5 Minutes With… Joey Savatgy

5 Minutes With… Joey Savatgy

May 10, 2013 1:20pm

The hype surrounding the 2013 rookie class centered around the likes of Jessy Nelson, Zach Bell, Justin Hill and Jeremy Martin. Yet, it was the lesser known (to some) Joey Savatgy that had the most consistent 2013 Monster Energy Supercross season, which garnered him Rookie of the Year honors. Joey was able to persevere through his team collapsing (J-Star JDR KTM) and opened the eyes of not only KTM, but sponsors like FMF. Now, with just eight days until the 2013 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, Savatgy is backed by a new team, FMF/Orange Brigade/KTM, and is excited to have a solid foundation going into the Nationals.

Racer X: You came into your rookie season a little bit under the radar. But quickly garnered national attention and proceeded to win Rookie of the Year honors. How much does that award mean to you?
Joey Savatgy: Looking at my year, I had a pretty good year. It had its ups and downs but to be honest with you I wasn’t happy at all with any of my results. My potential is much better than what I showed. The results that I wanted did not come. I wasn’t really proud of myself to say the least. I know I can do a lot better. I know I’m still working on stuff and with this new team coming in and the team going under… I don’t want to make any excuses and say that it took away any of my attention. But there’s always that doubt in the back of your mind that every time you go out you’re riding for a ride, and if the results don’t come then no one really wants to pick you up. So that added a little bit more pressure. I don’t want to say that it made me ride any worse. I just was thinking about that probably too much. And that’s not what I should have been focused on. I had some struggles with the bike and wasn’t comfortable. Obviously Rookie of the Year was good, but I’m really excited for outdoors.

Midway through the season it was announced that JDR was closing down after supercross. So you’re saying that had an impact?
Honestly I don’t want to sit here and make excuses as to why I didn’t perform like I wanted to, but it was definitely in the back of my mind. There’s people who were always like, “Oh you’ll get a ride, you’re a great rider.” And honestly there are so many fans behind me for what I’ve done so far. I haven’t really won any races or done anything too spectacular, but there are so many people that are behind that keep me going from each race. Even when I have a bad race there’s so many people that always tweet me and text me and stuff and tell me that they’re behind me and they’re still a fan of me, which makes my job that much better, to know that people are proud of me no matter what the results are. It makes it that much better. But to know that our team was going under kind of sucked. I was just getting used to things, and just getting to know everyone and kind of getting into a routine and to have that taken out from underneath me kind of threw me off balance. But I had to work through that and I knew I had a few more rounds to get through before the decision came. I tried to do the best I could, and like I said the results didn’t come. But thankfully everyone over at KTM/FMF/Orange Brigade and they saw something that they liked and they want to keep me around on this bike. So I really couldn’t thank them enough for everything they’ve done for me so far.

Savatgy laying it down on his new FMF/Orange Brigade/KTM.
Simon Cudby photo

This deal has been in the works for a while. And it was finally announced this week, that you’re going to be joining the newly formed FMF/Orange Brigade/KTM team. Can you take us through how the deal came into place? When did talks begin?
Well, to be honest with you, it all started after Oakland. I talked with Roger DeCoster and Carlos, Ryan’s mechanic. They wanted to help me and they weren’t sure as to what they were going to be able to do. Kind of sat around on that and had a few other offers come up, went and rode some different bikes. And I just really felt like I might as well wait around and see if Roger was able to do anything for me. Obviously that guy knows a lot. He’s a very smart guy. You got to look at what he brought Ryan Dungey up from. And they won the West Coast championship this year [with Ken Roczen]. So the guy definitely knows what he’s doing and he definitely knows his stuff. So if I was going to wait around on a ride I was going to wait around on that one. Thankfully everything was able to come through. To have them behind me and have their bikes, it definitely boosts your confidence a lot. I’d probably say it adds a little bit more pressure knowing that the bikes I’m on are as good as everyone else’s. But now I’m up for that challenge and I think outdoors is going to go a lot better for me.

How much different is the bike? And what aspects of your program and training will change?
Yeah, to be honest with you, the bikes, they were pretty close. It’s hard to say. The bike that I’m on right now, the one that I just got from KTM, I would say it’s pretty fast. Suspension is really good, and that’s the main thing. Unfortunately I don’t want to sit here and point fingers and blame anyone but I struggled a lot this year, a lot more than I wanted to, with my suspension and setup. I think so far the testing that we’ve done with KTM and the stuff that they have underneath me, I feel is capable of podiums. I think as the year goes on and the more I learn I think the results should come. Going into Hangtown I don’t really have... expectations aren’t too high. Just going to go out there and get some good starts, and run with those guys at the beginning and see what kind of pace they’re running and if I can run that pace. I’m definitely going to put 110 percent out there and try and run with the front guys.

Savatgy won 2013 Supercross Rookie of the Year honors after a stellar 250SX West Region campaign.
Simon Cudby photo

Talk a little bit about KTM, and FMF, as well, basically having the confidence in you to build a team around you to keep you on the bike. What does that mean?
It’s amazing. I couldn’t thank any of those guys enough. The fact that they sat down, little Don Emler and big Don Emler, sat down with Roger and John from KTM and said, “Hey, we felt this kid out. We’ve been around him since 60s. He’s a good kid and I think he has potential. We want to do something for this kid.” And for them to sit down and actually put all the effort that they put into it, then actually making it come around. It’s just crazy. It makes me feel good knowing that all the hard work I’ve put in so far has at least let me show some talent and speed. But, like I said, the results have not come yet. But I think that’ll come, the more races that I do and the more comfortable that I get I think the results will start to come.

What do you think you’ll be able to learn from Roger?
Roger’s a smart guy. I think once we come outdoors I think he’ll able to sharpen me up. I’m training out here right now with Colleen Millsaps and little Brian Johnson and my trainer Clint. Colleen and little Brian are great on the track. Obviously she raised Davi and you look at Davi and he’s a solid guy on a bike. He’s fast; he had the points lead for nine rounds I think this year. Obviously he knows what to do. We had Barcia for a long time and look at him. He won two East Coast titles and he’s a fast guy. I know she knows what she’s talking about, but I also think that Roger’s a little bit more experienced than Colleen as far as being around the races and setup with the bikes, seeing how he does a lot of it. So I think with the combination of those three, I think it’s going to be great. I can’t even express how excited I am to start racing.

We’re less than two weeks away from the opener. Unlike some of your rookie counterparts you didn’t ride the last couple outdoors after Loretta’s. Looking back, do you wish you had gotten your feet wet? Or do you think that’s really not going to matter too much?
I don’t really think so. I was hurt coming into Loretta’s. I rode maybe two or three days before Loretta’s. My last day really wasn’t the greatest. I think the choices I made and the path that we had set from the beginning is the right path. Even though this hasn’t been the best year for me, I’m healthy and we’ve made some progress and ended up on a really good team with some really good people.

People that maybe didn’t follow your amateur career probably thought your supercross season was somewhat of a surprise. I think the people that did follow you probably weren’t as surprised. But I think people are expecting it now. Does that add any pressure to perform at a certain level outdoors?
I think, like you said, people that didn’t know me and didn’t really… I wasn’t the most hyped amateur to come around and I didn’t have the best amateur years. But the people that I was around a lot—my family, my trainers, and everyone that I ride with—they were not really surprised with my results at all. To be honest with you I kind of let everybody down. I figured I would have done a little bit better once I got my feet wet. But that’s the past and I can’t really dwell on that. I don’t think it’s any more pressure. I think it’s something to thrive off of. When people expect me to do good I think it motivates me even more to come back each weekend and work on whatever I was struggling with. Obviously I want to do good and I want to make everyone that’s around me proud.

Savatgy will make his debut with the new team at Hangtown.
Simon Cudby photo

Yourself, like a lot of guys were brought up through the ranks of the MTF program. How much of an impact did that have to get you to where you are today?
They almost weren’t going to let me do a three-week camp because they didn’t allow 60s here. They let in, I think, two other 60 kids that have been here, George Smith and Gauge Linville, but growing up on 80s I rode with Barcia a lot and he was definitely not the nicest guy around. He’d go out of his way to hit you. At the time I hated the kid. I could not stand it. But I couldn’t thank him enough. He tortured me to the point where now you can’t really fluster me. You run it in on me, it is what it is. It doesn’t really phase me; I’m used to it. When you grow up with Bam Bam a lot there’s not too many things that are going to surprise you. When you get into one of those matches I’m actually probably a lot more prepared than I would have been if I hadn’t rode with Justin.

You’re pretty active in the social media. How important do you feel it is to interact with your fans?
Obviously I tweet a lot, but I like to get back to everyone that tweets to me. There are those people out there that when they tweet you they want an answer back. And when you answer them, even if it’s just a simple yes or no answer, it makes their day. They can go back to their friends or their family and say, “Hey, I tweeted Joey and he tweeted back.” It’s great for our fans, and I try to do that as much as possible. Sometimes I’m not able to get back to people and some people might think I’m blowing them off. I try to get back to everyone that I can because I was a kid one day and when I tweeted people and used to want to meet people and they never gave me the respect that I wanted, or they weren’t the nicest people... I remember that. I try to be a role model as much as possible. When people tweet me or see me at the races and they ask me for goggles or a jersey, I try to do everything I can because if you sign a pair of goggles, or give a kid a high five, or take a picture with him, that can really make their day, let alone their year. So I try to keep active with the fans as much as possible.