GNCC Racing

Tuesday Toolbox with David Knight!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007 | 7:00 AM

David Knight may have wrapped up the GNCC Championship a month ago, but the pressure still isn’t off. He raced the EnduroCross last weekend and endured a controversial night””he finished second in the race to win the AMA EX Championship, but by losing the race to fellow KTM rider “Taddy” Blazusiak, Knight missed the $50,000 bounty for winning every round of the series. Knight ghost rode his bike over the finish and looked pretty mad about missing the money to a teammate, which sparked some controversy. What really happened at EnduroCross? Why did Knighter miss the weekend’s GNCC banquet? Read on.


Hey Dave, what are you doing?


We’re just getting ready to go out on the bikes. In the dark! Everyone here finishes work at 5:30 or so, so we’ve got the lights on and we’re going to go play in the forest. It’s just something I can do to get ready for Last Man Standing.


You’re doing Last Man Standing?


Yeah, yeah. I’m doing the Barcelona Indoor this weekend, then Last Man Standing, then an Indoor in Germany the week after. I’m still not done six weeks after my last race! Then I have an Extreme Race in the middle of January, so I’m getting my two-strokes dialed in for that. But hey, today it’s just riding with me mates.


Well hey congratulations, you won the Rider of the Year Award at the GNCC banquet over the weekend.


Spot on!


I know you would have liked to have been at the banquet.


Yeah I did get some stuff at the AMA banquets the weekend before, and then I was doing some testing on the new bikes now, I have been riding the two-strokes. Then I actually go to Spain tomorrow morning to do more testing, especially on the four-strokes. So I had a lot of testing to do, especially since I’ll probably ride a two-stroke during these upcoming European Indoor Races.


You get paid for all of this?


No not really! KTM actually didn’t want me to do the European Indoors, but it’s only a three-round series to win a World Championship so I wanted to do it, you know. It would be good to win the EnduroCross and the European Indoor Championships so then no one can say the American riders or the European riders are better, you know.


Is there a purse?


You know I’m not sure, but since it’s FIM they probably nabbed all of it! I think it’s maybe 3000 Euro to win the championship.


Wait, do the World Enduros not have a purse?


No. At the World Enduros you get absolutely nothing, and for winning the World Championship, at the last one in ’06, I got a plastic cup and the top had snapped off, so they put it back on with a glue gun! That’s it. Then later they have the FIM Awards and I did get a nice bronze thing, but yeah, you know, obviously you get a good bonus from the team, that’s what you get.



So let me set the record straight on this EnduroCross deal. Where you mad? Where you celebrating? What the heck happened there?


Well, basically I got told one thing by KTM, because I sort of said if I was up front, why should I have to race if my teammates are right behind me? So they said they would tell the other riders that if they were behind me, they would just tell them to stay where they were. Because I did those races for no money at all, I didn’t get any money from KTM because I had already signed a contract for the season and then the EnduroCross announced that they were running a championship kind of late. I agreed to do it because I liked riding them and KTM didn’t have someone to do it. So the only money I would make was from that bonus. So Taddy was behind me and I went wide and he went right past me, and then I just thought if he passes me, he would probably let me back past in the last turn. But he kept going, and then I realized what was going on, so I just had to use my head and think about the championship. It was the hardest thing I’d ever had to do, because obviously I wanted to win the race, but at the end of the day I wanted to win the championship. So I was mad, but not at Taddy at all, he’s a good mate and I’d rather see him win than anyone. We were fine after the race. It was just a KTM deal, they told me one thing but they never told Taddy. If I had known that before the race, I would have been happy because then I would have known I could just race normal and whoever wins, wins. But they said the other guys would be told to not pressure you too much. It was just lack of communication to be honest. So then I got a lot of stuff, people saying “oh you launched your bike,” but I didn’t do that because I was mad. That’s just something I’ve done after I have won races before, like Erzburg. I had just won the championship. I was mad at KTM, but not at Taddy, and in fact he’s even meeting me tomorrow and we’re going riding, and we’re flying to Last Man Standing together, and some of these other indoor races, so he’s become one of my best mates. It’s great to have someone like that to ride with.

But you know, having all that money on the line probably did spoil it a bit, you know, it was such a distraction and that was all anyone was talking about. I thought I had to finish fourth or better to win the championship, and then I asked Tim Clark (from EnduroCross) and he told me I had to get second because it’s a double points race. So it’s just, it’s a new series and things get made up as you go along, but that meant I really had to be careful and make sure I didn’t go down. It would have been good if (Damon) Huffman didn’t make the main, then I could have carried on like I did at the first two rounds, but he got in the LCQ. So I knew I had to finish second if Huffman won, and at the end of the day, it’s all about the championship. Then everyone kept talking to me about the money, and that took the fun out of it. That’s part of the reason I wanted to just get back home and rider and test this week””that’s why I do this, for the fun of it, and with all of that pressure and money, it wasn’t fun.


So let’s move to the GNCCs. Did you have fun with it?


Yeah it was good, it was something I’ve wanted to do since 1999. I had a lot of interest in doing it, but I wanted to win a World Championship first. Then this was somewhat different to go over there and win, and it’s something good to say when you’ve got grandkids, you can say you went over to American and won over there and beat the Americans. This way no one can say the Americans are better, just like in motocross, some people say the American series is better, and some people say the European ones are better. It’s that sort of thing, to be able to say you won them both.


And you like the cross country format?


Yeah. I’ve raced the Fast Eddy Series here and I like those types of races. It’s kind of hard to make up time on the tracks when they’re not as technical, except for Snowshoe and the Pennsylvania one. Those are the types of races where I can make up a lot of time on the other guys.


But I think that’s a misconception people have about you, that you would only be good in the really tough stuff. You can go fast on fast stuff, too.


Yeah. I think a lot of Americans would be shocked if they came to a World Enduro. It’s all pretty much motocross type. The fast sections are fast, and it’s more like a motocross, it’s even faster than a GNCC. And I like that. Yes, there are some gnarly sections, but most of it is very fast. I like the open stuff, and that’s why I liked Snowshoe, it had a lot of fast open stuff and I was able to get into a rhythm.


And also, people figure you’re just relying on your size and strength, but you actually do have skill from your trials riding days.


Yeah, you can look at the end of a race, even one of the hard, gnarly rounds of the World Enduros, and my bike will come back without a scratch on the chain guide. People think I bash through things, but I know on our World Championship team, I was the least hard on a bike. I think that comes from my trials rider days, you learn to go over things instead of through them, where a motocross tends to just stick the legs out and bounce off of stuff.


You think you’ll be better next year with the experience you gained this year?


Yeah. The last race I think was my best, I was just riding around and learning, and then I upped my pace and pulled away a little bit. I’m still learning them but that one was really fun. Next year they announced they will have six EnduroCross races, and that may bit a much with the GNCCs. Maybe in 2009 I’ll come back to them, or maybe just do some extreme races in Europe. Or the World Championships again.


You must enjoy riding as much as anyone on earth.


Yeah, that’s where it started getting in the way with that money last week. People kept coming up and talking to me about the $50,000 and it took my head out of it. So then I came back and got to ride in the hills with my buddies. People can criticize me, but at the end of the day, I only ride because I enjoy it. If it’s not fun, I’ll pack it in and get a job. If I wake up one morning and I don’t enjoy it, I’ll be done. But hopefully I will be riding when I’m 70 years old.


Well it’s hard to argue when a guy just likes to ride.


You know, Juha told me about being a European guy coming over to the U.S. you get worried that people won’t like it, and the fans will tell you to come back where you came from. But I was surprised, everyone seemed to be behind me, and I had good line on the autographs and people seemed to be behind me.


Well good. Congrats on Rider of the Year and the Championship, and we’ll see you next year.


Thanks, Jason.