Michael Lindsay has been turning heads this off-season with the announcement of his new team going into the 2020 season. The FXR/Chaparral Honda Racing team as it will be known features Jerry Robin, Justin Starling, Chris Blose, and Coty Shock. Robin, Blose, and Starling plan on racing some 450 rounds on the West Coast before heading to the 250SX class for the East Region Championship. Supercross rookie Coty Schock will be racing the 250SX West Region Championship for the team in the coming weeks. We caught up with Robin, Starling, and Schock last week to see how things are going.
Racer X: Let’s talk about coming off 2019. How did you feel looking back on the season? How can you build on what happened in 2019 going into 2020?
Jerry Robin: Two thousand nineteen went pretty good. I held back at times just to play it safe and get a result. I kind of went away from the fast guy, the “four or five lap” guy, to being solid the whole time. I just really wanted to get away from that and get a solid year under my belt and I think it played a good role in what’s going on [for me] in 2020. I think just kind of keep that roll going, and we’ll go from there.
And moving into this team for 2020, how did it all come about? How did you get in touch with Michael Lindsay, and when did the team deal start becoming a thing that could happen?
Well actually, Michael started working on bike stuff for me even before he had the team idea at Fox Raceway [National]. From there, we kind of worked on some things. Then, he told me he was getting a semi and support from a manufacturer. I was like, “What do you think is going on from there?” and he was like, “Well, I’d like to do a team.” So, he started talking to some other people and now here we are with a semi and four riders [Laughs].
So, what has the team atmosphere been like? Obviously working with Justin, Coty, Chris, how have you guys all jived together?
Honestly, it’s really easy going. We get along really good. I’ve lived with Justin and Michael for the last two-and-a-half months at Michael’s house, Chris just got back on the bike from Australia, and Coty is like the young gun. It’s cool to kind of have a veteran [Blose], Justin has been racing a while, and me and Coty are like the lesser experienced guys so to say. It’s nice, I like it.
Obviously, you’re back on the 450 for right now, looking to do some races to start the year. How much time on the 250 versus the 450 did you have before making this decision, and how much time have you had on the bike since the end of the season?
Well, our team kind of switched to East about two weeks ago. From that point on I told Michael that I’m going to have to race 450SX West and pay some bills. So, I got a 450 and I’ve been on it about five days now. So, yeah, it’s going well.
Moving over to 250SX East, getting back on the 250, where do you set your goals based off last year and how things go on the 450?
It’s kind of hard to say. I’m just going to take it race by race in 450s, obviously. I mean there’s… I don’t even know how many factory guys. I think like 20. So, it’s going to be pretty tough to make the main, I think. But, dropping down to 250 on East, I mean the bike’s going to be lighter and there’s going to be less time. So, I think when East comes around, I’ll definitely be ready and definitely want to shoot for the top ten every race, and crack into the top five hopefully.
So, how much time out in California have you had? I know that, obviously, you’ve been living with Michael and Justin. When did you move out here, and how much time have you had to prep from outdoors until now?
Well, after the season, I stopped riding for a while. I just kind of rode for fun here and there with my buddies. I came out here at the end of September, and then I rode for about two weeks before Monster Cup. So, I haven’t really had that much time, and then I hurt my back and was off the bike for almost a month. So, that took quite a bit of prep time away. That was a bummer, but all-in-all it’s nice to be out here. It’s better than Minnesota.
I was going to say, I think last year when I talked to you, you were just last-minute coming to California trying to throw a deal together. Has it at least been nice that you’ve been able to come out here early and have that time to set in a little bit?
Yeah! I mean, at this point last year, I had a total of less than two weeks on a supercross track. So, I’m definitely a lot more prepared and have a lot more experience after last year. Fitness is getting a lot better, so comparing last year at this point to this year, I’m light years ahead.
Alright, last question. If you could rub a magic ball and see yourself at the end of 2020, what’s putting a smile on Jerry Robin’s face?
Factory ride. I mean, that’s the goal. That’s everybody’s goal at the end of the year, so hopefully it’s a good year and I’ll end up with that.
Racer X: Alright, so the other day, I think it was on Twitter, you were talking about feeling in a good place with the team and everything. Talk me through mentality going into 2020 for you.
Justin Starling: Yeah, I’ve been a part of some pretty sketchy teams as of late. So, coming over here, it seems like the team’s a lot more fun, it's more laid back, but we actually have parts and we have bikes, and they’re good. So, going into it, having Michael [Lindsay] as a team manager, and I've been around Jerry [Robin] now for about a month-and-a-half and living with him, and it seems like all of us have clicked together really well. Having Chris Blose as well, I was with him last year, so we click really well. And then, Coty Schock as well coming on the last about a week and a half now, it's been really good. Everyone seems to work really well together, the bikes are really good, and they’re only going to get better. So yeah, everything seems like it's good. I feel like I'm in pretty good shape right now going into the season from racing the European stuff, so yeah, I’m just in a good spot. I feel really happy, the bike is really good. I thought it'd be kind of hard to go back to [an] aluminum frame, but honestly, I thought it's been better.
You talked a little bit about coming back onto an aluminum frame, and I know you rode Hondas a little bit at the beginning of your career. How has just the general feel of the bike been, and have you been able to draw on anything from past experiences being on the Honda to help with preparing for the season?
Yeah, honestly, I haven’t brought anything from the past. I kind of thought I would just start over, and start fresh, just because of the parts that we have are so much further ahead than where they were back in like 2014. So, I’ve kind of started from scratch, and I’ve tried to mostly leave the bike pretty simple and not change too many things. We started testing engine mounts yesterday and that was a drastic change. But other than that, we’re kind of keeping the bike pretty simple and so far, so good.
So, you’ve been riding the Suzuki [for the German Supercross Series] in the off-season and then jumping on Honda. Going between brands like that, is that difficult to balance that act when it comes to testing?
Honestly, no. It seems pretty easy for me. The hardest thing is there's a kick-start on the Suzuki and I always go for a button for at least the first two nights of racing. But honestly, it’s been pretty easy. The hardest thing is jumping on the 450 over there and the tracks being a lot tighter. But other than that, it's actually very simple to go back and forth.
With the track tightness versus prepping for stuff out here, do you get any sort of realistic training or benefit from riding the German series that you can parlay into what you're doing in supercross?
Not so much with the racing aspect of it, but the cardio and training side, yes. Getting gate drops is always good. The races over there are a little bit longer than a heat race here. So, you’re doing those sprints and doing all that. I think the best way to do it is gate drops. For me to do A1 and all that, I’m going to do it on a 250 and we're just going to test the whole time to basically get the bike ready for Tampa. But the biggest thing is, I just want gate drops, and being in a racing environment I think is really good for me.
And then talking a little bit about East versus West Coast, you started your career doing a lot of East and then the last three or so years you’ve done West. Preference wise, is it going to be exciting going back East again? Does it make that much difference to you?
I am so excited to be back East, honestly. Being a Florida guy, coming out to California, I don’t really love it here. I always come out here because I don’t have a choice. So, to be going back East, as soon as I found out, or actually we sat down and talked about it, I was immediately like, “Yeah, let’s do East!” Because with Florida, Daytona is 15 minutes from me. Just that home vibe. I did it in the 450 class but it’s going to be cool to do it in a series and be all serious about that. I prefer East just from being able to stay in Florida and I like a little bit of softer tracks as well. I think this is going to be one of my best years yet. I feel better than I’ve ever felt. The bike is better than it’s ever been and it’s only going to get better by the time we get racing and we still have two months to go. I think we’re going to come out at Tampa just slaying them.
You talked about being a Florida guy versus coming out here and training in California, and then having to go out to Germany and do all these races. Have you had enough time for training to get properly prepared for the season, or has it just been a big whirlwind?
No, I feel like I've had the most time to train this year. Every year, it gets a little easier to get more used to travel. The travel going to Europe and back is pretty hard but even when I’m there, I’m still training. I’m not just going over there and sitting during the weeks, I’m still riding and training during the week. My girlfriend is German, so it’s very easy for me to do stuff over there. And then being back here and having Jerry around has been a huge help for me to have someone to help push me. You know, we kind of push each other in a way. So honestly, I feel like it’s been easier this year than ever.
Last question for you, 14th in 250 West last year, I'm guessing you're going for top ten this year? That's where you want to be.
Yeah, last year I missed a few races with an injury, well actually two injuries. I got hurt at A1 and also broke my wrist at Oakland. So, yeah 14th was really bad, I was really upset with that. I’d like to be top ten. I think we set a goal of somewhere between an average finish of five to eight. And if there’s a mud race, I don’t see why a podium isn’t possible. But yeah, end of the season, somewhere between eighth and tenth in points would be good.
Racer X: How did you get hooked up with this whole deal man?
Coty Schock: So, honestly, I’ve always known of Michael [Lindsay], and I’ve always known of Jerry and Justin. I saw what they were doing and I was at the expo center for Feld, and Michael approached me and was like, “A spot just opened up and I want to offer it to you, let me know if you’re interested.” Immediately I was like, “I’m definitely interested! I just want to make a few phone calls to my sponsors and let them know an opportunity has come across.” I never want to burn any bridges, so communication is key with everyone. So, I made a few phone calls and got the green light on everything.
The Feld media day? That was like two weeks ago! So, this was pretty quick, huh?
Yeah, it was about two weeks ago, and it was pretty quick. It was literally, “Hey, want to ride for us?” and that following week, I was on the bike. As of today, today is day four.
I know you’ve been doing the outdoors the last few years, do you have much supercross experience at all?
So, that’s a yes and no [Laughs]. I started supercross January 1 of this year, the first time I ever laid wheels on a track. To be honest, I watched it and was always scared of it until a good friend of mine, Kenny Day, and also Tony Archer, they were like, “Come live with us down at ClubMX and learn.” So, Kenny himself decided to sponsor me for the year. I learned supercross and had to do [Supecross] Futures and all that. I did MetLife [East Rutherford] and Vegas with very little experience and it was rough, don’t get me wrong, but you have to start somewhere. So, doing outdoors and then coming back to supercross, it was not so much of a shock. I definitely feel more comfortable with it and, you know, the more you do it, the more experience you get. So, that’s kind of where I’m at.
So, new team, comfort level up. Expectations for Anaheim 1, where are you at?
Honestly, night show, and I really want to make the main. I know the speed is there, I just have to work on a few things. I’ve only seen like eight sets of whoops. So, I’m learning and there’s critics out there, but I’m willing to learn and I’m going to work hard towards it. So yeah, I’d definitely like to make the main and just keep building.
What adjustments do you still think you really need to make improvements in heading into Anaheim 1, whether it’s on the bike or maybe even your own riding technique?
So, honestly with supercross, you’ve got to really focus on your breathing. So just trying to remember over every triple, or just anywhere you can rest, to keep breathing. That, and whoops, and being more consistent. I’ve definitely noticed that I’ve been able to become more consistent, it’s just a building process. So, if I had to really narrow it down: whoops, consistency, and breathing.
With the new team, obviously you now have a group of guys around you to bounce ideas off, maybe learn from. How is that adjustment, and is it really a big help with them being around?
Day one when I was riding with those guys, they were willing to help me, and I was like, “Wow, this is incredible.” Because, every time I’ve been out here, I’ve been going to the track myself and just watching people. But, now knowing that I’m on a team where I can ask questions to the other guys that have a lot more experience than me and they’re willing to help, that’s huge. It’s just a really good vibe going on around here and everyone’s just going with the flow. We enjoy life, so honestly, it’s truly a blessing.
So, we talked a little bit about Anaheim 1 expectations. But season-wise, once you get into the night show, do you just want to keep improving with better goals each week? Or is it really just like a blanket goal of, “Let’s get in night shows and make mains”?
Yeah, get in night shows, get into mains. Every time I get on the track, I just want to get better. Just get better and keep progressing. Like I said earlier, you’ve got to start somewhere. So, every time I get on the track, I just want to hit the whoops that much better, or hit that turn better, or be more consistent.