The acquisition of Steven Frossard boosts the Monster Energy Yamaha team’s presence in the premier MX1-GP class to three riders. For 2011 Frossard joins David Philippaerts on the works YZ450FMs for what will be his maiden campaign after five seasons in MX2-GP. He will also be the second Frenchman in the Rinaldi-led crew with Gautier Paulin set for his second term on the official YZ250FM in MX2-GP.
The 23rd year old finished 3rd in the 2010 MX2-GP series, claiming his first Grand Prix win, and his first outing as a Yamaha representative saw a promising performance at Valence two weeks ago at which he finished second overall. Here the Frenchman and former national champion speaks about his integration into the Italian set-up and about riding the bigger machine at the highest level.
Steven, 2011 will be a big year with new team, new bike and new category. How do you feel about the shift to MX1?
For me it was easy to switch to the 450. I first tried the bigger bike three years ago and I had a really good feeling so I was excited about riding the 450 Yamaha. In terms of my preparation for MX1 I didn’t make any big changes this winter. I just rode many times and completed many motos and as part of my training I added some more muscle bulk.
Do you think you need to be that much stronger for an MX1-GP moto compared to MX2-GP?
No I don’t think so. Last year I felt strong on the 250 and my body is in good shape. I don’t need to push so hard with the 450 and can be more smooth, less aggressive.
Is that the big difference from MX2 to MX1? The aggression and style needed to ride the bike?
Yes, very much and I feel like I am a better rider on the 450.
You would have had to move out of MX2 regardless because of your age. If you were younger would you have stayed and tried to win that title?
I had a great opportunity in 2010 to win the championship with a competitive bike. If it wasn’t for that I think I would already be in MX1. When I rode the 450 those years ago I knew that was the direction for my career. I was really happy to make that discovery.
What about the decision to join Yamaha?
I had options for 2011 but I have known about this team for many years, from when I was very young, and for me it always seemed the best in the world championship. So I was really glad when the chance came to ride for Yamaha.
What were your first thoughts on YZ450FM?
The first time on the bike I thought it was unbelievable in the corners; it felt like a 250. The engine is very strong but not aggressive and that was fine by me because I don’t think aggressive power is necessary. In the beginning I tried many different parts and set-ups and in the end did not need to make any special requests. I wanted my suspension a bit harder but that was all really.
What has been your training schedule over the last few months?
I was in Belgium for a couple of weeks before December but the weather wasn’t good so I stayed mainly in the south of France. I tried Belgium again in January but it was so wet that I came back home. I didn’t do any altitude training this year and instead followed my plan closely with a lot of running and cycling. I want to work and I like to work so I don’t need someone with me.
How has it been with the team, have you spoken much with Gautier?
Very good. I like the whole set-up in Parma and everyone is very friendly. I have only spoken with Gautier once actually this winter and that is when we met up for a suspension test. I have a new mechanic, Fred, who used to be with Christophe Pourcel and I’m really happy with how we work.
Will 2011 be a learning year?
Not really. I think I have the speed to make good lap-times even though winning a moto will be difficult because there are many good riders who are consistently fast. If I can take a good start I think I can fight with any of them.
In the past riding the sand has been one of your weak points but you seemed to have it mastered in 2010…
Yes, I think I can ride very well in the sand and now with the 450 it will be easier for me. I have already made many motos and I feel pretty good.
You carry on your association with Monster Energy. Is that another positive thing for you?
Yes, it seems that everyone likes Monster. When I go to tracks for training and there are other riders there they always come up to me and say ‘hey, are you sponsored by Monster?’ the reaction is always positive. They also do some cool stuff with their athletes so it’s good to be with them.