Following a couple of weeks of speculation, and rumours, it has now finally been confirmed that Dean Ferris has parted ways with the Bike It Yamaha Cosworth squad, and he will be heading off to America to join the Red Bull KTM USA team. Obviously, this is huge news around the world, and it is also a popular bench racing topic. So, with that in mind, we have put all of our thoughts on the move into this piece!
Lewis Phillips: Honestly, when I first heard about this deal, I was speechless – it came out of nowhere! But, it has now been confirmed that Dean Ferris has parted ways with the Bike It Yamaha Cosworth team, as he will be joining the Red Bull Factory KTM squad in the USA next year. The Australian already had a deal in place with Steve Dixon for 2014. So, he had to find a way to get out of that agreement, but he is now well on his way to living the American dream.
Obviously, the situation is not ideal. Ferris will not have a lot of time to prepare for his first season in the USA; so the transition won’t be too easy, which will make it harder for him to impress in his rookie campaign. The Red Bull KTM made it known that they were looking to add a fourth rider to their lineup. [Austin] Politelli put his hat in the ring at the Monster Energy Cup, as he was given a tryout with the team. However, that obviously did not work out as planned, so it isn’t too surprising that they have chosen to add another rider to their lineup.
Interestingly, this deal will see him back on a 250f, as the Red Bull KTM team already has Ken Roczen and Ryan Dungey on the bigger bikes. But, a 250f is undoubtedly the best bike for him to learn supercross on; the learning curve would be very steep on a 450f. Supercross is quite new to him, as he has not spent much time on that discipline. But, even if he was a successful Australian Supercross rider, we all know that the AMA Supercross series is like nothing else.
I remember seeing a recent interview with Chad Reed, where he stated that Ferris might find it difficult to adjust to supercross. So, with very little time to prepare for the 250SX, how the Australian will perform remains to be seen. Although Dean may not be spectacular this year, it would be unreasonable to expect him to come out and set the world on fire. I’m sure that the Red Bull KTM team knows how difficult the learning curve is – they have to give him time to acclimatize.
In my opinion, this is the perfect time for him to head to the USA. However, it is a shame that Dean had to burn some bridges to get over there. But, who knows when an opportunity to ride for Red Bull KTM will pop up again? It is understandable why he had to jump at the chance. Interestingly there is a lack of a top guy in the 250 class in the USA next year, as Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen have moved up. So, teams are looking for the next big thing, as both Musquin and Baggett will be on a bigger bike in the very near future, also. If this goes well for Dean, it could work out perfectly for him. But, on the other hand, he is taking a huge risk too.
It is interesting to think that Ferris actually prefers to ride the 450f, and he thinks that he is a better 450 rider, so he giving up on an opportunity to show what he can do on that bike with great support from a solid team over in the MXGP series. But, he would have always had to go back to a 250f when he got to USA, whether it was 2014, or 2016. It would have been much too tough for him to get straight on a 450f out there – it is unprecedented to do that.
Anyway, I digress. It is going to be very interesting to see how Dean Ferris fares this year. I’m sure that everyone will be watching closely, to see if he made the right decision. Silly season has been quite low-key thus far, but this has certainly sent it into frenzy.
Jonathan McCready: It is the shocking transfer of the off-season. Dean Ferris’ switch to factory KTM in the USA just never seemed a possibility – but now, after all the persistent rumours the last couple of weeks, it has happened.
Personally I have reservations about the move and feel he would have been better racing MX1 in the GPs and honouring his original contract with Steve. Ferris all along has said he never wanted to ride an MX2 bike and he couldn’t wait to get back on an MX1 machine because that is where he excels. He also frequently stated he wanted to be world champion. Josh Coppins recently mentioned that Ferris is not the best supercross rider but is an excellent outdoor rider and that is why the GPs were working for him.
So to chuck away your aspirations of being world champion and riding a 450 with the team who gave your career a lifeline is a pretty big call. But then again KTM USA is a pretty big team and Ferris always wanted to race there too. It is also a lot easier for an Aussie to race and live in the USA than it is for them in race GPs especially in MX1 and live in Belgium. It is a great opportunity to race in the USA that’s for sure, but the last minute nature of the deal and a lack of preparation for Supercross begs the crucial question – will Ferris be ready for the stadiums?
Add to that the fact that Ferris will be 24/25 by 2015, it seems unlikely that any 450USA team would take him on board at that age with limited supercross experience unless he turns out to be Chad Reed in Supercross. Tyla Rattray is back to GPs chiefly because his supercross skills weren’t good enough to get a factory ride despite his obvious speed outdoors. To make it in America you have to be good at supercross, and to be good at supercross – especially on a factory 450 level, it seems you have to be in the USA from a young age to learn it. That could be a problem as the 450 is the bike Ferris really wants to ride as a Pro.
In the here and now this deal might seem really good for Dean but has he compromised his long term 450 future by doing it? MXGP teams might also be a little more hesitant in signing him again if he wants to come back, especially with the imminent influx of top MX2 riders to MX1 in 2015 like Tonus, Herlings, Charlier and many more.
That said Dean is a fighter, he has the eye of the tiger in him and he will give 100% to be successful. Hopefully his first supercross season won’t negatively impact on his outdoor speed because that is where he really shines and will be expected to do well next year. I hope Dean makes it in America and I hope he can adapt to supercross quickly because he will have too. It will be interesting viewing to find out if he can do it.
The man I most feel sorry for is Steve Dixon. For two years in a row he has lost a top rider at the last minute and this time, unless he can produce another rabbit from the hat like he did last year, then it will be a big blow to the team and sponsors. Hopefully Steve can find a high calibre rider to replace Dean someway, somehow.
Words by Lewis Phillips and Jonathan McCready
Image courtesy of Yamaha Racing