UP CLOSE WITH TEAM SUZUKI OFF-ROAD’S JOSH STRANG

We had a chance to sit with Team Suzuki’s Josh Strang while we were in Arizona for the WORCS race. Josh is spending the time leading into the GNCC series training with Rodney Smith, and he came to Arizona to offer support and huck in a few laps in the Industry class (which was combined with the 250A, 450A, 30A and 40A and Josh started on the last row and physically passed everyone up to third place!)

Tell us a little about yourself, where you come from, your racing in Australia and how you got the factory ride at FMF Suzuki Off Road.  Well, I’m originally from a small town (10,000people) called Inverell in New South Wales, Australia; it’s nearly in the ‘outback’.  I used to race for my Dad’s shop as a privateer in Off-road and a little bit of MX.  I came over in 2006 with help from Glenn Kearney; he got me one of Rodney’s bikes to ride through Suzuki. I raced two GNCC’s but didn’t have great results but I had good sprint speed, which I think helped me a lot in getting here.

Last year was your second year with the team, what was the difference between last year and 2007?  In 2007 I moved away from my parents and out of the country at 18.  It was tough and I had never really ridden a ton of long distance races before, I think I came in unprepared and struggled with the tracks and distance of the races plus some speed.  In 2008 I knew what to expect and worked hard in the off-season with Andy Cunningham and Rodney and Lori Smith, I also had the new RMZ 450 under me, which made a huge difference for me. I was able to handle the bike and also go faster than I could on the 250 2 stroke.

How have you adapted to riding the RM-Z450 and did you change things in your program to prepare for the 450?  At the start of 2008 I leaned out a little and put some extra muscle on to help hold onto it for the 3 hours, I was unable to get a 450 early on so I was practicing on a RMZ 250 so I was used to the four-stroke by the time I got to ride The 450.  When I got on it I was surprised at how light it felt when riding it, I was right at home.

With Knight now back in Europe, it seems the GNCC’s are wide open for the first time since the pre Juha days, who do see as the players in the GNCC for 2009 and where do you see yourself in the mix?  Yeh it has opened up, but I think there is a bunch of guys this year including myself that believe we could run with those guys if they were here.  It is not going to be a walk in the park to win and it wasn’t for Knighter either so I think it will be more exciting for spectators this year.  I think this year guys like Whibley, Kanney, Mullins will be strong and there is also a bunch of other guys that will run at the front at some stage.  I see myself at the front and in contention for wins at every round and then the championship at the end of the season. 

You have raced in a couple of WORCS events, tell us about them and how do you feel they compare to the GNCC’s. I raced 2 WORCS races last year.  I didn’t get to finish either race due to minor problems but I really like that type of racing.  I like the fast type of racing and I think it is really good for racing back East with your speed, you never forget how to race in the woods and as long as you use your head back there you should be ok. They both have their differences; I would like to be able to do both championships down the road sometime.

Do you think a WORCS guy can win a GNCC and do you think a GNCC rider can win a WORCS? I think there is only a few guys on each Coast that could win both, right now I think Someone like , Kurt Caselli, Ricky Dietrich or Nathan Woods  can race both coasts pretty good and I think if a west coaster could win one it would be one of those three.  It is harder for a woods rider to adapt to the pace out West, right now I think Charlie Mullins and myself Would have a decent shot at contending at a WORCS race.


Tell us about the team, and how do you think FMF Suzuki rates against the competition? The FMF Suzuki team is probably the team I had heard most about before I had even come over here, when Rodney was winning and Kiedrowski was winning out west I read a lot about it.  I think FMF Suzuki has one of the best set-ups at the GNCC and I’m really happy with how we all get along, Its kind of like family when we turn up to the track so it makes the racing that much easier.  Chris Wolf is my mechanic and has been since the start and I have a good relationship with him also.  We have a good chance at winning the GNCC title this year!

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