GNCC Racing

Tuesday Toolbox with .... Nathan Kanney

Tuesday, December 11, 2007 | 7:00 AM

Nate Kanney is back! The upstart winner of two rounds late in the 2006 season has returned from his European internship in ’07 to take a full factory Red Bull KTM ride in the GNCCs for 2008. He will be a contender. How is it going? What happened in Europe? We wanted to find out, so we called him for this week's Tuesday, let's just call it an interview, Nate.



First of all, you ready to bring it or send it?


Not just bring it, I’m ready to send it. I’m living the life of a samurai right now, living by the sword.


Awesome. How was Last Man Standing?


It was good and bad. The race was so difficult and hard, you basically had to be a trials rider. I’m pretty good at trials-type riding, but I don’t have a real trials background, you know? I ended up fourth, but at the end of the day time I houred out so I couldn’t race the night race.


The author is worried about Nate winning more races.



So you were first out of the guys who didn’t make the night race, and there were only three riders who made it!


Yeah I was the only guy to make it to the actual finish. I was almost going to go into the night time, but I would have only had 40 minutes to even get ready for the night race, which meant changing a lot of parts and putting the lights on, and there would have been no way to do that. And it took me 4 ½ hours to do 40 miles, and it was just unreal to even get through it. Some of the sections, a World Champion Trials rider would have to take it pretty seriously, even if he was on a trials bike. It was cool though, I still like that race. But this year, one lap was as hard as two laps the previous time I raced.


So you raced EnduroCross and Last Man Standing with KTM. How’s the bike doing?


It’s unreal. The bike is good and the team is really well organized, and it’s a great atmosphere. I’m already thrilled with it.


Is this a situation where the first time you got on the bike you were immediately like 10 seconds a lap faster? I mean, in supercross any time someone switches brands they do an interview and immediately say they were way, way faster the first time they got on a new bike”¦.


(Laughs) I already know this is your joke, so I’m not going to be the butt of it. So no comment!

Nate at EnduroCross.


You riding the two-stroke?


Yeah. I don’t know about the 250 or the 300. It’s six of one and half dozen of the other. I was leaning toward the 300 but every time I ride the 250 it gets better, so I need to give it more thought.


You racing GNCC only next year?


The main thing is GNCC. I won’t pursue a whole series but I will race some other races. I wanted to do it this way and focus on one championship, and fortunately KTM wanted it the same way.


This is like a whole different life for you since the last time we saw you race GNCC.


Yeah. Two years ago I had to race a lot of races to get the bonus money just to keep it going. Now I have a big team behind me and they’re great people. It’s kind of what I dreamed of when I was a privateer.


I’m sure there were times when you thought it wasn’t going to work out when you were a privateer.


No not really. No matter how many times I had to complain or flash out on something, I always knew it was what I needed to do. I always knew in the end it would come together. Even after my first year in the GNCCs, I knew I could put it altogether once I got to a certain level. I never took my eyes off the prize.


So what’s your goal? Can you win the GNCC title?


Absolutely. I want to win the championship. You know, to win the last two races of 2006, I got a lot of confidence. I was riding all mental, I wasn’t pushing hard, I just knew what I had to do, how to find the good lines and save energy, or how to change technique and go faster without pushing all the time. So I had tremendous confidence after that, and then coupled with my time in Europe, I feel like I have a good chance to win next year. I know the other riders are strong, but now I see myself as an equal to them or maybe even better at some things. So I think I have as good a shot as anyone.


Do you wish the season would start right now?


No. I have a really good program with Steve Hatch, so everytime I train, I see the progress, and I feel it. To me, the more time I have to prepare, the better, because it seems like everytime I get on the bike with Steve I get better.


Steve used to be a New York guy like you, but now he lives in Arizona. How does it work?


We have really close contact over the phone and email, and I’m keeping him up to date on the riding and training. He’s really inside my world. Whenever I have a week where it looks like there will be incredibly bad weather, I go on the internet and book a ticket and fly to California. Steve will throw the bikes in the truck, pick me up at the airport and we’ll get some riding in together. Actually last Saturday I was going to go to Delaware to ride, but when I checked the weather I saw really bad wind gusts. I didn’t want to ride a motocross track in the wind. So I went on the computer and looked at tickets, and I was sitting on a plane three hours later.


Nate at the WEC in NY.


You got the trainer, the team, you’re like a totally different guy.


Even in 2006, I was working with Steve, and it was a big help. When I was in Europe, I kept the relationship going, it was more difficult over there, but it’s the most important part of my program, what Steve brings for me. Like I said, even in 2006, I called him on the way home from the race in Missouri and then with the progress I made over the summer, I was able to start winning races.


So what really happened in Italy? What can you even say?


Well, I can say whatever I want.


When did it go wrong?


It went wrong as soon as I arrived in Italy. I didn’t have the new bike that I had agreed to ride in my contract. When I made the agreement I was supposed to ride the new bike, the prototype. So I started with the old bike, which I had never even tested with and never even expected to touch. That was standard for the whole winter training, I had no parts or anything. Then I had some bad crashes, and I broke my ribs, so I didn’t have more than a few weeks on the bike before the first race. In some of the races I wasn’t too bad, I was strong, but it was one of those things were I started behind the 8-ball and I wasn’t getting the results the team wanted. I think if they saw me with better results, they would have pushed harder to do more for me. I was saying I need the bike to be better, but they were saying I needed to get better results first. So it was backwards. It was going quite bad immediately, and then came the financial problems. I was extending myself so much to make good on the agreement, but they weren’t doing the same. So then my morale was in a bad place,.


So are you saying you weren’t getting paid at one point?


No, not at one point, but at every point during the year except for one, maybe! What it is, the whole process for BMW to buy Husky was going on throughout the year, and because of that a lot of the financial things that had to happen came to a stop. I don’t think it was possible for MV Agusta to sell Husky as long as Husky was functioning normally, so they stopped everything. That’s my opinion on it, and I’ll never know for sure. I think everyone in the company means well, but it’s their own habits that are affecting me now.


Did you get anything out of it, learning?


Yeah, absolutely. As disappointed I can be about some of the things that didn’t work out the way I wanted, I think if I was given the opportunity again I would take it. The only thing I would do is handle some of the things over there more aggressively, and not just assume things were going to work out eventually. I met really great friends over there, I had really great teammates and a lot of the riders really tried to help me out. It’s human nature, people focus on the negative and the hearsay, but I made great friendships, and I learned a lot about riding and technique, the other riders were great to work with.


You’ve seen it first hand. Why are the World Enduro Riders so darned fast?


When I look at those guys, I see a lot of talent, obviously, but I think if you take a rider like this and put him in a special test enduro contest as soon as they start riding, and they know the clock is ticking, they get a real feel for if they’re gaining time or losing time just by using a certain line. Then you couple that with riders that are pushing their whole lives for seconds. They are comfortable pushing it to that edge. The Americans, we’re never on the clock, so we never get a feel for if we’re gaining or losing time. We’re used to racing three hours and trying to save energy. It’s not voodoo, it’s nothing you can’t understand. It’s something they grew up doing.


Is it good to be home?


The coolest thing about coming home was being more independent. That was the most difficult thing about being in Europe. I didn’t have my truck, and I was a little more reliant on others. I needed help for almost everything I was doing. Really, it was quite good living over there, but it is nice to be back here in the States where the tracks have real double jumps instead of massive singles for no reason.


I gotcha. See you around, Nate.