One of the biggest pieces of the silly season puzzle slotted into place over the weekend: Joey Savatgy finally signed a deal with JGR Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing. Not only that, he then immediately jumped into his first race in yellow in Paris! The event went well but his final overall ranking of seventh was hindered by crashes on both nights. What did he make of his debut with the JGR outfit? An exclusive MX Vice interview from the La Défense Arena is below.
MX Vice: Your first race with JGR and first race on a Suzuki. You never know how that's going to go. That comes with a lot of unknowns, I guess, but I thought it was pretty good. It ended on a bummer note, but I think you can take a lot of positives from this.
Joey Savatgy: Yeah, absolutely. We don't have a crazy amount of time on the bike. It's a new bike for me. We are trying to make the transition, then we came here to race a bunch of guys who were on bikes they were used to. It is a little tough. We just brought suspension, so we were on a stock bike with a pipe. No excuses. We had the speed to be on the podium, and we did not end it on the greatest note.
It was a mistake on my end and I went down. I'm all good and heading to New Zealand next. It was awesome. I had a great time over here. I think this event is awesome. There were a lot of people in the stands, and really good racing. A lot of fast guys. For an off-season race, I think this is a good one.
What happened in that crash in the last main? Did the thing just get away from you at the end of the whoops?
I kind of changed lines last minute coming into the whoops, because [Justin] Hill and [Vince] Friese were in front of me. I came in pretty fast and thought maybe I could get to the inside of one of them. When I changed lines, I kind of caught a weird hop right when I got in. I missed a whoop, missed another whoop and it then kind of just escalated. Tried to ride it out and unfortunately right at the end it caught too deep in the whoop and shot to the right. Like I said, it was a mistake on my part. We are good and walking out of here in one piece. Got a lot of riding in this weekend. I enjoyed it.
This definitely isn't an American supercross, but do you feel like you can still take things away from it as far as bike set-up and things like that? Is this useful to you from a testing point of view?
Yeah, absolutely. It's not an AMA supercross, but the lap times were 40-something seconds and the track got really, really beat up. That's how they are for our main events at home. I think for sure it's useful. Even if it's not useful for testing, it's very useful for bike training. Like I said, we got a lot of laps in this weekend. This is a really, really good event. Hopefully I'm invited back next year. Would love to do it again and try to make a run at the win.
What about the new deal with JGR? Now that we can actually talk about it. Of all the places you could have landed, I guess this is kind of the best one. You are stoked, right?
Yeah, absolutely. I think the bike is a little bit overlooked. I think people are jumping on the bandwagon to give it a bad name but, like I said, I think we showed a lot of speed this weekend considering everything is new for me. The bike handles really, really well. It corners great. I'll tell you what… For a stock bike with suspension, I felt like we held our own pretty well. I'm glad to be on the team and I'm glad they are taking a chance on me. I'm looking forward to trying to bring Suzuki back some luck and good results.
The deal was obviously announced this week, but how long have you known that this is locked in and you have definitely got a future with JGR?
Friday after the five-minute test session here. We literally signed… I went out and we tested the bikes for the five minutes on Friday, then I came back in and I signed the contract. People think that we have been lying and hiding it, but we really just got the contract done and finalised it Friday.
Has this actually been tough for you then? Have there been any meltdown moments at home where you are like, "I really need to know what I’m doing now?"
For sure some panic sets in but, at the end of the day, I stayed at home and took seven or eight weeks off after the last round of outdoors. I had a baby girl. I didn't have a bike, so I was forced to kind of just do a lot of cardio off the bike. For sure there was a time where I was kind of getting anxious like, "What are we doing? What am I going to do?" You have just got to believe and have faith that everything is going to work out.
Like I said, people think that we were hiding this the whole time. Trust me, I wish that was the reason. It wasn't. A little bit of back and forth then we finally finalised it. I tested the bike here, rode a little bit, came in, got the email and signed away. It was then officially done. I've known for a while that we were getting closer, but nothing was done until Friday. It was a big weight off my shoulders.
This is the start of an intense off-season schedule for you, but you are ready to clock up some air miles and do some racing?
Yeah, absolutely. I've always wanted to do these overseas off-season races in the past, and I just haven't been able to. I think they are awesome. It does add to our AMA schedule even more, but that August-to-January break where you do not really race at all is tough. You burn a lot of laps in that three-month break where you don't do anything. I'm ready.
It's going to be a lot of air miles, like you said, but I'm looking forward to it. I got to come here. Never been to this race before. I got to see Italy earlier in the week. Now I'll have a layover in Dubai, which will be cool, and then I'll go to New Zealand. Never been to New Zealand. Get to race down there and have a show for the Kiwi fans. I'll then come home, then I'll go back to Australia and we'll do it for another weekend. From there, we'll pretty much be home.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Ray Archer