It’s hard to know the strain the road takes on your body and mind without living it. But it’s easy to tell the difference once that stress is gone. When Justin Barcia went down with an ankle injury last summer, many thought Honda would call on Ben Townley or another former Honda rider. It was the Honda thing to do. Instead, Honda went down the path less traveled and called on Swedish privateer Fredrik Noren. During his time in the US, Noren had shown flashes but struggled with consistency, bike problems, you name it. Such is the life as a privateer. But in his time with Honda, Noren exceeded expectations on and off the track. Honda liked him so much that they helped him with parts at the Motocross of Nations and Monster Energy Cup. They wanted to find a place for him with Honda. And they did. For the second year, Crossland Racing has teamed with MotoSport.com. The team will be formally known as Motosport.com/GPI/Honda Racing and have some support from Honda. We called Fredrik last night to see what he had to say about his new deal.
Racer X: Next year will mark the first time you’ve entered a season with a deal in place. It must feel nice?
Fredrik Noren: Oh, yeah. I’m pretty pumped about it. Other years I’ve had to work and try to figure out everything myself. For 2015 I’ll be focused on riding and training—the team takes care of everything, pretty much. Like I said, I can just ride. I don’t have to do much more than that. That is a dream right there. It’s something I didn’t think was going to happen.
We spoke before you went to the des Nations, and you said that nothing was final, but you were hopeful. Now, a couple months later, how does it feel to have something done?
It feels great. It was kind of stressful waiting and watching everyone else get rides and signing and stuff. It’s really nice knowing that I have a team coming into 2015, and that I’ll be doing supercross and outdoors.
I guess you’re going to have to retire the van; no more driving to the races?
[Laughs] I still got it, though. I still have to get to the practice track somehow. But I’ll be flying next year, which is really nice. It was fun doing the van life, but it was hard.
Not more than six months ago you were driving to races, living on a shoe-string budget. Did you ever expect to get this far—riding with Honda this summer and having a deal in place?
It’s something you work on—trying to get with a team and to get where I am right now. I don’t know, I don’t remember what I thought I’d be doing six months ago. But it’s been a pretty eventful year for me—that’s for sure. Getting to ride with factory Honda and signing a deal for 2015 already…I don’t know what to say, it’s pretty cool.
Honda gave you a chance this summer. How important was it for you to stay with them?
It was really important for me. They helped me out a lot this summer, just getting the chance to ride one of their bikes and after that they were really supportive. It was a big learning experience for me, and they were really nice through it all. It’s really good that I can still be on the Honda.
According to the release, Honda will still be helping in some manner. How much, that you know of right now, will Honda be helping?
I actually don’t know much detail right now as far as what kind of factory stuff we’re going to get. I think that we are going to get some good support, which is going to help us a lot.
You’ve gotten to ride the bike a little bit. How close was it to the bike you rode this summer?
It’s hard to tell, because that was an outdoor bike and this is a supercross bike. Suspension and stuff was a lot stiffer and all that. But Honda is a really good bike that I feel comfortable on.
Supercross last year was a big learning curve for you. It probably didn’t go as well as you would have liked. What are you able to take away from last year?
Last year, like you said, wasn’t the greatest. I was able to learn a lot, though, like how it works and what it’s like to be there. What I didn’t do last year was I didn’t prepare myself nearly as much as I should have. I know what I need to do now to be ready, or at least to be close to ready. That was probably the biggest thing, just knowing what I need to do.
For those that aren’t familiar, in your home country of Sweden, there really aren’t big jumps like that. Can you explain how different it was going into supercross compared to what you grew up with?
Back home in Sweden, we don’t really have any supercross at all. It’s kind of like going from outdoors to supercross if you’re looking at what I grew up at. So, it was a big change. But right now, I have what I need to get ready, so I’m excited.
I’m not sure if you knew this growing up, but your team manager, Guy Cooper, is a legend in the US. How familiar are you with his past, and what do you think you’ll be able to learn from him?
I’m not that great with supercross history, but I know he’s been around for a long time, and he had a lot of good results when he used to race. Just knowing that is a big comfort. He knows where me and Tommy [Hahn] are at and what we need to do. Taking tips and stuff from him is really good, and I’ve learned a lot.
Have you got to spend much time with your new teammate, Tommy Hahn?
No, I haven’t got to spend much time with Tommy. But the time I have spent with him, he seems like a really cool guy. I’m really looking forward to having him as a teammate next year. I think we’re going to get along really well and have a whole lot of fun at races.
This is Crossland’s second year with MotoSport.com. Have you got to meet and talk with the head sponsors yet?
Yeah, I met Chris [Crossland, owner]. He was out here the other day, and I also met him at Monster Cup. He’s a really cool guy. It’s fun to meet new sponsors and really get to know them and it not just being a name on the bike. I’m actually going to Oklahoma soon to ride and hang out with the team. I’m really looking forward to it.
You said you were struggling with certain things in supercross last year. Are there certain things you’ve pinpointed to work on this off-season?
I really need to test a lot more. I need to find a set-up that works for me. I need to ride a lot of supercross tracks and spend a lot of quality training time on them, like working sections and doing motos and stuff like that. I just need to get familiar with riding different supercross tracks and test as much as possible.