at the first two rounds, but the Florida kid bounced back with a career-high twelfth in St. Louis. We talked with him today about his career night and much more.
Racer X: After some early season struggles [failed to qualify in Dallas and Atlanta] you bounced back with a career-high twelfth in St. Louis. What, if anything, are you able to accredit the turnaround to?
Zack Freeberg: Obviously, like you said, I struggled in the first two rounds. I qualified fifteenth in practice in Dallas and struggled a little bit with some bike stuff. I got a really good start in the heat, but just drove it in too hot in the first corner. The LCQ was really stacked and I didn’t make it there. In Atlanta I had a really tough time getting the track down and just struggled all day. I was really bumming hard, because I knew my speed was there and I had worked really hard all off-season, but I tried to keep my confidence high and go in with a good attitude in St. Louis. And that’s what I did. So it was nice to see it pay off a little bit. I didn’t do what I wanted to do, but it’s a start in the right direction. I want to consistently be inside the top ten every weekend. I’ve had a rough couple weeks but it seems to be turning around.
Last season you had the Suzuki City deal fall through right before the start of the season. How much of a difference did it make to come into this season with a team already in place?
It’s unbelievable. I’m still backed by Scott Witt [Witt’s End Racing] and Maykers and it’s a great group of people. The bikes are awesome. Last year I didn’t start riding supercross until about four weeks beforehand and this year I started three weeks after outdoors. I love Hondas and that’s what we are on right now. Our setup is great and I couldn’t ask for anything else.
Freeberg had a career-high twelfth in St. Louis.
Simon Cudby photo
You signed with the now defunct Langston-Witt KTM team last year for the Nationals, but obviously Scott is still helping you out this season. How much is he still a part of your program, and how big was it to be able to stay with the same group of people?
It’s great. With the team [Langston-Witt Racing] shutting down, I don’t know really why that happened, but he’s a really good guy that sticks to his word. I think he may have felt bad that he left us hanging, but he’s taken care of us and he stuck to his word. I couldn’t ask for anything else. He’s also taken care of Les Smith after the team shut down and helped him a ton and helped me as well. Like I said, the guy does amazing things for me and I wouldn’t be racing without him.
You raced a majority of your amateur career under the prestigious Team Green Kawasaki tent. How much did that help in your transition to the pro ranks?
It was good. I rode Kawasakis from 2007 to 2012. That program is awesome. When I first got on that program I was amazed with what you got and the bikes and how good they were and the people I was surrounded with. [Adam] Cianciarulo was a big help with all of that. He put me around [Ryan] Villopoto. I was around the right people that were already in the pro scene. But it’s just tough with Kawasaki because there is nowhere to go but with Mitch Payton. If you’re not dominant you’re not going to get hired. That’s the way it works. It’s tough to go straight from Team Green Kawasaki to a Kawasaki team; the only place to go is with Mitch. It’s a little tough there, but I was around the right people and I came out of it okay.
You also dealt with some big injuries during your amateur career, including two broken femurs. What kept you motivated through that rough patch?
I have been riding a dirt bike since I was two and racing since I was four, so it’s just kind of in my blood. A couple of times I thought about it after it just happened and was like, ‘Man, what am I doing? This is not good.’ But a couple of weeks after I would get healed up, I would be itching to ride. I think it’s something that is just in me, and I don’t think I can ever get it out. I’ve been doing it for so long, it’s all I know how to do.
Freeberg looks to keep the momentum going this weekend in Daytona.
Simon Cudby photo
Daytona is a different type of track compared to your normal supercross venue. Any adjustments in setup going into the weekend?
I’m going to go in with the same setup I have been running. I have another set of suspension I might try, but other than that I will go with the same setup. I will still be training at my track, and I have this corner track that is sandy, so I’ll ride that to see how it feels.
You seem to have your own training ground down at your house in Florida. Who’s out there helping you?
Tim Ferry helps me out every once in a while with some things if I’m struggling. [Dean] Wilson has been out here a couple of times. [Jimmy] Decotis, [Vince] Friese and [Shawn] Rife come out here, so we have a good group of people that come out and ride every week. It’s good to have a group of people that come out and ride every week that are main event runners that all ride together and moto. It definitely helps come race time because you know how to gauge yourself and see where your speed is.
Thanks, Zack. Who would you like to thank for helping you out this season?
I want to thank Witt’s End Racing, Maykers, Pro Circuit, Renegade Fuels, BPM, Bell, Fly, SCOTT, Alpinestars, Engine Ice, Renthal, Cycra, Outlaw, Pit Posse, Kicker, Hinson, Dunlop, DT1, Rockwell Watches, ICW, Moto Tassinari, Galfer, Dubya, Moto Seat, RPM Science, Tim Ferry, my mechanic Cory and my parents.