MXP: Hey Newf, let’s first talk about the Daytona SX. You raced this event a few times when it was still a little old-school in design and preparation. The track seems less rough these days than it did in your day and especially in my day. What were your thoughts on the racing in Daytona?
RL: There is no question the entire dynamic of Daytona has changed. Now with saying that, some like it, and some wish it were back to how it used to be. For me, I feel like it’s just another race, and it doesn’t get near as rough as it used to, and it doesn’t offer those weird obstacles like they used to build. Back in the old days, you would always have a rider that would stand out at Daytona, but now it’s just the same guys week in and week out who run at the front. I really liked the track this year and thought it was highly technical with some big sections, but I would have to side with the people who say bring back the old Daytona.
MXP: Between Amyotte, Benek, and St Cyr, our Canadian boys did okay in Daytona but just weren’t able to get good starts. We spoke in the previous question about how much the track has changed over the years, but the only thing I think has stayed the same is that Daytona is hard to pass on. Overall, are you happy with how they’re all doing in SX?
RL: Benek is riding a 250 in the 450 class, so honestly, he doesn’t stand much of a chance as far as doing better than he did, but all these gate drops are a great experience for him. St Cyr is getting better, and I thought he rode well at Daytona. I was a little bummed that Quinn didn’t make the night show, but he did have some issues in the final qualifying session. He had the speed to be in the night show and was impressive in the three rounds he’s raced so far. Hats off to all of them for getting out of their comfort zone and riding supercross. All the gate drops will help them when the 2023 Triple Crown Series begins in June.
MXP: This has been a busy off-season in Canada, with riders changing teams and classes. However, the biggest news was saved until the end, as this week, you announced that you’ve switched from Kawasaki to KTM for 2023. Like some riders in the past few months, I heard you turned down multiple offers before signing with KTM (laughs). Talk to us about the switch and how excited you are to race a KTM 350 SX-F this year?
RL: Multiple offers might not be true, but I’m excited about the switch. I’ve been riding Kawasaki since 2014, and I’ve really enjoyed the bike, but I was looking for some excitement and something new to learn. You know as well as I do, jumping on something new can bring some excitement back into riding, and this is exactly what I need right now. I talked with JSR and Kris Keefer, and they are both huge fans of the new KTM 350, so we’re doing this. I picked the bike up yesterday and got some Race Tech Suspension done by CJR out of Calgary. We have a big riding weekend set for the end of this month down in Eastern Washington to shake things down and prepare for the season. Our first race in BC is Easter weekend, so things are happening quickly. I have a lot of sponsors sticking with Meston’s and I program for 23, but also some new ones coming on. Thank you to Rental Equip, Custom Flooring Centers, Maple Ridge Motorsports, KTM Canada, Fox Racing Canada, Hall Race Fuels, CJR Suspension, Matrix Concepts Canada, Atlas Brace, DeCal Works. It should be a great season ahead.