Being an Aussie himself, Mxlarge.com journalist and BikesportNZ.com associate Geoff Meyer was very excited when watching Dean Ferris win the Grand Prix of Belgium at the weekend.
His 1-1 victory and the way he went about his win reminded me a lot of the days when Andrew McFarlane was battling with Antonio Cairoli for the 2005 FIM World MX2 Championship.
Of course since that 05 season Cairoli has gone on to be one of the greats of the sport, and unfortunately we lost Andrew in an accident in Australia a few years ago.
When Ferris stepped onto the top step of the podium in Belgium and the Australian National Anthem was played, Australia as a Motocross Nation also stood tall, hundreds and hundreds of Motocross fanatics sat up in the middle of the night, and felt the emotion of a young man who dared to take a chance, head to Europe and try and break into the World scene.
Just like Chad Reed and Andrew McFarlane did in 2001, or Jeff Leisk in 1989, but this time it was Dean Ferris. His Belgian GP win places him in a select group of Aussies who have won in Europe, only Leisk, Reed and McFarlane had won a GP for Australia. It was a moment we just had to share with the new Aussie hero.
Q: Dean, congratulation on your win mate. How did it feel, starting with your Saturday qualification win?
Ferris: The whole weekend was just perfect. I mean I won three motos, and a GP. I was pretty emotional on the podium, a lot of hard work went into this.
Q: I noticed on the podium you got a little emotional. What were you thinking on the podium?
Ferris: I broke up a little bit when the National anthem started. I am just a proud Aussie kid, you know, that is all it was. I thought about all the stuff, like the hard work, thinking of my family, all they did for me, the long journey, thinking about my dad, mum, brother, sister, just trying to soak it up. It wasn’t sureal, I wasn’t sure if I expected it, it was just so special. I imagined one day I would be up there, when I was just an average Joe it was just a dream, that’s all it was, that is all its ever been. And it came on a day when everything came together. It wasn’t magic, I didn’t do anything crazy. I thought about McFarlane, Leisk and Reed, I am one of the four that have won a Grand Prix for Australia.
Q: And joining the list of Leisk, Reed and McFarlane, that has to feel good, I know you are into the history and stuff. Did that also make you emotional?
Ferris: It was more like the emotion was about the hard work, but later I thought about the four Aussies who have won a GP. I never won a National, a state title, I have won nothing in Australia. I just said to myself I am going to Europe, stuff it, I am following my dream, and that is where I wanted to go, then suddenly I am standing up there on the podium. It was such a perfect weekend, I dominated. I felt great about my riding, I felt so good on the bike, that is why I ride, to feel that.
Q: What about the Saturday race with Herlings. Did you feel like you had better speed, like you might have been closer to his speed?
Ferris: I felt like I had a little more than normal. I know he (Herlings) was on my back wheel and I turned up the pace and I could feel him behind me and we were on the same pace. He got up the inside of me and we both went into the one corner and I think he came in a little too hot, we both were not backing off and we didn’t hit him or anything, but he hit some bumps or something and went down. He was right next to me, I could see him go down.
Q: Then Jeffrey pulls out of the GP. How did that feel, knowing you had a shot at winning a GP?
Ferris: I mean, I didn’t know until Sunday morning that Jeffrey wasn’t racing, and I had thought about it on Saturday, but I figured the chance was there and me and the other guys from the MX2 class wanted to take that. I didn’t get nervous, I was pretty relaxed, it was normal, just going to race. I wanted to be the one to take the opportunity when it arose; I said that at the start of the season.
Q: The opening moto you seemed to lose ground on him, but then came back strong and dominated the rest of the moto. Can you explain what happened, because you were on him, but then you seems to lose ground for a little while?
Ferris: I got my goggles so filled in that I couldn’t see anything, there was mud and dirt inside the goggles and on the outside and I was just feeling my way around the track. I couldn’t see anything. So I planned to wait until he got tired, because I got out of the roost because it was hurting my face and stuff. Once I saw his lap times drop off a little bit, then I upped it and once I passed him I threw my goggles off, because I wanted to see, and that was a massive relief, and then I started clocking off good lap times.
Q: And behind you were Tixier and Charlier, both coming pretty hard.
Ferris: I knew they were coming, it got it in my pit board and I didn’t panic, because those guys had time enough to get me and they hadn’t, so I planned the race out and once I got the lead and threw my goggles I thought I could bring it home.
Q: You win the first moto, but then you have to get yourself together for the second moto, which was of course for the GP win. How did you prepare for that second moto?
Ferris: I was happy, but I didn’t go off celebrating, letting of party poppers or anything, also I didn’t do anything crazy. I went back to the camper, prepped my goggles and listened to some music, just did the things I do every other weekend. I knew I had qualified first and I was comfortable with my gate pick. I just knew I needed to get a good start. Once again I was second out of the start behind Coldenhoff, passed him on the first lap. I wanted to stamp my mark on the race and got a seven second lead, and then after that I knew I had full control of the race. I mean it was nice to be leading laps, I feel comfortable there.
Q: At the end of the second moto Coldenhoff came close and those last two laps were pretty exciting?
Ferris: My back brake faded a bit and I wasn’t pushing as hard as I had to. I could see Coldenhoff closing, but then I made a mistake and got caught up with lappers a little bit, but I knew I had enough to bring it back. I was just trying to use my head.
Q: Those last couple of laps must have been long laps, or not?
Ferris: My whole family and friends that were watching said it was the longest 40 minute moto of their lives, but for me it was ok, I was just relaxed and rode loose, I was soaking it up that I was in the lead, I was in control and I knew I could do it.
Q: So you have a GP win, does that create pressure now, or is it more like lets get another one?
Ferris: Its more like lets get on with it. If anything there is less pressure, for anyone to get their first win or anything for the first time, that is the battle, so hopefully now I will have more belief in myself. I won’t do anything crazy. For now I just want to soak up all the love I am getting, just get back to reality soon and get on with my goals and that is to be on the top step in Matterley.
Q: Support back home in Australia must be huge. How has that been, a lot of messages and phone calls?
Ferris: Yes, there is, I rang my mum and my coach last night, the closest mentor in my life. I spoke to my girlfriend. It has gone crazy, riders I competed against in the junior days contacting me and saying well done, its just amazing. There were a lot of people who believed in me, and they have always been there, so a lot of messages from them. I have a huge network of friends and family who support me and it’s nice to hear from them, they are just as proud of themselves as they are of me, which is great.
Q: I know Yamaha give you a bonus for winning a GP. Is it a nice bonus?
Ferris: I mean, I hadn’t even thought about that, I mean to win a Grand Prix is ok, I can shout my mates dinner this week, but to be honest I am not even thinking about the money.
Q: The lap times from the MX2 riders in Belgium were comparable to the MX1 riders. You had times as quick as guys in the top three in MX1.
Ferris: Its been like that all year, people don’t realize how strong the MX2 class is, I mean it’s because Jeffrey is beating us so easily, but his times have often been faster than the MX1 guys and many of the other MX2 guys have had times similar to top five in MX1, so there isn’t anything wrong with the MX2 class. In Belgium, my times were well inside the top five in MX1, so hopefully fingers crossed I will get good bikes for 2014 and I know any day of the week I will ride an MX1 bike faster, so long as it’s good equipment. I was born to be a 450 rider, so I am looking forward to it and take some momentum to MX1. I know it’s going to be tough, but I am ready for it.
Q: What about next year, are you signed yet?
Ferris: I am not sure what I am doing for 2014. Still undecided, also what Steve (Dixon) wants to do, but hopefully something will come up. I have been stressing about it, the last month some sleepless nights, I have been struggling. I was pretty much over it on the weekend. Tthat helped me relax a little bit. I mean, I need the good bike to be competitive to race up front, so hopefully it all works out and it will be what it will be.
© Words by Geoff Meyer, www.mxlarge.com
© Photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com