Interview: Glenn Macdonald

We chase down a busy Glenn Macdonald to talk to him about his new Motorex KTM Junior team appointment.
Author: Garry Morrow

Author: Garry Morrow


Glenn Macdonald has been a mainstay of the motocross scene for well over two decades. In an illustrious career he earned no less than 90 State and National titles. In recent years the Victorian icon has moved away from a hugely successful career as a racer to one of the countries top rider coaches and team owners.

It was just recently announced with the departure of Rosco Holden that the 34-year-old and his Glenn Macdonald Racing (GMR) operation would run the Motorex KTM Junior team.

We thought it would be a good idea to follow the story up and get some more detail on the team and his view of the growth of professional junior teams. So we put in a call to Glenn, who was coaching in Karratha, WA to get some facts and his thoughts.

Insider: When do you officially take over as the Junior Motorex KTM Team?

McDonald: The day after the Australian Titles in Coolum.

Insider: So your not running the program for the Junior Titles?

McDonald: No I am not.

Insider: Who is then, if Rosco Holden has already departed?

McDonald: A combination of people but mainly the senior team manager Ross McWatters, Jeff Leisk and a few others.

Insider: I am assuming that you will be there with your current team then?

McDonald: Yes, that's right. We have the current GMR-KTM line up of Jarryd McNeil, Dylan Berwick, Joben Baldwin, Annissa Berichon and Jeremy Tyndall. The actual Motorex KTM team will be Tye Simmonds and Jesse Dobson.

Insider: Can you name the riders that will be on the team yet?

McDonald: Not yet as we are still in negotiations but have letters of intent and the line-up is close to being finalised, there will be more riders than the current Motorex team has though. We still have some negotiations to do with sponsors so we should be able to announce our line up shortly.

Insider: Do you know what events you will be doing with the team?

McDonald: Well that's a matter of sitting down with the calendar and seeing what fits in. We will obviously do the Junior National Championships, the Supercross Championships where possible, all the State championships with obviously the focus on the main ones in Victoria, NSW and QLD and there will be a crossover of riders doing other state titles as well as there own where things don't clash.

Insider: I am guessing it is a pretty huge task to run a junior race team?

McDonald: You are right there. There is a lot more to it than people realise. Just looking at the bikes we need a lot more than say the senior team does. There are more riders and a few will run a couple of classes so even transportation becomes a big issue. Then there is a lot of other factors you don't have with a senior team, such as dealing with the parents for example. You have to factor into the equation the whole family scenario.

Insider: Over the last couple of years there has been a huge growth in the 'Professional Junior Team' so manufacturers are obviously seeing the benefit?

McDonald: KTM definitely have. I suppose they are following the theory that they are building riders. They want to support the riders from the early days in Juniors right through to seniors. You can see it is working with riders such as Tye and Todd Waters. Those two have been in the KTM fold for a while and have both shown what support can achieve.

It started back with Ajay Johnson at Honda, we have all seen the success he had with the Honda Junior Team and he does a great job with it. I then ran the Yamaha Junior Development team in Victoria and that was very successful and it has continued to grow. KTM always had a team with Rosco Holden running it but this next step is just progressing it to another level. We have built up our infrastructure and put a huge amount of time, effort and dollars into it so that we can present, what I believe to be what a factory backed team should be.

Insider: So Kawasaki is the only major manufacturer without a team now?

McDonald: No, they have a team coming from what I have heard. You will probably here more about it around December.

Insider: I was at the Junior Nationals at Canberra last year and to be honest I was blown away by the size of it all. It's such a huge market that gets overlooked from a publicity perspective.

McDonald: For sure. The junior scene is massive really but it just doesn't get the publicity of senior racing. I think it is probably a bit of an enemy of itself in that regard because it is so big. It would be hard for any media to cover all that goes on in the junior ranks simply because of the amount of events and the numbers of classes and riders. Seniors is easy really, you have Motocross and Supercross, Lites and Open so it's a lot easier to follow. The big races like the Nationals are really the time the juniors have to shine. Come the Nationals at Coolum though and with 800+ entries you will see there is a lot of talent and money there.

Insider: When you talk about figures like that the junior scene really becomes just as or if not more important than the senior scene.

McDonald: In a way it is but Seniors still has public appeal, as it should.

Insider: The thing I have noticed from a media perspective is not just how professional the teams are with the set-up but how they have taken the whole presentation and image aspect to another level.

McDonald: Well it's pretty important now, not that it wasn't at any stage. I guess the internet has had a big impact on the sport in that everything is so immediate. I know with our website it is just as important to make sure it is updated and our sponsors and supporters know exactly what's happening. The days of winning a race packing you bike in the van and forgetting the weekend are over. A lot of work starts for us the minute the meeting is over. The fact is we are a marketing tool to sell bikes and everything about the team has to be Professional and Pro Active.

Insider: Moving away from the Junior Team, his year your GMR-KTM outfit supported Justin Carafa in the National Motocross Championship, will you continue with this.

McDonald: We still have Justin under our wing until December. I am not sure what will happen with him next year as he is talking to teams and manufacturers. I would like to say though that he did a great job in the series and made GMR-KTM very proud to be a part of his progression. Justin finished just outside the top ten in both SX and MX in the Pro Open class as well as the Victorian Championship win were great results. Next year we will also be running Kristy Gillespie in the women's championship under the Motorex KTM banner so we will definitely be at some of the senior rounds and will continue to support Justin any way we can.

Insider: OK then well thanks for your time and I look forward to seeing it all in full swing.

McDonald: Thanks Gaz, I am looking forward to it.

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