The Anzac's have started wearing a now well-defined path to competition away from our shores with those looking to move into the International scene either taking the highly visible route to America to compete in the AMA or the hard slog through Europe to chip away at making the grade in the FIM Motocross World Championship via a plethora of National Series'.
Just Carafa is one such rider. The 20-year-old Victorian - who finished 14th in the 2007 Australian Motocross Championship - left for Germany on March the 2nd to compete for TKM Motorsport Kneip in the 2008 German ADAC Masters and the Switzerland Masters. After only 4 months and some good results Carafa found himself back home with more experience, some lesson's learned and another step in a growing career behind him.
We caught up with Justin to find out how he went, why he is back home and where he is going.
Q: First of all how did you actually go in Europe?
Justin: In Germany, I was top 15 and in Switzerland, I was winning races and actually won a couple of rounds there, so I guess I went pretty well. We really hadn't had much time to work on the bike or anything as they were all too busy working so I was kind of on the back burner. The competition was pretty tough so I am happy with the results I got considering the situation i was in.
Q: So why are you back here?
Justin: The only reason I came home was because the team just never had any money. Everything was just cut back, I wasn't riding through the week. It all really just got to hard. I found it really hard to communicate with the team and found them really stubborn. Everything had to be their way and they assumed I didn't know anything. In the end, I was riding a bike that they liked but I didn't - but I had to ride it.
Q: Did the language/Lifestyle arrangements add to it?
Justin: No it was just general communication. To them, Australia doesn't really exist on the world map. Motocross is huge there and they have to do everything their way.
Q: What did they think of your performance on the bike?
Justin: They were happy with me in Switzerland because I was winning, but in some cases, i wasn't winning by enough I was always confused. You get to a German race and the top 12 riders are all GP riders. I was making top 15's but they expected me to be a bit further up the results list but the reality is they wanted more results out of less money.
So where does more money come into it, what effect on you does it have?
Justin: They always thought I had destroyed the bike and stuff. I had a few crashes in qualifying and broke parts but it was more because I just wasn't used to the bike and the set-up. This was because I wasn't able to test and ride through the week.
Before I left to go over there everything in the emails and phone calls sounded unbelievable i thought this was my chance to have a crack and get me into GP's but it was all a promotional gig for his suspension business. In the end, I just decided to come home, I had, had enough and I made the decision to come home.
I was also living by myself in the workshop, so I was alone by myself all the time and they didn't really take that into account. So I just got a ticket and came home.
Q: In the end did you just give notice and say you were going home?
Justin: No I told them the day I left. If I had of told them any earlier I wouldn't have had a place to stay or anything.
Q: So it was like that!!!?
Justin: Yep, it turned a bit pear-shaped because they said they were going to get lawyers onto me and everything, they wanted money off me because they said I had broken a contract. But it didn't say anything in the contract.
Q: It seems to happen like this though in Europe for some reason.?
Justin: There have been a few of us go over this year and from talking to them they have had the exact same experience, so I don't feel like it was all me or anything. I think it is just a lot harder and things are done a lot differently than you would expect. It is also a bit generational in that a lot of these teams are run by older guys that are really set in their ways and no matter what you do you cant change it.
Q: So what did you gain out of the experience?
Justin: I learnt how you need to come into a race more prepared and learnt a bit about that. I also learnt that you need to work a lot more on strategy. The races over there are 35 minutes plus two laps so you are out there for around 42 minutes, which is a long haul. Those GP guys they take their time at the start of the race and then they are really fast at the end. They work a lot on that sort of strategy. It's a lot like cycling races in that you don't go out and blow all your energy in the first 5 minutes. You have to learn strategy.
Q: So what are the plans now?
Justin: I wouldn't mind going back to Switzerland because I had some good results and I like it. I am not sure though at the moment. I really want to concentrate on Supercross here now and see if I can get a ride back here for next year.
Q: So you are happy to stay here?
Justin: Yes if I could get on a good team here it would be great.
Q: What have you got lined up for the Supercross series?
Justin: I will be just riding a KTM again in the open class and they have given me some support. It will still be me and my dad and Matty McFerren driving he's doing the freestyle series so it should be good..
Q: So have you been riding much?
Justin: I did Coolum and just had a shit weekend there. Broke a clutch basket and then crashed while running third in the second moto and broke my handlebars. We have a Supercross track lined up and are now working hard on getting my Supercross skills up. I am really looking forward to that because I think I am better at Supercross.
Q: Has all the hype of the 'Name' riders ect got you excited or nervous?
Justin: I am sort of used to it now. I have been sitting on a starting gate next to Steve Ramon for a few races. Competing against the likes of Ken de Dycker and the rest of the riders that do GP's has sort of made me used to lining up on big names. I am not really phased by it all but it is going to be good to line up with people I have looked up to and watched from afar.
Q: Well Justin thanks for your time and honesty and I will look forward to watching you.
Thanks Gaz, a lot.